Pick Me Up
Percy was sitting Indian style on the floor in Zayn’s tagging room with books and notes covering the space around her. She loved spending her free afternoons here, she was able to relax in the empty space and not spend her time worrying about everything else. So as she sat in the middle of the room and powered through her essay on Poe, she realized it was the most creative she had felt in weeks, even Zayn’s obnoxious music wasn’t even bothering her.
“You seem in the zone today.” Said Zayn, who was working on a project that was covering one of his walls.
“Mhmm.” Percy didn’t even look up as she mumbled her response, her eyes too busy going from her computer screen to the books surrounding her. She hadn’t been able to concentrate on her schoolwork this much in a while. She was grateful for the occasional times when Niall and Zayn’s place was relatively quiet.
Zayn stopped his spraying and flopped down on the floor next to her. He glanced over at what she was doing but couldn’t make any sense of her writing.
“Why are you writing about a beating heart in the floorboard?” right as he asked she shut her laptop before he could read any more.
“I don’t let people read my work.” She spoke in a clipped tone.
“Just like you don’t let people see your unfinished art work.”
“Fine. Fine. I get it.” He hopped back up, grabbing a black spray paint can and getting back to work.
“It’s an essay to do with the history of Halloween and American literature that can be connected to it, and if you ask me, Poe is the creepiest person I can think of. Tell Tale Heart used to freak me out when I was younger.” She started gathering her things and putting it into a neat pile. “Speaking of Halloween, are we doing anything?”
“Niall wants to throw a party.” Zayn was now making stripes on his green and yellow lines, it was starting to actually look like something.
“Of course he does.” She tilted her head to get a better look at what he’d been working on; it looked like some evil snake creature. “Do we have to wear costumes?”
“Yeah.” Zayn shrugged, adding big bulging eyes to his snake. “He has a very specific dress code in mind.”
“Oh no. Please don’t tell me it’s a ‘Anything but clothes’ party…”
“Whatever gets girls in as little as possible is more like it.” Zayn laughed, adding more to his piece.
“Damn him.” She chuckled, “Maybe it will be a good thing.”
“Oh really? How?” He responded without taking his eyes off the wall.
“There will be guys there.”
“Since when are you interested in guys?”
“Since always!” She protested, “I feel like I should start dating again. God knows the last guy I was with was horrible.”
“Hey! Just saying… How many girls have you been with since our night?”
“Like three or four.”
“Right, more like seven or eight.”
“I don’t keep count.”
“I do… I think it’s just time I get back into it.”
“Anyone particular in mind?”
“Liam is cute.” This caused Zayn to finally take his eyes off the wall and turn to her before letting out huge belly laughs.
“Don’t tell anyone, but he is sort of seeing someone.” He got out after he calmed down enough
“Really? He hasn’t brought anyone around…”
“Well, it’s complicated.” He put down the black, grabbed a tan color, and began spraying some more.
“He is in an online relationship.”
“Holy hell… is he sure it’s a girl?”
“We had our doubts, but apparently it’s legit, they even Skype and everything.”
“Tell me more!”
“Apparently she is a graphic designer that lives in California. Her name is Savannah and that is basically all I know.”
“Are they planning on meeting up?”
“No idea. We just leave him to it.”
“It’s always the quiet ones.”
“Hmmmmm” he pondered as he grabbed the pink.
“Well, what about Louis?” Again, Zayn stopped dead in his tracks, turning away from the snake and stared at her in almost disgust.
“You have met Louis haven’t you?”
“He is cute, he is in the group, and he is funny, for the most part.”
“Just, don’t go there, please. Save us all the trouble. I don’t think I could listen to him go on about your sex life. That kid has no filter. And just not even mention Niall, you’d have to get him STD checked probably once a week and he has no shame, he go’s from girl to girl, don’t think he could have a serious relationship to begin with.”
“Meh. Niall isn’t my type… There’s always Ashton from work?”
“Really now? You’re going to become a pedophile?”
“He isn’t THAT young. He is at least 18… I think.” She smiled and shrugged. “If all of them are out, there’s nobody left”
“There is Harry.” Suggested Zayn. Percy didn’t know what to say, so she just started laughing.
“Right. The kid barely stands me to begin with plus we work together, and we have the same friends. You sound barking mad to even suggest it.”
“Ohhh… I don’t know. It wouldn’t be the craziest thing to happen, I mean, just look at us. We slept together and now we are best mates with no weirdness.”
“Yeah, but we are a one in a million type thing. Harry and I are not a one in a million type of thing. He is cute and all, but let’s get him to actually like me first and admit he is my friend. I still think he called me Princess behind my back.”
