[Current - takes place after this]
It's only one step at a time, just one foot in front of the other, off of the train and toward Sharon's house. He doesn't trust his balance on a skateboard (even if he was sober, not in the snow), and there's no way he could ride his bike, or, god help him, drive. By the time he's at the bottom of her stairs, his hands are red, his eyelashes and hair dusted in snow, and those stairs seem to go on forever. But at the top's the door, where he wants to be, where he maybe needs to be, and he bangs on it with the heel of his palm. "Shh- Sharon. Please." Please be there. Please, I don't know where else to go.
It's been a quiet night. Sharon's just watching old eps of CSI when the banging starts. Not expecting anybody, she grabs her little kimono-style robe and is tying it when she checks the peephole. Chino? She unlocks the deadbolt and opens the door. "Chino?" her frown is deep and worried, "What's wrong?" Cause it's easy to tell just by looking that he's not all right.
She opens the door quick enough that Chino doesn't register, and he nearly falls in on her. Literally. "Shit, f- fuck, sorry," he slurs, his hands on her shoulders to steady himself. "Sharon, she l- lied to me. El- Eliza said that Billy Zz- Zane tried to rape her, and it's a fucking lie. She u- used me, and." He barks out a sound that could as likely be a bitter laugh as it could be a sob, but for the fact that his eyes are dry. It's too deep, far too hurtful, for tears. "I didn't n- know where else to g- go. She-" She said she loved me, and it was a lie.
"Hey, hey! Easy there!" Pfew! The reek of alcohol is practically rolling off of him in waves! While Chino talks - rambles - Sharon slips an arm around his waist and leads him over to her couch. But something he says... "Wait, what? Billy Zane? That was Eliza?" She'd seen the news bites and hadn't been able to bring herself to believe it. Mr. Zane had let them hold a benefit hafla at his place once and had been amazing with the whole thing, a real class act. "Didn't know where else to--oh honey!" Without a thought, Sharon climbs onto the sofa beside Chino, pulling him into her arms so she can cuddle him tight. "I'm so sorry!" It's no more than a whisper.
He's cold, he's wet with melting snow, arms around Sharon's waist and head on her shoulder. "She- I. I thought-" There's no sense of anything except the need to talk, to be warm, to not feel utterly and completely like things have fallen apart. And he can't fix them. Neither can Eliza. Or Sharon, or Mr. Downey, or anyone. The need to talk, except he can't, can't find the words to describe this yawning awful in his middle. "I luh- loved her as much as I could. I g- gave her what I could. It wasn't enough. Sh- she said she did it for money, but-" Chino pulls away from Sharon, elbows on his knees and face in his hands. "She used the m- the marks I put on her to blame someone else."
It's true, she can't really make much sense of what Chino's saying but Sharon understands the need to try and say something, to do something, even if it's just talk. So she sits there beside him, rubbing small circles on his back and murmuring soft nonsense. "Ssshhh, sshhh, I know. I know, sweetie." the words more an offer of comfort than trying to hush him. Later, she might try to piece the story together but for now, all Sharon's interested in is doing her best to try and give her friend what small shred of ease she can.
He looks at her, finally, mouth too flat and eyes too liquid. "I'm th- thirty-five fucking years old. I should know what to do." And it's when Chino looks at her that he sees that she's in her pajamas (or a robe, or whatever, it looks like pajamas to him), and he looks away, disgusted with himself. "I sh- shouldn't have come here, Sharon. I shouldn't have- have bothered you. I didn't know- Mr. D s- said he's going to destroy her. I can't- he can't." His expression turns stony. "I'm going to fucking kill Steven Strait."
Ignoring completely his protests of 'shouldn't have come', Sharon continues those little circles on Chino's back, agreeing with him softly, "Of course you can't! Of course not!" She doesn't know what's been going on with his relationship, having taken a step back and given them space after Eliza had come to see her, but Sharon's going to agree with everything Chino says, 'cause she's his friend.
Okay, everything except murder. "Chino," she whispers, a little taken-aback by the grim look on his face, "You don't really want to do that." Who the fuck is Steven Strait?
