The Odd Couple, Part II

Frick & Frack

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The drive home was a short one, or at least it seemed that way to Eddie. Secretly thankful that Craig had offered to drive him, Eddie had said very little except for the occasional sneeze and the more frequent cough. Speaking was even beginning to take a toll on his already scratchy throat. The other man teased him about breathing all of the "good air" and contaminating the rest, but Eddie was really in no mood to return the jest. Despite the fact that he was more tired than seven-day-old ass, sleep was probably out of the question.

The crisp autumn air held the hint of winter's chill as Eddie hauled himself from the low seat of Craig's sporty silver Saturn. For someone who claimed to be reserved with money, the car was a bit on the flashy side.

"Damn plastic car," Eddie muttered, easing the door shut with his hip.

"Better than a rusted pickup," Craig informed him, arming the car's alarm with a push of button.

"Leave my baby out of this," Eddie said with a smirk as he trudged after his roommate to the elevator.

Even though the Toyota was several years old, and had been around for some time when he bought it, he could not bare to part with the little truck. It had taken him from San Diego to Chicago and had been home when nowhere else was.

As he followed Craig into the apartment building, he shivered slightly at the change in temperature. He leaned against the wall as they waited for the elevator, hoping he didn't look as shaky as he felt. The lobby seemed to be doing a slow turn and he had to fight to keep his eyes open.

Craig watched Eddie out of the corner of his eye. He was swaying slightly on his feet. Too much wine, clearly. The freak had better not pass out before they got inside. Or puke, for that matter. There was a soft ding, announcing the arrival of the elevator. Craig stepped inside, turning just in time to catch Eddie stumble over nothing and grab for the door of the elevator to keep himself upright. The look of surprise on the singer's face was too amusing, and Craig laughed

"Smooth move, there, Ex-lax," he said, still laughing. He was undaunted by the dark look Eddie shot him. "Perhaps you'd better stick to a Shirley Temple next time. You seem to have a hard time with that wine."

"Shut up," Eddie said, but his mouth wasn't cooperating fully and he slurred over the words, which only made Craig laugh harder. Eddie slouched against the wall, scowling and waiting for Craig to finish laughing. It didn't make it any easier that Craig rarely looked plastered, even when he was completely shit-faced.

As the doors slid open, Craig managed to get himself back under control enough to stop laughing. He turned to Eddie and took his elbow. "Let me help you, we wouldn't want you to hurt yourself," he grinned.

Eddie shook off his hold and attempted to stalk down the hall to their apartment, but the façade crumbled as he stumbled again. At least this time he was able to catch his balance without the safety of the walls. He could hear Craig snickering under his breath behind him, but he refused to turn and give him the satisfaction of a response. He dug through his pockets for his keys, coming up with a crumpled tissue, an empty pack of cigarettes, his lighter, change, and various bits of paper scribbled with lyrics, but no keys. Damn. He turned to Craig, with a slightly sheepish grin.

"You locked yourself out again, didn't you?"

There was a glint of mischief in Craig's eyes that sent a sense of dread over Eddie. Double damn. He was not up for this. But he nodded.

"You know you'd forget your head if it wasn't attached."

Eddie scowled. "Quit giving me shit and let me inside, Parker. Or else I'll breathe on you."

Craig fished out his own set of keys with ease and unlocked the door, holding it open for Eddie who staggered inside. A yelping yodel greeted their ears as Bijou , Eddie's overly hyper Beagle came skidding into the room, her toenails scrabbling across the linoleum with a furious barrage of clicks and scrapes.

"Back, beast!" Craig commanded, stepping aside as Bijou leapt to paw his flawlessly pressed black pants, her questing feet meeting only empty air.

Eddie flopped onto the couch and called the overly excited hound to his side as she gladly hopped upon the couch to cover his face in lavishly moist doggie kisses. He buried his face in her short fur and made a mock growling sound, eliciting an answer yodel from Bijou.

Shaking his head, Craig strolled into the kitchen where he plucked a can of Nine Lives from the counter top, popping the lid with a suctionous wet smack. At the sound of the can's invitation to dinner, the head of his smoke grey cat appeared from behind the stove, her blue eyes glancing warily about for signs of Bijou before emerging slowly from her hiding place.