“Right, right.” Zayn decided he was finished and had Percy get up and to look at it properly. They took a few steps back and took a second to admire Zayn’s work. “What do ya think?”
The morning Halloween rush had gone and now it was time for clean up and Coffee Goblin. Harry had send most of the staff home, it was just him, Percy, and Ashton. He was realizing that Percy was becoming more pleasant. Now that it had been a couple of weeks he was beginning to ease up on her, she was catching on rather quickly. Maybe he was too harsh to judge at the beginning. He could see why Niall and Zayn liked having her around… Not too bad to look at, as Louis would say.
“What are you staring at?” asked Percy, glancing over at Harry who looked like his usual brooding self.
“Just making sure you’re cleaning the machine correctly.” He shrugged, “That’s all.”
“You can trust me, you know?” she said, still cleaning. “I’ve been here for a few weeks and I had a pretty good trainer.”
“Give her a break.” Ashton said, appearing from the back room with his backpack, “She is a lot better than me when I was new.”
“True.” Agreed Harry.
“Right. Well. I’m off, see you two love birds later.” Percy and Harry both stood up very straight at his last comment. They both stood there awkwardly staring back at Aston looking more confused than ever. “You know, at the party.” He shouted just as he closed the door behind him.
“I think he is off his rocker.” Suggested Percy as continued her cleaning moving from the machine to the pastry case.
“You know he once told me that he was psychic?”
“Has he ever been right before?”
“On occasion he can be.”
“Now I know he’s mad.” She said, deciding she was done cleaning. She hopped up on the counter, swinging her feet leisurely. This was her favorite time of day at work, all done with people and trash. “So, what are you wearing to Niall’s ‘Anything but clothes’ Halloween party tonight?”
“Errrr…” Harry loved Halloween but this was one thing that stumped him. He wanted to be funny, but he didn’t know how far he could go with out being ridiculous or offensive. “Maybe a strategically placed coffee cup?” Percy lifted her eyebrow at him and laughed.
“That would be interesting, what about the other side?”
“No shame.” He really didn’t mind being naked, he had nothing be ashamed over, if fact, he was rather proud of his body and all its parts. “But, I think I would need an extra large cup.”
“Don’t flatter yourself.” She didn’t believe him, just another guy being cocky about his cock, just want she didn’t want. Harry let out a chuckle as he enjoyed her sarcasm.
“What about you?” He hopped up on the counter across from her. “Any costume ideas?”
“I was thinking just an apron, but that leaves the whole back open thing.” She shrugged, “Maybe I’ll just Dexter it.”
“You know, Dexter… the TV show? The good serial killer?”
“Never heard of it.” He shook his head.
“How have you never heard of it?! It is literally one of the best shows ever created! Trust me, you’ll love it, if you don’t, there is seriously something wrong with you.” Percy looked at the clock, nearly 3, shit, she was late for class. “Oh damn it.”
“What?” asked Harry as Percy hopped down and rushed to the back grabbing her things.
“I’m late for class…” she said as she hurried towards the exit, “I’ll see you tonight.” She waved back at him, not looking, closing the door behind her. Some strange part of Harry was bummed to see her go, he wanted to know more about this Dexter show and he wanted her to tell him. He shook the thought out of his head and went back to work.
Jo and Percy got Niall and Zayn’s a little before 10, and there was hardly anyone there. They walked down the hall to the den which had a huge ‘Do Not Enter’ sign on it, not like one of those fake scary ones, but a real one. Niall liked to keep that place empty and only for the regulars, and whichever girl he charmed that evening. Just for show, the girls stopped at the door and knocked, Niall opened the door, expecting to yell, but instead his eyes did an up and down at both Jo and Percy, dropping his jaw at the sight in front of him.
Jo was going for an Eve thing, of course, Kyle being her Adam with vines around his lower half, perfecting their couple costume. She was covered in flowers. She was wearing a sunflower bra and a daisy panty type thing. It was clever. She even had flowers in her hair. Percy did what she told Harry, went for a Dexter victim, except for her whole body being covering is plastic wrap, it was just her breasts and bottom, with a fake knife in her chest and fake blood dripping down. Needless to say, neither of them left much to the imagination.
“Bloody. Fuckin. Hell.” Said Niall, barely getting the words out. “You two look like walking felonies, mind you.”
