Chapter Twenty-Four

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[warning of a little talk about insomnia, in case that could be triggering]

All throughout the week, Mason doesn't contact me. Tarker doesn't say a word to me. I don't see anybody making fun of Melanie. But they're all there and they're not done. They don't dare to come out but they're in the shadows. Because Mason still has a part in our project, he's just waiting for the right moment to strike because I'm sure he's got a plan. I still work with Tarker and he keeps quiet but it doesn't seem like he's run out of ways to insult me. And yet, he doesn't. I don't know what's up with that. I don't notice the kids picking on Melanie but she messages me Wednesday night and tells me all about it. And I wonder if we're even making a difference.

Friday afternoon, I come to the conclusion that currently, we're not. I mean, we still have our site and we're offering help and we're helping but we're not making a difference really. Mason hasn't taken the money but for the rare chance of him taking the money, I don't want to spend it. I've started to accept money from advertising companies that don't trash the site with unclosable clips and we're improving, we're slowly getting there but right now, we're not making a change. And that's why I take Daley and Oli out drinking, if they like it or not.

If Daley and I go out on a Friday night, it's always his choice and his treat. On a Saturday night, that applies to me. But tonight, Daley is paying. "How was work?" he asks as soon as our drinks arrive on at the table. He flashes the waitress a charming smile before turning back to me and waiting for my answer. "First of all, don't do that to the waitress, you have a girlfriend. Second of all, work was alright." Oli grins. "I miss working with kids." "You used to work with kids?" I question and lean back in my chair, playing with the straw in my hand before taking a sip. Oli nods. "Yeah, for two years I volunteered in a pre-school for children with mental disorders." I raise my eyebrows and nod slowly. "Wow, I don't think I could do that." "Me neither" Daley agrees. "It wasn't as difficult as it seems. They're just so happy and they give back so much because they're so grateful. It's such a good feeling." "Why did you stop?" I ask. "I had to start making money at some point, I was just volunteering" he says and takes a sip of his drink as well. "Not all of us can afford to just work without getting paid, not talking about anybody specific" he smirks and looks at Daley. Daley rolls his eyes, laughing sarcastically. "I am working and it will pay off" he announces. I nod and pat his shoulder with a smug smile. "Of course it will."

Even though Daley is paying, he turns out to be the target of most jokes throughout the evening. After his fifth drink, he fishes some money out of the pocket of his jeans, slams it down on the table and says that he's going to go and see Helen. I look at Oli and ask him if he wants to leave too but he shakes his head instantly. "It's still early" he replies and I look at my watch. It's almost midnight. "Are you leaving too or no...?" Daley asks. "Are you sure you can make it on your own?" Daley nods for a little too long but he's a very responsible drunk and Helen doesn't live too far away so I hug him and kiss him on the cheek before letting him walk off into the night.

I sit back down and pull the chair to the side so I'm sitting opposite Oli. "Sure you wanna stay?" I question and he nods. "Hell, yeah. Let's have some more." I take a deep breath and finish my glass. "Alright." I have never been a fan of the one person that always wants to stay out the latest, not wanting to go home because they can't be by themselves without feeling like they should be out going crazy. Even back in my teens, I never was that person and I never wanted to stay out super late with that person that always hoped that something more was going to happen, trying to force the epic story to come out of a certain evening, not knowing when it's time to go home. But I like Oli and I don't mind spending some more time with him or getting a little more drunk so we stay until 2am, then we stumble out of the bar and into the streets with his arm around my shoulder.

"What now?" I babble and he stops, taking a deep breath. "I don't know, baby girl" he replies, blinking several times before looking straight at me. I'm about to open my mouth when his jaw drops and he points at something over my shoulder. "Shit, look, Bev, let's get a tattoo. Matching tattoo." I raise one eyebrow at him. "What? No..." "Yeah, come on, I didn't realise this is where we were, my buddy works over there and he's open all night on Fridays." "No, I haven't got the money." "My treat" he says, already heading for the tattoo shop. I follow him across the street but try to delay him. "You don't have the money either" I add. He shakes his head and runs his fingers through his hair, taking off his glasses and putting them in the top pocket of his shirt. "Come on, you've gotten a tattoo before as well, right? So you know how it feels! So you're addicted too." "Oli..." He pouts and takes my hand slowly, without me even realising until he has already pulled me right up to the door where I just relax and give in. "Okay, what are we getting?" I ask and he pushes the door open.

As if he has planned this, as if he's known what bar Daley would pick, his buddy actually is there and he's actually working, asking us what we want straight away. "I'm thinking for you like a Super Girl logo." "No." "Beverly..." "And what about you?" "Me too." "You're Super Girl?" I question sceptically. He laughs. "No, Super Man." I roll my eyes. "We're gonna regret this." "No, we're gonna be telling this story to our grandkids, come on, baby girl." I roll up my sleeve and sigh. "Okay."

We exit the shop laughing, me with plastic around my right upper arm, Oli with it around his ankle. "We're so badass" he grins. I try to calm down and link arms with him. "I'm so tired" I confess. "Let's sit down" he mumbles and pulls me down onto a bench on the other side of the street. "You need to chill" I say. "What can I say? I'm drunk." "Doesn't that mean it's time to go home?" "You wanna leave me?!" he gasps, acting offended. "No, seriously, Oli, why don't you want to go home?" I ask in a more serious tone now. The smile washes off his face and I almost regret saying anything.

He breathes in deeply, closes his eyes for a moment and then opens them again, looking right at me. "I don't sleep" he says. I raise one eyebrow in confusion. "What?" "I ... well, I can't really sleep. I don't sleep much, it's really hard for me to fall asleep, it just doesn't work. Not with pills, not with training it. It's some weird kind of insomnia. And I hate that feeling of trying and not succeeding so I try to delay it as long as possible. If you want to go home though, like, if you really are tired, you don't have to feel like you gotta stay out with me, baby girl." "What do doctors say?" I wonder, totally starstruck because I did not expect that at all. "They don't know but they don't want to admit it. I'm a lost cause." I shake my head with a slight smile. "I wanna go home but you can come over to ours again and we'll stay up for a bit longer, how does that sound?" I ask, not knowing what to do. Since I didn't know that about him, I'm still a little confused because I spend so much time with him, not knowing. Suddenly, he isn't that kid that wants something epic to happen at the party. He isn't like the others wanting to stay out so long.

We walk back to our place and Oli sits down on the sofa as I make some tea in the kitchen to calm him down a little. The tattoo starts itching underneath the plastic and I resist the urge to scratch it. I make my way back to the middle of the living room and sit down next to Oli, placing his mug on the table in front of him. "Thanks" he says quietly. "And thanks for staying out with me for a little bit, thanks for staying up with me now" he adds in a more serious tone. "Sure thing" I smile, noticing that he's staring at me. "You're a really great friend. And we've become drinking buddies somehow, have you noticed that?" I grin. "You're right" I agree and grin before I drink a little bit of tea. I've barely placed my mug back on the table when I feel Oli's hand against my cheek, turning my face so I'm looking at him, a little further up so I'm on his height and then his lips meet mine and my eyes close automatically as I return the kiss. His hand moves to the back of my head, running through my hair as he pulls me closer and kisses me a little harder.

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