"Luce, was she after you again?" Craig asked as the fluffy cat crouched and leapt gracefully onto the counter to feast upon the delicacy offered by her master.

"Damn cat probably asked for it. You did name her after Satan after all," Eddie reminded him, scratching Bijou behind the ears with rough affection.

Craig snorted. "I highly doubt it. Lucy is incapable of such acts."

"Yeah, right..." Eddie grunted, watching as Lucy Furr delicately nibbled upon her dinner, paying him no mind whatsoever.

Eddie pushed Bijou's lapping tongue aside and sneezed violently into the crook of his elbow, partially stifling it as the dog scrambled away from him in surprise, nearly falling off of the couch in her haste to distance herself from the odd noise Eddie had just emitted.

"See, even the dog doesn't want to breathe your air," Craig noted as the canine made herself comfortable on the far end of the couch.

"Parker, fuck y... eeeh..." Eddie snatched the nearest decorative pillow and covered his entire face with it. "Mmpshhh!" he sneezed, his body jerking upward with the force of it.

"Jesus Christ, Eddie... can't you just cover your mouth like a normal human being?" Craig sighed in exasperation, stroking Lucy Furr's pluming tail with one hand.

Eddie sniffed. "But this aggravates you so much more!" he protested with a grin.

He felt much better just sprawled across the couch. Maybe he wasn't getting sick after all. A night of sleep would do him wonders and tomorrow he'd be ready for their last gig before a couple of days off. He patted the cushion next to him and Bijou sidled closer to him, though she still seemed to be watching him warily. "Everyone's a critic," he mumbled to her, cradling her close. She curled up next to him in a small dog ball and laid her head on his leg. He rubbed her head idly and yawned. The headache had backed off, mostly but he realized he'd better get some water or he'd be hung over in the morning.

"Parker, bring me some water," he called into the kitchen, neglecting to say please.

"What do you think I am, your servant? Get it yourself ya lump of laze," Craig called back.

"But I'm tiiired," Eddie whined, drawing the word out into the most pitiful sound he could manage.

"Ah, poor you." But Craig reached into the cupboard above the sink for a glass. He took the Brita from the fridge and poured the glass full, returning to the living room. "What do you say," he demanded.

Eddie cocked his head, pretending to consider. "Gimme," he grinned, grabbing for the glass, but Craig held it out of his reach.

"Nope, think again," Craig said sweetly, then took a long sip of the water, closing his eyes in mock-bliss. "Mmmm… So soothing…"

"Pleeeease?" Eddie pressed his hands together under his chin, as though he were praying, opening his eyes wide and doing his best impression of Bijou.

Craig thrust the glass at him. "Now don't say I never gave you anything," he said and settled himself on the armchair at a good distance from Eddie. Lucy, who had finished her dinner, leapt gracefully onto his lap and began grooming herself. Craig scratched behind her ears. "Such a beautiful cat," he said to her. "Clean and well mannered, not like that slovenly beast." He gestured at Bijou, who merely blinked at him.

"Might be clean, but lacks personality. And who wants a stuck up animal? Plus, Bijou cleans herself, just a few minutes ago she was licking her ass," Eddie grinned, continuing the traditional routine.

Craig pretended to look nauseated. "I rest my case," he said. He reached out and took the remote from the coffee table in front of Eddie, switching on the TV and lazily scanning through channels.

"So, no hot man-flesh tonight?" Eddie blurted, without really thinking about it.

Craig glanced at him in some surprise. He must be drunker than he'd thought, if he was bringing that up. They never talked about Craig's sex life. Or Eddie's for that matter. They hadn't been living together that long, and usually neither one brought someone home if the other were around. He cocked an eyebrow and decided to go for a light answer. "Is that an offer?"

Eddie shrugged. "Maybe." He caressed Bijou's ears for a moment. "You know, it wouldn't bother me if you brought someone home… as long as you kept your pants on in the living room." But even as he said the words, he was not sure he meant them. The thought of Craig with someone made him wince, for some reason. Not that it bothered him, it didn't. But… still, there it was.

