[Part of the ongoing series of plot updates for hell-of-a-con/hell-of-a-hick. Roleplay between Hick (Con) and myself. Takes place the day after Ellis and Nick’s poolnight. Sorry it’s so late - we rewrote it a few times haha.]
Sweat slid in heavy beads along Overall’s cheek, trailing the line of his jaw before it dripped to the naked span of his chest and continued down the massive scar that made up most of his middle. His jeans hung on his hips, resting below the beginning curve of his stomach and half exposing the still defined dimples of his hips, muscle still apparent even with the bit of weight he’d begun to obtain. He killed the mower, blue eyes surveying his past hours’ worth of labor, curling his bare toes in the freshly cut grass.
Nick was lounging inside, likely asleep by now, while Overalls had decided to busy himself with yard work after his cleansing trip to the garage that morning, getting the mowing and weed-eating done for he and the conman’s three lots. He understood Nick’s want to having a larger yard and the lack of neighbor’s on either side of his home and he had to admit it was really nice to have so much space, even with the extra work that had to be put in with the upkeep.
Overalls sniffed, scrubbing at his stubble-ridden cheek with his palm as he leaned against the mower and contemplated the left side yard, trying to figure out just how big of a pool he could fit there were he and Nick to go up to Wal-Mart sometime that week and purchase one of the air up ones.
Ellis pressed a kiss to Keith’s cheek, the rasp of extra stubble beneath his lips from a skipped shower; he turned into it, emitting a hummed purr when Ellis nuzzled close before finally pulling away and hauling the trash to the door. The redhead was crouched with the twins in the living room, the boys each fumbling with their own ocarinas under Keith’s patient tutelage; as Ellis headed out onto the porch, Keith helped Maybel adjusted his tiny fingers on the instrument, Arden’s indignant voice carrying after Ellis as he insisted, “Ah dun gottuh change Ah got’ih righ’!”
As Ellis moved towards the front steps of his porch, the attentive gray skies of his eyes caught sight of Overalls across the street, apparently lost in thought as took a moment’s break from the landscaping he’d been doing for ages. Ellis considered his own options as he jogged down to his garbage can where its battered sag leaned against the sleek support beam of his carport, heaving the swollen plastic bag from the kitchen up and dumping it into the container with a soft grunt.
“Hey, Overalls,” he called before his tongue could stumble in line with his mind’s firm – oddly Keith-voiced – affirmation that it wasn’t something he needed to get into. He lifted a hand and made motion for his double to cross the street.
Overalls’s shoulders twitched, the hick managing not to jump too badly as he turned to regard the male calling for him. The smile he thought to return for the greeting didn’t quite make it, but he stepped across the yard, enjoying the warmth of the pavement beneath the soles of his feet as he crossed the street. He stuck to the sidewalk, smoothing back drenched curls as he raised his brows in questioning. “S’up, man?”
“Hey, brother,” Ellis said in easy return, one hand lifted to the back of his own neck while he quickly bumped fists with the alternate universe variation of himself, his eyes a little ducked though he offered a half-smile as well. “How y’all doin’? Yard looks damn good.”
The compliment broke a bit of the former wariness, tension not as bad as Overalls grinned. “Thanks, just tryin’ tuh keep up since we’re s’posed tuh get more rain this weekend,” he nodded to the light overcast they now had for a sky, rubbing at the scar along the bridge of his nose before he looked back to his counterpart. “Ah’m fine. Been doin’ lil shit ‘round tha house is all. Whatch’all up too?” he asked, unsure with himself if he were genuinely curious or just being polite.
“Yew still tryin’ fer uh pool?” the now-older survivor asked with a flash of a grin, folding his arms across his chest as he lounged back against the carport’s low-resting sloped metal siding with apparent relaxation. Ellis’s head tilted slightly as he gave a shrug in regards to his own day’s events, “Got th’boys fer uh couple hours, mah boyfriend’s teachin’ ‘em sum shit awn th’ocarina, like from Zelda? Ah tried but Ah can’t git th’hang uh th’lil’ holes. Yet.” He flashed a grin, but as he spoke, he slid his phone free of his pocket, thumbing out a bare-bones text to his boyfriend in forewarning of a long conversation.
“Yeah. Figured it’d be nice tuh have one fer summer… Ain’t no reason not tuh use at least Some uh that yard we got,” he looked back to his and Nick’s trailer briefly before he returned his gaze back to Ellis. He furrowed his brow in slight confusion before realization dawned on him and he mimicked the other with a grin of his own. “Aw, man that lil blue egg whistle thang, right? Ah never beat that game, once Ah got tha horse s’all Ah cared about,” he admitted, amused.
“Damn righ’. S’uh real’ waste, havin’ awl that space fer nothin’!” Ellis chuckled as he tucked his phone back into his pocket, head tilting back until the skull of his cap brushed his carport support, the bill angling up and away from the casual curve of his smile. “Shiiit, me too – Ah think Ah beat th’game, but when Ah got th’horse it wus ages til Ah bothered doin’ anything else!” He tilted back on his heels, letting the steel-laced toes of his boots arch up as he considered the other Georgian with the very beginnings of a frown. “Yew an’ Nick doin’ okay?”
