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The Game of Cat and Mouse

Chapter Text

When Rhys' eyes fluttered open the next morning, his head pounded. It felt like mallets were banging onto his skull and daring to break it. It took a second for Rhys to be able to move, sitting up and propping himself against the back of the couch. His body ached from the uncomfortable position he laid himself in during his drunken rest. This was probably one of the worse hangovers Rhys had encountered since his College days. Not that it was saying much, considering that he was just fresh out of it.

The first thing Rhys did when he could think straight was check his ECHO for any messages or other misc notifications. Nothing was out of the ordinary. His notification tab was plastered with spam emails, video notifications, and his mail delivery notice. When he set the device down, Rhys tried to recollect the thoughts of what had happened the night before. With his head pounding, it made it difficult for him to think straight. All his brain could collect at that current moment was the smell of strawberries, a swig of some whiskey, and Vaughn. He couldn't remember the exchange between the two quite yet.

Rhys pulled himself off the couch. His world was dizzy and spinning around him as he waddled his way into the kitchen. Typically, Rhys would just wait until his hangovers past, but this one was hitting him harder than any other ever had. He swung open his refrigerator door and scanned the shelves. After he found what he was looking for, Rhys kicked the door shut with his feet and walked to a cabinet to grab a glass. He set a carton of eggs on the counter, opening it to reveal a dozen eggs sitting blissfully in their little cozies.

One by one, Rhys began to crack open the eggs and attempted to separate the yolk from the egg. He was concentrating so hard on getting perfect like a cooking show that he didn't even notice how many eggs he had put into his glass. When he put the carton back into the cold storage, his glass had five egg yolks with the addition egg whites he failed to part. The sight of the glass was enough to make Rhys squirm. The only reason he was doing this was that he read in an article that egg yolks helped to cure one's hangover. Maybe he should have done some more research or at least looked to see if it was a reliable source. Either way, he was roped into doing this now.

Rhys carefully picked up the glass of uncooked chicken fetus' and raised it to his lips. There wasn't a smell, but Rhys still pinched his nose to somehow avoid the taste. He parted his mouth open and began swallowing the substance. He was trying to hard not to let the gelatinous liquid touch his tongue, but it was sort of inevitable. It wasn't the taste that was as bad as intended, it was the texture. It felt like very slick slime was sliding down his throat. He gagged before he set the glass down. It was empty besides the residue that decided to stick on the glass rather than retreat into Rhys' body.

His ECHO beeped from the couch. Rhys lagged back to the sound after avoiding the obstacles that littered his path. The first thing he did was check the time. It was almost eleven in the morning. When he pulled his notification tab down, it was a message from none other than Yvette. With a groan, he tapped into the message.

"Yo, have you heard from V?" The message read, followed by several question marks being spammed from Rhys' lack of answers. Yvette had the habit if you didn't answer the minute the message was sent.

Rhys pinched the bridge of his nose and closed his eyes, trying to boggle his mind about why she would ask that. "Probably at home? I don't know. Why?"

It took a minute, but Yvette punched back with "Well. I haven't heard from him. I don't remember much from last night, but I can remember a fight."

A fight? Now Rhys was trying to ignore the pulsing pain in his head and remember back to last night. It hit him like a boulder when he remembered the words "Save it for when you're sober, Rhys."

Impulsively, Rhys changed the message tab to Vaughn. His leg started bouncing dangerously fast as he typed away. He was winging on what he was going to say. "Hey." was all Rhys could come up with. The only thing to signify Vaughn's existence was the marker that showed he read it. It was apparent Vaughn closed the message and was choosing to ignore it.

"Vaughn, buddy?" Rhys pressed, following that first message with, "I'm gonna come over. Is that okay?" Once again the message was read, but it was responded to.

"I guess." It was hard for Rhys to tell tone over text, but even an idiot can see the passive-aggressive undertone. Not bothering to shower or even change his clothes, he got up and stuffed his ECHO in his pocket, headed for the door.

It took a while to get to his destination. The sounds emitting around him made his ears sensitive and caused his head to pound harder. Hopefully, his concoction would kick in. Rhys had never had a more difficult time navigating his way through the crowds of people flooding the hallways.

When Rhys knocked at the door, it was left unanswered. He knocked again to nobody letting him in. With that, Rhys welcomed himself into his best friend's neat home. There was nobody in sight, but he could hear a faint noise coming behind a closed door in the hallway.

"Vaughn?" Rhys called, walking through the hall cautiously. He felt awkward doing this, but it wasn't like this was his first time letting himself in. The intensity of the situation was playing a devastating role in Rhys' morale- or what little of it he currently had. There were a few awkward seconds before he heard the door swing open softly.

Vaughn looked bad. He had his hair matted up into knots, his eyes possessed bags, and he still wore his pajamas. It was never like Vaughn to do such a thing. That's what made Rhys' expression go from anxious to worried. "Bro, are you doing alright?" Though Vaughn didn't drink nearly enough to get drunk, let alone a hangover, Rhys felt obligated to ask.

"Didn't sleep well," Vaughn replied hoarsely with an added shrug before turning around to go back to his bed. Rhys followed, sitting next to his best friend.

"Why not?" questioned Rhys who looked at Vaughn in genuine worry. He was convinced it was because of him. Rhys had to make himself feel like it was his fault. Whether it was because he felt at fault or he wanted the sympathy, we'll never know.

"Nightmares."

"Oh." Oh? Was that all he could say? Rhys tried so hard to think of something else to say. "What were they about?"

Vaughn shrugged again. He didn't look like he wanted to be bothered with it, but Rhys was refusing to take that as an answer this time around.

"Vaughn. Please? If you're having nightmares, I want to know why." The grim look he got from Vaughn was enough to signal that Rhys was pushing it, but he didn't care. "I don't know why you never talk about these things with me."

"Rhys... it's not that I don't want to... I can't. "

"Why can't you?" Rhys barked back, "What is holding you back from talking to me?" Traces of anger boomed in his voice. Rhys was slowing becoming more hurt about the fact Vaughn wouldn't talk to him than he was about hurting Vaughn last night. "We've been bros since we were in Junior High. You've always told me everything! Since we graduated, you've been around me less and less!" Rhys took a deep breath as Vaughn's eyes closed tightly. Rhys was pushing too many buttons at one time. "D-Did I do something?"

That was enough for a reaction. "Rhys. Y-You didn't do anything. I've just been in my little world, okay?"

"Was it what I said last night? I didn't mean that. You know that!"

Vaughn sighed heavily and leaned up, pressing his back against the headboard of the bed. "Though, what you said seriously hurt my feelings, it's not that. Its not important."

Rhys wanted so badly to yell, to scream at Vaughn and deny his claims. But all he could do was look at his friend as his selfishness faded slowly. "Alright." Rhys whispered, "You might not find it important now... but when you do, you can talk to me."

Vaughn looked at Rhys with a sad smile. "I know. I always do."

"So you're not mad...about last night?"

"Mad, no... it was just really hard to remember the fact you were drinking. In psychology we were taught that alcohol weakens the inhibition part of the brain, exposing truths. It can also just make you ramble stupid shit. I didn't know which one it was."

Rhys put a firm hand on Vaughn's lap. "You know it was stupid shit, right?" That earned a nod from Vaughn.

Without hesitation, Rhys held up his free hand and balled it into a fist midair. "Bros?"

Vaughn's smile widened as he pounded back. "Bros."

For the remainder of the day, Rhys and Vaughn laid lazily in bed. Neither wanted to get up and recoup with the world quite yet. Eventually, they fell asleep.

The two men drifted, unconsciously hooking their pinkies as they slept.