"I want to, s- so bad," Chino husks. "I want to put a fucking g- gun against his head and ask him why he'd- he'd get Eliza to do something like that. I want him to answer me." He makes another sound, this one much closer to a sob than he'd even care to admit, and he looks away from her again. "I want to h- hurt him. I want him to know what it's like to- to feel like this." Like he doesn't even have a heart, only something rotten and blistering in his chest.
Now is certainly not the time for logic - tequila, anyone? - but Sharon can't help from tentatively putting out there, "Maybe he does know..." She reaches up and strokes Chino's hair back a little, "Maybe that's why he did it. Who even knows?" Truth is, she can see he's hurting and her heart hurts in sympathy, knowing what comfort she can offer is meager at best. She keeps touching him, though, alternately rubbing his back and stroking down his hair and neck, like one would comfort a child.
Chino turns into her, so drunk he's not even aware that he's weeping, not in great heaves, but just barely enough that his eyes burn like hell and it makes his nose run a bit. "It- it shouldn't have been her." He wants to tell Sharon that this is what he gets for letting himself get dragged in by Eliza, by letting himself believe in love, that he loves her. But it's not fair to Sharon, and part of Chino realizes this. That he's come to her because he's drunk, selfish, angry. Betrayed. And he's laying it all on her.
In order to get a little leverage, Sharon turns and tucks her knees under her so she can kneel up higher to hug Chino when he turns to her. "I know, baby. Ssshhh, I know. It's not fair. I know." Fairness never once enters her mind. Chino's been a friend to her and Sharon will honor that in whatever small way she can, and if that means letting him snot on her robe and crash out drunk on her sofa after, then so be it.
He's not so much snotty as just a little bit leaky. The worst part is, he doesn't know what else to say, how to thank her and apologize to her at the same time, how to make the pain in himself go away without laying more onto her. He shouldn't have come in the first place, he shouldn't be here. "Sh- Sharon. I should- I gotta go. It's not ff-" He pushes his hair away from his forehead, shaking his head a bit. "It's not fair to you." God, he's crying on her. What the fuck. Over a woman who he realizes he barely knows, despite the fact that she'd said she'd told him everything. And Sharon's there for him. "I gotta go."
Now that he's here? Not a chance! Shaking her head, Sharon gives Chino a final squeeze before standing up and giving him a little space. "Uh-uh," she tells him, clearing stuff off of the end table that's actually a quilt box, "You're here now and I'm not letting you go back out into that again! And I don't want to hear--mmpf!--" grunting a little as she hefts some of her spare sheets and quilts out of the box, Sharon plops them down beside Chino on the sofa, "I don't want to hear another word about 'fair', got it? There's no such thing as fair between friends."
"I won't sleep." As much as he'd love to, to be able to close his eyes and forget that all this has happened, no. He won't sleep. Chino knows he'll be up, doing whatever it takes to alleviate this thing that's in him, black and angry and desperate for revenge of some sort. But Sharon's doing her best, being amazing, so Chino takes the blankets and shakes them out, unzipping his hoodie and half-assed folding it up to toss over the end of the couch. "Thank you," he offers again, feeling so much like it's not nearly enough.
For a long minute, Sharon just looks at him, her head cocked to the side. "Just a sec," she tells him, disappearing into the bedroom. When she comes back out a couple of minutes later, she's got her standard yoga pants and sport bra-thingy on. She grabs a rolled-up mat from the corner and spreads it out, patting it. "Come on. I can't do much for you, but I got 'relax'."
"God, you s- sound like my boss," Chino mutters, slithering off the couch and sitting next to her. "But don't blame me if I b- barf on your floor." It's a really, really lame attempt at a joke, but he's trying, even though his guts roil and churn with not just tequila. But he scrubs his hands over his face, getting himself into a loose lotus, like Mr. Downey had shown him, the last time the world turned on its ear and went directly to hell.
