The sound of pots clanging woke him up the next morning. Groaning he lifted his head off the pillow and cracked an eye to look at the clock on the dresser. 8:21 am. He’d had about six and a half hours of sleep, give or take. The walk home is only about an hour usually, so it should be about six and half hours. That was about the usual amount of sleep anyway, so there was no point in trying to get back to sleep. Besides, if that was Beth then there was no point in trying to get to sleep. She cooks amazing breakfast, but also needs to make noise to do it.
Stifling a groan Theo braced himself before throwing the blankets back. The chilly air made him tense as he swung over the edge of the bed. Taking a breath he stood and scratched his back. “Beth are you making food?” he asked loudly, walking across the dingy gray carpet towards the shut door.
“Yah, it’s pancakes this morning!” replied a soft voice from the kitchen. Opening the door Theo looked blurrily out into the living room - kitchen combo where a small figure was standing in front of the stove. Her short blonde hair glowed practically white in the morning and the red underneath shimmered ominously.
“Morning Beth,” he yawned as he stepped into the kitchen. The cold tiles sent a chill up his spine, giving him gooseflesh all up his arms and chest. “Make enough for me?” He asked playfully as he came up behind her and hugged her from behind. Her large skull shirt (obviously nicked from Beast) and her striped gray and blue pajama pants were soft and warm compared to the morning.
“Plenty, had to make some for you and some for Beast,” she replied as she flipped the pancake expertly in the small pan. Setting down the pan on the stove she turned and hugged him around the waist, her head resting squarely in the middle of his chest. “She had a bad night last night so she’s likely to be worse than usual this morning.” After a second she turned to look up at him, blue eyes catching his as she chastised, “You need to start wearing a shirt at night, it’s getting cold!”
“Yes Mom,” he replied fondly as she released him and he backed away from the cooking area, leaning against the counter where he watched as she slid the first pancake onto a plate and poured another large dollop of batter into the pan.
“Did she say why last night was so bad?” he asked.
“No, she just kept fuming about people and needing a punching bag in the house,” replied Beth with a grin. “I think she was trying to be quick since she knows I need more sleep than her.”
“Everyone needs more sleep than her!” he laughed. “She’s not human you know, I bet she’s got caffeine running through her veins.”
“I heard that,” came a blurry voice from the door on the other side of the apartment where Beast stood. She looked paler than usual and her eyeliner hadn’t been removed the night before giving her a gaunt wraith like look.
“Ya’ll talking smack about me?” she asked in a sleep-rough voice.
“Yup,” replied Theo happily. “Heard you had a rough night?”
Beast’s blurry eyes darkened and her brows snapped together angrily. “Yah, had a real winner at work last night.” She moved into the main kitchen now, her long t-shirt brushing mid-thigh as she walked. Leaning next to Theo she shook her head angrily, “This guy kept insisting that I was shorting him on his mixed drinks; you know, that I wasn’t pouring enough alcohol. At first it was annoying, then he started harassing other customers, so I finally just remade his drink, in front of him, using the jigger and everything! Anyway, he finally left and though the was done for the night, but then he started harassing Jackie, you know, the girl who’s crushing on Rick?” She glanced up at Theo to make sure he knew, then continued. “After he got thrown out for harassing customers and stuff he tried to say it was my fault for over-pouring and wanted me fired. Of course Martha laughed and told Rick to make sure he didn’t drive home, but it was still just a pain in the ass to try to handle, you know?”
Beth turned around after dropping another finished pancake onto the rapidly growing pile. “That sucks!”
Beast shrugged. “Meh, he was an ass, but I can’t keep getting worked up about it, though I still want to punch him in his stupid face.”
Theo frowned. Beast loved working at the bar, but sometimes there were some real crazy people there, and some real creeps. “Be careful, okay?” He asked.
She shrugged. “I always am.”
“Anyway,” said Beth, “Theo, wassup? Normally you’re sunshine and daisies, did you have a bad day yesterday too?”
Theo frowned. “Yah, had a rude customer- knocked me down while I was carrying a loaded tray, then ran off and didn’t apologize or help. Sucked cuz I had to borrow some of Joel’s pants for the rest of the shift.”
“And you don’t even want in on those pants!” snarked Beast raising an eyebrow.
“HELEN!” snapped Beth as she turned around to glare at her older sister.
“Sorry Theo,” winced Beast.
Beth turned off the stove and pulled out the drawer of forks and knives. “You two grab the plates and whatever you want on pancakes.”
Theo turned behind him and started rummaging around the upper cabinet, pulling out three white plates with blue flowers on them. Handing them to Beast he pulled out a stack of three plastic cups, white with varying colorful patterns on them, and maneuvered around to the white-turned-gray refrigerator. “Options for drinks are tap water or that iced tea that you made last week,” he turned towards the girls who were settling on cushions around the large coffee table that doubled as a kitchen table and a study desk.
“Water, thanks,” replied Beth as she dropped a pancake ceremoniously on each plate.
“Tea,” said Beast as she picked up the pancake and ripped it in half.
“Options for toppings are honey, a smidge of raspberry jam and marmalade,” said Theo as he pulled out the coke bottle that had been filled with iced tea.
