not to mention, there was a lot going on at the clinic. management was changing. with the original owner getting sick and his partner pulling back a little while going through some family stuff, carlos didn't feel like there was anyone there that he knew. things were different. the acting manager was running the place completely different and he was just kind of confused by everything. he felt like this was how it felt when hospital were sold to companies that were mostly in the private sector. it was just a lot. so, to get away from it all, he'd reached out to tim. they were getting together more often (it was easier with midterms behind him). he knew he needed to get as much friend time as he could before finals came up. this was one of those perfect times. carlos took a seat at a table near the "window". he loved bourbon street. it was one of the places where a dive bar could also have really great food (that was clearly a city staple). "how was halloween, man?" carlos asked, as he scanned the short menu. he really needed to put something on his stomach before he drank anything.
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halloween had been the perfect time for carlos to de-stress. midterms had been kind of crazy but things had pretty much worked out in his favor. so he didn't have much to stress about when he thought about it. still, there was a lot around him that was changing. he was closer to graduation than he thought he would be at this point. carlos leon mariano was going to be a college graduate at the end of this year. not really the end of the year with the way semesters worked out. but he was getting out a year early. he was getting out before he hit twenty-two. his mom was ecstatic and, honestly, it wasn't until after he'd told her that he realized he should have held off on that. it was a very real thing though, provided he didn't fail any class or magically fall behind. at the same time, he wasn't sure where he was supposed to go next. he didn't know where he wanted to go next. he knew he was going to go to vet school. he just didn't know where and he wasn't exactly ready to move. not with everything he had going on here. he had friends and he had someone looking for his father. he had a lot going on.
Tim thought that he’d feel upset at the end of his relationship. At least in the typical sense of wanting to cry. Instead, he just felt disappointed that it even got to this point. This was a relationship that he saw a lot of promise in. at this time last year he was imagining kids with her. Despite her premature menopause, he wanted to adopt a couple of kids with her. Now, he couldn’t even imagine stepping foot in the home that was supposed to be theirs. He was willing to just give it to her in order to put some distance between the two of them. Tim didn’t stop loving her overnight but he stopped wanting a future. He just couldn’t have it with someone who he didn’t fit with anymore. People were supposed to change and grow over the years but they grew to a point that they didn’t mesh together anymore. He couldn’t support someone who thought of herself only. Tim was willing to give a lot but there was a limit and he finally reached it.
Rather than being sad, he was frustrated and relieved. None of which he wanted to talk about too much. Instead he just kept it in. only jo knew about it so far because he couldn’t really hide it from her. She also couldn’t hide how pissed off she was. Tim just went to bed before he went into the routine of work. He finally felt good enough to actually go out. At least with carlos, he knew that they’d go somewhere marginally fun. There were drinks that were a decent price so he already had one when carlos arrived. “great, actually. Sierra and i kind of matched. She was a minion and i was gru, which made work fun. Then i got to see gabi before she went trick-or-treating.” tim beamed talking about his niece. “that was about it really. Yours? Did you enjoy it with finals behind you?”
the best thing about tuesdays was that there were a bunch of places that had discounts on drinks. truthfully, there were drink specials every day of the week in new orleans. you really just had to know where to look. the best drink specials were saved for wednesdays, for college students. carlos was pretty sure they kind of hiked up the price on the weekends when it came to tourists pouring in and just pretended that there was a special going on. but that was business and that was how things worked. carlos wasn't sure if he was going to drink a lot tonight. he didn't have class in the morning but he had to work early. there wasn't much stressing him out at the moment. he knew that finals were coming up but there were still about a month out. that meant he had a couple more weeks before he would actively begin to stress about them; and, with good reason, since these finals were going to determine if he'd be able to graduate at the end of the spring semester or not. he was still worried about all that because he hadn't applied to grad school. he tought he had a whole year left. he hadn't been thinking that far ahead. now he had to rush to apply if he was graduating and deadlines were in january. he had a lot to do over christmas break. he could feel it.
and it was thinking about things like that that made him want to go out more. not to forget about everything but to let loose. because he clearly wasn't doing enough of that at the moment. "how is she?!" he asked quickly as his face lit up. he liked sierra. he would forever shake his head at her for not naming her hedgehog sonic but he'd get over that eventually. he made a mental note to stop by the hospital. that was the only time he ever ran into her and he'd kind of been avoiding the place. his mother was not happy with the fact that he'd started looking for his father. he already had to deal with her stern face at home. he didn't want it aimed at him throughout the hospital as well. "not much. went to a party. didn't die or freeze. ran into a hot girl. life might be looking up," he told his friend with a chuckle.
