Chapter Twenty: “I change outfits so many times a day I feel like Cher”

The radiator in Ramsay and Oscar’s apartment had broken, making it even more horrible than usual. It was so warm that even the fruit flies started leaving. That at least pleased Oscar. Ramsay, meanwhile, who hated the heat more than almost anything, was fully prepared to move out as well. The building super kept promising to come fix it, but apparently several other apartments in the building were having similar issues and he was more concerned about those. Someone has fainted due to heat exhaustion. While Ramsay could see how that was a big deal, he was going to murder someone soon and that seemed like it might be a bigger deal.

“This apartment is like a bloody hellscape of nightmares,” Oscar complained one Friday evening. He was laying on the kitchen floor because the tiles were the coolest part of the whole apartment. Miles, Bear, and Robin had come over to have a few drinks before they went out. Miles had demanded that they all accompany him to a bar because he’d made out with Iggy a week previously and it was wigging him out. Those were his words. Ramsay’s had been “you’re an idiot”.

“It’s certainly warm enough,” Bear replied mildly. Nobody would’ve been able to tell that the heat bothered him, except that he’d taken off his socks five minutes after arrival.

“I have sweat in places I didn’t even know possible,” Ramsay grumbled. “The back of my shirt looked like a Rorschach test when I took it off last night. I change outfits so many times a day I feel like Cher.”

“At least there are fewer bugs,” Miles said, clearly aiming for optimism. It mostly just came across sad. Oscar at least was pleased.

An hour later, they were still drinking in the apartment, sweating profusely and stewing in anger. It was possible nobody else was stewing in anger, but Ramsay certainly was. They were waiting for David, Joey, and Robin’s co-workers Evan and Finch to show up. Miles had called for a “proper guys’ night”, which apparently wouldn’t be complete without strangers.

“They aren’t strangers,” Miles had chided when Ramsay had said as much. Ramsay hadn’t bothered to reply, but he also didn’t think he was wrong. He would admit that David wasn’t a stranger, but he also wasn’t very much fun. He wanted every evening out to turn into an evening in where they played cards and maybe watched a couple episodes of Iron Chef. Joey also wasn’t a stranger, but he was something of a liability. Ramsay was just waiting for the day when one of their nights out with Joey turned into something that ultimately ended with a police escort. Evan and Finch were the strangers. Evan was less of a stranger than everybody would’ve liked him to be, but Finch was mostly unknown to Ramsay and also terrifying. Robin claimed he was nicer than he seemed and Ramsay assumed that was the case because it certainly didn’t seem like he could be any less nice than he seemed.

At one point while they were waiting, Robin took off his shirt. Ramsay didn’t blame him; he’d already changed into shorts. Bear had rolled up his pants as far as possible and had taken off his plaid shirt so he was only in the grey t-shirt he had on underneath. Oscar hadn’t left the kitchen floor, but he had taken to moving around so that he was in a fresh, cool patch every fifteen minutes or so. Miles was observing all of them, but particularly Robin, with a sour expression on his face. He seemed to think they were all whiney babies, but Ramsay had seen him splash water on his face from the pitcher in the fridge.

“Put your damn shirt back on,” Miles ordered Robin.

“But it’s hotter than the sun in here,” Robin protested.

“I don’t care,” Miles snapped back. “I look too much like Scott Baio for you to have your abs out anywhere near me. Put them away.”

Everybody turned to stare at Miles. Robin noticeably did not put his shirt back on.

“You what?” Oscar called from the floor, craning his neck so he could see Miles from where he was lying. Miles blushed.

“Nothing,” he mumbled.

“Did you just say you look like Scott Baio?” Ramsay asked.

“You think you look like Chachi from Happy Days?” Robin added.

“No,” Miles shook his head sullenly.

“You do,” Robin argued delightedly. “You just said so. You think you look like Chachi.”

Ramsay stared at Miles’ face. It wasn’t exactly an inaccurate comparison. The more he looked, the more he couldn’t not see it. It was a wonder none of them had never noticed before. It seemed like something Robin would relentlessly point out. Now that the comparison had been drawn, he would undoubtedly reference it at every possible opportunity. Miles had no one to blame but himself.

