A/N: This isn’t a request - simply a story that came to me randomly. So I wrote it and now I’m dedicating it to @dont-look-so-good/ @ocsickficsideblog because today is April’s birthday! April you are my amazing wee sister and I love you lots lots lots! I hope you like this and have had an absolutely amazing birthday because you deserve the best!! 😊💙
“Relax!” Zubin placed a drink down in front of Lyle, who thought it better resembled a fishbowl than a glass. “I got you a San Francisco so it’s not got any alcohol in it, just fruit juice and grenadine.” Lyle eyed the glass with caution, he’d never done the cocktail and mocktail thing before and it put him so far out of his comfort zone that he was struggling even to trust Zubin.
“Are you having the same?” Lyle asked; he expected Zubin to have something alcoholic, but the drink in front of him looked very similar to his own.
This bar was new, but had already succeeded in building a reputation as a good place for performers. That was really what Zubin was interested in, he was scoping out whether this was the sort of place that he could do his drag act in. He’d wheedled Lyle into going along with him because everyone else was busy. Lyle had tried to be busy too, but Zubin won.
“No, I’m having a Sex on the Beach,” Zubin replied, and Lyle felt his cheeks go a bit pink at the name, “it’s the same but with vodka and schnapps.”
“How do you know which one’s which?” Lyle looked between the glasses again, he couldn’t tell any difference.
“Because your one has the orange and mine has the lemon,” Zubin tapped the garnishes on the side of the glasses.
“Okay,” Lyle said, picking up his glass to take a drink and very nearly needing both hands to keep it steady. The fruit juice tingled in his mouth and Zubin grinned as Lyle seemed satisfied.
“I really like these pods,” Zubin stroked his hand across the fabric of the seat, “it gives it a bit of a cosy, upmarket vibe, don’t you think?”
“I guess,” Lyle agreed; this wasn’t the sort of place that he would go if it wasn’t for Zubin’s encouragement. It was busy – at least the pod gave them a little bit of space and at least the illusion of privacy. The wall behind Lyle allowed him to feel secure, but all the people made him feel antsy. Zubin, on the other hand, was in his element – he sipped at his drink, his eyes darting around taking all the surroundings in.
“And you can still see the platform area from in here,” he pointed out. Lyle didn’t say anything, but took another gulp of his drink just for something to do. There was a tight knot in his chest, an increasing anxiety about where he was, that he was struggling to dampen down. “Are you okay?” Zubin asked.
“Yeah,” Lyle lied, although his lips were hard to move and he really hoped that Zubin didn’t notice that his hand was shaking as he took a large gulp.
“We don’t have to stay if you’re not comfortable,” Zubin offered, his dark eyebrows furrowed down as he watched Lyle. “We can finish these and go, I’ve seen the place now.”
“No, it’s okay,” Lyle heard himself say, and as soon as the words were out of his mouth he knew he couldn’t take it back. He took another gulp, the fruit juice was nice – but it had a sharpness that Lyle hadn’t expected. Perhaps next time he’d just have a fruit cider.
The lights on the platform had changed, a soft white spotlight cut though the pale blue light which had made Lyle feel like he was under the sea from the moment they’d come inside.
“Good evening,” one of the barmen had appeared on the platform and his voice came across the speaker loud and clear. “It’s my pleasure to introduce, on behalf of Polo bar, our first spoken word artist in tonight’s line up. Give a warm welcome to Seerhere.”
A round of applause swelled through the bar, bouncing off the roof and in the pods. Lyle looked across at Zubin, and from the surprised look on his face he was just as oblivious as Lyle.
“Did you know?” Lyle asked anyway, but Zubin’s eyebrows had raised so high up on his forehead they nearly disappeared into his hairline.
“No!” Zubin shook his head, feeling perhaps Allah really had been smiling down on this trip.
Spoken art was one of Lyle’s things. He’d always loved poetry but when he’d discovered spoken word artists on YouTube he’d instantly fallen in love. The applause had died down as a young man wearing a suit accessorized by a beanie hat stepped on to the platform. There was something about the way that he stood, feet planted firmly on the ground with a sense of certainty, and Lyle watched in anticipation – a cold tingling along his arms.
Type your answer here.
Delete as appropriate.”
His voice was not what Lyle expected, it was high and breathless – and sounded like music to Lyle’s ears.
Zubin watched Lyle’s face, his expression had changed entirely as he listened. To Zubin it was just words, but for Lyle it wove a pattern.
