Nate. cannot. stop. laughing. Everything around him is funny: the way Chuck's laugh reverberates where their heads are touching, the awful color of Nelly's dress, the scared face that guy in the corner made when Georgina approached him, the faces Serena keeps pulling as she takes another and then another (and another and another) shot, Blair's little yelp when vodka spills on her shoes. It feels so good to be here with his friends, drinking a little, smoking a lot, just listening to music. It feels comfortable. Safe. Cozy, even, like television says a grandmother's house is supposed to feel. Thinking about his grandmother makes him laugh harder.
"It's like you're my grandmother!", he lets out between laughs.
He feels Chuck's voice more than he hears it: "Kinky, Nathaniel."
He's a little offended and wants to explain, but, really, it's just Chuck. And it's pretty funny, so he laughs more. He feels a little woozy, like he's there but also floating, and he wonders if there was something else mixed in with his pot, but maybe it's just the vodka, or maybe he's just a lightweight. Blair always says he's a lightweight. She says that about Serena too. Not Blair, though: Nate sees her drink, but never sees her drunk. She's a little like Chuck in that way. It's part of what he likes about them, that they're always there, stable, solid, he never really has to worry.
And now they're all there. With him. Around him. It's not his party (whose party is it?), but it's a little like it was, in a way. Because he's there. And so are all his friends. And some people who aren't his friends. Yet! They could be friends.
"We should all be friends!", he proclaims, grandly. It's true. All sentiment.
Serena seems to agree, because she raises a shot glass and yells "Here, here!". Everyone else responds with their own "Here, here!". No one can resist the call of Serena. She's a little like a mermaid, he thinks. Although last year his teacher said mermaids lured sailors to their deaths, and Serena certainly doesn't want anyone to die. She wouldn't hurt a fly.
He lets his head drop a little, resting on Chuck’s shoulders. He feels warm and he smells nice, like pot but also like a grown-up cologne, the sort of thing Nate doesn't know how to wear. Nate hears the party buzzing around him and it’s so soothing, luring him to sleep.
The next morning, he wakes up on a couch, a massive hangover fully formed. He looks around but he isn't at Serena’s, or Blair’s, or at his own place. Finally, he sees Chuck, in a fuzzy gray bathrobe, coming out of the shower.
“Next time do avoid drooling on my sweater, Nathaniel. Cashmere is very sensitive, you know?”
“Yeah, man”, he says. Thank you , he means.