I don't know how many hours I spent staring into the ceiling of Duo's bedroom that night - both before and after my little excursion to the kitchen.
I'd caught a glance of the bottle earlier that day. Given how wine usually isn't stored next to the dishwasher soap, I suspect I wasn't meant to see it. I didn't think more of it, either - not until I'd studied the grooves in the panels above for a while.
I was in Duo's bed. That certainly wasn't a bad conclusion for my first day in his home. My only complaint was that he wasn't in there, too. I had changed the bedclothes, if somewhat reluctantly. When I got to the pillowcase, I looked over my shoulder to ensure nobody was watching, brought the pillow to my face and inhaled deeply.
A stupid impulse, but I had done it. I finished my task right after. The cover didn't smell that much of Duo, anyway.
But just enough for justification.
I grew tired of the ceiling and switched to the walls. Clear blue paint on plaster didn't offer much in the way of distraction, either. His bedroom was oddly austere.
I was in Duo's bed. I just couldn't get my mind away from that fact, however innocent the circumstances might be. I felt guilty about him using the couch - I was used to that sort of discomfort. Lying back, sinking into his soft bed, I suspected he had grown out of it.
I remembered the bottle then. I didn't really think beyond that. I got up, walked to the door and carefully opened it. The damn thing creaked, but nobody seemed to notice - I glanced towards the center of the dark room, and as far as I could tell, Duo was still fast asleep. I made my way to the kitchen, careful to make as little sound as possible.
I had found a glass, retrieved the bottle and studied the label. I gave a faint smirk when I read it - this bottle felt so out of place, and I don't just mean its hiding under the sink. My best guess was that it came from Quatre. The guy loves his tea, but still knows his wines. I don't pretend to have the same knowledge. Taste was never as important as quenching the thirst.
Only a quick nightcap, I kept promising myself, my fist around the cork. Just one sip, and then back to bed. Just half a glass. One short drink. A single shot to calm my nerves.
I knew there'd never be just one; knew I was only lying to myself. Sure, I was nervous, but drinking wouldn't make it better - I knew that, but the litany of excuses had become part of the bad habit.
Habit is only a different word for addiction, anyhow.
But I didn't drink that night. I didn't open the bottle and release the genie - or efreet, more like it. Instead, I stared at it for a good ten minutes more, then finally put bottle and glass back where I found them and slinked back to bed.
Once under the covers, I thought of Duo again. He was probably what made me stop - he'd told me drinking would be the only thing that'd make him kick me out - the only thing that would make me lose my chance here. I couldn't risk that, not for something so stupid. Yet, wasn't he the reason I wanted that drink in the first place?
No, that was unfair to Duo. My addiction had triggered the want. Duo was just another of those convenient excuses I could use to lie to myself, make myself feel I wasn't doing anything wrong.
Duo was also my best hope.
I stared into the ceiling again, took a couple of deep breaths, quietly cursing the sandman for missing me so blatantly tonight.
I tilted my head, looked out into the dark room. The silhouettes of my bags met me. To think, everything I owned could fit in such a small place. It was a depressing thought.
A small flick of cloth stuck out from one of the bags. Even in the poor light, I recognized it - an old blanket I had bought at a yard sale a long time ago. It was patched in many places, but still soft and warm. I ventured out on the cold floorboards again to retrieve it. More times than I cared to remember, it had fulfilled its role as a source of comfort - especially in some of the draftier places I had lived recently.
When I combined it with the other blankets, I finally felt at ease. At least I had something familiar with me now, and the added warmth was a boon. I rolled over to face the wall, took a couple of deep breaths. Even with fresh covers giving off an almost sickeningly sweet smell - daffodils perhaps, I'm not that good with flowers - I caught scents older than that lingering in the room. I could almost imagine myself enveloped in his embrace, his warmth around me, the smell of his shampoo and cologne close, soothing whispers in my ear.
Daydreams crossed into their nocturnal cousins, and I finally fell asleep, a hopeful smile on my lips.