The atmosphere in the room had shifted and Lyle felt welcome among the group of listening congregants. He gulped another large amount of his drink, the sharpness was growing on him now and he was quite enjoying it.
“Moments in time.
There was a moment where the room collectively held its breath, then the applause started.
“That was amazing,” Lyle thought aloud, clapping so hard his palms hurt.
“It’s pretty good,” Zubin agreed, and Lyle looked across at him trying hard not to laugh.
“I know it’s not your thing Zu,” Lyle told him, taking a long drink of his mocktail which left the glass empty, “you don’t have to pretend to me, I don’t mind.”
“But it’s your thing,” Zubin looked embarrassed at Lyle’s frankness, he drained his own glass. “I’m going to get another, do you want one?”
“Yeah, why not?” Lyle shrugged, more interested in the artist on the platform. Zubin slipped out of the pod and disappeared off to the bar; Lyle edged slightly closer to the edge of the pod so he could get a better view.
“When feet meet the street
It’s tarmac and rubber,
When feet meet the street
But can’t leave
It’s cold toes and sleeping bags.”
Lyle closed his eyes, as this person spoke the words seemed to curl and dance like a trail of rising smoke in front of his eyes. He was entranced by it, goosebumps were rising on the back of his neck. Zubin returned with the glasses and slid in beside Lyle.
“This would be a good venue for one of your poetry things,” Zubin said when the artist had finished his next piece.
“It would!” Lyle agreed. He’d never thought about that; their previous poetry soc readings had always either been jammed into the English department’s common room, or in one of the dingier pubs on campus where the air became so thick and hot it was difficult to breathe. “Maybe I’ll have to suggest it at the next meeting.”
For the first time in their friendship it was Lyle who wanted to stay out and Zubin was waiting for him; there was two girls who followed the first performer, one who Lyle didn’t rate too highly and the other who he thought was phenomenal. Lyle was so enthralled that he hadn’t noticed Zubin refilling his glass every time it was empty; what notified Lyle to the amount of liquid he’d drunk was the need to go to the toilet. He wobbled as he got out from the pod and was unsure as to why he felt so unsteady on his feet.
Normally his anxiety prevented him from going to the bathroom on his own in such a busy place, as the mere thought of having to walk across a crowded bar to get there made his knees weak. But tonight he simply waved off Zubin’s offer and set off across the gathered clumps of people, heading towards the area next to the platform where there was a sign for the toilets. He pushed through a door and found himself in a corridor with an open door out to the smoking area, and both sets of bathrooms – the cold air from outside hit him with a ferocity that made him wobble again.
He stumbled a little as he entered the bathroom and, as a precaution, decided it might be better for him to use a stall. Lyle’s head was swimming as he closed the door and locked it with trembling fingers; he sat down rather heavily on the toilet and sunk his head into his hands. He hadn’t been sure why he was feeling so woozy, but as he sat on the toilet with his eyes closed, the realisation that he definitely had a bit of alcohol in him presented itself.
Anger rose in Lyle’s chest – had Zubin known all along that he was giving him alcohol? If that was true he was going to be really upset with him. He knew Lyle had a lecture in the morning and he really didn’t like going out before his classes. He had to psyche himself into moving because his surroundings were swirling unsteadily; he focused on keeping himself steady as he washed his hands. His cheeks were flushed and his glasses were sliding down to the point of his nose.
The sound seemed much louder as Lyle re-entered the bar, and he focused on putting one foot in front of the other while not banging into those around him. When he slid back into the pod he felt a lot worse than he had when he went to the toilet; Zubin was there with another two glasses, but the thought of drinking more made him feel queasy.
“There’s alcohol in that,” Lyle said, pointing to the glass in front of him.
“No, it’s the San Francisco,” Zubin told him, but Lyle shook his head and shoved it towards him.
“Try it,” he insisted, so Zubin took a sip and then his eyes widened; he took a drink of his own.
“Shit,” he muttered, looking horrified. “Shit Lyle! I must’ve got them mixed up!”
“Yeah,” Lyle nodded. He was trying to take deep breaths as the effects of the alcohol hit him all at once, and he could feel the baked potato he’d eaten for dinner churning inside his stomach.
“Oh shit Lyle! I’m sorry!” Zubin put his hands onto Lyle’s arm and gave it a quick squeeze.
