kachelofen: (Default)
[personal profile] kachelofen








PARTNERS IN CRIME



PART TEN


Michael simply glowers at me when he answers the door and I half-expect him to tell me to fuck off. I really don’t understand what his problem is. I helped Lindsay find a solicitor because she has as much right to see JR as he and Mel have. It’s only fair. And it’ll be better for Gus to know his sister. But it was never anything against Michael. I wasn’t taking any sides because I think their whole custody battle was just one huge ego trip for all of them. It was all ‘I know better what’s good for the kid’ when none of them actually thought about said kid and, naturally, it’ll all blow over eventually. The only thing that really surprised me about it was that Ben didn’t stop Michael from going off the rails. I thought he was more level-headed than that.

But maybe that’s what keeps them together, that they’re on the same wavelength in most things. For starters, they both somehow manage to be friends with those unspeakably pretentious neighbors of theirs. Not so long ago, Michael would have made fun of people like that and joined me in throwing peanuts at them from the galleries. On the other hand, he does seem content. Maybe this really is the life he always craved.

“Have you come to apologize?”

I follow him into the kitchen, where he leans against the counter with his arms firmly crossed, not really looking at me. This whole house gives me the creeps with its hetero-normative aspirations. “What for?”

“For insulting our friends. And giving us a sling. Do you have any idea how embarrassing that was for me and Ben?”

It seemed to me that Ben managed to take it a lot better than Mikey did. Then again, with his proclivities, Ben was probably no stranger to slings in his youth. Be that as it may, I don’t have the time or inclination to think about that right now. I fish out a cigarette from my pocket and debate how I should play this. It always saves time to take the easiest route, so I do. “Okay, I apologize. I behaved like an idiot. You behaved like an even bigger one. Let’s kiss and make up.”

He huffs angrily. “Everything’s a joke to you, isn’t it? You disrespect my friends. You disrespect my choices in life. You disrespect me.”

“I disrespect your friends because they’re boring old farts, who have their heads so far up their own asses they can barely look over the speed bumps they’re campaigning for. And I disrespect your choices because they don’t ring true to me. If this is really the life you always wanted, then the person I’ve known for the last eighteen years was just a lie.” Sometimes I do ask myself if I ever really knew him or rather, if he ever dared show me who he really is.

“I’ve grown up, Brian. Which is something you'd know nothing about. You’re still fucking around every night. You’re turning into one of those geezers we always made fun of. It’s just sad.”

Now that’s a little harsh. I’m thirty-two, hardly a geezer. “How would you know? I haven’t seen you in ages.”

“That’s because I have a life now.”

So what he and I shared wasn’t a life? I look at him and realize that I got it all wrong. This really is what he always wanted and he just never said it, because he knew full well that I would have mocked him mercilessly if he had. He was always trying to please me, which suited me just fine and which I used to my own advantage for years. His problem was never that he secretly wanted this, it was that he wanted it with me. And that was never on the cards and not just because I don’t feel that way about him, but also because I wouldn’t want this kind of life even if I did. I can’t understand why anyone would.

Debbie was right all along. I should have let him go a long time ago and he would have been much happier for it. He’s been my best friend for nearly two decades, despite the fact that we don’t have that much in common anymore. I do love him. I just wish I could have been a better friend and done what’s right for him because he deserves it, not because I’m being forced into it by circumstances.

He’s pouting and staring at the floor and I wish I had time to fix this properly. If it’s even fixable. I know he loves Ben and that he’s finally past the point where he’ll drop whomever he's with and come running if I snap my fingers. For the longest time that thought scared the fuck out of me. Today it gives me nothing but comfort and the only worry I have is that Mikey might always resent me a little for not being what he needed me to be. I never understood until I met you how painful that can be.

There’s a long pause while I just watch him. I really think that the boredom his life represents must be excruciating. But I realize now that people make choices to suit them and I don’t have to get it, or like it, only accept it. Who am I to judge him when I’m the first to insist on not being judged myself? I’m just used to him always looking to me for guidance and listening to my advice. It’s always hard to break a pattern. But if he managed it somehow, then so I can. I take a deep breath and ask the only pertinent question. “Are you happy?”

