Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language, violence, and mature content.
Rhys stumbled into the gallery, doing his best not to fall over as he made his way towards the local artists show. His tie hung sloppily tied and crinkled against his beer-stained shirt, blood trickling down the inside of his left sleeve. His right shoe was untied and he nearly tripped on it, stumbling again as he finally entered into the part of the gallery where the show was hosted. People were milling about, champagne in hand, discussing the art on the wall. Rhys leaned against the nearest wall and wiped sweat off his forehead, raking his greasy, sweat-soaked curls from his eyes. He took a long drink from the unmarked bottle in his hand and trudged forward, hiccuping as he came upon the back wall, which had been reserved for the top piece. His piece, a black-and-purple mass of cubes accumulating to make a disjointed portrait of his face. To the right of it read the title he had given it, 'Trans Boy', and his name - his real name - printed in neat capitals underneath it.
There was a man and a woman standing in front of the piece, arms crossed snootily over their chests as they examined it. Something about 'trans youth' and a 'clearly suffering artist', a 'confused girl' maybe. Rhys shoved his way between them.
"It's trash," he slurred loudly, startling the woman, who looked at him with a scandalized glare. "It's nothing, it doesn't 'mean' anything. I painted it when I was high on cocaine and dick. It's just a shitty drawing, quit acting like it's fucking Picasso."
He stumbled his way towards the canvas, tearing it from its place on the wall. He could see Ethan and Leah out of the corner of his eye, quickly running towards him; he threw the painting on the ground and stomped on it, his foot puncturing the canvas. He stomped on it again and again, his balance skewed by his drunkenness; by the time it was torn to pieces he had attracted the attention of all of the show's patrons. He swayed where he stood, staring down on it, then promptly vomited, spewing sick all over the ruined art. Someone was putting their hands on his shoulders now, ushering him away, a hand trying to clean the sick up off his shirt; he couldn't stop staring at the painting even as he was pulled away from it, one thought running on repeat through his head: too much blank space, not enough vomit.
He heard a distant voice say, "I'll drive him home," and then he was being ushered along again, guided gently from the gallery out to the parking lot. He was folded into the passenger seat of a cherry red pickup truck, and he turned his head to the side and blinked Lip into focus as the latter started the engine.
"What the fuck, dude?" Lip said, rolling down Rhys' window. Rhys coughed, but the threat of vomiting passed and he instead stared at the passing buildings, the wind blowing through his hair sobering him up a bit.
"What the fuck?" Lip repeated, glancing between Rhys and the road. "What kind of bullshit was that?"
Rhys hiccuped and lit a cigarette in response.
"You've been acting all fucked up since the fucking a - " Lip cut himself off, sucking in a breath. "Since the you-know-what. You need to tell Ethan about it. You need to go to a therapist and get some fucking help."
Rhys burst into manic laughter. "Fuck you. What do you even care?"
Lip looked at him like he was crazy. "I care because you're my best friend." They were almost to the apartments now.
"Best friend?" Rhys exhaled smoke, sneering. "Yeah right. Why do you care who I sleep with? You slept with me and it was so goddamn boring you didn't even remember. Yeah, remember that? Your birthday two months ago? You took my fucking virginity, asshole."
They pulled into the apartment parking lot. Silence settled over them before Lip turned the truck off with a soft, "I know."
Rhys stared at him, face contorting with rage, before he got out of the truck, slamming the door behind him. Lip followed immediately.
"Wait, Rhys - "
"You didn't fucking say anything?" Rhys spat, whirling on him. "You didn't fucking say anything!"
Lip reached out to grab Rhys' arm, bringing the latter to a halt. "I just - I didn't tell you because I - I didn't feel the same way, Rhys."
Rhys stared at him for several long moments, then suddenly lunged forward. His hands wrapped around Lip's throat, but it was only a second or so before Lip's fist connected with his jaw and he was then thrown onto the ground, a sharp kick landing in his stomach. He struggled up to all fours, his nose bleeding from where it had met the ground, and Lip loomed over him.
"You're a fucking mess, Hartman," he said, all gentleness gone from his voice. It began to rain. "Get your shit together."
He walked inside, leaving Rhys alone on the pavement. Rhys hovered for a moment on his hands and knees, breathing heavily, before rolling onto his back, staring up at the sky as rain poured on him.