Closed Roleplay about a man and a woman trying to keep their heads above water.
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I remember the sound the flower pot made when it shattered against the wall beside my head. Sometimes I imagine those blue eyes as I lay in bed and I always turn to face the wall. I don’t date blonde women anymore and I stopped pursuing my dream career. And when I start to think about the past, I make sure to have a drink. Is this what rock bottom feels like or is there more?
There’s always something more...
Gabe stared at the fluorescent lights in the bathroom, wondering how anyone managed to piss in here without getting utterly disgusted by the amount of bugs in the light fixture. He swallowed the ibuprofen dry, hoping to take the edge off his headache that may have been from dehydration or lack of sleep or long nights staring at a screen- who the fuck knows? As long as he showed up for the night shift, no one gave a rats ass what was happening after he left the parking lot.
But his younger brother was getting married this weekend to some fucking model from Manhatten with a gorgeous figure and exotic accent. Michael was about to graduate from law school and boy, were his parents so proud. ‘What happened to your career, son? Where’d that lovely lady go to? Where are you working now? Why haven’t you called? Are you smoking again?’
Had he and Michael not been so close, he might have skipped the wedding all together but ‘You’re one of the groomsmen. You have to be there for your brother.’ Gabe would rip the vocal cords out of his mother if he could but thoughts like that were concerning to most folks. People would think something was wrong with good ol’ charismatic Gabriel. He was the life of the party. He was the guy who knew how to bullshit his way out of any conversation.
Gabe fluffed his hair before returning to the floor, tightening his apron as he rejoined his partner behind the bar. It was approaching the dinner rush and already the married men were visiting for pre-homecoming drinks. He and Noel were some of the oldest amongst the staff. Teenagers often applied at the Tuscany Vineyard as a first job stepping stone, cycling through younger faces like the Tuscany had some sort of plague associated with it. Gabe and Noel were among the seniors, assigned more advanced job duties and making him feel quite old. But... it did give him and the brunette something to bond over.
“Did you see the new girl’s hair?” he asked, washing his hands and grabbing a quick order. “She’ll poke an eye out with how much gel she’s using.” He passed a man his beer and rang up a tab. “Plans for the weekend, Noel? Or from the look of those sunglasses earlier, you start your weekends early.”
She... had quickly become one of the easiest people he could talk to. At times, he wondered if he should make a move and ask her about any boyfriends but the longer he thought about it, the more unappealing it was to imagine himself in another relationship. And there was his mom again, nagging in the back of his mind about the power of youth and having children. Gabe briefly imagined how it would baffle his parents if he brought a date to the wedding instead of coming as a bachelor. Perhaps they would get off his ass or it might just make things worse... Urg, he was not looking forward to the weekend even if it was in Mexico. At least there was going to be lots of Tequila.
I've tried to be what people think of when they see me
That gave me an ego that wasn't even mine, though
Yeah, I know I look fine
But you can't see sad with your eyes
“Let’s get fucking wasted!” Another woman yelled over the music as she shoved a shot into Noella’s hand. The woman, already far gone, smiled before throwing the shot back with another scream. This was her almost every night, except the ones where she was stuck working. And even on those nights, she was just out later or at home taking her own bottle to the face.
After graduating college with an English degree, the woman didn’t have any sense of what to do with her life, so she filled it with parties with alcohol and friends she didn’t remember the next night. Her dates never went past a second one, and she was still in her same job she got when she was 18. The only constant in her life was her co-worker and, at this point, her closest friend, Gabriel.
Noella felt her head pounding as she entered the Tuscany Vineyard for her shift. She had been out late last night, and was only able to come to work that day by chugging a few gatorades and a couple of trips to the bathroom. She took her sunglasses off, the fluorescent lights burning a hole in her skull as she prepared the bar for the night service. She smiled a faint smile at Gabriel as he made his way to the bathroom, before tying her own apron around her waist. She was able to rub the emptiness she felt behind her eyes to tend to her customers, who would never know she had stopped drinking just a few hours ago. She cracked open a Redbull and kept it behind the bar so she’d be able to be alert for when she hit the next bottle after work tonight.
