BETWEEN THE SESSIONS
Guys, here is the latest, featuring everyone's favorite MIKEY! LOL! Ok, Everyone call one friend and MAKE them join our group so we can cross over to 400! We have 399 now, believe it or not! Anyway, enjoy, and before you ask, not sure if there will be a part II to this one or not. Still thinking. R.
Michael Novotny felt like a movie star when he left the luggage area of La Guardia airport to find a man in a dark suit holding up a placard bearing his name. He beamed at the driver. "That's me!"
The driver seemed less than impressed. "Ok. Want me to take that?" He motioned half-heartedly to Michael's overstuffed duffle bag.
"Cool!" Michael handed it over, hoping everyone would see him with a driver paid for by his best friend. No one seemed to care, much to his disappointment. He followed the driver for what he thought was a long way to the parking lot. Michael hadn't been to New York since they went after Justin, the runaway, a couple years ago. That was before 9/11, when the Twin Towers still marked the landscape. Security had become more rigorous because of the attack, pushing traffic back from the terminal.
Mikey was also disappointed that the car they approached was a Lincoln Town Car instead of a stretch. The back door opened, and Michael tried to peer through the tinted glass, but it was too dark to see.
"Want a ride, little boy?" A familiar voice from inside.
"Brian!" He slid in, slammed the door and threw himself into Brian's arms, kissing him firmly on the lips. Brian kissed him back, ignoring the disapproving look of the driver as he got into the car and started the engine.
"So, this is New York City," Michael observed as they pulled into traffic. Brian laughed and lit a cigarette.
"Mikey, this is Queens. Some would debate whether that constitutes New York City."
"Queens sounds like the kind of place we should hang!" Michael teased as Brian shook his head at his friends typical goofiness. "No smoking, sir," the driver said with a glare into the rear view mirror.
"No smoke-ee, no tip-ee," Brian responded coolly and the man mumbled under his breath and lowered his window slightly, admitting a cold blast of air.
"I have something for you," Michael reached into the pocket of his jacket and handed Brian a sealed envelope, bearing the intial B.
"What's this? A bribe? Won't work, Mikey. I still won't fuck you." Brian teased and Michael laughed.
"Justin gave it to me to give to you. I saw him briefly before I left."
Brian slapped it against his palm. "What does it say?"
"How should I know?"
"I figured you've steamed it open by now."
"Shut UP!" Michael insisted, punching him lightly on his biceps. "I wouldn't do that."
Brian smirked at him and slipped the envelope in his pocket.
"Aren't you going to open it?"
"When I'm alone."
"Bitch!" Michael teased.
Brian watched the row houses merge into highway, as he wondered what Justin would put into a letter. A Dear John note? An explanation of why he wants to stay in Pittsburgh? A return to his former boyfriend? Brian's stomach began to ache. "How is Molly? I talk to Justin, but I don't bring her up much because it upsets him," Brian said softly.
"Not good, I guess. Apparently there are all different kinds of leukemia and hers is not the one you hope to find, if one or the other is inevitable."
"What does that mean, exactly?"
"It means she's really sick, Brian. I'm not a doctor, I don't understand the rest. I could call David and ask him to explain if you want," Michael referred to his former lover.
"David is a chiropractor, Mikey. Let's call him when you twist your back. I know someone to ask."
"On a happier note, how are you? You look fantastic, of course."
"Of course. I'm fine. How's Ben doing?"
"All his levels are good. Energy is good. No major setbacks."
"Glad to hear it," Ben's battle with AIDS was not always smooth. Brian liked Ben, in spite of the fact they tricked once, long ago, in Miami. He liked him because he was a calm, stabilizing influence on his best friend, and a genuinely nice guy who never interfered in Brian's relationship with Michael. Doctor Dave, Michael's former lover, hated Brian and was jealous of their tight friendship. Ben accepted it for what it was, and went on.
"So, are you and Sunshine are doing okay?" Michael inquired, his dark eyes peering into Brian in his age-old futile quest to bore beneath his surface.
"Yeah, sure. But he has other, bigger things to worry about right now."
"I know. Poor Molly. Mom is spending a lot of time with Jennifer, shoring her up. You know what a shit Justin's Dad is. He's no use to her."
"That's why Justin needs to be there."
"I guess you can't take off and join him?"
"It isn't work, Mikey. His parents don't want me there and I don't want to add to their trauma."