"Eh, I don't know," Craig said, running his fingers through his dark hair, the short waves parting beneath his hand and springing back into place.

He didn't particularly care to discuss his sexuality with anyone, really. Eddie was the exception, but it was quite by accident that he had even found out. Too much alcohol and not enough sex had proved to be a lethal combination one evening and Eddie had walked in on Craig locked in a rather passionate kiss with the neighbor across the hall. Although the singer had not expressed anything other than mild shock, which had been understandable, Craig had still been bothered by the fact that Eddie had been even the slightest bit uncomfortable. It wasn't as if he expected complete acceptance from anyone, but he didn't wish to press the issue, given the fact that he had seen Eddie with many beautiful women upon numerous occasions. They seemed drawn to his pensive moodiness as well as his rather psychotic stage antics.

And who wouldn't find Eddie attractive? The man certainly was easy on the eyes with his brilliant blue eyes and curly mess of shoulder length hair. He had the oddball persona to match his rocker looks as well. It was quite amusing, actually, that the two of them had ended up living together, for they really couldn't have been more different. Craig was immaculately clean and dressed to match, clothes always pressed, hair always tousled into wavy perfection where as Eddie could have cared less about any of that and was lucky to have any clean laundry, much less any that wasn't wrinkled into oblivion.

Another rather loud sneeze erupted from the couch, a resoundingly wet "Hiiissssshhhuuuh!" that made Craig cringe, startling him back into reality.

"Eddie, why don't you go to bed, man?" he suggested as Lucy Furr dug her claws into his thigh, the volume from Eddie's sneeze startling her into a muted hiss of annoyance.

"Not tired," Eddie said simply, wiping at his nose with the back one hand.

"Ugh, Eddie. . ." Craig groaned, snatching the box of Kleenex that lay upon the stand next to the lamp and tossing it to his friend.

Eddie fumbled the awkward object and ended up dropping it on his head rather than catching it firmly between his hands as he hand intended.

"Nice catch," Craig chuckled.

"Asshole," Eddie replied, but he had the decency to look slightly guilty as he yanked a couple of tissues from the box and blew his nose. He noticed that Craig had changed the topic, but didn't press. Now that he had a minute to think about it, he thought it might be better to just let it go. He wasn't sure what sort of answer he wanted to hear from Craig. It wasn't that he was uncomfortable with his sexuality... he hated the cliché, but some of his friends were gay.

It was more that he knew if Craig were with someone else, he would be alone in the evenings, when he got home from a gig. Or in the morning, when everyone else was off to a day job. Bijou was company, but she wasn't the best conversationalist. The other guys had girlfriends, family, people that cared. Sure, he'd had his own fair share of one-night stands, but that was all they were, even if they lasted for a month or more. No one was willing to penetrate his armor to see what lay beneath. No one wanted to find out who he was ... he shook his head at himself. He was attempting far too much philosophy for this time of night, and this stage of inebriation. It was all nothing. He was as bad as a country song, crying into his beer. Disgusting. He leaned his head back against the back of the couch and sighed.

"Parker, you may be a complete and utter ass sometimes, but you deserve a decent guy, you know? You should be curled up all naked and cozy, or out tearing up the town, not sitting on your ass with a dumb shit like me," Eddie said pensively, gazing up at the ceiling. One of these days they should paint it, make it more interesting than that plain white. Though, it did seem to be swirling some, like clouds in the wind. He blinked and they settled again. Damned red wine, he should have known better than to finish off more than a bottle, as tired as he was.

Bijou sighed against his leg, and rolled over, waiting for Eddie to scratch her belly. He complied rather languidly and she groaned with puppy contentment. He felt as though he were drifting... not much to anchor him here or anywhere. He could just disappear, and no one would notice.

Craig glanced over at Eddie who appeared lost in thought and slipping further into one of his moody mental tirades.

"If I wanted to be in a relationship, I'd be in one," he informed Eddie. "You know, Ed, guys can be worse than women, always clinging and bitching if you don't call them. I swear..." he sighed before adding, "and don't start with that 'poor misunderstood me' crap. If I didn't want to be here, I'd be out fucking around…" he paused and snickered, "or just plain fucking."

