23: “You’re just going to have to learn to live with it”

Gord had been forced into spending Halloween with Janine. She had brought it up and instantly began crying when he hesitated. He had put his foot down on a couple’s costume, though. That had also made her cry, but just a sniffle so he had ignored it and moved on. He had also decreed that they would be attending the same party as his friends, which suited her just fine. He hadn’t met any of her friends yet and he hoped he never would. There was a chance they were fine, decent people, who had merely been coerced into spending time with Janine as he had. There was also a chance they all cried constantly. Either way, he knew enough people already.

Gord spent a large part of the evening trying to avoid his own girlfriend. He definitely needed to break up with her, but he was finding it excessively challenging to come up with a way that wouldn’t make her sob herself to dehydration. He had expressed his concerns to Finch earlier in the evening while trying to hide from view behind an open door like a crazy person.

“How can I dump her without being responsible for her inevitable death?” Gord asked, sticking his head out to peer around the door to check that Janine hadn’t spotted him. She was still sitting in one of the armchairs, talking a mile a minute to Robin’s friend Miles, who bore the trapped and helpless expression most people had when interacting with Janine.

“You can’t,” was Finch’s very unhelpful response. “You’re just going to have to learn to live with it.”

Janine wasn’t his only worry, however. Jacklyn had turned up and Gord had begun avoiding her as well. It was proving somewhat difficult considering the size of the apartment. Eventually one of them would catch up to him. He was having trouble deciding which he felt would be the lesser of two evils. One the one hand, Janine was smothering and there was roughly a ninety per cent chance that she would cry. How she maintained hydration, he had no idea. On the other hand, Jacklyn hated him with every fibre of her being. That was certainly less than ideal.

The first of them to find him was Jacklyn. He was pressed up beside the fridge, keeping an eye on Janine’s whereabouts. She was still on the couch with Miles, who had begun to look openly bored. He didn’t even cover his mouth when he yawned. There was a very real chance he was only pretending to yawn so as to fully display to Janine just how dull he found her in an effort to get her to leave him alone. Unfortunately for him, she would never leave him alone. She could talk for literal hours and, once she found someone, she dug her hooks in and never left them alone again. That was precisely what had happened to Gord. That was why he was still dating her; incredible perseverance against all odds on her part and an unhealthy fear of emotion on his.

“What are you doing?” Jacklyn asked him, sidling up beside him. It wasn’t an unreasonable question. It was, however, very unexpected. Gord leapt half a foot in the air in fright.

“Holy fuck do you need a bell,” he said, not for the first time. “Announce yourself, woman. For Christ’s sake.”

“What do you want me to do, shout my own name every time I’m near you?” Jacklyn scoffed in return.

“That’s exactly what I want you to do, yes,” Gord answered, nodding. Jacklyn rolled her eyes at him.

“Shall I try again?” She asked, hooking a thumb over her shoulder. “Do you want me to come back and shout my name in your face before I ask you again what the hell you’re doing?”

He glared at her.

“If you must know, I’m hiding,” he answered with as much dignity he could. It wasn’t much, but it was still too much for his current situation. Hiding from his girlfriend behind a fridge was not something to be proud of in any way.

“From what?” Jacklyn retorted skeptically, looking around the apartment, most likely for something scary and worth hiding from. But she didn’t know how terrifying Janine’s crying jags could be. It was difficult to walk away from a crying woman and not feel like a complete asshole. It was something Gord struggled with on a regular basis. More often than not, he spent minutes at a time watching her cry.

“My own misery,” was his cryptic, bitter response. Jacklyn frowned at him, but mercifully moved on nonetheless.

“What are you supposed to be anyway?” She asked, gesturing to his entire body. He was mildly offended. His costume was really good.

“I’m Freddie Mercury,” he answered indignantly. She had come as a cat, which was the most boring, uncreative costume he’d seen all night.

“Isn’t this just what you look like normally?” Jacklyn returned, one eyebrow raised.

“I have never worn pants this tight or this white in my life,” Gord argued, a little offended that she would think that he had for several reasons. First of all, it wasn’t really his style, but most importantly, he would hope she’d have noticed if he regularly wore pants like that. They were very eye-grabbing. Finch had even gone so far as to call them eye-gouging. Gord could attest that they were also very much testicle-crushing.

“If you say so,” she replied, sounding very much like she didn’t believe him at all. Gord glared at her and tried to work out if it had been a better or worse interaction than anything with Janine would’ve been.

Gord at least took solace in the fact that he wasn’t the most miserable person at the party. Gavin had come dressed as a firefighter, mainly in the hopes that it would make him irresistibly sexually appealing. He had the blue t-shirt with the cuffed sleeves and the pants with the suspenders. He even had a hat. He had been quite pleased with himself until Amare had shown up in the same costume. And then, when they’d arrived at the party to find the apartment was roughly a trillion degrees, Amare had taken his shirt off and Gavin’s mood had fallen even further.

“I imagined this differently in my head,” Gavin admitted later on into the party, having been approached by very few women.

“Because you weren’t standing next to shirtless Amare?” Gord checked.

“I think that might be it, yeah,” Gavin agreed. Gord patted him on the head consolingly and then ducked behind the counter as Janine looked over.


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