“I’m taking that as a solid compliment.” Said Percy, pushing him aside and walking into the den, and got a good look at everyone’s costumes. Liam make a toga out of what looked like flyers he found around campus. Louis had a deflated soccer balls making some kind of speedo. Niall took a fur skin rug he found and draped it over him like a cave man. Zayn had a tool belt that had spray cans around the whole thing; it almost looked like a skirt. Then Percy’s eyes fell on Harry, she honestly didn’t know she had expected because there he was in an extra large coffee cup and coasters covering his ass. She snorted so loud and hard when she saw him that she felt the plastic wrap ripping.
“Harry…” she forced his name out of her mouth.
“I told you I’d do it.” He raised his arms and did a little twirl. “No shame.” He took the chance to look at her costume for the first time, “If this is what I can expect from Dexter, then I am definitely going to start watching it.” Said Harry, his eyes wide. Damn. She was cute earlier today and now she was down right hot. He swore that if he had laser vision, that plastic wrap would melt right off.
Once she got over his sheer appearance, she took the time to take him in. She never noticed the massive amount of tattoos he had, usually they were a turn off, but on him, it worked. Not to mention, he kind of had a killer body, very fit. She had a very strong urge to bit his hipbone and she didn’t know why, but she quickly shook that out of her mind.
“You all were really creative, I’m pretty shocked to be honest.” Percy said, taking another glance around the room.
“The Dexter costume… genius.” Praised Niall, “I didn’t know you were actually this hot. Just look at that, I have a hot friend who is a girl and I haven’t hit on her.”
“The world is crashing down around you, isn’t it?” joked Zayn.
“Maybe I should hit on her…”
“Standing. Right here. I can hear you.” said Percy defensively, flipping her hair “…and, like you would have a chance.” Everyone ‘Oooohed’ and laughed.
“Right. Well guys, are we ready for the best Halloween party ever to be thrown?” announced Louis. “It’s time for our pre-party shots to get this started.”
Everyone gathered around the high dinner table set up in the den. Louis grabbed a very expensive bottle of vodka and poured everyone a nice full shot. They all grabbed their glasses and raised their hands.
“Salut!” shouted Louis.
“Salut!” everyone shouted in reply, downing the drinks. And then the night started.
Several drinks later, as well as about 100 people later, everything was beginning to haze for Percy. She had the first shot, then a second one for luck, and a third just for good measure and a fourth one just for fun, and a fifth one to ease the pain of this binding plastic wrap, and a sixth just incase the last one didn’t take.
Everyone had split up, she was pretty sure Niall was the loud one coming from the kitchen, boasting about his Irish heritage, saying he can out drink anyone, probably some girl hanging on his every word. Being drunk, good looking, and rich had it perks for him.
Zayn was out back by the bonfire, passing around a splif with some fellow art students. Harry and Liam were owning at beer pong, Liam’s phone never too far away, she swore that every single free second he had was on that phone texting his cyber lover in California. Jo and Kyle were probably hiding in some corner trying not to hump each other in public, which left Percy alone and wondering. Now she could go looking for Louis. She had made her choice earlier that day on the way to class. Louis was probably the best choice when it came to a hook up, maybe it could come in handy, having a friend with benefits. After a few looks around, she found him, he was at the bar, mixing a drink.
“Care to make me one of those?” asked Percy, creeping up behind him. “Everyone else seems to have forgotten about me.”
“How could anyone forget about you love? Especially dressed like that…” Louis had a smirk on his face and she was sure that he gave her a quick wink. “Like Niall said earlier, a walking felony.” He bumped his arm against hers gently. “Of course I’ll make you a drink.”
“What are you making?” She asked, she wanted to hop up on the bar and sit facing towards him, but she was sure she was going to come undone if she tried to bend too much.
“Let’s just call it ‘What the hell happened last night?’” he was taking pretty much any liquor he could find and poured it into a large glass with a little bit of some kind of fruit punch. He took another larger glass with ice and began swapping the liquid back and forth until it was cold, pouring it into two cups for them. “Cheers?”
“Cheers!” she said, gulping down his drink. She was expecting it to taste like shit, but it actually wasn’t too bad. “Not bad Tommo.”
“Ha! Who gave you permission to call me Tommo?” He was leaning in a bit closer than he should be, but the alcohol in Percy said it was okay.
“Myself. I don’t need permission from anyone to do anything.” She was trying to hide that she was nervous, maybe another sip would ease it.
“Sounding pretty confident there Miss Appleyard.”
“Oooohhh.” She cringed, “That stung a bit.” Was this flirting? Was he actually taking the bait? Maybe it was just the costume she had on, or maybe the 10 plus drinks she has had since the beginning of the night.
“Not many people call me Tommo. It’s a privledge.”
“What would you like me to call you then?” He leaned in closer as she rested against the bar. She could smell the drinks and a last cigarette on his mouth.
