Nasty Habits

in which regret turns into motivation

Dan wonders if it's the wine or the routine of walking to a different liquor store every night so he's not recognized buying the same red wine nightly.

After the band split he'd picked up a drinking habit. Other than the drinking he likes to think he takes pretty good care of himself. Still brushes his teeth, showers at least once every other day, shaves, and sometimes he still goes out to clubs with Matt because Matt is the only one he still has contact with. Usually it ends in a stupid argument when Matt tries to cut off Dan's wine intake after at least three more glasses than he should have.

It's kind of chilly tonight. Enough to require a leather jacket over his hoodie but not so much that he wouldn't carry out his routine.

Tonight it's the closest liquor store to his house. They carry this red wine for about ten quid that was stupidly alcoholic and Dan could down a whole bottle in one night without having a hangover in the morning. He pushes the glass door open, a bell dings, and he shoves his hands in his pockets as he heads to the wine aisle to pick out the usual. He's pleasantly surprised when it's on sale. Well that's good. He grabs a chocolate bar on the way out because fuck it and goes to the counter to pay. He gives the cashier his card.

“It's been declined,” he says to Dan.

“Shit,” Dan hisses. He digs in his wallet and tugs out what he thinks is a twenty pound note. It is not a twenty pound note.

It's an old photo of Dan and Josh. Early in their relationship, early in the band's life. Josh's undercut, the dumb shit-eating grin, leaning into Dan's shoulder as he gives a finger swear to the camera. Dan with a drink and a bad tan. There's fold marks and it's a little faded but it's from 2009, he thinks. Years ago.

He sort of realizes he's standing in the middle of a liquor store feeling like he's been punched in the stomach and staring at a photograph.

Dan quickly shoves it in his pocket, feeling in his wallet and producing a twenty. He grabs a wine corker off the rack. He needs a drink, like, now.

Dan litters the seal of the wine bottle and its cork. He walks with the bottle in one hand and the photograph in the other and takes the long way home so people driving by don't think he's a wreck or an alcoholic, which he may or may not be anyway.

There's something innocent about the photo. Dan remembers that, the young love, the way Josh couldn't keep his hands off him. They were in a permanent honeymoon stage. Josh would sneak into Dan's bunk at night even though they barely fit together and Josh would make a fat joke about himself and Dan would swat him and call him gorgeous.

Dan drinks.

He looks down at the photo with heavy eyes. He doesn't remember putting this in his wallet – honestly, his wallet is a goddamn mess – but he figures it must've felt like a good idea at the time. Not so good anymore.

Dan goes from thinking about Josh's hands in his hair and his lips to the last time he spoke to Josh. Years ago. They'd broken up; the band had broken up. Josh had met a girl. Dan had shouted at him and Josh had cried.

And now all Dan has is a cold empty flat and some leftover money from his parents' will.

Dan regrets a lot of things about the end of the relationship and the end of the band but mostly he regrets making Josh cry.

He sort of stops walking in the middle of the sidewalk, looks around. He's in a residential area, the housing development next to the flat buildings he lives in. He'd promised Josh they would live together like this. Suburban, with a French bulldog because Josh always wanted one but couldn't have one because of his mum's bad experience with a dog when she was younger. Painting a nursery together. Josh wanted kids. He wanted to adopt, talked about it ever since they'd said their first “I love you”s.

Dan feels kind of disgusting getting drunk outside homes filled with happy families while he thinks about the man he wanted to marry. So he starts walking again.

He's nearly finished the bottle when he gets home. He's at that point where regret starts to turn into motivation and he drains the bottle, tosses the photo on his bed, and digs through his bedside table for his old phone, praying that Josh's number is still the same.
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this is left open-ended so you can interpret it as you will.