“Of course, I’m…”

“No,” I stop his emerging rant. “Look at me, Mikey.” He looks up and however happy he may normally be, he isn’t so now. “Are you really happy with your life?”

It takes a while for him to soften. “Yeah. I’m happy. This is what I want. I know you don’t want this and I know you don’t understand it, but I’m happy with this life.”

“Then be happy, Mikey. Plant roses and build speed bumps and give dinner parties to your heart’s content. And don’t let anybody, not even me, ever tell you that you shouldn’t want this or can’t have it. If this is what you want, then I’m happy for you.”

He frowns a little. “Really?”

“Really.”

“Why, all of a sudden?”

Because I don’t have time to be an asshole any longer and it took me long enough to get my head out of my own ass as it is. I debate telling him the truth, but then think better of it, so I just shrug and tell him an easier truth. “We’ve been best friends for too long to let this shit come between us. Life’s too short.”

“Yeah,” he says, smiling softly. “Yeah, it is. Do you want a drink or something?”

I smile back at him and wish I could stay, just hang out and talk, like old times. But I’ve done what I’ve come to do. “Sorry, I’ve gotta go. I’ve got plans.” Not that I would ever divulge those plans to him. I make my way to the front door and he follows me closely.

“Do you want get together tomorrow or Friday?”

“I don’t know yet. I’ll give you a call.” I turn and pull him close, kissing him on the mouth, like I always used to. “Be happy, Mikey.” I resist the urge to hug him closer. I’m getting way too sentimental.

“I am,” he smiles, thinking this is still about our conversation. “I love you.”

“Me, too. Always have.”

“Always will.” He’s grinning now and I realize that however much he wanted to hold a grudge, in the end, he’s deliriously happy that he doesn’t have to any longer. He was always much too soft.

“But your neighbors are still boring old farts.”

Michael shoves me off the doorstep playfully. I grin at him and just for a moment I feel weird that he’s not the person I tell everything to any longer. But I dare say, he wouldn’t understand my choices any better than I do his and right now it would only complicate things, so I just say goodbye.

A few days ago, Debbie told me that Mikey and I are almost like brothers. I think she’s right but in a different sense from the way she meant it. Just like brothers we stuck together when we were younger, spending most of our time together and doing the same things. Then our paths diverged. Mikey's life is very different from mine and for a while that worried me. Now I know that it’s just one of those things that happens in families. People grow up and they do their own things but at the heart of it they will always be brothers. Doesn’t mean they have to do everything together still or even understand each other. Mikey will always be there for me and I for him. We don’t need to be together for that.

I walk down the road, not looking back once. You can never look back.




Half an hour later, Lindsay’s beaming at me when I turn up at her apartment. I know she’s unhappy on her own. She misses Melanie – fuck knows why – so any distraction is welcome. I’ve brought a small train set for Gus, which he watches me set up. Then I show him how to crash the trains.

“You’re so bad,” Lindsay chuckles indulgently.

“Let’s face it, he’s so little, he’d probably much rather chew on them anyway.”

“Don’t be silly. He loves it when you play with him.”

“Most guys do.”

She chuckles again and then tells me about the boiler in her old house, which apparently broke down. I’m only half listening. I’m too busy wondering if Gus would even remember that I’m his father if Lindsay didn’t say, ‘oh look there’s daddy,’ to him every time we meet. And if it would really be such a great loss for him if he didn’t. I’m sure Melanie would be much better suited to provide a positive masculine influence in his life.