Tim was all for saving money. It had become second nature to him. He even learned how to coupon so that he could save what he could on things he used. When he went out, it just carried over. There was a whole section of apps that gave him discounts based on how frequently he went places. They were actually well worth it but right now, he wasn’t thinking too much about money. He did it so much that he just wanted to enjoy drowning his sorrows for a little bit. Tim knew better than anyone that alcohol wasn’t the end all solution. He didn’t plan to enjoy it all the time but he could have a couple days where he wallowed before pulling himself together. So far, he had done fairly well in keeping himself in line. He hadn’t been lashing out at people or locking himself in his room in a pity party. Tim’s life went on. He still went to work and did his best to just keep living normally. He had been keeping a lot of his feelings locked down so he felt like he was allowed to let it all come out however it naturally wanted to manifest.
Tim’s head slowly swayed from side to side. “as good as can be expected. It’s a strange time of the year. You know, holidays and stuff make everything seem insanely busy. Especially since she went back to school.” he didn’t think it was his place to mention how her and archer had broken up or that holidays usually felt hard without a parent around. That was something for her to talk about but he knew his mouth ran a bit. It was probably from the drinks that he had already ingested. “good. Though if you think you’ll do either of those things, call me. I can’t have you dying.” tim reached for the second drink that had been brought so he could take a swig. “oh? Tell me about her. Did you at least get a number?”
carlos kind of understood that feeling. that strange holiday thing, anyway. it had been two years since he found out he kind of had a whole other family out there. since he'd started the process of finding his dad, he was always kind of antsy about hearing things back. and he had heard nothing. he understood. it was kind of a long shot, considering he'd had a first name and a shot at a last name. his mom hadn't given him much to go one at all. not to mention, there wasn't much of him lingering around the house. it made sense with him having been some random hookup on some crazy trip. the idea of his mom being a crazy, carefree person wasn't something he was used to yet. not at all. "i'll have to visit her," he said quickly with a nod. honestly, with her going to grad school and stressed out, he felt like he should talk to her. because that could quite possibly be him in a few months and he really wanted to know how to handle all that. especially with a demanding job. he laughed at tim, "i'll do my best. i hear death comes at some people pretty fast." he was sure he would be fine. he wasn't so stressed that he would just let the reaper take him. not yet anyway. then he shook his head, "i'd be beating myself up if i didn't. this is the third time i've run into her! the universe can only help me so much!"
The holidays usually felt bittersweet. As nurses, tim and sierra saw a lot of bad things. Tim saw more that came through the emergency room but when they were kids, they were sent right up to sierra. He felt like kids getting in accidents or hurt because of cooking failures at this time of the year was always the hardest to deal with. This was supposed to be a time where they thought everything was magical. The elves and santa were supposed to be fulfilling their every wish. Instead they were spending those moments in an unfamiliar room that were nowhere near as cheerful. “you should. She’d like that. Maybe surprise her at the hospital.” she could do with a surprise visit that included coffee or some kind of treat. He needed to do that. Her breakup had been hard. “sometimes. If you injure or poison someone the right way, it’s actually really slow.” tim needed to slow down on the drinks. He was getting to his thoughts of wanting to hurt people who were assholes. “you are lucky. This time of the year there’s a lot of fun things to do right now.” it was a big bonus of new orleans. He loved how there was always something to do. Most of them were “maybe she has a friend you could set me up with.” tim still wasn’t interested in dating but maybe talking? Or something just casual? He wasn’t really sure. He probably shouldn’t be thinking about it. “so what’s her name?” that's what he should focus on now that his drink was done and he could order water. his focus was getting a little off track because he was drinking down too fast.
the process of deciding to visit his mom less hadn't really been thought through. he'd just been trying to minimize the ugly looks from his mother. he hadn't taken the time to stop and realize that he wouldn't have seen sierra as much. he knew he didn't have to worry about tim. tim was one of the few people from that line of work that carlos actually sought out. he knew he would see tim so it seemed like a good thing. now he was hearing about sierra and assuming that what she was going through was a little bit more than the man in front of her was letting on. it was like everyone had a lot going on in their lives right now and it wasn't all happy, happy joy, finding presents and all that. "i will. with a hedgehog cupcake or something on a day my mom is incredibly swamped," he mused out loud with a chuckle. carlos then cocked his head and full-on laughed. "okay there, dark one. what's going on in that head of yours?" he asked, trying not to laugh as hard. he'd noticed that he was drinking faster than usual. they could usually make it through the first two rounds of subjects before they hit round two. round two had been dropped off at least ten minutes ago. it was quick. for them. his shoulders lifted and fell in response to tim's question. "maybe. she hangs out with a slightly older crowd," he added. at least that's what he'd gathered at the party he'd seen her at over halloween. "amara." he answered. "and get this. first time i met her, asked me to be her fake boyfriend around a bunch of snooty people like the ones i grew up with." a chuckled followed because it was still strange to him. it was kind of funny.