Michael reached out and took Brian's hand, squeezing it gently and holding it for the duration of the trip. When they reached the loft, Michael spent some time gushing about how slick and huge it was, snapping several pictures with a digital camera, claiming they were for "Emmett and Ted". He explained they wanted to see how Brian was living in the big city.
"You know me. I like the loft life," Brian mused, noticing how perfectly clean the place stayed with Justin away. Also, how empty it felt.
"Who wouldn't like THIS?" Michael insisted, emerging from his tour of the bedroom. "You kept the blue lights."
"They provide a certain ambiance."
Michael rummaged around in his duffel, pulling out a palm pilot. "Ben gave me this. It's supposed to organize my life. I made a list of things I want to see while I'm here. First, I want to go to the outer space museum and see that cool IMAX show on the origin of the universe. Then, I ..."
"Mikey!" Brian held up his hand to stop him. "Much as I'd like to take you on the post adolescent tour of the Big Apple, I can't. I have a job. I took off this afternoon to be with you. I'll see you in the evenings, but you're on your own all day. I have tickets for us for tomorrow night, to attend the show that won all the Tony Awards this year. Otherwise, I left the nights open to do whatever you want to do. I'll take you to some of my favorite restaurants. We can hit a couple clubs, if you want. Think about it. But tonight, let's just stay in and dish. Catch up." Michael beamed at him and nodded. He liked nothing more than having his elusive best friend all to himself. While neither of them would admit it, they both missed living in the same city so they could spend more time together.
Michael slept on his side, his butt towards Brian. His body offered no invitation and aroused no answering interest. Once he was certain his friend was asleep, Brian left the bed, careful not to wake Michael. He pulled on a robe and went into the main area of the loft where he retrieved the note from Justin and carried it with him to the sofa. He poured himself a scotch, first, and then he slapped the envelope against his knee in an absent gesture as he tried to conjure the nerve he needed to open it. The thought of the letter being in his home, unread, had been torturing him all evening. But he knew he could never read it in front of Michael. He finally opened the seal and removed a stack of order tickets from the Liberty Diner where Michael's mother worked, and where Justin used to work as a waiter. They were covered on both sides with Justin's familiar scrawl.
I just saw Mikey and since he is leaving tomorrow to visit you, I thought I might as well write you this note. I can't seem to talk to you on the phone. When I hear your voice, I get all choked up. So maybe this will let me tell you what's going on without the tears. I had no paper, so sorry about the tickets. The envelope is off a card I had in my backpack for Molly, so sorry about the pink. Anyway, I miss you. Being back in Pittsburgh reminds me of how much I want to be in New York. It seems the only place that feels like home is the place where you are. Do you miss me, too?
I'm sorry I was such a brat before I left. I overreacted, maybe, but I just can't stand Jeffrey and I can't stand that you like him so much. I step back and see how perfect he is for you. You look perfect together, you talk easily, you like a lot of the same things, and you obviously find him as hot as he finds you. But Brian, I think Jeffrey wants you for all the wrong reasons. Not out of some deep affection, but out of the fact he views you as a worthy partner. A power couple. He tries to dominate you in ways that you probably can't see. He was blunt with me about going after you that day he cut his foot. He's two-faced. Don't fall for it, Brian. Don't fall for him. Wait for me. I love you from the inside out. I don't view you as my slick, successful, handsome boyfriend. I think of you as this beautiful but flawed guy who has such a hard time expressing what he feels because of so much shit he's endured in his life. A guy who fucks around to medicate his pain, but who is incapable of loving more than one person, and even that one person is in for a long struggle before that love is ever acknowledged.
I waited it out, Brian. I came back for it. I won't let go that quickly no matter how hard Jeffrey pushes me. He wants me to, but I won't. I love you and you're worth fighting for. But if I lose out, its not just me who will lose. In the end, you will too, because I believe Jeffrey loves only Jeffrey. I keep having these images of blood on cement, and hearing this hollow sound of that bat hitting my head. I don't know if it's a flashback, or if I'm just projecting what others have told me. It's frustrating because I can't go on from there. I wish I was there to visit the shrink Lydia referred me to, to start that regression stuff. I think I really need to remember that night, Brian. All of it. It seems to be some kind of key for us.
I guess that has to wait, though. Poor Molly. I get so angry because she's just a little girl. Why should she have to go through this? It's not fair. The flowers and teddy bear you sent her were wonderful, by the way. Did I tell you she loves pink or did you just guess it? You spent WAAY too much money, but Molly loved it and sleeps with that bear. The news is not good. I wish I didn't hate Jeffrey so much so I could ask him some questions. Her doctor is very abrupt and doesn't want to listen to me. Even Mom has problems getting straight answers from him. As much as I resent Jeffrey, I know he's an expert in this area, and I feel like I'm letting my feelings for him get in the way of what's best for Mol. I just want him to say, yeah, this sounds right, or you can expect this to happen.
