New Winslow S6E42
Noah had planned to go for a run after work, but it was pouring rain as he drove back into New Winslow. He’d been delivering pizzas all afternoon and his back was sore from all this time in the car. But it was like every time he got back to the House of Pizza, an increasingly frazzled Charlie was meeting him at the door with another stack of orders to deliver. The tips were good at least. And his shift was just about over, though now he was pretty sure he was just going to go home.
As he walked into the House of Pizza, he spotted Celine and Charlie in the dining room. Celine’s coat was soaked through, she’d clearly just gotten here. Charlie spotted him first and walked over.
“Orders are done,” he said, “You’re good to leave.”
“You got someone coming in?” Noah asked, knowing full well he might trap himself for another rush of orders.
“Yeah, new kid,” Charlie said, nodding toward the dining room. “Celine is getting him set up.”
Noah didn’t recognize the teenager sitting at the first booth, but he wasn’t going to fight the opportunity to go home. He pulled out his money bag and began to cash out, peeling off three tens from his tips and handing them to Charlie.
“No,” Charlie said, pushing the money back at him.
“Yes,” Noah argued. “I know you were making those pizzas while I was out there.”
He pushed the money at Charlie again. “You got a kid.”
Charlie gave him a long look, then took the money with a smile. “Thanks, Noah,” he said, his voice oddly gentle.
Noah nodded, a little unsettled, but glad Charlie took the money at the very least. “Alright, I’m out,” he said. “See you Sunday. Call me if you need me tomorrow. I’m working at the Limerick, but it’s flexible for now.”
A few minutes later, he was driving down Main Street toward home. He passed Forest Charms and could see dim lights shining inside it, the pink glow spilling out the windows.
Despite all the time he was spending with Andrew and what had happened with Liv, Noah still didn’t know a lot about what they were doing in there. They were breaking the curse and he knew there were some local history aspects they were digging through, but that was about it. And he got the suspicion that Andrew was trying not to involve him too much because of everything he had going on. Which didn’t offend Noah, but like he’d told Andrew, he wanted to help. He was pretty good with history, though not so much anything specific to New Winslow. So maybe that could be useful.
He was exhausted tonight though, to be fair. He’d spent the morning at the Limerick and Town Hall, then the afternoon and early evening driving delivery for the House of Pizza. And tomorrow’s to-do list at the Limerick was looming in his thoughts. For tonight, though, he was just going to go home and get some sleep. And hope he didn’t sleepwalk at all. Though based on how often he was waking up on the floor in his living room, he didn’t think that was likely.
Thankfully, the screaming seemed to have decreased significantly when he got back to New Winslow. It was definitely still happening, but not in the same way that had made his roommate miserable back in rehab. Noah was taking that as a good thing. There was no way he’d be able to hide that like he’d been able to hide the sleepwalking. At least until the horrible night when the others found him in the stairwell.
He was pretty sure that the night after Mia’s birthday party was the only other time he’d gotten out of his apartment. Though if Noah hadn’t walked out to Andrew asleep on his living room sofa, Andrew might not have told him what had happened. Which meant maybe that wasn’t the only other time?
Fuck, he was too tired to worry about this. He’d just put something in front of the door to keep himself in the apartment. And if he walked in circles around his living room, oh well. He’d just be even more tired tomorrow.
Between the truck and the front door, Noah got completely soaked with freezing rain. His shoes squeaked and squished unpleasantly as he walked inside, and water dripped down his hair and beard. He could hear Liv and Andrew talking in the downstairs unit, their voices muffled by the door as he turned and went upstairs to his own apartment.
Gray Lady met him at the door, winding through his wet legs and meowing loudly. “Hi, Your Majesty,” he murmured, leaning down to pat her and instead dripping water down the length of her back. She took off away from him, outraged, and he peeled off his coat, hanging it on a hook by the door. The water dripped onto the linoleum and Noah caught himself watching as it ran rivulets down the old tile.