Tim thought family was important. They were there for everything. His dads were some of the best people he knew. From what he heard about his mom, she was amazing too. He was sad that he didn’t get to know her fully. He did like hearing stories though. He would go over them and wonder which parts of himself that he had gotten from her. In some of the photos, the way she held herself reminded him of photos he had of himself. Tim clung to any of the things that connected them and took in any time with her that he could. Without a girlfriend, he could spend more of it at home with her. “bring it for the whole floor. They’ll always give you whatever you want.” early in his career, tim relied heavily on sweet talking different people. A few treats always went a long way so that when something did come up, he could usually pull a few favors in his direction. “it’s just been a long few weeks. I’m tired.” tired really seemed to blanket cover everything that he was feeling. At this point, tim needed something to feel even a little alive again. He was still looking into different things that he could indulge in to have a bit of fun. “as long as they’re over twenty-one, i’d be happy.” tim wasn’t looking to date. Things were too fresh and raw for him. If tim did do anything, he wanted something as casual as possible. He grinned. “that’s always a guaranteed romantic comedy outcome.” this was putting him in a slightly better mood. While his own love life had burned down, he was enjoying talking about other people’s. “now you just need to see if she’ll go on a proper date. Are you going to ask her?”
thanksgiving was only a few weeks away and he was hoping it wasn't too bad. sure, he'd be sitting in his house thinking about the other family that he had but that didn't mean he loved his family any less. it was just a lot to process and he would've been happier finding out he had a half-sister out there somewhere than a whole other parent. he just wished she'd told him. he would've understood eventually. it just would've been nice to know instead of having to find out on his own and then have it denied. he just wanted to get over it but he knew it was going to take a little more time. it was probably going to mean they'd have to actually talk. he just wasn't ready because he knew she was still pissed at him. he pointed his finger and nodded his head like tim had given him a good idea. he had. the obstetrics and gynecology floor would have to be nicer to him. and that meant, they might not tell his mom if he ended up on their floor with a girl. even if he was there just for moral support, which was more likely than him being there because he actually got someone pregnant.
and it would all carry over onto the peds section of things because he always kind of connected to them. he didn't go to his mom's floor without stopping to see the babies and he didn't see the babies without seeing his mom. not seeing sierra made sense since he hadn't really been doing either. "work stuff?" he asked. as guys, he tried to keep the conversation light between them. but they were really friends and, if tim actually wanted to talk about his relationship, he was up for that. tim knew it. carlos chuckled softly but nodded his head again. if the guy wanted a set up, carlos could make that happen. that's what good friends were for. "i dunno. she kinda saved me from a handsy sorority girl and i kinda feel like proving i'm not a pansy is the only way to come back from that. then i can get the date," he laughed. he was working on it. they kept running into each other. the universe was telling him something.
Tim’s plans had to change drastically. This year, he had thanksgiving off. It was his rotation off but it was supposed to be filled with going to three places. Now it was down to two. One was just home with jo so the drive would be easy. He was considering heading to his dad’s place early to help with some of the cooking. While he wasn’t a bad cook, he didn’t know as many recipes as he wanted so he wanted to learn a few things. There was a whole list of things that he was going to do now for himself. Tim wasn’t going to feel bad for it either. If anything, he was excited but there were moods that came around. This was just one that was finally hitting him so he needed to deal with it before he burnt out at work. He found that he had a bad habit of that. Last year when the kid had been hit by a car, he was already struggling with the emotions of caroline possibly not being able to have kids. Since he hadn’t dealt with that, he took the death of his patient harder than normal and ended up drinking. Tim couldn’t do that with the holidays and busy days at work comings up so he’d do his best to help himself.