Great, here I am making my rival sound like a saint to the man we both want. But her life is on the line, and that's a hell of a lot more important, isn't it? Mikey is getting ready to leave, and I want to give this to him, so I'd better sign off. Call me after you read this. I love you, Brian. I miss you. Don't forget me. Love, J.
Brian sighed and returned the letter to the envelope, slipping it into the pocket of his robe. While it was far from the kiss-off he feared, it was still gut wrenching. He could feel Justin's pain, fear and confusion, and he resented the fact he was responsible for so much of it, at a time when Justin should be free to concentrate on his sister's health. He finished his scotch and picked up the telephone, punching auto dial.
"Hello?" Sleepy voice.
"Wake you up, Sunshine?"
"Ohhh! Hi, Brian! Hold on, let me...hold on." After a brief pause he returned. "I'm alone now."
"Where are you?"
"At the hospital. I'm sleeping in her room tonight, giving Mom a break."
"Should I let you go?"
"No! She's asleep and I want to talk to you. It's fine, I'm in the hall. Did Mikey arrive?"
"Yeah, he's asleep. I read your letter."
"Sorry. I was feeling pretty raw."
"Justin, please do me a favor."
"Don't worry about me or Jeffrey or our relationship. Everything is on ice until you get back, okay? Just put those fears out of your head."
"Okay," he said cautiously and Brian sighed.
"And let me set up a call with you and Jennifer and Jeffrey."
Pause. "Uhhhh, I don't know about that."
"Swallow your pride, Justin. Let him help. When it comes to sick kids, Jeff only has one goal in mind. Making them well. Don't let the rest of this shit obscure that fact."
Justin sighed. His voice quaked with emotion. "I'm so scared, Brian."
"I know, baby, I know."
"I wish I could feel your arms around me right now."
"Babe, my arms ARE around you right now."
"I'm sorry, Brian, I swore I would be brave the next time you called."
"Justin, be brave for Molly. Be brave for mommy. You don't have to be brave for me."
Justin sniffed, regained his composure. "Ok, go ahead and set up that call with Jeffrey. It's too important not to, and Mom really liked him."
"Right. I'll call you on your cell tomorrow and let you know when."
"Should we be paying him?"
"Of course not. He's doing this as a friend. Get some rest. You sound exhausted."
"Yeah, I'd better get back in there. She was sick earlier, and she can't handle everything on her own. I love you, Brian."
"You too," he said softly, then disconnected, immediately dialing another number.
His mother sounded annoyed. "Did I wake you, Mom?"
"Brian? Is something wrong?"
He laughed. "You would think that."
"It's after midnight."
"Sorry. I need your help."
"My help? Well. That's a first."
"You know my...my partner...Justin?"
"Of course," Joan Kinney said coolly.
"His kid sister is sick. Very sick. She's in St. Joe's in Pittsburgh."
"Oh, I AM sorry to hear that, dear. What can I do?"
"Justin's mother is divorced and his father is an asshole. I don't think they can depend on him for much. Justin is there with his mom and sister now. Both he and his mom are exhausted, beat down. I know you have that auxiliary group in your church that reaches out to people in hospitals..."
"Is she Catholic?"
"No, Mom, but she's human and she needs your help. I mean, don't you guys make food for people and sit with patients to give the family a break and stuff like that? I know you had some programs for hospitalized children. You give them kid videos and books and have storytellers and puppeteers and people with pets...right?"
"But Brian, she's not..."
"Mother, I'll give your auxiliary group five grand if you treat her as if she IS Catholic. Except for the religious crap. Deal?"
Silence. Then his mother responded, "Brian, I'll do this for you. Because he's your, well, as you say, your... partner. Give your money to whatever disease she's fighting. I'm doing this as your mother."
Brian felt a wave of emotion surge within him, threatening to narrow his throat and bubble over into his voice. He inhaled deeply before speaking. "Thanks, Mom."
"What's her name?"
"I'll get started tomorrow. How are you holding up?"
"I'm not the one suffering."
"No, but someone you love is suffering, and that's difficult to bear."
He sighed and combed his fingers through his hair in a nervous gesture. "Yeah. I'm fine, though. Thanks again."
