Through All the Dust
Chapter Fifty-Two: Who Do We Have Here?
I woke to a splitting headache, cracking straight down the center of my skull and into my eye sockets. My ache felt like it had frozen in a self-induced ice age of sorts. Groaning, I cracked and squirmed, fluttering my tired eyes open.
“What the fuck,” I grumbled to myself, using the edges of the bathtub to pull myself up.
I wasn’t sure when or how I’d ended up in the bathroom—but apparently this is where I’d decided to make my bed for the night. I wracked my brain for some grain of memory from the night before but aside from my big blowout with Lauren, I didn’t have much to go on.
And then I remembered throwing her engagement ring at her.
“Classy,” I grumbled to myself, sinking back down into the deep tub.
I heard some rustling over yonder and I dared to take a peek. Matt was stirring awake on the floor, his head resting up against the wall. The visual was so hilarious that I seriously considered snapping a picture. I felt my pockets for my phone—no luck.
“Morning,” I snickered from my place in the ceramic.
“No,” Matt mumbled, struggling to sit up.
He looked to have the same realization I’d had. With the back of his hand, he rubbed at his bloodshot eyes.
“Why the fuck are we in the bathroom?” he asked me groggily.
I shook my head, “Couldn’t tell you.”
“God damn, my head,” he whined quietly.
He climbed to his feet and ran the water from the tap. Splashing himself with refreshment, he seemed to wake up a little. He looked over at me and laughed.
“Why are you in the tub?”
I laughed loudly, “I do not know, Matty. I do not know.”
“Come on,” he smirked, holding his hands out to aid me in my exit from my hard, white mattress.
My spine ached with the movement.
Matt and I dragged our feet from the bathroom down to the main floor. My house was a fucking disaster. I tried not to notice.
Brian, Zach, and Johnny were clanking around in my kitchen. Instinctively, I grabbed at my ears to protect my migraine. Matt made a similar action.
“Morning, idiots!” Zach grinned.
I pulled up a stool to the island and collapsed into my arms.
“Coffee?” Johnny asked with a bit of a laugh. “You look rough.”
I nodded from inside my sanctuary. By time I emerged, there was a big ol’ cup of java waiting for me to ravage it. I wasn’t going to disappoint.
“Thanks,” I called to Johnny who just winked.
Brian was grinning at me from behind his own cup of coffee. Matt was in a slump on the floor, his face hidden behind his hands.
“Bri,” I managed, despite the serious pain in my throat.
The pain was everywhere. And it was strong.
“Why was I in the bathtub?” I asked seriously.
He laughed, “Because you and Matt are idiots.”
I didn’t understand. The sentiment sparked Matt’s interest though. He pulled himself from the floor and dropped himself into the stool behind me. He weakly asked that someone spare his life and bring him the pot of coffee.
“Need a straw?” Zach smirked.
Matt nodded, “The pot and the straw.”
“Okay, seriously,” I cut them off. “Why was I in the bathtub? And where were you?”
Brian grinned, “I was in our bed. Where I belong. You were too outlandish for bedtime.”
“Outlandish?” I questioned, burning my top lip on my cup.
“You and Matt were tag-teaming the scene from the Exorcist,” Brian cackled.
“It was gross,” Johnny added grimly.
I had absolutely no memory of this. I looked to Matt for some validation but it appeared he was in the same boat as I. How fucked up did I get last night?
“Explanation please,” I pleaded tiredly, not in the mood to try and work it out on my own.
“Please, let me,” Johnny asked Brian excitedly. “Please?”
Brian nodded passively, finishing the last of his cup and heading to the pot for a refill. He dumped the rest into his mug and immediately took to making a second brew.
“So, you guys got into some shit last night,” Johnny smirked at Matt and I. “Shair is a hilariously insane force, I learned.”
“Spare me the cutesy name,” I groaned. “Get to the point.”
Matt nodded, pointing aimlessly into the air, “What she said.”
“The time was two forty-five,” Johnny began dramatically, bursting his hands out as he stared off into the distance. “Shair was in full throttle. I don’t have an exact weight of cocaine that the two of you ingested last night, but it was fucking impressive. Anyway, you guys were cool for a while. You were duo-ing the shit out of terrorizing everyone. Blair was like a flash of darkness darting in and out of the crowd.”
“That little flash knocked me into the pool,” Zach told me, staring straight into my soul without amusement.
“I wasn’t there, man,” I laughed. “Take that up with alternative Blair.”
“Oh, I did,” he informed me.
Johnny broke into a fit of giggles, “And you pushed him back in!”
“What?” I stifled my own giggle.
“It’s true,” Brian grinned, glancing over his shoulder at me. “You were ridiculous.”
I had absolutely no memory of any of it.
“It was like you stepped into Jimmy’s shoes for a night,” Johnny said fondly. “It was nice to have him around again.”
“Okay, don’t bum me out first thing in the morning,” I groaned.
Brian nodded, “On her birthday no less.”