"No worries," Sharon shoots right back with false brightness, worry tight on her face, "There's a plastic garbage can behind you and it's just a thirty dollar rug anyway." She watches him settle and nods to herself. "Okay," she starts, letting her voice fall into 'instructor' cadence, tone even and low, "That's a good start. I want you to stretch your legs back out for me, though." When he does, Sharon runs easy, impersonal hands down them, "Okay, relax. Sit up tall and relax. Remember to press in at your lower back so you keep the natural curve there. Okay, just release the muscles in your legs now. Good. Slow breath. Relax." And so going, she helps Chino wind himself back into his lotus, talking all the while.
Her voice is soothing, her touch equally so, and even though it feels like the room's spinning behind his closed eyes, the familiarity of these movements, these relaxation techniques, touch him, work to undo some of the nightmare that this day's been. It's hard to stay relaxed though, and if Sharon had known Chino four years ago, she'd see a pattern: that what's going on in his head works against any attempt that he's making with his body to loosen up, to meditate, to let go.
There's a little twist in Sharon's heart when she watches the ebb and flow of tension across Chino's face like that. Finally, she quietly asks, "You know what a moebius strip is, right?"
"C- continuous strip where-" Chino's head nods for a second before his fingers twitch and he jerks awake with a wince. "If you f- follow it, you touch both sides of the strip. If you cut it in- in half, it's one long moebius. C- cut it again, and it's two perfect circles, linked." It's as if he's not even thinking about his words, slurred and low, that they're there just because he knows them. "I'm ss- I'm sorry, Sharon."
"There's nothing for you to be sorry for," Sharon softly reassures, one hand reaching out to press gently on his knee before she takes it back again. "Now, what I want you to do is picture a moebius strip. Follow it with your mind, one continual thought that repeats over and over. Let everything else go. Release it. Focus on this. If you have a prayer or a chant that you like, use that. Picture it written on your moebius band and, as you follow the strip, you're reading your chant." As she speaks, Sharon's voice picks back up into that soothing, regular, almost sing-song cadence.
He has everything to be sorry for, even as he's doing as she says, reading words in his head that are strewn over that moebius strip in his head like some fucking R. Crumb comic. Sharon's voice lulls him, soft and musical and-
-and he jerks his head up again with a hiccup, pressing the heel of his hand against his mouth. It's only a warning that his stomach's giving him, rather than a sign of imminent mess (and another thing Chino would have to apologize for), and he stretches his legs out again. "I c- can't do it right now, Sharon. I can't f- focus." Chino glances at the couch again, where at the very least he could lay down if he wants to (needs to, maybe), and let the tequila in him do what the meditation is refusing him. Let him pass out. Please.
Sadness and hurt on Chino's behalf wash across the backs of Sharon's eyes and she reaches out again, rubbing over his outstretched ankle. "Okay, hon. Think you can make it back up onto the sofa? I'll get you some aspirin and a glass of water." Even with that, she's afraid his hangover tomorrow's gonna be a doozy.
Chino nods, his head bobbing like a marionette with its strings cut, and laboriously makes his way back onto the couch. "I d- I didn't mean for any of this to happen." He catches Sharon's fingers, gives them a squeeze. "I'm sorry."
There's no thought, just the need to comfort, when Sharon squeezes back, one lock of hair coming up to stroke gently over his cheek. "No sorry," she shakes her head, giving Chino a sad little smile, "What kind of friend would I be if I only let you come around when I needed you to work on my car?" Bending, she presses a kiss to the top of his head, much like a mother would. "I'll be right back, okay?" And she's off for his aspirin and water.
"A smart one," Chino answers, covering his eyes with his hand. When she comes back, he takes the aspirin with a sip of water, and sighs heavily. "I- I think I should j- just go home." His voice is just as heavy as his breath, and he looks up at her, his face writ in misery. "C- could you- would you m- mind giving me a lift?" He doesn't think he can stand the walk home, not when all he wants to do is throw up and pass out. But that's not Sharon's mess to deal with.
There's a hot ache in her middle, seeing the misery that seems to envelop her friend and she just nods, eyes sad. "Yeah, of course," the words come a little thick but Sharon chooses to ignore that, "You know I don't mind." And she doesn't. After all, what are friends for, right?
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