Mitch reached the safety of the restroom and hid away in one of the stalls. If he had his phone, he would have called Toby and begged to be picked up, offering whatever he desired as compensation; instead he sat alone with his thoughts, the only other company being a dripping faucet and weird chemical smells while he sat on the dirty floor and hugged his knees. Being strung out made it impossible to tell how much time passed, but after countless people came in and out of the bathroom, eventually he spotted pinstripe pant legs at the urinals.
“Loulou?” he meekly called.
“Babe?” Louis responded in confusion, and Mitch choked on a wet laugh. “You alright?”
“No,” Mitch answered. Louis hummed affirmatively, washed his hands, and approached the stall.
“Coming in. Hope you’re decent.”
“I am,” Mitch confirmed. The stall door opened a crack, and Louis peeked inside.
“Aw, your makeup,” he tutted.
“Is it bad?” sniffled Mitch.
“So bad. You’re still pretty, though.” Louis extended a hand, which Mitch used to pull himself up. “C’mon, let’s get you out of here before someone thinks you’re operating a gloryhole.”
“Who says I’m not? I could run a gloryhole!” Mitch retorted with an unnecessary amount of confidence. He allowed Louis to slide an arm under his shoulder to assist him with staying on his feet.
“I’m sure you’d be great at it,” Louis chuckled. “Wanna get out of here ?”
“Yes, but. What about Desiree?”
“Don’t worry about Desi. I’ll sneak out later, when you’re fast asleep.”
“They just don’t make boys like you anymore, Loulou.” Burying his face in Louis’ neck, Mitch clung tightly and sighed.
“What can I say? I’m part of a dying breed. Anyway.” Stopping at the doorway, Louis reached into his pocket. “Lemme just text the important folks and tell ’em you…hm, what am I saying here? Anxiety attack?”
“No, that’s embarrassing. Could we go with a case of mild food poisoning? I had Taco Bell for lunch, Sandy can back me up.”
“Sure.” Narrating aloud as he typed, Louis relayed in monotone, “Found Mitch shitting himself to death on the toilet. Be ar be.”
“Not like that. Mild.” Mitch made several weak attempts to take the phone, but was unsuccessful. “Stomachache. A mild case!”
“There was so much vomit, it’s everywhere. I think he’s really dying. Sadface.” Louis paused to frown.
“If I’m dying, can you grant me one last request?”
“Anything for you.”
“Would you grant me a kiss?” Mitch puckered his lips.
“I would absolutely kiss those lips if you were dying and they were covered in puke. But I told Jodie and Desi it was mild, so we’ll take a raincheck until you’re actually on death’s door.”
“No duh,” scoffed Louis. “I’d go all out for a man’s final wish.” Working in tandem, they reached the front exit, and once they were outdoors and out of sight, Louis scooped Mitch up and carried him bridal style back to the cabin.
Mitch didn’t bother getting changed out of the dress, instead he crawled into his bunk and lay face down on the covers while Louis sat by his feet. “So-o-o, what’s good?” Louis spoke in a saccharine tone after several minutes passed; it was his goofy way of trying to get Mitch to open up, and it always worked.
“I don’t even know what to say,” Mitch grimaced.
“It’s just booze, right?” Thank fuck for Louis’ more lackadaisical approach to important matters. Were it anyone else, the concern would be suffocating.
“That’s right,” Mitch answered, turning his head enough to see Louis from the corner of his eye. “I mean, not that it’s a good thing, but I’m not rolling or doing bumps at the kids’ summer camp. It’s just…they say it’s a gateway to relapse.”
“Who’s ‘they’? The kids? Do the kids say that?” Louis smirked, and Mitch gave him a light kick.
“I’m a DARE graduate, did you know that? I let everyone down in my 5th grade class.”
“Well I’m a DARE graduate as well, and the only time that I’m disappointed is when you don’t have rich kid weed on you.”
“Sorry Lou, that well’s dried up.”
“Hey, life’s like that. It was a good time while it lasted.” Gently patting Mitch’s calf, Louis’ tone softened. “So is booze the reason that you were on the bathroom floor?”
“That was part of it.” Mitch’s mouth formed a hard line. The spots on his body where Avi touched him still seared like a new tattoo; if he looked at his thigh, he was sure that a handprint would be visible and raw where contact had been made. His eyes stung, and a chill ripped through his core. “Hey, do you think that I’m capable of being loved? Genuinely, for my personality or whatever? Not just because I’m an easy mark, or as a way for someone to pass the time?”
“Huh? Where is this coming from?” Louis raised an eyebrow. “You shouldn’t think about that kinda shit after getting out of a long relationship, it’ll-” he tapped the side of his head. “It’ll mess with you bad.”
“I always fall for people that don’t like me back,” Mitch continued, flinching at the way that Louis’ face collapsed for a fleeting moment before resuming the mask of compassion. Something inside, like a shard of glass, pierced through his chest for the guilt which he burdened his friend with, but he continued to talk. They didn’t need to acknowledge the past, it was long ago and Mitch had since then gotten over the unrequited crush that he once had on his tag partner. “And it’s like…I think sometimes guys will take pity on me, or they can sense that I’ll put out and so they go for it. I don’t hold it against anyone, but fuckin’-“
“Mitch,” Louis quietly attempted to interject, and Mitch grabbed the edge of the blanket and yanked it over his head.
“I’m so broken. And I know it, and somehow they all know it.” His bottom lip trembled, and he pulled it between his teeth to make it stop. “Who am I kidding? Who wants to deal with that? I don’t want to, but I have to because it’s me.”
“Did Nate do something?” Leaning in, Louis tried to pull the blanket away, but Mitch only held onto it tighter.
“No! God, no.”
“Alright, ’cause I saw him carrying you earlier. Thought that might be…dunno.”
“No.” Shaking his head, Mitch paused. “I should just marry him though, shouldn’t I? Think he’d wanna elope?”
“Sure. He’d make a good spouse, too,” agreed Louis. “For what it’s worth, you’d be a good spouse as well.”
Lowering the blanket enough so that he could see Louis, Mitch leered. “Too bad you’re not gay, huh?”
“Too bad you’re not a chick,” Louis retorted.
“Even if I’m dressed up as one?” Mitch joked, and noted the way that Louis’ shoulders slumped. “I’m just kidding. Mostly. Anyway, you can go. I’m alright now.”
“Nah.” Stretching out, Louis batted at Mitch until he rolled onto his side, and wedged his enormous frame between Mitch’s back and the wall. Together, they barely fit in a bed that was intended for a child, but Mitch didn’t care. “Jodie’ll wanna check on you if I take off. And like I said, I’ll wait until you’re fast asleep.” He wrapped his arm around Mitch’s midsection and kissed the top of his head.
“Love you, Loulou,” Mitch murmured and closed his eyes.
“Love you, too, babe,” Louis fondly rumbled back.