Chapter Thirty-Nine: “All the good cheese is gone”

Ramsay hated New Year’s Eve. As far as holidays went, it was one of his least favourites. Granted, he wasn’t very thrilled about most others either. Valentine’s Day was garbage and St. Patrick’s Day angered him because of the hordes of drunk students that milled about in the streets at stupid hours of the day. He didn’t like New Year’s because it was always, without question, a disappointment. He had never had an amazing New Year’s Eve, despite all the promises that had been made to him to the contrary over the years. This year, he was going to yet another house party with Oscar and Bear. They were going to Katy’s New Year’s Eve party and it was bound to be the most disastrous New Year’s of his life thus far.

“Why are we going to Oscar’s ex-girlfriend’s New Year’s party?” He asked as they gathered at his and Oscar’s apartment, getting a few drinks in before heading over to Katy’s apartment.

“Because she always has snacks and so many of them are cheese,” Bear answered mildly. Oscar grunted from his place on the floor. Ramsay rolled his eyes at his roommate. They weren’t off to a great start. Ramsay didn’t think going to Katy’s New Year’s party was a good idea, no matter how much cheese there would be. It seemed like a dangerous game of emotional chicken to play, especially since Robin had bluntly informed both he and Miles that Oscar had had a meltdown on Katy’s bedroom floor at the last of her parties they’d gone to. Ramsay was anticipating having to drag Oscar off the floor at some point during the night and was very much not looking forward to it. Nevertheless, he allowed himself to be taken to Katy’s, formerly Katy and Oscar’s, apartment.

“This is a terrible idea,” Ramsay said as they waited for Katy to open her apartment door. He didn’t think him saying it was likely to change anything, but he felt it should still be present on the record. He wanted it known when the whole evening went tits up that he had been against it from the beginning.

“Such a pessimist,” Oscar tutted. Ramsay rolled his eyes as hard he was physically capable. Bear, typically, ignored both of them in favour of smiling genially like the friendly giant he was.

When Katy finally came to the door, she beamed and gave each of them a hug. Oscar looked like it pained him, Bear dwarfed her, and Ramsay endured it silently, all the while inwardly praying for it to end swiftly. He had never been a huge fan of Katy. She was too goddamn perky, like every moment of her life was a precious gift. What’s more, she owned about forty-seven candles that smelled like vanilla or cookies and she collected aprons, but only cutesie, quirky ones. He had no idea why she needed so many aprons in the first place. She was only one person. She could only wear one at a time. As far as he was aware, she didn’t even bake that frequently. It seemed like a gross waste of disposable income.

“I’m so glad you guys could come!” She said, finally releasing Ramsay, who merely grunted in response. The worst part was that Katy really meant it.

“Yeah, us too,” Oscar said dismissively, craning his neck to see over her head. “There are snacks, right? Is there cheese?”

Katy pointed them in the direction of the kitchen and they set off in search of cheese, brushing past the rest of the guests. Bear smiled politely at everybody they passed and Ramsay did his level best to avoid eye contact with Katy’s best friend Maggie, who had a colossal crush on him. He’d been dodgy her at parties ever since he and Oscar had begun working together two years previously.

“Is this camembert?” Bear asked, slicing a piece of cheese to eat with a cracker.

“I told you she always gets the good shit,” Oscar said, looking at Ramsay pointedly, who rolled his eyes. There was another guy in the kitchen, pouring himself a glass of wine from a bottle of red on the countertop. He laughed, clearly listening to their conversation, and turned to flash them a winning smile. Ramsay swore he saw his excessively white teeth glint and his eyes literally sparkle. He had the chiselled jaw of a 1950s Superman comic and his sweater looked like it might have cost more than Ramsay and Oscar’s combined outfits.

“Katy loves hosting,” he told them, like they were somehow unaware and also like it was charming. “I’m Ezra.”

He held out his hand for the closest of them to shake, which happened to be Bear. It was a good thing too because Ramsay could tell Oscar was contemplating slipping onto the kitchen floor and lying there for the rest of the night.

“Bear,” Bear introduced himself, thankfully taking over most of the conversational duties, even as Ezra moved on to shake Ramsay and then Oscar’s hands. “And this is Ramsay and Oscar.”

“Bear,” Ezra repeated, frowning in a charmingly bemused way. “What an unusual name.”

“Stupid, you mean,” Oscar cut in, looking significantly less like he wanted to lie down and give up on life. Ramsay laughed, mostly at the startled expression on Ezra’s face. He was likely trying to work out how someone could dare say something so brutally direct. Bear, however, merely smiled kindly at Oscar and turned back to Ezra.

“My parents let my older sister Amy name me,” Bear began to explain. “She was really fond of Winne the Pooh as a child.”