“lots of stuff.” tim shrugged. He didn’t want a pity party because after a couple of nights of drinking and company, he’d be fine. “i broke up with caroline and moved in with jo. I also blew a bunch of money in vegas. I just hit a couple of rough spots but it will be ok.” this was a big deal but he didn’t want it to be a big deal? Life sucked. That was just a fact. Tim knew it so he didn’t want this to all drag on. “so it all evened out.” even if his relationship had ended, he still thought that relationships and dating weren’t bad. They just weren’t something that he was focused on for himself at this moment. “so what? You want to enter an amateur street fight or jump out a plane?” tim laughed a bit. “does she think you’re a pansy or does she think you were being respectful by not getting too intense with a drunk woman?”
carlos was pretty grateful that they never had to travel for holidays. his parents were close with their parents and the family usually came together. but, for them, it was always a choice of their house or a grandparents. even better, if they did have to go to someone else's house, they never had to go more than a couple hours away. there was nothing more stressful than being in the car with his entire family for anything longer than thirty minute increments. thanks to one of his parents always having to stop, that was never really a problem. there were lots of breathers and that was how a trip that was supposed to be an hour lasted nearly two. it would've just been easier to get on the friendsgiving train. that was a thing that was becoming more popular. it wasn't like carlos lived at home, he could avoid real thanksgiving with them. say he had to work or something. carlos sat there and took a sip of his beer as he slowly processed what tim was saying. and he got it. he heard all of it. there was just one thing he didn't get. "you weren't to vegas and i wasn't invited?" he asked him. of course, carlos might not have been able to go but it was still nice to be invited. the vegas talk was going to keep the conversation light because he knew how long tim and caroline had been together. he also knew there was a lot more going on there than he knew about. sisters were for talking through breakups. friends were for going out drinking and explaining why they were left off the vegas invite list. "plane, man. i'm jumping out the next plane i find!" he joked. that was the best part of hanging out with tim. he knew the guy didn't seem fun to some people because he worked so much. carlos always had a good time with him, tons of laughs. "oh she wasn't that drunk. she was just really pushy. like the girl version of a guy who was convinced he was taking some girl home. she was like a lion, bro!"
As soon as dad found out about jo, he and pops moved to new orleans. Tim wasn’t even upset at it because he thought that it was a good thing to do. Dad hadn’t known that he had a daughter. He missed out on just as much time as jo did. More really since he would have had those early memories with her while tim wouldn’t have. Nothing could be restored but at least their dads could have memories now. Which included things like the holidays. They liked being able to have those big meals. Pops especially. He was big on family because his was massive. They were all close. Sure a few had bowed their way out because they couldn’t accept that someone in their family was gay but as pops said, they didn’t matter. The ones who did were the ones who showed up or at least made an effort to. That’s what family, and even friendship, was about. “it wa sa work buddies trip. Me, shaun, and drew.” it was a good way to unwind after a couple of stressful months. Tim felt like it was the catalyst that he needed to really push everything in the direction that he needed to get his life in order again. Right now he wasn’t feeling entirely great but overall, things felt better than they had in a bit. He laughed into the glass of water that he ordered to go with his next beer. “even if it’s only parked in a hanger?” this is why he didn’t want to dwell too long on the bad. He felt better when they moved on to another topic. “that is insane. I never got people like that.” while he took another dip of water first, tim reached for his beer next. He couldn’t really stop drinking on the night he was going to let himself go. “but this amara isn’t like that?”
honestly, carlos didn't know what he expected to come of this whole thing. he was looking for his dad for him but he wasn't completely sure if he was going to want a relationship with his dad. the man could have a family of his own and it wasn't like he'd abandoned carlos. his mother had told him enough. hell, it was all she had told him. she'd been on a girls trip. her friends had told her to let loose. carlos was the man she'd let loose with. she'd carried on like nothing had happened and didn't know she was pregnant until a month or two after she'd returned home. it was no one's fault. it wasn't like his mother knew the man well enough to call him and let him know that he was going to be a father. or that he was, at least, a sperm donor. so yeah, he had no idea what he wanted. he just wanted to know who the man was and where the man was. because he was his family. but he had no idea what was going to come of this and he didn't think he needed another father figure in his life. the man his mother had married was his father. quite literally as the man had adopted him. carlos' lineage hadn't been a secret and that made him love his father even more.
he didn't really want to think about all that right now. he didn't know when that would come front and center once more. but, on the bright side, he had tim and his other friends to distract him from thinking about it until it was a real life issues. he chuckled, "i'm less hurt now. but only a little." again, just as tim was distracting him, carlos was there to distract carlos. he didn't have to talk about caroline if he didn't want to. that was something he felt wouldn't come up until tim was at an absolute breaking point or until they got trashed. carlos took a sip of his beer and asked for another when the bartender glanced at their side of the bar. he also ordered some quick snack-like meals, because they were going to need food if they were going to keep going at this pace. "at all. but she's different. kind of bold, she was ready to punch the girl and that was before we ever got over to the scary sorority girls. she seems real independent. definitely not gonna take any shit," he added.