we invented the remix 5

just another drunken bet by naiad: the straight since the cinco de mayo mix by jae

The problem was that drinking cheap whiskey made Chris mean.

He assumed it was the cheap whiskey, at any rate. He hadn't really had a chance to try out any expensive whiskey, but he was pretty sure that expensive liquor would make everything better. It was too depressing to believe anything else.

The other problem was that drinking pretty much anything alcoholic made Justin arrogant. Some people might argue that the problem was that Chris had gotten a fourteen-year-old drunk enough times to be able to make generalizations about it. But what those people (who included basically everyone Chris knew except Justin, who took a very open-minded stance on Chris getting fourteen-year-olds drunk) didn't understand was that Justin was a whiner, and a really cheap drunk besides, and that combination ensured that Chris would always wind up giving him the beer and a half it took to put him over the top.

It was Chris' fault, absolutely. He was man enough to admit it. All he had to do was not drink himself, or put up with Justin's whining, or even maybe go out on a Saturday night without the kid in tow. But somehow those options never occurred to Chris until the damage was done. Foresight wasn't one of his marketable skills. Hindsight, now, that was something Chris had to spare.

"Oh, really?" Chris said, smiling over at Justin. He could feel the meanness slithering through his veins, crawling through him and dripping out of his mouth. He even knew he'd be sorry later, but he couldn't stop himself. "Have you even kissed a girl, kiddo? Because you do a lot of big talking, but I haven't seen any evidence to back it up."

"Course I have," Justin said, and he couldn't lie for shit so Chris knew he was telling the truth, but from the way he bit his lip Chris knew it wasn't the whole truth. "Lots, even more than you, maybe."

Chris laughed. "Oh, more than me? You haven't even sold me on one yet, even. So you're telling me you've kissed a girl lots, even, more than me and it wasn't a game, or some kid shit where you're just messing around, but a real, serious kiss with a real, serious girl? Where both of you meant it?"

"Sure," Justin said. He tore at the label on his beer bottle. "Sure, all the time, even."

"Oh, all the time even? You just see what you want and you go for it, huh? That's just the kind of guy you are?"

"Yeah," Justin said. He looked right at Chris. "That's just the kind of guy I am."

"Oh, I bet," Chris said, and he knew he'd be sorry later but he wasn't going to stop. "No, really, that's how you can prove it to me. I bet you won't go kiss somebody, right here, right now, right in front of me. You want to shut my mouth? Go kiss somebody."

For a minute Justin didn't say anything. Chris kept looking at him and Justin looked down at the table, then fiddled with his beer bottle again. Finally he said, quietly, "Maybe there's nobody here I want to kiss. Maybe I just don't "

"All these girls here and nobody you like? Absolutely nobody that you want to kiss? That sounds like an excuse to me, baby. That sounds chickenshit to me "

"Okay," Justin snapped. He stood up and looked out over the dance floor, bracing himself with both hands against the balcony rail. Chris almost felt bad as he watched, but he told himself that if Justin was going to talk the talk, he should get used to backing it up or backing down. It was a life lesson, really. And besides, if Justin had the balls he could even win the bet. There were at least a couple of girls here that weren't as young as Justin, maybe, but young enough that he could make a play. Or if he really wanted to show Chris up, he could walk up to some hot girl old enough to think Justin was a cute kid and just explain the whole thing to her, how he was out with his jackass friend who liked making jackass bets with innocent young children, and she'd probably let him kiss her on the cheek or something and then if Justin played his cards right she'd even come up and yell at Chris and maybe even throw a drink or something. There was at least a twenty percent chance that Justin could pull this thing off, Chris thought, or he wouldn't have made the bet at all. He was mean, but he wasn't unfair.

"Okay," Justin said again, more quietly. He pushed back from the railing and stood by the table for a minute. He picked up his beer and took a drink, tilting his head all the way back. Chris could see the muscles in this throat working slowly. "Okay," Justin said again. He put the beer bottle down and just stood there, his hands clenching awkwardly at his sides, like there was something he wanted to grab for support but he wouldn't let himself.

Chris might have been a mean drunk, but he wasn't a monster. "Listen," he said, "listen, you don't have to "

Justin leaned down and kissed him, catching the corner of his mouth. He opened his lips against Chris', opened his lips and let his tongue slip into Chris' mouth, fast and sweet and shy. He tasted like sour like beer and sweet like the gum Chris had made him spit out before he got in the car. He tasted like the bravest drunk fourteen-year-old in the world, and Chris pushed himself backwards so hard that Justin almost fell, banging his hip against the table.

"Ow," Justin said, his eyes filling with tears, and he sounded every second of his age and not one second more.

"Chris," Justin said, and Chris would have given everything he knew he'd have one day to not be so drunk, to not have been so drunk. "Chris, I want I just wanted "

"We're leaving," Chris said. He stood up and walked toward the door, hands in his pockets. He was moving so fast that even with his long legs Justin almost had to run to keep up with him. He looked back once, to make sure Justin was following, and then he didn't look back again.

When they got to the car Chris opened the door and almost pushed Justin in. "Stay there," he said, and slammed the door. Then he leaned against the car, breathing hard and looking up at the moonless sky, waiting until he felt sober enough to drive. Justin didn't try to get out of the car or roll down the window to talk to him. Chris looked back once, just to make sure Justin was all right. Justin's head was tilted back against the seat and his eyes were closed. Chris decided to believe he was asleep.

When Chris got into the car Justin's eyes opened. He sat up and looked over at Chris, then shifted so he could lay his head against the window. He didn't say anything as they drove through the dark empty streets.

Chris stopped at a red light, even though there was no one coming from any direction, because while he felt sober enough to drive he wasn't sure that anyone official would agree. Justin flinched a little when the car stopped but he kept looking out the window. "Listen," Chris said, "about back there," and then he stopped. The silence rose up around them, darker and emptier than the streets, but Chris couldn't make himself keep talking.

"It was it was just for the bet," Justin said loudly, because he was braver than Chris. Chris would always know that. Justin looked over at Chris but Chris wouldn't meet his eyes. "I just did it so I thought it would shut you up, you know, cause it was a stupid bet and it would show you "

Justin couldn't lie for shit.

"You're right, you really showed me, you really got me good," Chris said, because he wasn't brave at all.

The light turned green and Justin tipped his head back against the window, watching all the world except Chris speed past him. He bit his lip and then said, quietly, "I'm glad."

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