Tuscany Vineyard was one place Noel felt like herself. She could have normal conversations with people, she could work properly and hold a position of authority. She was trusted here. Everywhere else she just felt like an insignificant part of a larger image, but here she was something. The duo of Noel and Gabe were unstoppable here, probably due to the fact they were veterans at the establishment. But, the job gave good tips and the managers were pretty hands off. Couldn’t find a better job if she tried, and she had tried.
Gabriel was truly the only person she felt she could talk to anymore, maybe because he was the most sane person consistently in her life.. She wouldn’t dare reach out to her parents, as she knew they would question her to pieces if she did. And her sister…well she’d rather cliff jump than talk to her.
As Noella served a drink to a regular, she leaned back as she heard Gabriel start to talk. A soft chuckle left her lips, finding the girl in her sights. She covered her mouth as she put an order into the computer, “You’re right. You gotta keep a 100 feet distance.” she teased as she submitted the order to the kitchen. “Have you seen the couple that recently got hired? You wanna put money on how long they last? I’m thinking two weeks for the girl, maybe a week for the guy. He’s already dropped a whole tray of wine glasses…twice.”
Noel began putting out more glasses as she glared at him for his comment on her sunglasses. “You’re a dick. ” she whispered, a playful smirk on her lips as she said it though. “My weekend? Probably sit and contemplate my life choices, or down another bottle of Jack alone in my apartment. I prefer the latter. ” The brunette laughed, waving her hand at him. She leaned her back against the bar, crossing her arms. “What, you wanna take me out or something?” a teasing note on her lips. She knew he had stopped seeing a blonde girl before, but she never wanted to bring it up as he never did either. She would be surprised if someone who looked like him was hurting for a date.
Gabe smiled. A sort of charming/down to earth smile he’d been told on many occasions. Sure, Noel probably had some issues she needed to sort out but that wasn’t any of his business especially when most of their interactions were about work. He wondered, if he prodded, if they would have more in common then she often let on but... there was always the risk of jeopardizing a good relationship with too many questions. The last thing he needed in his life right now was for work to be awkward too.
“My bet is that the boy is going to get fired before the break-up and we’ll hear about it by Monday- latest.” Gabriel mused about her weekend comment as he rounded the bar counter to quickly pick-up and wipe down a few of the high stool tables in the area. He knew she drank and gathered probably more than he did on a weekday night. The smell nearly reeked on Noel when she walked through the door but she always managed to sober up enough to always work her job efficiently. He couldn’t really judge her for it either knowing his personal weakness when his mind drifted too far into the dark reaches. He wanted to worry about her but he... didn’t really have the energy to care about anyone else nowadays. His ‘best friend’ would probably be hurt by that notion.
“Taking you out is a tempting offer,” he started once he’d returned behind the counter. “But I have a feeling you’d hurt my wallet with cocktails.” Though he highly doubted it’d be cocktails she’d be drinking. “I have a wedding to go to in Mexico this weekend and I was hoping you’d have something more exciting coming up that I could twist into a clever excuse not to show up.” He didn’t hide his lack of enthusiasm. He could fake it sure, but he was positive that the depression would seep in eventually and someone in the family would notice. Probably his mother. “It’s why I have all next week off.”
The smile Gabe showed was the reason Noella believed they first became friends. His smile made him look so down to earth, and maybe Noella felt a little bit of a pull toward him. She knew she was out of control, she knew her life wasn’t going exactly how she hoped it would have been going. But Gabe? He always seemed put together, most likely in a committed relationship and would soon be out of here. But, each day she was here, so was he. That’s what she liked about him, consistent, kind, put together. Or so she assumed. They never really talked that deep, mostly weekend plans or work conversation. Nothing more, nothing less.
Noel busied herself behind the bar, a small laugh as he mentioned his idea of the boy. Noone lasted here for a long time, except for them, of course. They were basically managers here without that salary, but she didn’t mind it. Watching the boy drop his third tray of glasses, she knew he’d be out maybe even sooner than the week. She shook her head, handing out more beers to the men who appeared at the bar, making sure to hand out menus to couples who popped in as well. “First date at the bar, left corner” she mentioned to him as she walked by, before heading to the register.
