Things with Sasha had become even more strained and confusing than usual. He partially blamed this on Oscar. Bear felt very uncomfortable at Sasha’s home now that Oscar had broken things off with Erin and essentially become public enemy number one. Margot openly referred to him as a horcrux. It was uncomfortable for Bear, to say the least. Of course, he understood why they were unhappy with Oscar. Bear wondered if Oscar saw the irony in his situation with Erin as it was very much exactly what happened to him and Katy. He most likely did, which was why he had kept his distance from Erin. Katy trying to be friends with Oscar had been very, very bad for Oscar. And, to be perfectly honest, Erin was faring much better after being dumped than Oscar ever had. For one thing, Bear never once saw her without pants. And she spent a whole hell of a lot less time not lying on the ground.
Bear had his friends over for dinner one Thursday night at the beginning of November. He needed a break from Sasha and the confusion. Things had definitely changed since Oscar and Erin’s break-up, but there was still that underlying uncertainty. Bear wasn’t used to women like Sasha. He was used to older women, to be frank, women who knew exactly what they wanted from life and had zero qualms about voicing it at all times. That was part of the reason he had been so drawn to Sasha initially. He’d had a long history of being told he wasn’t ready for the kind of long-term, seriously committed relationship he was trying to have with women who were, evidentially, much more mature than he was. He wasn’t sure how true that was. He thought he was fairly mature. His friends certainly thought so.
“You’re shockingly mature for someone whose honest to God legal name is Bear,” Oscar told him, lounging on Bear’s leather sofa with a beer that Bear had given him. Ramsay and Frank had wandered off somewhere further into the apartment and they had been the first to arrive. Robin and Joey would be arriving soon with Finch in tow and Miles had messaged Bear to let him know he would be late as he had been apartment-hunting with Iggy. According to Miles, there was shit-all to rent in the city.
“That’s what I think as well,” Bear mused thoughtfully, stirring the pasta he was cooking. He’d made tortellini from scratch. His aunt Meredith had given him a pasta maker for Christmas the year before and Bear hadn’t used it yet. Knowing that Aunt Meredith would ask him if he’d used it at the upcoming Christmas family get-together, Bear wanted to be able to tell her that he had without lying directly to her face. Besides, there was a very real chance she would get him something either related to pasta or the pasta-maker itself.
“Your apartment is spectacular,” Ramsay said, re-entering the living room and kitchen area with Frank wandering behind him.
“Thanks,” Bear replied with a smile. He had lucked out. His cousin Matt had been moving out of the apartment to move to Sarnia for his job and he’d recommended Bear take over the lease. It was a one-bedroom plus den. The kitchen opened up into the living room and all of the appliances were brand new. The landlord had been slowly renovating the apartments as tenants left and he was able to make changes. As such, Bear had moved into a freshly painted apartment with an entirely new bathroom and kitchen. The floors were laminate hardwood except for in the bathroom, which was heated ceramic tile. The kitchen counter was white and grey marble. The backsplash was white and black subway tile. It was almost nicer than the house Bear had grown up in.
When Joey, Robin, and Finch showed up later, Joey had a slightly stronger response than Ramsay.
“This is your fucking home?” He said, looking around the kitchen. “What the hell have we been doing at their shithole all this time?”
He pointed to Oscar, Frank, and Ramsay while talking.
“I would take offense to that, except our apartment is what I imagine the lowest Dantean circle of hell is like,” Oscar interjected lazily.
“Every fruit fly in the world lives in their fucking apartment,” Joey continued. “And you have marble countertops. This place is like the fucking Taj Mahal and they’re living in New Delhi with dysentery-plagued sewer rats the size of your fucking head.”
Bear didn’t have people over very often because his upstairs neighbours tended to complain a lot. Parties were definitely out, but the occasional dinner wouldn’t be so bad.
“Alright, that feels a little extreme,” Oscar frowned slightly.
“Does it?” Robin interjected, raising an eyebrow. “Because you once said the fruit flies were like a biblical plague.”
“I hope you don’t survive the apocalypse,” Finch told Oscar bluntly. “You would live a week in a post-apocalyptic world, maximum. In the end, you’d probably be eaten by someone with more upper body strength than you.”
Oscar’s frown deepened at that.
“I don’t think any of you would do much better,” he protested. “Can you imagine Miles during the apocalypse? He’d probably try to eat his own leg by accident.”
“That’s true,” Robin said, pointing at Oscar. “One hundred per cent, Joey outlives us all.”
“Fuck yes!” Joey returned enthusiastically. “In the end, it’ll just be me standing amid the rubble, holding Ryan Seacrest’s fucking head on a pike like a trophy. Or maybe I’ll form my own dictatorship. Our anthem will be ‘Work, Bitch’.”
“Because it endorses strong, hard-working values?” Ramsay returned shrewdly.
“Britney Spears will be our god,” Joey continued, effectively ignoring Ramsay. That was when Miles walked in.
“I’ve missed something clearly,” was the first thing Miles said. He followed it up with, “Mother of pearl, this is where you live?”
Everybody turned to stare at him. Bear was incredibly thrown to hear the expression “mother of pearl” come out of the mouth of a twenty-something male. Miles looked back at them all, clearly confused. Of course, it probably would’ve been helpful to him if he’d been present for the first part of the conversation because Bear got the distinct impression that everybody else was also imagining him in the midst of the apocalypse.
“Dead in seconds,” Robin declared after a long moment of silence. Miles looked incredibly confused, but no one else argued the point.