“It’s alright,” he replied, although he was increasingly feeling not alright as he sat. “You didn’t mean it…” Lyle felt like his lips were made of rubber as he spoke; his mouth had gone rather dry, but he was swallowing repeatedly as he felt something rising in his throat.
“Are you alright?” Zubin asked, he’d moved round in the pod so he was right next to him. Lyle paused, trying to establish just how he was feeling; his stomach was doing somersaults and he could feel his glasses sliding down his nose as he shook his head quickly. “What’s going on?”
Lyle wanted to reply, but his stomach gave a jolt and he clapped his hand to his mouth as a gag pushed up. Watery liquid filled his mouth and he looked at Zubin, absolutely petrified, but not knowing what to do.
“Are you gonna be sick?” Zubin put his hand on Lyle’s shoulder and Lyle nodded, not removing his hand from his mouth for fear of what might come out. “Fuck, right…”
“Kmmmmchh!” Lyle heaved, his back banged against the wall as he tried to push himself back; if he was going to throw up he didn’t want to get it on himself. He could taste acid as he tried to swallow down the mouthful of sick, but he was failing. “G’rrrkk!” Lyle could feel his cheeks straining and he didn’t know what to do… He really didn’t want to be sick in the middle of this club, that was just beyond humiliating!
“Here, Lyle,” Zubin grabbed one of the large empty glasses from the table and held it up to Lyle’s face; Lyle shook his head, but then a contraction from his belly had him grabbing the glass with both hands.
“Brruuurrrllluuuukkk!” Lyle cringed as a gush of mushy sick poured into the glass, half filling it immediately. He tried to take a few gasps of air now his mouth was empty, but his body had other ideas. “G’kkkhhhuuuh!” Another wave of puke came rushing up and out of him.
“Oh fuck,” Zubin put his hand on Lyle’s back and rubbed across his shoulder blades, “it’s okay Lyle.” Zubin could hear Lyle breathing raggedly and could see the glass he was clutching so tightly was very nearly full. “Let me take that from you.” Zubin tried to take the stem of the glass to prize it out of Lyle’s hands but he was shaking his head again. His stomach was still rebelling and he knew he wasn’t going to be able to keep the rest of it’s contents down for long. “Use this one,” Zubin picked up another glass and managed to swap them.;
“Uuuuarrrp!” Lyle belched loudly and a spattering of vomit fell into the glass; he felt awful – his head was spinning and he could feel sweat and tears mingling on his face. “Huuuaaaargh…” With every retch Lyle only managed to bring up a little amount of sick and Zubin could feel the muscles in Lyle’s back straining to get it up.
“It’s okay – you’re okay,” Zubin gently put his free hand on Lyle’s leg and could feel it trembling.
“It – hic – hurts…” Lyle forced out between gags, he couldn’t quite get his breathing back under control and his stomach muscles were tensing so much that they ached.
“I know,” Zubin placated, “just try and breathe – in though your nose and out through your mouth.” This was one of the techniques Lyle used when he was panicking, so Zubin reckoned it might work now too.
“Hrrrk! Hmmmk!” Lyle was holding the glass over his mouth and nose, heaving repeatedly but not bringing anything up. “Huuurrp!”
“Don’t fight it Lyle,” Zubin said, rubbing Lyle’s back more and gently using his other hand to push Lyle’s glasses up.
“Huuuuaaaarrrraaallpph!” Zubin felt Lyle jerk sharply and the glass was suddenly full and overflowing, dripping down onto the seat in between Lyle’s legs.
“Alright…” Zubin tried to make Lyle let the glass go, succeeding and placing it on the table. Lyle close his eyes, leaning slightly into Zubin – he felt like the whole world was blurring around him. “Lyle – don’t fall asleep, come on, let’s get you home.”
“Mmmm…” Lyle hummed, he was breathing slowly now and his stomach felt hollow and sour.
“Come on,” Zubin gripped Lyle’s upper arms and managing to haul him out of the pod; he wrapped his arm around Lyle’s waist to hold him upright. “That’s it…”
Lyle retched again as the cold outside air hit him, but he had nothing left inside him so he was hanging limply from Zubin, heaving emptily towards the ground.
“Oh Lyle… I’m so sorry…” Zubin felt awful for his mistake to have caused this.
“It’ – hrrrk – okay…” Lyle mumbled.
“It’s not,” Zubin shook his head, “but I’m going to get you home and make sure you’re okay… You’ll be fine, I promise.”