“That’s what you’ll be screaming by the end of the night.” Shit, he was calling her bluff. It was now or never, she tilted her head towards his, she was expecting their lips to meet, but instead, she was yanked away. She turned to see Zayn, anger in his eyes.
“Excuse us real quick Louis.” He said, dragging Percy away. Louis didn’t seemed phased, he just nodded and continued drinking. Once they were out of his ear shot, Zayn got very angry and serious. “What are you doing? Hanging around Louis like that? I told you yesterday that was a bad idea!”
“Hey!” She shouted back, “Why did you have to pull on my arm so hard? That hurt.” Shit, maybe she was more drunk that she though. Zayn let go of her and she rubbed where his hand had clutched her.
“Damn it Percy! Because I told you hooking up with Louis was a poor choice. He doesn’t treat girls like the rest of us, even girls who he thinks he is friends with.”
“I don’t get it.”
“You’re fucking trashed, of course you don’t get it. The alcohol and hormones just want to get laid. As a friend to us guys, he is great, but as a hook up… no the smartest choice in lads you could pick from tonight.”
“Zayn, I get why you are protective, but it’s okay, I’m a big girl. I can handle myself.” She wanted to walk away, but the look in Zayn’s eyes said that he would just follow her until he had finished what he wanted to say.
“I was trying to be delicate before, but I guess that approach isn’t working. He is one of my best mates, but he is a complete and utter asshole. Just.” He put both arms on Percy’s shoulders, trying to get her to understand. “Please, for your good as well as my own, stay away from Louis… okay?”
Percy wasn’t touched that Zayn was trying to save her from a mistake, her drunk state of mind just made her mad. She wanted to have a Halloween one night stand, it was about time. Zayn wasn’t going to talk her out of this. She pushed him as hard as she could away from her, then tried to slap him in the face, stumbling a bit.
“You aren’t my boyfriend, or my father, or my brother, so, back the fuck off!” She screamed this so loud at him it made everyone around them stop and stare. Percy stomped off, leaving Zayn in shock. He had never seen her act this way and never expected to. She was his best friend, he was sure she could see things from his point of view, but she didn’t. She went off to find another drink and find Louis again.
Zayn walked away from where Percy had left him in shock, he couldn’t believe she was acting like this. Almost like a little spoiled kid who didn’t get her way. Luckily, he found Jo and Kyle in the den with Harry.
“What the fuck is Percy’s problem right now?” Zayn asked Jo, taking a seat on the couch next to Harry.
“Huh?” she asked back, half drunk and half listening.
“I tried to tell her something for her own damn benefit and she tried to punch me! She is acting crazy right now!”
“Oh no.” said Jo, now giving Zayn as much focus as she could muster. “How drunk did she seem?”
“Shit.” Jo got off of Kyle’s lap and tried to compose herself. “We better go find her before she doesn’t something stupid. This is why I can never take her places.”
Jo and Zayn left in search of Percy, Kyle and Harry tagging along. If something was going to go down, they wanted front row seats to the hot mess parade, so much so that Harry even brought his sipping whiskey with him. After a quick search they couldn’t seem to find her, but a few second later they all heard shouting coming from outside. They rushed out to the back where the pool was and saw everyone, including Louis, looking up. Turning their heads they saw Percy on the balcony ready to jump in.
“PERCY!” yelled Jo, scared out of her wits. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
“Jumping into the pool…” as if it was supposed to be clear to everyone. “Why else would I be up here?”
“Oh no, maybe just some fresh air…” said Zayn, trying to be funny so she would listen. “It looks like you’ve got enough, let’s go inside. I’ll come up and get you.”
“NO!” she hollered. “I don’t want you to come up here. You ruined my night! ON PURPOSE!”
“You’re being unreasonable, I didn’t.” argued back Zayn.
“Percy” begged Jo, “Just, please, come down. You can jump into the pool from the diving board, much safer.”
Percy didn’t say anything she just shook her head. They didn’t get it, almost kissing Louis ignited something in her, made he feel alive for the first time in weeks. It was just school and work, no fun, but this was fun, her drunken self told her. She felt alive on this balcony more than almost kissing Louis.
“This bird is crazy.” Said Louis to Liam and Niall, “and to think I was going to hit it. Thank you Zayn for saving me that awkward next morning.”
“Stop being a twat.” Zayn snapped at him. “Please Perce, just come down, we’ll go get you another drink?”