“Look, can we just drop it?” Miles pleaded.

“You brought it up,” Oscar pointed out unhelpfully.

They did not drop it.

When Finch showed up a few minutes later, they were still discussing how and in what specific ways Miles looked like Scott Baio. Miles hated it, but Robin was positively gleeful. It had taken Ramsay’s mind off the extreme heat for a while so even he was feeling pretty good about it.

“Look at how much my friend Miles looks like Scott Baio,” was the first thing Robin said to Finch, who reluctantly turned to look at where Miles was sitting in one of the armchairs, drinking his beer sulkily. Finch didn’t say anything, but he did nod. Miles sighed exaggeratedly.

Fifteen minutes later, Finch had taken off his leather jacket, which according to Robin was a small miracle. He was standing in the kitchen next to where Oscar was lying, examining the jars of syrup on the counter, which no longer made much sense now that the fruit flies had migrated somewhere cooler. Bear had managed to roll his pants up to his knees and Ramsay had exchanged his t-shirt for a muscle shirt he wore exclusively to the gym. It was a Fall Out Boy band shirt that had been a present from his brother-in-law, who had heard about his love of music and had assumed that translated to a deep-rooted love of Patrick Stump. Miles was still complaining, but he had moved from whining about being referred to as Chachi back to whining about Robin’s shirtlessness.

“He’s right, you should put a shirt on,” Oscar called from the floor, much to Miles’ delight. “Not be because he looks like Scott Baio, but because you look like a Ken doll.”

“I don’t see how that’s a problem,” Robin returned.

“They don’t have genitals,” Ramsay stepped in. Finch choked on his drink a little.

“Good point, well made,” Robin replied, reaching for his shirt.

When David showed up, he apologized for being late, citing something about it being bath night at his house and how Madison splashing around in a tub was just too cute to leave. Nobody begrudged him that. Ramsay did, however, begrudge the fact that he immediately suggested they start up a round of Crazy Eights. David mentioned the heat in the mildest way. He said, “boy, it sure is toasty in here” and then continued trying to get people to play euchre. Becoming a father had aged him roughly forty years. He was like a retiree forced to spend time with idiot twenty-somethings, who generally lived in squalor and were bad at being adults. Despite this, David was a very patient man. He moved past the extreme heat quickly and only tutted once at the sight of Oscar lying on the kitchen floor.

Joey’s response to the heat was slightly stronger.

“Motherfucker, it is hot in here,” he announced immediately upon arrival, as if they were somehow unaware. “It’s like Boca Raton in here, but without the old tits.”

It was startling. Everything about Joey was startling. Ramsay didn’t think he would literally ever get used to him. Looking around the apartment, Ramsay didn’t think he was the only one who felt that way. David looked not unlike he’d been slapped across the face. Ramsay watched as Joey moved into the kitchen to put some beers in the fridge.

“Oh, hey, baby!” He greeted Finch after he’d finished at the fridge. Then he smacked Finch on the ass, kissed his cheek, and walked away. Ramsay wouldn’t do any of that to Finch even if someone promised to pay him in diamonds. For one thing, it would never occur to him. Finch was less approachable than a nest of irritated scorpions. But more importantly, the risk that Finch would murder him was too great. Joey miraculously survived. Ramsay thought there was a very good chance Finch was too stunned to lash out.

After another thirty minutes and Evan still hadn’t arrived, Robin decreed that they finish their drinks and leave because it was “too fucking warm” and he “didn’t give a shit if Evan came or not”. Ramsay, who also didn’t care if Evan came or not, changed back into his bar clothes quickly and helped Bear drag Oscar off the floor. Joey chugged two beers, forced one on Finch as well, and David continued to suggest they stay in and play cards.

The next morning, Ramsay woke up sticking to his sheets. He peeled himself out of bed and wandered into the kitchen where he found Oscar on the kitchen tile with an ice pack on his forehead. Ramsay grabbed an ice pack of his owns and laid down next to him. It really was much cooler.

“I can’t believe I never noticed Miles looks like Scott Baio before,” Oscar said after a moment. “Do you think Robin will watch Happy Days just to be able to mock him in an accurate way?”

“Absolutely,” Ramsay answered without hesitation.


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