“Oh, that’s cute,” Ezra said graciously.

“She used to call him Bear Pooh, so I suppose I should at least be grateful for her commitment to brevity,” Bear concluded mildly. Ezra laughed, sounding a little like he wasn’t sure if it actually had been meant as a joke. He valiantly changed the subject.

“So, you guys must be friends of Katy’s then?” He checked. It was a difficult question to answer. Ramsay definitely wasn’t Katy’s friend. He’d found her irritating long before she’d emotionally traumatized his friend. Oscar definitely wasn’t Katy’s friend because, though not loving someone was an excellent reason not to stay with someone forever, it was no less emotionally traumatizing. Bear very well may have been okay with her, but he was okay with everyone.

“Yeah, alright,” was Oscar’s evasive response. He continued to shove cheese in his mouth at an alarming and frankly appalling rate. Ezra watched him in mild confusion for a minute.

“How do you know Katy then?” He pressed the issue. Ramsay waited for one of the two to answer. Oscar had a mouthful of cheese though and Bear was looking around the kitchen like the cupboard doors were the most fascinating thing he’d ever laid eyes on.

“Well, this one used to live here,” Ramsay hooked a thumb in Oscar’s direction.

“Oh,” Ezra said dully, pausing for a long moment afterward. “Is it awkward that I brought it up?”

He laughed, clearly aiming for jovial and charming.

“Yes,” Ramsay answered bluntly. Ezra left the kitchen not long after that.

They spent two hours at Katy’s party. In that time, they consumed most of the cheese platter, a lot of the fruit tray, and had approximately fourteen drinks too many each. Oscar was almost on the floor again, but not from sadness. He was having trouble standing on his own feet. Bear was attempting to hold him up to little avail and Ramsay had given up on it entirely. Oscar’s former friend Mike kept glaring at them from his spot in the living room. He’d even made a pointed and scathing comment about vomiting because of the one time Oscar had thrown up blue frosting in the bouncy castle Mike had rented for his daughter’s first birthday party.

“He is never going to let that go,” Oscar slurred after Mike made the comment.

“He’s a dumbass,” Ramsay returned. It was possible he should’ve waited until Mike was further away. He had definitely heard. Ramsay definitely didn’t care. He maybe should’ve cared, however, because it very well could’ve been the comment that finally got them kicked out. Or rather, politely asked to leave by Katy. She was flanked by Ezra and Smug Colin at the time, though, like she thought she’d need protection in case Ramsay, Oscar, and Bear tried to rush her to stay.

“You’re upsetting some of the other guests,” Ezra told them sternly, putting a possessive hand on Katy’s shoulder.

“It’s cool, we don’t want to stay anyway,” Oscar said, staggering past Katy and company toward the door. “All the good cheese is gone.”

All the good cheese was gone because they’d eaten it, but Ramsay didn’t bother pointing it out. Instead, he followed Oscar to the door, grabbed his coat and his boots, which he struggled to put on while they traipsed to the elevator. They hadn’t even made it to midnight.

They ended up at the New Year’s party Priscilla and Bernie had invited them to on the subway two days previously, hosted by their friend Jemima. When the three of them turned up, slightly sobered from the subway ride and the following brisk trek through the snow-covered streets, they found Miles already inside with Iggy.

“Weren’t you supposed to be playing charades or some shit?” Ramsay asked him, grabbing another beer that he most definitely did not need. He was at least doing better than Oscar, who had fallen over trying to take off one of his boots and had just remained sprawled on the floor in the entryway.

“May have left in a rage after making a pun about Danielle’s murdered crow laugh,” Miles answered vaguely. Ramsay stared at him for a moment.

“That’s a real weak fucking pun, man,” he retorted finally.

“Weren’t you supposed to be eating cheese or some shit at Katy’s?” Miles asked shrewdly, one eyebrow raised.

“May have been asked to leave for calling someone a dumbass and eating all the cheese,” Ramsay shrugged.

“So a successful night for everyone then,” Iggy interjected, rolling her eyes. Ramsay looked over at where Oscar was still lying on the floor, laughing to himself, probably at his own drunken absurdity. All things considered, it really could’ve been a much worse evening. Ramsay had certainly been anticipating something much worse. Iggy obviously hadn’t been serious, but he thought it may have turned out to be a pretty great New Year’s after all.

Of course, he thought all of this before Oscar kissed him on the mouth at midnight while he was in the middle of eating pretzels. He could’ve done without that.

“You know, the person you kiss at midnight is the person you’re going to spend the new year with,” one of Priscilla’s friends announced with a wink just after midnight. Ramsay looked over at Oscar, who laughed in his face.

“For fuck’s sake,” Ramsay sighed.

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