“I’ve had enough drinks, thank you very much.” She said as she edged closer to the rail, now trying to climb up on it. Everyone was very tense and no one else knew what to do. But, Harry had an idea. He snuck away from everyone and headed up to the bedroom Percy got into and out onto the patio where she was stood.
“Hey Percy, mind if I jump with you?” asked Harry, he was going to try to reason her with his side of crazy, maybe it would cancel each other out.
“The more the merrier boss Harry.” She smiled at him, her eyes glazed over; he didn’t like seeing her this way. He walked towards where she was standing, still trying to get onto the ledge.
“Here, let me steady you.” He offered his hand to her and she took it lightly and climbed up.
“Thank you.” She said as Harry steadied her.
“Just to let you know, if you jump and miss and break you leg or die and have to call out of work, I am going to fire you.” She was acting like a child so he was going to speak to her like a child. This is what he would do with his sister, Aimee, if she misbehaved. Shock set into Percy, she couldn’t get fired, she needed this job, she liked her job.
“Oh.” She said, turning towards him.
“Yup.” He assured her, “No more money or free coffee…”
“I can’t get fired.”
“I need my job.”
“I know.” She was turned around, back to the crowd, face to Harry. “Come down and you’ll keep it, sound good?” She looked at him as if he was the king of reason and decided that he was right and she should come down, but as she tried stepping off the ledge back onto the balcony, she slipped. Everyone gasped, but luckily, Harry had fast reflexes and grabbed her. His heart was racing and so was hers. He had never been so scared before in his life, he had been a second off she would have fallen and hit her head on solid concrete. “Holy shit. Percy, are you okay?”
“Yeah.” She was choking for air, holding back tears, and clutching onto Harry, digging her nails in his back. “I almost fell.”
“I know, but I got you. I got you Percy.” He said, lifting her away from the balcony and into the bedroom. She had a hard time letting go, so she just held onto him until her heartbeat went back to normal. Zayn and Jo burst through the door and rushed over to her. Jo was also now holding back tears, hands over her mouth. Zayn was right in front of Percy, kneeling, checking every inch of her, and making sure she as okay. “She’ll be alright.” Harry assured them, “but maybe it’s time for her Halloween night to end.”
“I think that is a very good idea.” Said Zayn, now taking over for Harry, holding her up. “She can sleep it off in my room.” He watched Zayn and Jo leave the room with Percy. He now had his chance to freak out, away from everyone. She had listened to him, not to her best friends but to him. He made her see reason, and when she almost fell, he swore that his heart stopped beating for few seconds. And in those few minutes where she was clinging to him for dear life, he felt tug in his heart and it was like a little bit of lightening struck his brain. This girl was going to be important to him, he wasn’t sure in what kind of way, but he was sure he would find out soon.
“Uggghhhhhhhhh.” Moaned Percy, turning over in bed, but which bed she as in was a bit at of a loss for her. She looked around the room and saw Bob Marley spray-painted on the wall, she was in Zayn’s room, thank God. She quickly realized that she wasn’t really wearing anything the night before and looked under the covers. She was in a long boys shirt and boxers. Jo had probably put clothes on her before letting her pass out. “Arrrrrrrrrgggg.” She moaned even louder. After she realized she was safe and sound, her head began to ache.
“You can say that again.” Said voice coming from the floor. She looked down and it was Zayn. He had made a makeshift bed out of couch cushions and blankets.
“Nooooooooooo….” She threw her pillow over her face, remembering tiny bits and pieces of what happened the night before. “Please tell me I didn’t try to jump off the terrace into the pool.”
“That you did Percy, that you did.” Said Zayn, getting up and hopping into bed next to her. She snuggled close and put her head on his chest and he threw his arm over her.
“And Harry talked me down? Or am I just imagining that?”
“He did.” Zayn let out a laugh, “He was the only one you’d listen to at that point.”
“I’m a fucking idiot.”
“You don’t have to tell me twice.” He kissed her head, but that just made her headache worse. “Come on, let’s got down stairs and get some tea and breakfast in you.”
“Nooooooooo…” She grumbled again. “Let me just sleep all day.”
“Up.” He said, throwing the covers from her. He even slapped her on the ass.
“I didn’t kiss Louis did I?” she said as she reluctantly got up from the comfort of Zayn’s bed.
“Nope. I saved you there.”
“Have I ever told you that you are the best best friend I could ever have?” She was slowly walking towards the door; he threw his arm around her again lovingly, helping her out.
“No. But it is a nice thing to hear after you tried to slap me.”
“I didn’t?!” she stopped dead in her tracks.
“You did.” He nodded, pulling her closer to the exit.
“No more Halloween parties for me.”
“How about we just monitor your drinking from now on?”