Eddie cast him a smirky grin for he had not expected to hear such a blatant statement from his sometimes reserved friend. "Everyone should have a good fuck at least one every two weeks," Eddie stated matter-of-factly. "Otherwise, you'll jerk off until its raw…"

Craig rolled his eyes. "Eloquent..."

"Always," Eddie chuckled.

Craig stroked Lucy's dark fur thoughtfully as he absently flipped to another station. Everything looked about the same. He should probably forgo even watching the damn thing and actually go to bed, but his nerves were restless from thinking about the upcoming audition. Receiving the call-back had been most exciting and he had resisted the urge to squeal like a zealous child when the message had been waiting for him on the answering machine. He had considered actually saving the recording, but that was just too tremendously cheesy to even fathom, yet it had not stopped him from doing a rather retarded victory dance around the living room when no one was looking.

"Hey Eddie, I gotta admit, I'm a little nervous about this call-back... there are plenty of guys that have credentials that are way over my head..." Craig admitted suddenly.

Receiving no response, he tried again. "Eddie?"

A soft snore from the couch answered his call. The singer was sprawled like a drunken lizard basking in the sun, Bijou resting atop his chest, blissfully trapped beneath the spell of slumber.

Craig smiled almost fondly. Such was Eddie's routine... perform, get plastered, pass out. Quietly, he eased himself out of the chair and switched off the TV, setting the remote atop the coffee table. No sense in waking Eddie. He looked far too comfortable just where he was.

He padded softly to the door of his bedroom, stripping off his shirt as he walked and tossing it into the nearby basket of clothing in the corner. Everything in the room was immaculate, save the desk, which was littered with scripts and books of various skits and shows, all of which he was constantly studied, for he never knew when one might come in handy. Better to be prepared at all times.

Lucy Furr trotted into the room, announcing her presence with a jingle of her belled collar as she leapt onto his bed. Craig tossed his pants into the basket atop the shirt and crawled beneath the covers, not bothering to peel off his socks. Sleeping in only his boxers was probably not a good idea, for the temperature would certainly drop, but he was suddenly too tired to care.

You deserve a decent guy, you know? You should be curled up all naked and cozy, or out tearing up the town...

Craig sighed. Too bad there weren't many decent ones out there, regardless of gender. Choosing not to mull over the thought, he closed his eyes and drifted into the depths of dreams almost instantly, thoughts of relationships and flings forgotten.


The next morning, Craig woke earlier than usual. The sun had just risen over the horizon and tinged the room a soft pink. He blinked and shivered slightly. At some point in the night he had kicked off his blankets and quilt and was tangled in his sheet. He sat up and made a rather half-hearted attempt to unravel the mess.

Lucy Furr, who was curled up at his side, raised her head and gave him an utterly dirty look. "You are disturbing my beauty sleep, you ignorant human," her eyes told him.

He smiled at her in apology. "I'll make it up to you with treats later," he replied softly and scratched behind her ears. The rumble of her purring rose, letting him know that she accepted his apology, this time. He laid back down, rolling over onto his side, still scratching Luce absently and gazed out the window. Only two more days until the audition. He wished it were behind him already. He loved acting… loved the places it took him, the people it allowed him to meet, the people it allowed him to be. He found facets of himself through his characters that he didn't believe he would be able to reach any other way. But the one part of the career he hated was the auditions.

They were filled with superficial, competitive, bitter, jaded, back-stabbing people. People who would not hesitate to break others on their way to the top. He had met decent people in the business, those he would consider friends, but usually that was once he had passed the audition stage. Call-backs were almost worse. In the first round of auditions, there were so many people that he could be mostly anonymous. He could hold the white noise of chatter around him like a shield and focus on himself. But there were only a handful of actors who were called back, and the tension in the air usually made him nauseous. Actors would boast with each other about what acting school they had been to, about who they had studied under, about who they knew and, more importantly who knew them. They would pitch their voices just loud enough that they could hope to be overheard by the director or producer, but not loud enough that they would be reprimanded.