“Oh, shit, that’s right!” Johnny laughed. “I forgot already!”
“Can we finish the story please?” I begged, desperate to avoid having to sit through the birthday song again.
“Right,” Johnny nodded. “Anyway, it was hilarious. You’re at one end of the pool, and you’re,” he pointed at Matt, “at the other. And you both just stopped. Just fucking stopped.”
“We knew it was trouble,” Zach howled.
Brian was listening with a smug grin on his face. It had been a while since I’d seen that amused smile of his, and I was glad to know that I’d put it there.
“You both got this crazy look,” Johnny continued. “So, obviously we’re all looking back and forth.”
“Who’s gonna chuck first,” Zach reminisced happily.
“It was Matt,” Johnny told us both.
“But Blair, you were really soon after,” Brian chuckled, turning back around to tend to the fresh coffee.
“So, we get you guys upstairs,” Johnny tells us both excitedly, hand gestures galore. “And you’re literally taking turns to throw up into the toilet.”
“But at one point Blair puked into the sink,” Brian grimaced. “And I had to clean it.”
“You’re her husband, man,” Zach said seriously. “That’s your responsibility, not ours.”
I nodded at Brian. He just laughed.
“So then we start supervising in shifts,” Johnny explained. “Because you guys were a fucking mess. Matt kept trying to escape and Blair kept encouraging his attempts.”
I had a super vague memory of that. I was slumped on the floor, leaned up against my bathroom cupboards and Matt was trying to wiggle the window open.
“Ah, yes,” I thought aloud. “The window escape.”
“The second story window,” Brian noted, pointing to Matt. “You would have broken your fucking leg.”
Matt laughed loudly with a shrug.
“It’s not so bad,” I assured my hunky friend with a pat on the back.
“Anyway,” Johnny interrupted. “We left you guys for two minutes, come back and you’re in the bathtub.”
“You said Matt put you there,” Brian snickered, pouring himself another cup of coffee.
“Oh my god,” Matt groaned. “I remember that.”
“Why?” I asked, a little terrified to know. “Why would you put me in the bathtub?”
Zach grinned from ear to ear, “Because you wouldn’t stop puking. Matt claimed the toilet and you were gifted the bath tub.”
I gasped in disgust, “Gross, dude!”
Matt was howling, “You thought it was the best idea ever. Holy fuck.”
“Moral of the story,” Brian chuckled. “you two aren’t allowed to do drugs together anymore. It was exhausting chasing after the both of you.”
Brian used to gripe about the same thing with Jimmy. Though, with Jimmy we’d both refused to give up the good time. I loved getting into shit with Jimmy, it was one of my favorite pastimes.
“It’s photo gold, though,” Zach grinned.
Matt and I groaned simultaneously, “No.”
All three nodded proudly. Brian slid his phone to me and I immediately loaded up the gallery of ridiculous embarrassing pictures.
“I want this one,” Matt snickered, pointing to the thumbnail of himself passed out on the floor and me hanging over the edge of the bath tub, also passed the fuck out. “I’m going to get it framed.”
“God,” I grumbled, pushing the phone away. “Has anyone seen my phone?”
“Oh,” Brian smiled at me. “You threw it at a pigeon last night. So…it’s probably still outside.”
I sighed loudly, “Of course I did.”
Reluctantly and with much shame, I made my way out back to look for my wayward phone. I was sure to snatch a cigarette on my way out the door and I lit it immediately. It only made my desire to die more persistent. But, I figured there was nothing left in my body to throw up so I’d probably survive.
The guys followed me outside, each taking up residence in a respective patio chair. Matt collapsed into the grass, face-down, with a loud and dramatic growl.
“Bri, can you call me?” I hollered to him, listening for the ringtone.
Pinkly Smooth was guiding me to my possession and I found it nestled in the grass beneath our one and only tree. I hit ignore, silencing Jimmy’s voice.
I flipped it open to ensure it hadn’t broken in its adventure the night before, and I was surprised to find seven missed calls. Six from Lauren and one from Brian. Right, that one had just happened. I was too hungover for this shit.
I loaded up my message inbox but found it was empty. I was sure she’d just called to yell at me so I decided it wasn’t important. There wasn’t a single voicemail either.
Stuffing it into my pocket, I returned back to the guys, putting myself into Brian’s lap with a sigh. He wrapped an arm around me, plucking my smoke from my lips and placing it between his own.
But Lauren’s calls were bothering me.
“Ugh,” I grumbled, pulling my phone out once more.
Hey…Lost my phone. Just found it. You rang?
There. I’d done my due diligence. Maybe we’d had a fight, but that didn’t change the fact that she was still my best friend. Even if I did want to stab her fifty fucking times. I knew I’d have to tell Brian about it, but it wasn’t the right time. I hoped it didn’t reignite the jealousy flames.
But he seemed better. The adoration in his eyes was back.
“So, birthday girl,” Brian smiled at me. “What would you like to do today?”
“Die,” I laughed.
He shook his head, “No fucking way.”