As Gabe spoke of taking her out but she’d cost him too much, she made sure to make her gasp a bit dramatic, as she knew at least one or two guys at the bar heard. “I don’t buy cocktails, you’d be broke from bottles, babe.” she spoke, the teasing tone still on her lips. She smirked toward him, looking over as he told her about the wedding he was attending, though his voice didn’t seem excited. “A destination wedding and you aren’t excited? It is basically a vacation. Wait, is it someone you don’t like?” she asked, before tapping her chin. “You have a date right? You must have a partner and you can just go party with them. Unfortunately, I am not the most interesting person and rarely have plans.” she mused, before smiling as she wrote down the order of the group in front of her.
“Wait, you’re gonna leave me here alone! I can’t do the Vineyard alone for a week! Who am I gonna shit-talk the new hires to?” Noella jokes, yet plays up the theatricals as always, but maybe sure to keep her voice at least to a solid whisper. “Let me go to the wedding instead! I love parties!” she smirked, handing glasses over to Gabe to hang up above the bar, wanting to get ahead before the rush of the night.
As Noel had pointed out, Gabriel paid extra attention on the first date in the left corner, bringing them water and taking a quick order. Bottles, he chuckled to himself as he rang up the appetizer. She continued on about his weekend wedding, finding it hard to believe that he didn’t want to be there and rambling off a handful of questions about it. It must be a woman thing or even the fact that it’s in Mexico drives most of the appeal.
Gabe carefully measured out cocktails, leaving them for Noel to cycle out to the appropriate patrons. “There are plenty of other people who work here you know,” he laughed. “I hear Jeff’s going to be taking my spot till I’m back. I know how much you love him.” Jeff was the assistant manager. A man with all talk, little work ethic and no redeemable qualities. He was constantly talking about new girlfriends he met online and the newest video games.
He hung the glasses handed to him as Noel leaned in for a whisper, playfully asking him to take her with him to the wedding. Gabe knew it was a joke, he was well aware, and yet the thought of having someone he knew (even barely) bare the burden of overbearing parents and family, drinking the night away with him as they made fun of guest dresses and dates- this was exactly up Noel’s alley. She was so bold, outspoken and confident.
Gabe put an arm out to pause her multitasking to look him in the eye. “Why don’t you? You have PTO, right? Come with me.” He stepped out of her way and grabbed the food brought over from the kitchen. “I don’t have a date for the wedding and it’s for my younger brother.” He put down the plates and refilled a couple glasses. “I’ll even buy your plane ticket.” It sounded fucking crazy and maybe he was but... maybe this is what he needed. To get out of his apartment. To get out of his head. To maybe allow a little time to have fun.
Noella passed out the cocktails that Gabriel poured, placing down small napkins as she placed them down. She made sure to make brief small talk with any regulars they had, or at least a greeting to anyone who knew who came up to the bar. Vineyard was a place where they had very loyal regulars and the bartenders behind the bar would know what they wanted even before they even spoke. Noel made a note to look toward Gabriel and roll her eyes with a groan when he mentioned Jeff. “You’re seriously going to leave me to work with Jeff for the week?! You’re gonna have to do all my side work to make up for that!” Noella demands as she shot a small swat to his hip as she passed him, a smirk still on her lips.
As the two began reloading glasses as she mentioned to him she should go as well, a smirk played on her lips. She was joking, but it would be such a blast to go to a wedding. Getting away from this small city and her life for a short time would be such a nice change of pace, and who doesn’t love a wedding. Noella couldn’t keep a relationship, but it didn’t mean she didn’t wish she would get married one day and loved experiencing love outside of her own life. She was lost in the mindless task before Gabriel held his hand out to her, stopping her work.
What? He wanted her to join him? Noella was shocked he would even ask her, and he even offered for her to be his date and buy her plane ticket. She did have PTO she rarely used, and maybe it would be fun to do something other than work with Gabriel. “You really want me to go with you?” she asked, giving him a curious look. Gabriel and Noel didn’t hang out outside of work, but maybe this would be a good way to actually get to know each other. And she did enjoy spending time with him. What the hell, why not?!
“I mean, I’m not going to say no to an offer like that! Why don’t you come to my place after work? We’ll figure out all the logistics, and you can make sure my outfits aren’t too risque for your family.” Noel teased with a wink, before hanging the last few wine glasses she had to put away. She knew she’d need to get a bit more acquainted with her work partner, or she’d embarrass herself or him at the wedding. Hell, she didn’t even know his last name. Having a couple of drinks in her apartment would definitely get them acquainted.