“Did you put honey in the fridge again?” asked Beast annoyed.
“No, I just know we have some,” replied Theo easily.
“Honey please,” replied Beth as she sent a look at her older sister.
Tucking the bottle of tea under his arm he shut the door, turned on the faucet, filling a cup with water, which he put on the counter, and grabbed the honey from the cupboard above the stove. Balancing his catch back to the coffee table he sat on the floor across from Beth while Beast ripped her pancake into bite-sized pieces to be chewed thoughtfully.
“You need a boyfriend,” she announced to Theo.
“Thanks,” replied Theo with a sarcastic flourish, “I was unaware that I didn’t have one.”
“Beast,” warned Beth as she poured honey over the pancakes on her plate.
“No,” she replied earnestly, no longer with a sleep-angry face. “I actually mean it. You are a good person, too good to be spending your free time with us.” Beth made a noise in protest. “I mean, you’re too good to be spending the fun years in a crappy apartment with two nutty sisters and not out with somebody who’ll make you happy.”
“Um, where did this come from?” asked Theo surprised. Beast was a hopeless romantic under her rough exterior, but she rarely said stuff like that.
“Just thinking,” she replied vaguely.
“Well, is there anyone who caught your eye?” asked Beth kindly after glaring at her sister.
A brief memory of his ex’s face flashed behind his eyes before he could stomp it down. “No,” he replied honestly. “After what happened with Jack I can’t really go all gung-ho for a relationship.”
Beast pursed her lips and was obviously about to say something but Beth’s fork poised over her hand threateningly quickly paused her response. “I know, but that was over a year ago,” said Beth kindly to Theo. “Besides, he was a jerk.”
Theo nodded silently. There was one pancake on the plate and he snagged it onto his own before gulping down the iced tea that Beast had poured.
“Besides, you need to get laid,” grinned Beast, avoiding her sister’s glare of disapproval. “You’re chaste as a monk, it’s quite frankly disturbing for someone our age.”
“You’re one to talk,” he replied as he dumped honey on the last pancake.
“Yah, well…” she couldn’t think of a good response. Settling for mock-punching him, she grinned at him, “shut up!”
He rolled his eyes as Beth imitated shooting herself in the head. “Sometimes I’m amazed you’ve both made it to adulthood. And I’m even more amazed that you’re supposed to be the adult out of all of us,” he motioned towards Beast.
She snorted. “None of us are adults. We may have a bigger number behind our name but that doesn’t mean that we stop having fun and act like annoying suits.” She sat back and looked at him speculatively. “I meant it though, I really do think you should find someone. I just want you to be happy, and you seem content enough, but that’s not happy.”
Theo didn’t know how to respond to that, so instead shrugged and got up with his dishes and brought them to the kitchen. As soon as his back was turned he heard a definite smack that could only be Beth punching Beast. He heard a hissy whisper but couldn’t make out the words.
“I’m going to hop in the shower,’kay?” he said as he dumped the dishes in the sink.
“Sure,” said Beth as she stood up with her plates. Beast was already heading towards the sink with the rest of the dishes and the nearly empty tea bottle under her arm. He headed into his room to grab a change of clothes.
Crossing the living room again to get to the bathroom he saw Beast washing the dishes, humming to something while the dishes clanking. Beth was already in their room rustling. Once he was in the shower door between him and the world with the loud pittering of the hot water, he allowed himself to think about what Beast had said.
It wasn’t that he didn’t want a boyfriend, but he just couldn’t imagine a boyfriend right now. He couldn’t imagine who the boyfriend would be. Who would date him? Who would he want to date? He sighed against the shower wall, I guess I like the idea of a boyfriend but can’t imagine one in reality, he admitted to himself.
While he pondered this in his shower, Beth slunk out of her room, no longer dressed in pajamas. “Beast,” she said walking over to her sister. “You can’t just order him to get a boyfriend, you need to be a bit more, I don’t know, considerate. I mean, you can’t just bring that sort of thing up like that!”
Beast looked over at her sister behind her, sighing. “I know, but, like,” she searched for the right words as she scrubbed the pan. “I mean, I want him to be happy. ‘Cause he can’t be spending forever with us. I mean, after the last one…” She trailed off, turning and staring intently at the pan. “He just deserves to be happy. I want him to be in a happy relationship and not stuck forever with the two of us. I don’t know…” She trailed off again.
“What brought this on?” asked Beth as she leaned against the countertops. “I mean, normally you’re all ‘who needs men, right?’, so what’s going on?”
Beast frowned. “Martha got engaged to her boyfriend last week,” she said. “Jackie and Rick are together and are adorable...I guess…I just...I don’t know.” She finished scrubbing the pan and began running it under water, back still to her sister. “They all seem so happy, and you and I are content as we are...but Theo needs more...you know?”
Beth looked at her for a moment and nodded to Beast’s turned back. “Yah,” she said, understanding completely. She turned to grab a bag from her room before leaving out the door. As she passed the bathroom door Theo came out, wet hair sticking to his head and damp shirt clinging to his frame.
“You heading out?” he asked her, towel around his neck.
“Yah,” she says as she flicks the door shut. “Be good!”
Theo turns and looks at Beast who is now drying her hands. “What was that all about?”