Craig rubbed a hand over his forehead. He was twisting himself up. He stood and opened the window with one hand. Fresh air would help, he decided. He grabbed up a script as well and lay back on the bed to study it. He had only read a couple of pages when he drifted back into sleep.

Several hours later, Craig woke with a sneeze. "Huptchhuh!" It burst from him before he was awake enough to bring up his hands, but he caught the next one. "hehhh… Huptchhuh!" He took in a quick, shuddery breath and released the final sneeze. "Heh-choo!" He reached for the Kleenex box next to his bed and blew his nose. It was then he noticed the familiar scent. Grass. He darted from the bed and slammed the window shut. Could the landlord never remember to warn him before mowing the lawn?

He retreated back to bed and pulled the covers over his head, waiting for the next round he could already feel prickling in the back of his nose. He poked a hand out for another tissue and held it over his face, waiting. "Heh… heh-choo! Hehtchhh! Hetchuh!" He groaned. This was not going to work. He yanked on a pair of pants and stumbled from the room, itching the roof of his mouth with his tongue.

Eddie had not moved from his position on the couch and was snoring rather loudly, his lips parted slightly, mess of tangled hair strewn about the decorative pillows with blissful abandon. Bijou was no longer curled upon him, but had rather taken a place upon the floor beside the couch, the heat of Eddie's body probably having been to stifling for her liking.

Pulling the refrigerator door open as quietly as possible, Craig grabbed the carton of orange juice from the middle shelf and rifled through the cabinet for a suitable glass. The plates within his reach clinked together rather sharply at his touch and he winced.

"Mmmm… Parker? Is that you?" Eddie's groggy voice called thickly from the living room.

"No," Craig replied sarcastically. "It's the Chicago serial killer."

"Well, tell him not to make so much fucking noise. I'm trying to sleep, goddamn it," Eddie called.

Never mind that fact that Eddie could sleep through nuclear holocaust but the slightest crinkle of paper would awaken him. Craig padded over to where Eddie still lay stretched out like a lazy cat caught in a beam of sunshine and sat in the chair beside the couch, absently sipping the juice.

"Man, fuck… my head," Eddie groaned, running his fingers through his disheveled hair to pull the snarls from the curls.

A rattling cough shook him as he pulled himself into an upright position, sounding far more ominous than it had the previous night. Apparently, a good night's sleep had not been the cure he had hoped for. Someone had taken the liberty of stuffing his head with cotton... or at least, that's how it felt. And then there was the instant annoyance of the tickle amongst the closely packed cotton, signaling the inevitable.

"Parker," Eddie said a bit desperately, "throw me th-..." the remainder of the request never came forth. "Heh-isssshhhtt!" he partially stifled the sneeze without the use of his hand as the box of tissues landed beside him. Yanking several from the box, he sneezed a shuddering, "iiiissshhhoooo!" into his Kleenex-covered hands, feeling the pressure abate at least for the moment.

"That doesn't sound good," Craig noted, concern edging his voice.

"I'm fine," Eddie grumbled, blowing his nose wetly into a new fistful of tissues. "It was just all of that smoke. Gets to me sometimes..."

"Uh huh," Craig replied simply, not wanting to press the issue. Eddie would just deny it anyway and he was having a hard enough time keeping his own prickly sinuses under control. The last thing he wanted was to contradict himself with an allergic fit in front of the other man. He pressed a hand under his nose and stifled a quick three in a row without making a sound. Eddie, his attention elsewhere, did not seem to notice.

Eddie, scrubbed at his nose with the tissue. He was not going to get sick. Not again, and certainly not today. There was a gig to play that night, and if his throat was fucked up, they'd never make it through. The phone rang suddenly and he reached behind him to grab it off the bookshelf.

"'Lo?" he said, then grimaced in frustration as his voice scratched on the word. He cleared his throat. It had to be the smoke.

"That better not be you, Vedder," Mike threatened by way of greeting.

"Fuck off, McCready," Eddie sighed. This was not going to be good.