Something snapped taught in Overalls’s chest, burning as his stomach dropped, but he tipped his chin up just the slightest, nodding good-naturedly. “Yeah. Jus’ been talkin’ uh lot this mornin’. S’fine,” he offered, honest and keeping the edge that wanted to slip into his tone.
Ellis slid a hand free of his folded arms and rubbed along the shadowed length of his jaw, fingers lingering at the scar he’d earned in the sugar mill. His eyes drifted from his companion, fixing on the conman’s trailer for a moment before flitting back to the former mechanic before him. “He talk tuh yew ‘bout wut happened at th’bar?”
“Well yeah, or it mightuh been pretty damn confusin’ whenSydneybrought him home last night,” he licked his lips briefly, thirsty, but resolving to hear the other male out. He toyed with smoothing his hair back again, wiping his palm along the thigh of his jeans. “Said he was uh real ass ‘bout everything,” he murmured with another shake of his head.
Ellis nodded thoughtfully and drew in a slow breath through flared nostrils, his eyes dipped low like he was considering himself before speaking. “Yeah, sum real’ mean shit got said but uh… purdy sure he wus drunk,” he ended softly, his voice low as through he didn’t want the statement to carry on the wind. “He always gits real’ mean an’ touchy when he’s shitfaced – he don’t slur like most folks, y’know?” The southerner swallowed thickly, hisadamsapple catching on the gesture. “Hope she went home las’ nigh’.”
“Reckon so,” Overalls agreed. The younger survivor paused, eyes narrowing just the slightest as he studied his fellow brunette. “Don’t know why ya’d say somethin’ like that. She’s awfully nice tuh keep him outta trouble an’ bring him home,” he kept his voice even, wary now.
“Naw, Syd’s always been real’ sweet like thah, helpin’ friends out,” Ellis offered in calm-voiced agreement, though he’d become visibly tense, shoulders squaring out before relaxing into an uncomfortable slump. “Look, man, Ah ain’t gonnuh bullshit yew none – Nick’s prolly been sneakin’ shit fer uhwhile, cus Ah know y’all been fightin’, an’ that’s prolly mostly why…” He dropped the hand from his face and gestured slightly towards their trailer across the street. “Ah know it’s real’ hard adjustin’, but’chu don’t wannuh mess with thah swingers shit, ‘Valls. It ain’t no good.” He paused and swallowed, lifting his gaze to lock eyes with his neighbor’s baby blues. “Ah dunno why she’s wantin’ tuh mess around with Nick, but yew don’t want that tuh happen, man. Yuh don’t.”
Pain flashed, quick and harsh through Overalls’s eyes before something darker settled and he straightened his stance. He swallowed; jaw clenching briefly as he struggled to keep himself in check, feeling as though he’d just been struck and wanting to swing right back. He sighed through his nose, not quite huffing before he spoke. “Ah really appreciate yer concern fer all of it, /bro/. Ah do,” he admitted, nodding even though the line of his neck was tense at this point, shoulders aching.
“Now hold on –”
“Yer Nick’s best friend an’ all, yew’ve got tuh have more time with me than him, know his moods uh little better…. But Ah don’t really reckon it’s any of yer fuckin’ business when or what causes us tuh fight,” he swallowed again, anger seeping out even with the forced calm.
“That wudn’t wut Ah wus –”
“Ah’m gettin real tired uh people who ain’t actually even been with Nick tellin’ me what Ah should an’ shouldn’t do, okay?”
“No, Ah ain’t –”
“Yew’d think that Ah’d get some sort uh fuckin’ credit fer bein’ tha only one tuh leave his side cuz Ah fuckin’ died an’ didn’t move on or jump dick like his stupid ex, but apparently not, Ah guess.”
A visible tremor ran through his stocky frame, but he shrugged it off with a shift of his shoulders, letting out a soft breath. “An’Sydneydidn’t fuck no body. She brought Nick home an’ then went on her way. Real polite.”
“Look,” Ellis cut in loudly, catching a bit of heat in his voice as he at last mustered more than stuttered apology and churned his confused into frustration instead; he dropped his arms away from his chest, standing his full height before his double. “Nick’s mah best friend, man, Ah give uh shit ‘bout both y’all – don’t throw that shit in mah face ‘bout not bein’ there cus Ah wus focused awn Keith, Ah already said sorry like ninety-five times an’ it ain’t none uh YER goddamn business anyhow,” he panted, breathless, guilt and a note of panic in his iron-eyed gaze beneath the anger. “Ah’m tellin’ yew he’s drinkin’ again an’ yuh shud watch out fer how he’s actin’ – Ah ain’t crossin’ no LINES, man. Ah’m jus’ tellin’ yew which part uh th’bridge ahead is crumblin’. Christ.”
