Freshman year, Dex hated it. He and Nursey spend all their sober time bickering; fighting nonstop about everything from politics to slapshot form to whether ketchup belongs on scrambled eggs (Dex will never fucking admit it, but he’s actually started to find it delicious; Nursey can never know). But the second Nursey slips over the line from tipsy to drunk, he’s Dex’s best friend–hanging off Dex’s shoulders, draping his feet into Dex’s lap, hell, draping himself into Dex’s lap, two hundred pounds and then some of languid muscle. He’s sweet when he’s drunk, his chirps soft and fond instead of scathing, and his fingertips are gentle when they wander over Dex’s skin, dipping under the collar of his t-shirt, brushing against the short hair at the nape of his neck.
And Dex hated it, because morning would come, and hungover Nursey is clingy too but not in the same way, and they were always back to sharpness, and Dex would have to pretend he didn’t get home from those kegsters and throw himself into very, very cold showers.
Sophomore year, it’s a little better. They’re friends more often than they’re not, but on the flip side, that means the rest of the team actually trusts Dex to be on Nursey Patrol (“If you don’t want to kill him all the time, we can probably trust you to make sure he doesn’t drink himself into a coma,” Bitty said cheerfully the first time, shoved Nursey, already tipsy, towards him, and disappeared onto the dance floor with a solo cup in his hand).
Except Nursey Patrol, he learns, doesn’t end with the kegster. No, Nursey Patrol ends with Nursey safe in his bed, at least out of his shoes but ideally in something comfortable enough to sleep in, after a cup or two of water and two tabs of Aspirin, his phone plugged in and the door to his room locked.
(Dex does not want to know the series of events that led to this level of Patrol being in place. If he thinks about it too hard, his chest starts to hurt, and he doesn’t wanna deal with that.)
“Dexy,” Nursey says, as Dex manhandles him down to his bed and then flops down next to him, hauling Nursey’s foot into his lap to start on his shoelaces, because Three Cups of Tub Juice Derek Nurse is not a Derek Nurse who has the coordination for tasks involving dexterity. Dex had said that, once, and Nursey had said “ha, Dexterity,” and giggled for ten minutes. “Dex, will you stay with me?”
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She didn’t know what to do with it, that r a g e. It still burned and hunted her, still made her want to rip and roar and rend the world into pieces. She felt it all—too keenly, too sharply.
Hated and cared and loved and dreaded, more than other people, she sometimes thought. Could sift between them all in a matter of moments, like she was trying on different sets of clothes, and no one could tell or care.