"Take care, Brian. You're a sweet man."
He hung up, wondering at the little changes that had recently occurred in his life. A month ago, he would never reach out to his mother for help. A year ago, he would never be able to refer to Justin as his partner. Was it Lydia? Was there something to this voodoo of hers?
"Dirty phone calls?" Michael's voice interrupted his reverie. He looked up at him and smirked.
"Yeah with my Mom. How kinky is that?"
"Not kinky, sick. Very sick. Even as a joke, sick."
"Yeah, true. Why are you up?"
"Couldn't sleep. The traffic from the street is so noisy!"
"I don't even hear it anymore."
"You're lucky. Want to go out?"
"At this hour?"
"Hello? Where are you keeping Brian's pod? He's been replaced."
"Mikey, I don't feel like celebrating right now. I just talked to Justin and he's going through a lot of shit. If you want to go out alone, I can tell you some clubs."
"No," he pouted soulfully. "Not if you don't go."
"I have to work in the morning and you have an appointment with Lydia."
"Right. To have my head shrunk."
"Please don't. It's already small enough. Let's go to bed. I'll slip you an Ambian. You won't know what hit you."
"THAT sounds good!" Michael said enthusiastically. "What's an Ambian, again?"
Brian just smiled, not wanting Michael to leak to Lydia that Brian obtained a prescription sleep medication. He knew she would disapprove. He gave Mikey one, then took one himself. Within minutes, both men were sleeping soundly beneath the icy glow of blue neon.
Michael woke up alone and disoriented. He finally placed himself in Brian's loft, but it took a few minutes to realize he was in New York, not Pittsburgh. He called for Brian, and when he got no answer, he glanced at the clock. It was after ten in the morning. He showered and pulled on Brian's robe that he left on a hook on the door. The navy silk felt good next to his skin. There was something intimate about wearing Brian's robe. That fact appealed to the unrequited sexual desire Michael would always harbor towards Brian in some hidden corner of his heart. He realized he missed his appointment with Brian's shrink, called to reschedule, blaming Brian's drug for his oversleeping. Then he called Ben, to check on his lover. As he toasted a bagel and chatted with Ben, he became aware of a crinkly noise in the pocket of the robe whenever he brushed it against something. He reached in and withdrew Justin's letter. The envelope had been opened. He struggled with himself, but when he hung up from Ben, he opened the letter and read it as he ate his bagel.
"Who the fuck is Jeffrey?" Michael demanded as Brian picked up his line at work.
"Did Lydia mention Jeff?"
"Did he stop by?"
"No..." some of Michael's indignance waned as he realized what was coming. Brian was silent for a moment and then,
"You fucking read my letter."
"What's the big deal? It was open...in your pocket...I borrowed your robe..."
"Fuck you, Mikey! You had no right!"
Mikey made a rubbery face that Brian couldn't see but that often let him get away with murder. "Ok, sorry, but look...who the fuck is Jeffrey?"
"None of your god damned business!" Brian hung up and Michael frowned, then called Ben again, seeking his advice as to what he should do.
When Michael entered the huge office tower on Madison Avenue, he felt out of place and underdressed. The ad agency occupied ten floors, and the receptionist was a beautiful African-American woman wearing a plain black dress that Michael felt sure was worth more than his whole wardrobe. "Delivery?" She asked, taking in his jeans, running shoes and hooded windbreaker. Michael winced.
"I'm here to see Brian Kinney."
She raised an imperious brow. "Is Mr. Kinney expecting you?"
"Just tell him its his best friend, Michael Novotny."
She dialed an extension and spoke to the person who answered. "Cynthia, there's a Mr. Novotny here to see Mr. Kinney. Alright, if you say so. Thank you." She leveled her ebony gaze on Michael. "Two floors up. Mr. Kinney's assistant will meet you in the elevator lobby."
Michael glared at her, as if to say 'SEE?', but she was already busy with another call.
Cynthia met him in the elevator lobby and greeted him with a big hug and a smile.
"Hi, Mikey! Welcome to New York!"
Michael was pleased to see a familiar face. "Thanks. Fancy digs."
"Isn't it just? Wait until you see his office!" She looped her arm through his as they walked. "He's been in a closed door meeting so I haven't had a chance to tell him you're here. What have you seen of the city so far?"
