Chapter 80

Thomas eventually left his post at the door to join the revelry, but only once he was sure the bulk of the guests had arrived. It seemed like things were going well - the general vibe was certainly more relaxed than at last year’s festivities. The few freshmen who’d bothered to attend looked like they were enjoying themselves. A couple milled about in the living room making conversation, some participated in the drinking games set up in the garage, and one looked to be racing Roy to the bottom of the keg. Angela and Chad greeted him with their usual nods, and Thomas thought he saw a smattering of approval in the smile Angela flashed him. He could see why: things were going along as well as could be expected.

Thomas tried to take a detour to the bathroom, only to walk in on a couple getting exceptionally familiar on the counter of the sink. He closed the door before investigating identities: there were some things he was probably better off being ignorant of. It wasn’t like he blamed the duo - there were scarce private places to be found and with this much social lubricant, such instances were bound to occur.

The thought that followed on that one’s heels, not that Thomas would accept that there was any connection between the two, was that he should check on his housemates and make sure they were all doing okay. Thomas turned his attention in search of Violet and the others, winding his way back through the rooms. He snatched up a few abandoned cups as he went: just because it was a party didn’t mean he couldn’t get a head start on the eventual clean-up.

*    *    *

The inevitable had happened, and thankfully it had happened in a toilet rather than on anyone’s shoes. Despite Sasha’s secret water and Camille’s watchful eye, Vince’s stomach had turned after only a few drinks more. Camille had offered her services in aid to Sasha and the two had gotten him upstairs where he proceed to make a valiant offering to the porcelain god. The two women stood outside during the assault, neither one particularly wanting to get the visual on such an event.

“You can probably head back down if you want,” Sasha said, partly just to verbally cover the series of sickening sounds coming from the open doorway. “I’ll just clean him up, throw some water in him, and put him to bed in Will’s room.”

“That’s not a good idea until we’re sure he’s done vomiting. If he gets on his back and throws up in his mouth he can choke to death.”

“First off, yuck. Second, what are the odds of that?”

“More than you’d think. I took some emergency care classes at the local hospital when I was younger. Apparently there are multiple cases of people dying that way every year,” Camille explained.

“Really? I guess I’ll prop him up, then.” Sasha was interrupted by a fresh wave of audio from the restroom. “That might be a while from now. So, why did you take emergency classes? Can’t you fix everything with a touch?”

“Not everything. Illness is really hit or miss for me, depending on what kind it is. There are very few healers who can deal with all forms of infection and sickness, so learning some general treatment practices was a good idea. Plus, it never hurts to expand your knowledge.”

“I bet it also looked good on your application to Lander.” Sasha flashed her classmate a conspiring grin. Camille reciprocated as best she could. The noise from the bathroom began to dull, and Camille risked a quick peek to ensure his head was still above the rim.

“How is he?”

“Looks stable for the moment. Let’s give him a bit.”

“Good call,” Sasha agreed.

The two stood in silence, save only for when Camille ventured into the bathroom to give the toilet a quick flush. Vince stirred briefly, mumbled a pair of words and then set his head back onto the seat. The girls had wiped it liberally with some cleaning pads before letting him settle down, but Camille still couldn’t help wondering how sanitary a practice this really was.

“Why don’t you use some of your healing ability to make him better?” Sasha asked as Camille emerged from her unpleasant adventure.

“I did that on the way up the stairs. I healed his liver, but the alcohol is still in his system. The symptoms won’t go away until it runs its course.”

“I see. So all I can do is wait.”

“Seems like it’s our only option.”

“Gotcha. Well, while we’re standing around, I was wondering something. How long have you had feelings for my ex-boyfriend?”

Camille reddened immediately but she didn’t look at the ground. Instead she met Sasha’s stare dead on, even shifting her feet a bit to close the height gap between the two. “What do you mean?”

“It’s okay, you don’t need to deny it. I’ve given you multiple chances to leave Pukey yet you stay; you even went in to flush despite his current combustive nature. When I think about the way you’re always gazing up at him, it all falls into place.”

“I wasn’t denying it. I was literally asking for clarification on what you meant. If you mean to ask how long I’ve admired him, the answer is a very long time. How long have I been attracted to him is obviously since I saw him. If you want to know how long I’ve cared deeply for him... well, now that I think about it, that’s really none of your business anyway.” Camille’s insides were churning with a fervor only Vince’s could currently equal, but she stood her ground and refused to look away.

“Look at you, getting all puffed up for a change.” Sasha attempted a friendly smile, but succeeded only in resembling a tiger showing its teeth to a house cat. “There’s no need to get upset. He’s my ex after all. I was just making conversation.”

“Then I apologize for misunderstanding your meaning,” Camille replied, lowering her stance but keeping her eyes locked with Sasha’s. The two might have stayed like that all night, if not for the sounds of a silver-haired young man pulling himself up from the toilet and lumbering to the doorway.

“Anybody have any mouthwash? There’s a flavor on my tongue that would curdle milk.” He gave a weak smile to his two caretakers, who immediately let the tense mood between them dissolve.

“I’ll put a cup for you by the bed. I’ll also leave a bottle of water and a trash can, just in case,” Camille volunteered. She nearly dashed from the room while Sasha began helping Vince over to the bed. Her heart was thundering, partially because of her confrontation with Sasha, but more from fear that Vince might have overheard their discussion. They’d been speaking low; however, that didn’t mean he hadn’t at least gotten snippets.

By the time Camille had found a free trash can and a big enough bottle of water, she’d managed to calm her nerves a bit. She reminded herself that even if Vince had gotten pieces of the conversation, there was virtually no way he’d recollect them in the morning. He was well beyond out of it; after all, when she’d gone in to flush he’d mumbled something that sounded like “stop, thief.” That made no sense at all. At least, that’s what she kept telling herself over and over as she climbed the stairs back to the room where the man she loved was waiting.