Brooks was more than surprised when Mike had nothing to say to him on the bus to Pennsylvania. He had been quiet and broody and down-right irritated since they loaded up, and had only gotten worse now that they were cruising down the I-70.
He wanted to talk about it, he wanted to come out and tell Mike what he had been up to that morning and what he’d found out, but he didn’t want to be the one to bring it up.
Brooks had been hoping for Mike to ask him what was wrong so that he could finally get it off his chest, maybe even figure out what he should do about it.
Apparently what Brooks wanted wasn’t on the top of Mike’s priority list though; for a first.
Mike had his head resting against the window of the bus, not caring that his hair was becoming flattened thanks to the way he was resting. Every now and then a sigh would emit from somewhere between his down turned lips, but Brooks wasn’t sure what was going through his head - and he didn’t have the consideration to find out.
Instead they both spent the five hour drive in silence, ignoring everyone around them and brooding quietly.
Brooks had unpacked everything for the first time ever. His clothing was spread between the drawers of the dresser and the closet; his shoes and sneakers were even lined up by the door.
He’d never actually taken the time to do any of this before, but he couldn’t bring himself to sit still.
Even Mike was on edge, sitting on the very bottom of the bed, his feet fidgeting as he tried to focus on the TV. He was clutching his cell phone in a ’this is my life-saver’ kind of way, but again, Brooks didn’t comment on Mike’s behaviour.
He flopped down on the unoccupied bed and huffed loudly. Mike flopped back too, also huffing.
They went back and forth for almost five minutes; one would sigh, then the other would sigh louder, and so on. Finally Brooks couldn’t take it anymore. “What the fuck is wrong with you?!”
Mike rolled his eyes but pushed himself into a sitting position. “I thought that breaking up with Denise would make me happy, and it hasn’t.” He said quickly, exhaling once he was done.
Brooks snapped his head to the left, glaring at Mike. “Well it’s not like you’ve actually tried to be happy. Hell, you haven’t really done anything…” Brooks stated, his voice getting less harsh as he spoke. “In fact, you’ve been doing everything the same way you would be if you were still with Denise. Have you gone out at all?”
“Umm… not in the technical sense.” Mike muttered, folding his arms over his chest and flopping back down onto his back. “I just don’t really know what I’m suppose to do.”
“What? You’re scared of girls now?” Brooks snorted, finding amusement in the question.
“No! Yes… Maybe. Look, I’ve just always been in a relationship ok? I never did the single thing before.
Sure, I’ve had girls flirt with me… but I’ve never had to do anything, I run walk away from them. I don’t know how to go from that to… hooking up.” He looked over at Brooks expectantly.
“Well Mike, it’s not really like I’ve hooked up with a lot of girls either… I mean… there were a couple in high school, Cosmo’s mom and then Emily… I’m not exactly an expert.”
Mike grunted. “Yah but you know more than me.”
“You’ve had way more sex than I have…” Brooks retorted, knowing full well that it was true.
“With the same girl! That doesn’t count at all!” He complained back, to which Brooks had no answer.
They fell back into the silence that had managed to dominate their trip so far, before Brooks decided to throw an idea out. “How about we go out tonight after the game?”
“Go looking for girls?” Mike asked sceptically, wondering what Brooks could possibly be trying to prove.
He felt like bringing up Emily, saying something about how Brooks was head over heels in love with her; but he was too intrigued by the idea of going out for a night with Brooks.
Brooks shrugged, not noticing Mike’s apprehension. “Why not? I mean, it’s not like I can just go out any night I want now that I have Cosmo… we might as well take advantage of it, right?”
Mike just nodded along with him, hoping whatever had come over Brooks wouldn’t change between now and after the game.
It was only with liquid confidence that Mike had convinced Brooks to call Emily; not just to check on Cosmo, but to move things on with their relationship as well. He was still mildly depressed over his current relationship situation, and the last thing he wanted was for Brooks to be put through the same thing. “So… I was just doing some thinking and I thought that we should get together. As a permanent thing… you know?” Brooks murmured into the receiver as Mike danced around the room behind him, the remainder of the Johnny Walker bottle still clutched in his hand.
Brooks reached for a pillow and chucked it over his shoulder, not aiming, but still hitting Mike square in the face. “Are you asking me out?” Emily asked into the phone as she squinted and tried to hear Brooks over the background noise around him.
“Are you drunk?”
Brooks pondered the question as he glanced down into his other hand - the one that was holding the empty bold of scotch. “Maybe.”
Emily sighed loudly and clutched the bridge of her nose with her thumb and forefinger. “I’m not having this conversation with you, Brooks.”
“-the answer is no!” Emily snapped again. At the beginning of the conversation she had been more than pleased when Brooks had started to shamelessly flirt with her; at least until she realized that it was due to his intoxication level and not because he had decided that he actually liked her.
Brooks grunted a goodbye before he hung up the phone, feeling the sting of rejection amplified by the burn of the alcohol. “What did she say?” Mike asked, jumping onto the bed beside Brooks. “Is she your girlfriend now?”
“No. She said the answer was no.” He grumbled, tossing his phone across the room and pushed himself off the bed. “Fuck!”
“Maybe she didn’t understand what you were trying to say…” Mike suggested, taking another swig from the bottle.
Brooks shook his head, running his hands through his short, freshly washed, hair. “No she knew what I was asking.” He couldn’t think clearly, but he didn’t want to. He didn’t want to think anymore, he wanted to do something; he needed to move. “Let’s go out.”
“We’re still going out? But I thought-”
“-you thought what? That I was gonna get upset because she said no? I don’t care… I don’t even like her! I said let’s go, so let’s go!” He hissed through clenched teeth .
Mike, even in his drunken haze, could feel the change in Brooks demeanour. He shrugged his shoulders and got up to follow after him. “What are we gonna do?” He asked, afraid of the answer.
He came up short when Brooks turned around suddenly and gave him a frightening smile. “Whatever the fuck we want.”