Before Michael could respond, the door to Brian's office opened and Brian stood in the threshold with another man of equal stature, almost as handsome. They kissed and Michael froze. It was no casual kiss goodbye between friends, it was the parting of an intimate couple. Michael felt a burst of rage, witnessing this embrace. It was hard enough accepting Justin in Brian's life, but this was too much. Michael's old emotions of rejection and longing rolled back to torment him. Brian met his eyes, smiling coolly as he released Jeffrey from his arms.
"Well, how convenient. Michael, this is Jeff Walker. Jeff, Michael Novotny."
Jeffrey stuck out his hand, offering Michael a big smile. "I've heard so much about you, Michael. Welcome to the Big Apple."
Michael hated his precise features, his expensive haircut, his white smile. He even hated his firm handshake and soft hands. He was not good at hiding whatever emotions he was experiencing and he glared at Brian, then Jeff. "Thanks. I just got here last night. I was telling Brian how I had lunch with Justin, his boyfriend, before I left. Justin is really going through a lot, what with his sister so sick."
Brian rolled his eyes, and Jeffrey smiled. "Yes, I have a conference with Justin and his mother to discuss Molly's prognosis this afternoon. They were hoping I could translate into plain English some of the things the little trooper is going through. I'm only too glad to help out with any friend of Brian's."
"Justin's a little more than a FRIEND to Brian!" Michael insisted, and Brian frowned at him.
"Stop. Jeff is fully aware of my relationship with Justin and you're just being childish, Mikey. That's what you get when you eavesdrop and read other people's private mail."
"Don't give it a thought, Brian," Jeffrey said, rubbing Brian's arm gently. "You have enough to worry about. Nice meeting you, Michael. I'll see you later, Brian."
He walked away and Brian clamped Michael's neck in the vise of his hand and shoved him into his office before slamming the door.
"What the fuck are you doing? You're the same man who has called Justin a leech and a virus and other not so nice words over the time we've been together. Now you're his great protector?"
"Someone needs to be!"
"Fuck you, Mikey! That job is filled."
"I don't like Jeffrey!"
"You just fucking met him!"
"Brian..." Michael grew quieter, holding onto Brian's arm. "Look at me." Brian cut him a glare. Michael continued holding him. "Are you falling for this guy?"
Brian pulled free and went over to his desk, sitting behind it, stretching out his long legs and crossing his ankles on the ledge. He looked from Michael to the photo of Justin and Gus on his desk to his view outside the glass walls of his office. Finally he said in a quiet voice, "I don't know, Mikey. I just don't know."
"What is it you don't know? How you feel?" Michael came over to stand between Brian and the desk. He rested his hand on Brian's knee. Brian sighed.
"It's still Justin for me. I don't understand where Jeff fits in, but I can't seem to let him go."
"Are you fucking him?" Brian met his eyes and Michael sighed. "Of course you are. Stupid question."
"It's not about fucking. That's not the main attraction between us."
"Then what is it about?"
"He never looks at me like I've blown up his new cocker spaniel puppy for fun. He never makes me feel he's on the make to trade up but I'll do for now. He makes me feel like I am the luxury vehicle, I am the trade up, I am the top of the line. He's brilliant and rich and successful and handsome, and he thinks Brian Kinney is something special and worth having around. He thinks I'm smart and funny and handsome and fun and a good lay."
Michael nodded, perhaps the only person fully aware of Brian's skewed sense of self worth. "And Justin doesn't?"
"Justin often seems...disappointed in me. He wants me to be his hero. But I have feet of clay. And then he gets sad and then he looks around and then..."
"And then he leaves you."
Brian shrugged and looked away as he whispered, "Yes, and then he leaves me."
"Look at me, Brian," Michael lifted his chin on his fingertips, staring down at him. "You have to let go of that. It's over. He came back to you. You can't build a relationship if you are constantly living in fear of being abandoned by your lover."
"What do you know?" Brian asked, knocking away his hand. "You're always the one who leaves."
"Are you asking me what I know about being in love with a man who doesn't love me? Because I can give you chapter and verse on that, Brian. I lived that life for years. And you know what? It hurts. It hurts a lot."
Brian looked up at him, wincing. "I love you, Mikey, I always have."
"Yeah, like a brother. I watched you fuck everything that moved, and I was jealous and dejected, but I could go on as your friend. After all, I was closer to you than anyone in the world. I was the only one who knew your secrets, who saw you cry, who knew there was a person under the disguise of a stud. That made me a little special, and I clung to that fact."
"What's your point?"
"My point is then Justin came along. I watched him go from trick to ward to lover. I watched your defenses fall one by one. I knew you loved him before you did. And there was nothing I could do about it but watch it happen."