"Don't give me that bullshit. You sound horrible. You do know we have a gig tonight, and we should spend a couple of hours practicing before hand. You'd better not be getting sick again."

"I'm not sick. I just drank too much last night. And smoked too many cigarettes. Get off my ass. Or did you call me up solely to torment me?"

"No, I called because you were supposed to be here an hour ago, for practice. Remember?"

Eddie blinked blearily at his watch. Shit. Double shit. "I overslept," he admitted. "I'll be there as soon as I can."

"Forget it. Jeff's gotta go to work in half an hour. Just get your ass to the gig on time." Mike sounded thoroughly disgusted. And rightfully so. Eddie never blew off practices. He was usually the one kicking all the other guys into shape.

"I'll be there."

"And take care of your voice, all right?" For that brief instant, a hint of honest worry crept into Mike's voice.

Eddie nodded, though he knew Mike couldn't see him. "I'll see you tonight, McCready. And… apologize to the guys for me, ok?" He hung up the phone and cradled his head in his hands. He had the sinking feeling that this was not going to be a good night.

"What's up?" Craig asked as Eddie continued to silently brood.

"I fucked up, that's all. As usual. Fucked the guys out of a rehearsal because I feel like complete shit and overslept," Eddie grumbled. "They are gonna give me hell tonight."

Craig drained the last of the orange juice from the glass and set it upon the coffee table atop a pile of magazines. He should stay home and rehearse himself, but one look at Eddie's forlorn posture prompted him to change his mind.

"Want company?" he asked, crossing his arms atop the arm of the chair and leaning closer to Eddie's disgruntled position upon the couch.

"Nah... you don't have to," Eddie sighed. "I got myself into it, I can pull myself out of it, too. Besides, you have shit to do."

Just like Eddie to refuse aid, but his friend was wise to his game. What the singer really wanted was for him to come... and he wouldn't dare ask. But Craig could tell. He always could. Beneath the "I could give a fuck" demeanor was actually a very sensitive guy who needed support although he would never admit that fact to anyone. The façade was an old one that had been played out more times than worn out scenes from "Casablanca" and Craig knew it.

Rising to his feet, he traded his seat upon the chair for the cushion beside Eddie and laid a hand upon his knee. "I can practice my lines before we go. If I don't know them by now, I never will anyway. Just get over yourself and ask me to go with you."

Eddie grunted. The last thing he wanted to do was actually have to ask, but the thought of dealing with the shit McCready would dish out alone was enough to drain the excitement of playing right out of him. At least if Craig were there, the other band members wouldn't be as asinine as they could be out of respect. Well, sort of …

"Whatever. Come if you want. Not like you haven't seen us a thousand times," Eddie said at last, for it was as close to asking as he could actually get without participating in the full act itself.

Craig smiled and put his arm around Eddie's shoulders, giving him an affectionate squeeze. "That wasn't exactly asking, but I'll take it," he said with a wink.

"Don't touch me, freak," Eddie grumbled, shrugging his arm away, but secretly relieved that he would not have to face the rest of his band alone.

"Oh, but I like touching you," Craig teased, arching one eyebrow playfully as he poked Eddie in the ribs with one finger. "Touch, touch..."

"You'd better fuck off, Parker, before I touch you with something other than my finger..." Eddie warned, but he knew his tone held no menace.

"Oooooh," Craig cocked his head to one side and feigned a swoon, "the things you say to a guy!"

"I aim to please," Eddie said, then grabbed his finger. "Now, what were you about to do," he growled.

Craig grinned and pretended to go limp. "Nothing," he said, his voice sweetly innocent. He could see it as the tension lifted from Eddie's face, and just as Eddie's grip loosened, he jerked his finger away and poked Eddie in the ribs, tickling roughly.

Eddie twitched, giggles welling up from somewhere deep inside. He bit his tongue, working to keep them back. He tried to twist away, but Craig's fingers were everywhere. Somehow the bastard seemed to find every ticklish spot. "Stop it!" he cried, then felt heat rising into his cheeks as his voice cracked.

"Or what?" Craig asked, not worried in the least.