He was shivering and sore from the cold and knew that a shower would fix that. But something kept him rooted to the spot, watching the water flow off his jacket and onto the floor. It kept growing, the flow like a waterfall now, hammering down in a way that made him wonder how there was possibly that much water in the fabric. He had to clean it up, it was up past his ankles now, and a flash of fear went through him, though he couldn’t say what that fear was from. But the water was sloshing through the room, and it was going to wreck the floor and leak down into Liv’s apartment. But not before it carried Noah away.
He jerked back with a sharp breath, his head snapping up and eyes open. Jesus, he’d somehow managed to fall asleep standing upright without even realizing it. The water was not overflowing his kitchen. Instead, a tiny puddle had formed underneath his leather jacket, one that would easily come up with a washcloth.
Noah grabbed one off the front of the oven and wiped the water up, then went straight into the bathroom to shower. He managed not to nod off again in there, stumbling into his room a few minutes later, dried off and capable of pulling on a pair of pajama pants. He fell down on his bed and didn’t even pull the covers all the way up before he was asleep.
He woke up a little while later to the sensation of someone shaking his shoulder. “What?” he grunted, sitting up.
“Sorry, it’s me,” Liv whispered. “I brought you up some dinner, and you were talking in your sleep. Are you alright?”
It took a moment for Noah to get his bearings. Right, he’d been so tired he’d fallen asleep first in his kitchen and then immediately in his bed at about eight in the evening. “I’m fine,” he said, giving her a vague smile. “Sorry.”
“It sounded like a nightmare,” she said. “You were almost screaming, I just didn’t want to leave you like that.”
Olivia looked a little embarrassed. “I wasn’t going to wake you up,” she continued. “I made pasta, so I left a plate out on the counter.”
“Thanks,” he said through a yawn.
“I’ll leave you alone.”
Why was she being so skittish? “Hey,” he said, reaching out to catch her hand before she left. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing,” she said. “I just didn’t want to overstep.”
God, that hadn’t been an issue before he’d started yelling at her for it. Yeah, she’d obviously overstepped before and would again, but he’d been such a dick about it that he’d apparently spooked her. “Liv,” he said, feeling a bit more awake now. “Everything’s okay.”
He nodded, on frustratingly familiar, uneven ground. “My kitchen wasn’t flooded, was it?”
She frowned at him in the dim light. “What?”
Noah shook his head, now the one feeling silly. “No, sorry, just a weird dream,” he said. “Thanks for dinner.”
“Want me to put it in the fridge?”
“Nah, I’ll eat it now.”
He got up and picked up a shirt he’d left beside the bed the other day. “How were things at the shop after I left?” he asked as he pulled it on and started toward the kitchen.
“Fine,” Liv said. “I was looking at our options and I’m not sure it’s worth working with other vendors at the moment for things that aren’t available through Rivera Supply. There were some things I was considering, but it would add a lot more work right now.”
“Yeah, might as well start out simple.”
Now that his brain was slowly booting back up, Noah remembered what had happened at Town Hall that morning. “Is Andrew okay?” he asked as he picked up the plate of pasta Liv had left on the counter.
“Yeah,” Liv replied. “He said things didn’t go great today. Apparently they went to the archives and he said he’ll be careful. I know it’s all real, trust me, I know. But how exactly is he supposed to protect himself from Baxter short of carrying a weapon everywhere he goes?”
Noah was pretty sure Andrew could take Baxter in a fair fight. The man was a hundred and five years old. But it wasn’t going to be a fair fight if Baxter went through with whatever vague threat he’d made.
“I know a God-knows-how-old curse isn’t going to be fixed quickly,” he said. “But I wish there was some way to speed it up, you know? I want to help, but he keeps saying it’s fine.”
“He does the same with me,” Liv said quietly as Noah cut a meatball in half, sending marinara onto his already-stained counter. “I trust him, but I’m worried. Maybe Baxter’s threats are empty. He’s got too much to lose, he’s not going to murder Andrew.”
Appetite instantly gone, Noah wiped at the spilled sauce, staining the rain-damp cloth in the process.