“I need to shake off this hangover before I can think about doing anything,” I informed him. “But we should all go for dinner tonight. It’s been a while since we’ve done that.”
“But I have plans,” Johnny whined.
“No you don’t,” Zach argued suspiciously.
Johnny frowned, folding his arms across his chest.
“Date?” I asked curiously.
He grinned, “Maybe.”
“Bring her,” I suggested. “I don’t care. But that’s what I want, and from what I understand, you can’t say no to someone on their birthday.”
“Fine,” Johnny groaned.
Everyone was in agreement. Matt couldn’t be bothered to offer a verbal response, so he simply gave a lazy thumb’s up. Now that the later plans had been settled, I was free to drown in my hangover misery in peace.
My phone buzzed in my pocket.
Don’t be mad…but I did a thing.
I wasn’t sure what to think. I won’t lie, her text made me a little nervous. I hastily replied.
What did you do?
Brian sensed my concern and tilted his head like an owl. I shook my head subtly. No use worrying him about it.
I know we’re not in a good place right now…But…if you and Brian wanted to come and meet your godson, we’re in the hospital now.
My heart fluttered, shattering the ice that had previously enveloped it. I hated that my eyes were filling with water—get it together, Peterson.
“What’s wrong?” Brian asked quickly.
I held my hand over my mouth, “Nothing…Nothing.”
“Then why are you crying?” Zach asked with an eyebrow raised.
I bounced a little in Brian’s lap from the excitement, “Lauren had her fucking baby.”
“What?” everyone said at once.
Even Matthew of the Dead shot up at the news.
“What are we waiting for?” Johnny called happily. “Let’s go!”
We all dispersed with haste. I ran a quick brush through my disgusting hair, tossing it back sloppily to try and hide the vomit smell. Changing at the speed of light, we were out of the house within minutes.
Brian sped the entire way, stopping only once to run in and buy flowers for the new mother—and a little leather jacket wearing stuffed bear. I cuddled it until the very last second.
We slowly creeped into Lauren’s room, she sat up straighter at the sight of us. We smiled at each other, forgetting we were currently enemies.
“Hey,” I cooed, sliding into the bed next to her.
“Hey,” she smiled.
I peered down at the tiny bundle in her arms, his little eyes closed and his tiny fingers gripping her hand tightly. He was the most beautiful boy I’d ever seen in my life. He had a little hair, nothing crazy.
I was absolutely smitten.
“Congratulations,” I whispered fondly, reaching out to ran my fingers over the tiny being’s hands.
“Do you want to hold him?” Lauren asked knowingly.
I greedily took him into my arms. I think I felt my ovaries legitimately explode.
“Hello there,” I smiled down at the baby.
Brian was by my side now, fawning over the new human. His face was indescribably soft—it made me long for our own little bundle of joy. I knew then that Brian would be the world’s most incredible father.
The baby wrapped his tiny fingers around my thumb and I couldn’t help but tear up. I was so embarrassing. But I’d never loved anyone quite like I loved that little guy. From the first second I saw him, I knew my whole world would revolve around his happiness.
“So,” I said quietly, careful not to wake the baby. “Who do we have here?”
Lauren smiled, her eyes fondly tracing the lines of her son’s face, “This is Owen Cooper Sullivan.”
“Owen,” I swooned. “I love it, Lo.”
“Sullivan,” Brian noted. “Good choice.”
She shrugged, “He would have been a Sullivan if Jimmy didn’t…You know. Besides, Cooper makes for a great middle name.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” I half-laughed, memorizing the way that Owen smelled. “He’s perfect, Lauren.”
“I know,” she smiled.
I handed the tiny boy to Brian, who looked so terrified to hold him—like he might break him or something. The adoration in his smile was enough to know that he wanted to be a father.
“How are you feeling?” I asked Lauren thoughtfully.
“Sore,” she laughed. “But I’m okay. My parents just went on a food run. We’ve been here since four this morning.”
“Oh wow,” was all I could think to say.
“I pretty much left your house and went straight into labor,” she smirked. “It was crazy.”
“Well…You picked a good day to give birth,” I half-joked. “Today is the best birthday.”
“It’s an important day for sure,” Lauren nodded. “Happy birthday, B.”
Even if just for a day, I knew I had to push aside my anger with Lauren. She was my best friend and she’d just given me the world’s best birthday gift. There was no room for anger on that day.
Within minutes, the room was packed with Avenged Sevenfold. They all flocked to the baby, cooing and sticking their tattooed hands in his tiny face. I couldn’t blame them, he was the world’s most beautiful baby.
They formed a circle around him, passing him around like a crazy gentle game of hot potato.
I leaned against Lauren’s shoulder, resting my head against hers. She reached over to essentially embrace my skull.
“I’m sorry,” she said quietly.
I nodded, “Me too.”
“We’ll talk, right?” she asked breathily.
“We’ll talk,” I assured her. “But for now, let’s just enjoy your boy.”
Leave it to Jimmy to bring everyone together again.