After serving a few more drinks and getting the rush of food from the kitchen, they had a few minutes of downtime while the bar wined down. Noel leaned against the bar, blowing a strand of hair from in front of her face. “So, how fancy is this wedding going to be? Like is this a week full of events or are you just making it into a vacation by going for the week?” the brunette asked, grabbing the wet glasses the busser brought over, and began drying them off before stacking them under the bar, keeping an eye if anyone needed her for anything.
Gabriel nodded as she worked out her thought process verbally and a smile began to twitch up his face like a boy admitting his crush to a beautiful girl. Noel’s acceptance sort of made him feel relieved that he wouldn’t be there alone. “Yeah, sure,” he agreed, wondering what her place could possibly look like with that personality. He imagined thrown clothes on the floor, empty bottles on the side tables and perfumes half empty.
He sighed, keeping his hands busy as she asked about the wedding itself. “Hotitody. My younger brother is about to graduate from law school and the woman he’s marrying is a New York model. Naturally my parents decided to pour money into this wedding so it’s a week-long excursion with planned events and maybe some down time for personal exploration.” He put down the glasses as the last few folks left, the restaurant beginning to start the last routines for closing.
“Honestly, I think you’ll like having so much to do. I just get exhausted with my family. A lot of expectations, you know?” Gabe didn’t know anything about Noel and the more he thought about how much she was about to learn about him, the more he wondered if his spontaneous idea was even a good one. He kept going back and forth between the pros and cons, ultimately distracting himself enough until the end of the shift.
Gabe met Noel in the back room, pulling out his jacket from the metal locker. “Do you live far?”
Noella listened as he explained the wedding. She didn’t even know he had a younger brother, let alone a family who could pour money into a wedding. She was a bit surprised, and raised her eyebrows slightly, maybe this would be more exciting than just the typical wedding. But, it was a bit exciting that there were excursions planned, but she was worried she wouldn’t be up to the standards his parents were clearly setting. Especially if she was Gabriel’s plus one compared to a New York model.
“I could understand that. But we’ll make the best of it. If nothing else, I can at least crack a joke or two and make you laugh, you know how hilarious I am.” Noel teased, tossing her hair behind her as she walked from him, beginning her side work so that once the restaurant closed, she could get out of there. She prepped the bar from the next day, making sure all bottles were replaced, garnishes were tossed, and any dirty cups were cleared off from the bar and brought to the back of the restaurant where the dishwashers were. Once the restaurant was closed, Noel untied her apron from her waist, as well as unbuttoning the top button of her black uniform top.
Noel met up with Gabriel at their lockers, pulling out her jacket and placing her apron inside. She was ready to get the fuck home, and then she remembered she invited Gabriel over. No matter, she could still relax at home with him, he was not one to be high maintenance, or at least she hoped not. “Hm? No, not at all. 5 minutes or so. Follow behind me and park your car next to mine. I’ll see ya there.” Noel playfully winked, before sliding into her own car.
The drive was truly five minutes, her apartment building just around the corner from the restaurant. Was she in the nicest building in the town? Not at all, but she did only work at the bar, she wasn’t making enough to get anything nicer. But she made sure to keep her apartment homey, and cozy. An exposed brick apartment with wood accents, a second hand jewel toned couch, her recently updated open kitchen area the brightest thing in the entry space.
“It’s not much, but it’s mine.” Noel smirked, hanging her coat on a hook by the door. “Please make yourself at home.” she spoke, gesturing for him to sit somewhere. She had a few mismatched pieces of furniture that somehow didn’t class, a fireplace that seemed to have never been lit, a TV hung above it.
Noel kicked off her shoes at the door, heading over to her kitchen island. “You want a drink? I’m gonna make a vodka tonic if you want one.” Noel spoke, thinking bringing the entire bottle over with her to the couch might be a bit of a turn off. She filled two glasses, knowing she’d drink a second if he refused anyway. Placing one down next to him, she sat on the couch, pulling her legs under herself.
Noella realized quickly she wasn’t even sure what to say to him. Gabriel had strictly been a work friend, not someone she never saw outside of work. But now he was in her apartment and she wasn’t sure where to start. “So…the wedding!” Noella started, grabbing her drink and taking a (less than) healthy sip of her drink. “Right, so your brother and his model finance? You and your brother are close?” she asked, playing with the glass in her hand.
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