“Man, Ah don’t give uh shit ‘bout yew findin’ love an’ all that!” he snarled, exasperated as he flung his arm out to gesture to his and Nick’s home. The yard was pristine, all quiet and calm despite the shit storm that kept rearing its ugly head amongst its occupants. “Ya knew he was just as down as yew, just like my Keith knew but ya couldn’t help Nick none and that’s fuckin’ over. Can’t change that. Fine,” he huffed. “What ain’t over is him hurtin’ an’ runnin’ himself down an’ that IS my fuckin’ business.”
“Well, yeah,” Ellis stammered, faltering for a moment before he gave a slow, mildly perplexed nod at his double’s apparent acceptance that past was past – something Nick was viciously prone to ignoring when the chance to wound presented itself. “So wut’re yew gonnuh do about it?” he asked after he caught his breath, a little wary of Overalls’s continued vehemence as he relaxed his own body language. “Cus Nick’s stubborn as hell, man – if he’s slippin’ up already…”
Something jolted inside, twisting up his guts as he snorted, chuckling in bitter amusement. “Man, ya know ya ain’t tha first person tuh warn me ‘bout him bein’ stubborn?” he asked, though didn’t care if he got an answer. He watched the other brunette, mind still buzzing and his muscles still prone, but he felt that nasty cockiness that came along with sudden indifference felt towards another person. “But Ah’m pretty sure Ah’m tha one in uh relationship with him now. Not yew or Squared or my Keith. Y’all left tha party; ya stepped out in one way or another, an s’far as tha matter uh takin’ care uh Nick goes: the door shut behind ya. Ah mighta crashed tha shindig, but Ah’m tha only one allowed tuh kick that door in.”
The Keith-voice was back in his head, reminding Ellis that it was none of his business and he’d done his deed as the best friend and needed to back the hell off before he got into things he shouldn’t, but Ellis’s lips curled back in a snarl instead, the outright insinuation that he no longer belonged in Nick’s problems – somewhere, admittedly, he was vaguely aware wasn’t his place anyway – sending a hot flare of irritation that stuttered his breath in a noisy snort. “Oh, okay then, so wut yer tellin’ me now is since yew know wut th’problem is, yew don’t need me anymore, righ’?”
Overalls paused, staring blankly at the older male for what seemed like forever before realization dawned on him and he fully comprehended the other’s question. “Yew… Ah appreciate yuh givin’ me tha head’s up ‘bout tha drinkin’ in tha first place, but Ah don’t need or want ya helpin’ me with my relationship with Nick. Like at awl.”
“But Ah’m his bro – Ah’m like, his best friend, his only real’ good friend, a’sides yew,” debated the older mechanic, his eyebrows furrowing as a childish need to have his stance be represented pulling the very dawning hints of a whine to his graveled voice. He wrapped one arm across his chest, lifting his free hand up to gesture yet again towards the conman’s trailer across the street. “Ah know shit yew don’t, Ah can help yew.”
“Ah’m sure ya do,” he nodded, looking to the house as well. He glanced to his double before he shifted his shoulders, trying to ease the tension. “But Ah bet Ah know just as much, if not more ‘n yew do about him. Ain’t no contest, though, really,” he sniffled, shaking his head as he looked back to Ellis. “ Y’all got yer friendship, but Ah got him. An’ our relationship ain’t got nothin’ tuh do with that. Or yew.”
“Now yew jus’ hold awn one goddamn minute there,” Ellis growled out, taking another sharp step forward, but as his lips parted to spit another angry sentence free, the sound of his own screen door creaking open caught his attention with dog-like alertness, his eyes snapping free of his double’s impassioned face to see Arden standing on the porch.
“Lissy,” the tiny brunette shouted with an edge of chastising to his small voice, “Keef says come inside.” The toddler cocked his head, his nostrils flaring as he caught sight of Nick’s boyfriend perched just outside the edge of the side yard. “Valls go eat dinner at’chur house. Nick made ‘skettis.”
“Aw, man, ya think so?” Overalls asked Arden, giving a genuine smile to the pint-sized hick as he took a step back from his older sibling. The sense of triumph he now felt made him at ease and he chanced a look at the sky above, all dark clouds and thick overcast. “Reckon Ah should go on ‘fore it rains. Don’t wanna keep y’all from dinner, anyhow,” he mused, looking back to Ellis.
“Man, this conversation ain’t over,” muttered the older survivor scathingly, shooting Overalls a look that was both mean and oddly imploringly, like he couldn’t choose which side of the debate fence to take and settled on I’m Right and I’m Sorry at the same time. “But yew have uh good nigh’ anyhow,” Ellis mumbled honestly, raising his voice to shout “M’comin’, lil’ dude!” before stepping away from his fellow bassist and moving up across the lawn to where his blatantly fibbing little brother was irately beckoning to him.
“Y’all too,” Overalls called after, honest as well before he turned on his heel and hurried back to his and Nick’s yard. He managed to get inside before the first crash of thunder sounded over head, greeted by his still sleepy conman just as the beginnings of rain speckled their way across the driveway.