Brian sighed and circled Michael's wrist with his fist. "I never stopped loving you."
"I know, Brian. But not the way I wanted you to love me. Not the way you loved Justin. Even when I was with David, I was in love with you and in pain over your feelings for the twink. And then he got bashed. I sat there with you, hour after hour at the hospital, watching you go from fear and agony to guilt to self loathing. I thought to myself, 'Jesus, Michael, he's really in love with this guy. Time to give it up. This is the real thing, and it happened to Brian.' So, I went to Portland to be with David, once we knew Justin would make it. I knew I had to get on with my life, and that space from you was a good thing."
"Yeah, well, I'm a big believer in running."
"I know you are, and you found out, as I did, that you can't outrun your emotions. They keep right up with you. When you escaped to New York, it did you no good. The pain continued. But you were able to suffer in solitude, your favorite thing. Because your big stupid plot to let Justin go, to set him free to find his twink version of true love, was a flop. You didn't get over him. You thought you would, but you didn't. And his 'true love' wasn't as fulfilling as he thought it would be. That's because you both were still in love with each other."
"You don't know that."
"I DO know that, Brian."
Brian stood, paced over to the glass, stared down at the city, then turned to look at Michael, his arms crossed at his chest. "And now?"
"Now, he came back. And you're scared. You don't want to be vulnerable again. You don't want to let him hurt you the way he did before. You're looking for ways to stop yourself from falling too hard. You found a new one, Brian. I must admit. This is new for you. Instead of tricking, you found a dream man. A rival. Someone to put in the road between you and Justin. Someone he can't quite get around. Jeffrey's the halfback and you're the quarterback."
"That analogy totally fails. What does it mean?"
"His job is to protect you from Justin's drive in your direction."
"No, Mikey. That's not the half back's job. The halfback runs with the ball. The offensive line protects the quarterback. What have I told you about using sports analogies without a license?"
Michael laughed. "You know what I mean.
"Is it beyond the realm of possibility that I just LIKE Jeff, that we click, and that there's no ulterior motive behind any of it? What about that? Is it not fucked up enough that I'm in love with Justin and mixed up about Jeff? Why make it worse?"
"Because it IS worse, Brian. Much worse. You're mind fucking yourself. You absolutely refuse to allow yourself to find any happiness. You're so convinced you aren't entitled to it, you keep making stupid decisions to force a disaster."
Brian lit a cigarette, took a deep draw. "No, I don't do that."
"Yes, you do, Brian. You know you're hot, so tricking is certainly a worthy pursuit for you. You can still pull the best tricks. But love... no one should be stuck with loving you."
"Maybe there's something to that, Mikey. Loving me has done no good for you."
"Brian, loving you is one of the happiest parts of my whole life. Even though we never really put it together sexually, being your closest friend, knowing how you feel about me, being honored with seeing who you really are, I can't even imagine my life without you to love. And to be loved by you. It isn't how I feel for Ben, no, but it's just as important to me. Don't you know that?"
Brian nodded, refusing to relent to a growing emotional burden. "It's important to me too, Mikey."
"I know. I can't believe I'm saying this, but don't fuck it up with Justin this time, Brian. Let yourself be happy. You've earned it. You deserve it. You both do. Don't be afraid of it."
Brian was silent for a moment, then smiled. "You don't plan to wear that to the theater, do you?"
"What?" Michael looked down at his casual clothes. "Was I supposed to pack a tux?"
"The windbreaker has to go. And that shirt...Jesus. Come on. Let's go do what all good little faggots do after having a sloppy heart to heart about love and pain and the whole damn thing."
"What else? Shop!"
Michael laughed and let himself be led from the office, waving at Cynthia as they headed for the elevators. Brian's arm rested firmly across Michael's shoulders as they walked. "I can't afford to shop in New York," Michael complained. Brian smiled and removed a black American Express card from his wallet.
"It's beyond gold, beyond platinum. They only give a few of these out and the perqs that come with it are extreme. Come see how the other .02 per cent live."
"Oh my god, it's the Holy Grail of consumer excess!" Michael teased, turning the card over and over in his hands. They both began to laugh. Their ability to turn a serious conversation into a lighthearted laugh fest was part of the sticky glue that kept them bound to each other over the years. Nothing was ever so bad that one couldn't cheer up the other, and Brian kept his arm over Michael's shoulders as they walked down Madison Avenue, grateful for his friend's timely interruption of his growing anxiety.
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July 25, 2004