I'm not ticklish," Eddie mumbled, but the giggles were bubbling through him. He hated being tickled... hated giggling.

"Well then, you shouldn't mind if I do.... this!" Craig suddenly leaned close and grabbed both of Eddie's sides and tickled mercilessly.

Eddie could stand it no longer. He collapsed in on himself; the giggles burst from his lips, flowing out of him in a river. "Quit," he gasped, "stop!" But he was too breathless to say much more and Craig was not listening. He squirmed and twisted. "Please!"

"Stop... please," Craig echoed him in a high, feminine voice, laughter rising in himself. "I thought you said you weren't ticklish."

"I'm ... not," Eddie managed to say through the rolls of laughter. And then suddenly he began to cough.

"Gah, germs," Craig leaped back, but he was still grinning.

Eddie kept coughing, unable to catch his breath. He leaned forward, letting his head fall between his legs. At last he stopped. "Thanks so very much," he said, voice hoarse. "Fucking cigarettes," Eddie said, sitting back up and pushing his hair out of his face. But he knew it had nothing to do with the cigarettes and nothing to do with the wine. He was getting sick. And he had no idea how he was going to make his voice hold out through the concert.

"I was going to offer to help you practice your lines, but I'm not sure you deserve it, now," Eddie said, acting as though he were put out. But, if he were to tell the truth, he was feeling better. Lighter.

"I'm going to take a shower before you go and clog up the drain with your long hair," Craig said, pinching Eddie's neck playfully once more just for good measure as he walked towards the hallway. "Oh, and do me a favor... don't open the windows... the landlord is cutting the grass... again... for the second time this week."

Eddie nodded as Craig continued onto the bathroom and shut the door behind him. A shower might actually do him some good if Craig didn't spend three hours in there by himself. Sometimes he wondered what the man did in there that took so long in the first place.

In the meantime, coffee sounded like a good idea. He hauled himself to his feet and trudged into the kitchen, Bijou following closely at his heels. What he really needed was a cigarette, but he and Craig had vowed not to smoke in the apartment unless they did so near an open window. Eddie snatched the pack of American Spirit's off of the bar and pulled one from it with his teeth. Parker would be in the shower for a while, so there was no sense in not opening the window just for five minutes or so. He didn't feel like going into the hallway or out into the makeshift courtyard, for that matter. 

Stealing Craig's lighter from the ashtray near the stove, he lit the smoke and took a deep drag, knowing full well that it was the worst possible thing he could do for his already scratchy voice.

Craig had left the coffee pot on, obviously having made some before Eddie had awoken. He grimaced. Probably some fancy French roasted vanilla-flavored cappuccino tasting crap. No matter. Coffee was coffee right now. If it was warm and didn't smell like melting shit, he'd drink it.

He exhaled a cloud of smoke out of the window, hearing the whirring buzz of machinery several stories down. Old Ernest was at it again, all right. Did that guy ever stop? The old man mowed the lawn incessantly and had all but positively laughed in Craig's face when his friend had asked for a warning regarding the lawn practices. Apparently Ernest had never been privy to one of Craig's legendary allergy attacks. Eddie smirked. The highest count yet had been thirty-two. Just why he had counted, he wasn't sure, but for some odd reason, seeing a person sneeze that many times had been a bit on the fascinating side.

As if on cue, his own nose began its errant, incessant tickle and he breathed in with a shuddering heave of his chest. "Ahhtiiissshoooo! Hehshhhhuuuh! Eehh. . .huhhh. . .heeeh... ISSSHHHOOOO!" he sneezed quite violently, not bothering to cover his mouth since Craig was no longer around to breathe his contamination. "Etchiiissshoooo!" he sneezed one last time, his body shivering convulsively with the release. "Damn!" he cursed with a deep sniff, snatching a paper towel off of the roll near the sink, cigarette clamped firmly between his lips.

He stubbed it out in the ridiculously clean ashtray and blew his nose lustily, wincing at just how utterly congested he truly sounded.

Suddenly Eddie realized the shower had turned off. Much earlier than usual, how strange. Though, he supposed Craig wasn't making himself fancy for an evening with the band. Maybe that was it. He turned and fanned the remaining smoke out the window and slid it closed. Hopefully Craig wouldn't notice.

