I flail around next to me, groaning, but by the time I actually find what I’m grabbing for (the blanket) I’m pretty much awake. And my feet are entirely tangled up in it, so I’d have to take the time to untie it even if I wanted to put it back on, and at that point, I may as well just get the fuck up. My entire lower half is sticky with sweat, and my upper half feels clammy. I doubt I can fall back asleep at this point anyway.

Darren is obviously making breakfast, because I can smell like seven different kinds of food, and I try not to retch. It’s an effort to stumble my way into the shower, but I manage, and then everything smells like steam and fogged glass instead of food, and, eventually, mangoes. I have to kind of ruin it with the scent of this shitty Too Much Sandalwood (MANdalwood) shampoo, but I can still feel the sweat clinging to my scalp as I try to scrub the dreams away.

I mean, not that it actually does anything besides fuck up my hair. It’s fine. I’m pretty sure I have a haircut today, anyway, so how bad could it honestly be?

I dry off with some scratchy horrible towel, which means I forgot to do laundry, and it barely soaks the water out of my hair. I run a hand through it to straighten it out a little, and my fingers get caught. Yeah, definitely time for a haircut. Sometimes I wonder how I would look bald.

…which would have even more of the problem of remembering to take care of my haircut, but there you go. And they’d probably make me add some kind of decorative ribbon onto my mask, because these things are designed to blend into hair, and like I need some sort of blue spiderweb on the back of my head?

Darren is fucking humming by the time I give up finding a shirt and wander out in just sweatpants. I stare at him for a minute, watching him make fruit smoothies.

“Have you been up all fucking night?” I ask.

He grins at me as we wait out the horrible blending noise. “Maybe.”

“No, seriously, Darren,” I ask, “are you just up early because my schedule got fucked at some point, or did you literally not sleep?”

He rolls his eyes. “I’m sleeping…less. But fine.”

“You can’t just sleep less,” I say, helplessly accepting some drink that looks blueberry flavored, god, everything looks blueberry flavored, “have you asked about it?”

“I’m fine,” he says, “I’m not tired. I’ll go to bed early, okay?”

I take a sip. Yup, all the berries. I eye the solid food warily, wondering if my stomach will stop churning at some point. “Why is everything blue?”

“Uh, they were out of the blueberry yogurt,” he says, “so I got the vanilla, and also blueberries. Only I got too many blueberries. But then I had an idea!”

“Was it breakfast?” I ask.

“It was breakfast!” he says.

I nod. “You know we can’t possibly eat all this, right?”

He hands me a stack of French toast. There are only a few blueberries on top. I brace myself, cutting into one, and, yes, blueberry filling. It’s not bad, though.

“It’s fine,” he says, “I’m meeting the guys in, like, an hour or something, I’m going to box everything up and take it to them. Most of it’ll get eaten.”

I look around the kitchen. “Did you make cookies?” I finally ask.

“Yes.” He nods enthusiastically. “But those will keep. So I’m not bringing them.”

“How the fuck do you make blueberry cookies,” I ask.

“It’s just an oatmeal raisin recipe,” he says, “only I used blueberries instead, and they kind of maybe exploded, I’m not sure. They taste okay.”

The cookies are extremely blue.

“Do you want any of the pancakes, or should I box them all up?” Darren asks. Grinning.

“Oh, god,” I say, and wave them off. I’ll maybe get through my French toast. Although the muffins look really good. I remember what happened last time Darren tried to make his own muffins, but it was a learning experience, and these ones look like I won’t necessarily regret eating them.

Darren shrugs. And packs up the pancakes in literal cake boxes, where did he even get these, did he open a bakery while I wasn’t looking? Did he befriend a mysterious neighbor who happens to own a bakery? I should ask him if he’s been talking to any friendly woodland creatures.

“Fox?” Darren says, tying this, like, perfectly bakery bow in the string.

“Why,” I say, “why do they want you to bring them pancakes. Why.”

Darren sighs and brushes the back of his hand against his bangs. “Okay. There’s…not sure if I mentioned this, but there was kind of…a thing, and, anyway, I wanted to apologize.”

I narrow my eyes at him, because he’s quite clearly very sure that he didn’t mention anything, and conspicuously failing to mention it now, but I don’t call him on it. Whatever he’s trying to apologize for, I can’t imagine boxes full of scones are a bad way to do that.

“You okay?” I ask, instead.

He sidles over, bumping his shoulder against mine, and says, “aw, you know them. They never really hold a grudge for long.”

I spin him so I can give him a quick hug. “If they give you trouble, call me.”

“Yes, yes, my masked hero, you can save me from all the evildoers,” Darren says. “If you really want to save me, you can figure out what the hell happened to all the containers I used to have.”

That explains the cakeboxes. “You have this thing where your friends have no manners and always forget to give those back to you if you bring them anything.”

He thinks that over for a minute. “Okay. That tracks.”

“Also,” I add, “you forget them at work sometimes.”

He tilts his head. “Which you know how?”

“Because I find them,” I say, “or someone tells me because they forgot to tell you or something, and honestly, I’d rather toss them than wash them.”

He points a finger. “So it’s your fault! Fuck you for throwing away my perfectly good containers.”

“Okay, like, a ton of them used to be butter tins or something,” I say, “and a lot of them are cracked, and anyway I don’t want them smelling up my car.”

“You can throw out the broken ones,” he says, sullenly, “but now I have no place to put all my pancakes, and this is your fault, and you owe me a ton of new ones of these, I hope you’re aware.”

“I’ll get new ones,” I say. “I’ll get an assortment of brightly colored ones, how about that, then we can color code our leftovers. That’ll be fun!”

Darren laughs. “Fine, rainbow colored leftovers it is, asshole.”

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