Bijou whined hopefully from her place at his feet. He grinned down at her. "You don't fool me for a second, beast. You don't like coffee." She whined again, even more pitifully than before. "Oh, so you're staaarrving?" He drew out the word, mimicking her sound and she let out an excited yip, wiggling her whole backside with excitement. "Did you want... dooooog breakfast?" Bijou yodelled and he shook his head. "No, I think you don't want... dog breakfast," this time whispering the words. But the puppy heard him, turning circles on the floor and trampling over his feet. Eddie laughed and opened the cupboard, pulling out the bag of Purina and scooping it into her bowl. She immediately began happily munching at the kibble and he wandered back into the living room, mug of rather disgusting coffee in hand.

Craig stepped out of the shower, sniffing slightly, testing. The steam seemed to have cleared most of the itch from his nose. He'd hate nothing more than spending the day stifling sneezes in front of Eddie. Who clearly had no problem sneezing freely. Sometimes, though he would never admit it, even on pain of death, Craig envied the singer's more laid back, casual attitude about certain things. Though with his music he could rival Craig's own single-minded, driven manner, perhaps even out do it. But in his personal life, the singer's attitude was, this is who I am; deal with it.

As he wrapped a towel around his waist, he opened the door, hearing Bijou's yodel. Eddie must be feeding her. He spoiled the dog rotten, which surprised him. Eddie's tough exterior never failed to soften at the mere mention of Bijou's name. He rubbed another towel over his short hair as he padded barefoot into his bedroom for some clothes. Craig tugged on a pair of clean boxers, then pulled open his closet door, gazing over the options. He finally pulled out a pair of jeans and black t-shirt. As he left the room, he grabbed up the discarded script. Perhaps he'd take Eddie up on the offer to help him practice his lines.

He detoured through the kitchen to get a cup of coffee before heading into the living room, where Eddie was curled into a corner of the couch, staring into space and sipping something. His coffee, Craig realized as he poured himself a mug. The man must be sick if he was drinking Craig's coffee. He complained incessantly about the flavors Craig enjoyed. He hated Vanilla, Chocolate tasted like ass, Hazelnut smelled like ass... the list went on. Craig rubbed his nose absently. It was itching again. Perhaps he had spoken too soon. As he pressed a finger underneath, he caught sight of the cigarette butt stubbed out in the ashtray. Eddie'd ignored him. Asshead.

"Thanks a lot, fucker," Craig said walking into the living room, still sniffling. The completely innocent look on the singer's face told him everything he needed to know. "Don't play that game with me, dick wad." Craig moved closer, evil thoughts brewing in his head. He'd teach him to toy with his allergies.

Craig set the full mug carefully on the coffee table, then leaned over Eddie. "Th... this is... for... you," he managed, then let go. "Hutchhh! Heptchuhhh... Heh-chooo!" He sneezed rather dryly for his desires, but ignored the piece of himself that was urging him to cover.

Eddie practically fell off the couch as he gave Craig a shove backwards. "Dude. . .fuck!" he barked, flailing his arms in surprise as if to ward off the effects of the sneezes, lest they seep into his skin and add to his torment.

Craig sniffed and gave him the finger, dodging a carelessly flung pillow as it sailed over his head, landing against the wall with a muted thud.

"I should hold you down and kiss you for that, you bastard!" Eddie informed him, "then you'd REALLY have something to sneeze about!"

"Oh please," Craig waved his hand dismissively. "Watch me shudder in fear of the Great Couch Grouch."

"I'm going to bathe," Eddie said rather crossly, although he didn't exactly know just what had gotten him into such a suddenly annoyed mood.

"If I find little pubic hairs in the soap again, I'll kill you..." Craig warned.

"Those were armpit pubes, fuckhead," Eddie called over his shoulder.

Craig snorted. He didn't care what they were as long as he didn't have to dig them out with his fingernails upon the next shower. The thought of picking wiry hairs off the cake of soap was almost as disgusting as the thought of just what Eddie might be doing with that soap!