When Lindsay goes to start the dinner for her and Gus, I take a couple of pictures of him with my phone. Great kid that he is, he smiles conveniently for them. Then I pick him up and place him on my lap. “Don’t forget your old man, okay?” Gus beams an even bigger smile and holds out one of the trains to me. “No, you keep that, sonnyboy.” He pulls his hand back and solemnly starts to chew on the toy. He must be quite tired because normally, he doesn’t shut up, although it’s still a little hard for me to work out what he’s saying most of the time. Then he snuggles into me and I lean back a bit so he can get more comfortable, breathing in his scent.

By the time Lindsay comes back in, Gus is already half asleep. She lingers in the doorway, smiling fondly at the two of us like she always does.

“Are you gonna free me from this child, or what?” I grouse, but quietly, so as not to wake him.

“Just put him on the couch for now. He can have a little nap before dinner.”

Gus grumbles a little at being jostled but settles down soon enough when I lay him down and cover him with a blanket. I even kiss his forehead as a goodbye, ignoring Lindsay’s happy sigh.

“Do you want to eat with us?”

“No, I’m alright. I’ve got plans.”

“Do I want to know?”

I shake my head with a smile. “No, you really don’t.” I know that she certainly would, but I really don’t want to get into a discussion with her about it. I know exactly what she would say. Really, I know my friends so well that half the time I can predict their reactions so accurately it makes the actual conversations we have pretty tedious. Or maybe that’s just my excuse for chickening out.

“Here.” I hand her a check I prepared before I came here. It has nothing to do with our conversation but the broken boiler is suddenly a convenient explanation.

“Brian. You don’t have to. We’ll find the money for the boiler somehow. This is too much. You’re not earning that much yet.”

“Just take it, Linz. I know whatever’s left over, you’ll use for Gus, so it’s all good. I wouldn’t give it to you if I couldn’t afford it.”

“Okay. Thank you. It’s expensive, running two homes.”

“Then don’t. Go and sit the she-devil down and work things out. You know you want to. And so does she. This separation shit’s not doing the kids any good at all.”

She sighs, and I fear that she’ll launch into a long rant about her marital problems, like she has too many times before, so I kiss her cheek. “Bye, Wendy.”

“Bye, Peter.” She hugs me in that sentimental way that she has. Since she split up with Melanie, she’s got more touchy-feely but for once I relish it. Then I make my way to my car, ignoring the fact that she’s lingering in the doorway.

When I had plans to go to New York, I always imagined myself just driving off without a second thought. Now I wonder if that would have been true. But that was long before I met you. You’ve turned my life upside down, no doubt about it. It wasn’t so much the practical changes of having no job and not being able to throw money at any and all problems, it was that I started to re-evaluate everything.

What appeared to be a sudden rift between me and everyone I know when I began working for Stockwell, was really just the natural progression of what had been going on in my life for a long time. It simply expedited the situation. And then you came along and filled the vacuum. The thing about vacuum is that it doesn’t actually suck everything in. That’s a common misconception. What really happens is that everything gets blown into the vacuum from around it. I didn’t suck you in. You burst into my life like a force of nature.

And then you were just there, spreading into every corner and bringing much needed oxygen with you. I'd felt suffocated for a long time, by Pittsburgh, by Vangard, and even by my friends, and suddenly I could breathe. I know now that New York would only have sustained me for so long. My life would have followed the same pattern and it would have been only a matter of time until I would have felt suffocated again. Only, then I'd have been much older and unable to ever get free again.

In a way you saved me from that. I may have resented you for what you did for a while but even the time we spent in Italy, which wasn’t exactly a bed of roses, helped me see things clearer. I just didn’t want to. It wasn’t until I was back in Pittsburgh that I realized how much had changed. How much I had changed. And however much I may miss some of my friends, and especially Gus, in the future, I am done here. Everything I want is out there, now more than ever.





EPILOGUE

When I step out of the Miami sun into the small gallery, I am greeted by a smile as bright as it is fake. “Good afternoon, sir. Can I be of any assistance?” Daphne says in her most professionally friendly voice.

I pick up one of the glossy catalogues and hand her the money, saying in a low voice, “Being a receptionist suits you. You should consider a career change.”

Her smile stays on as she retorts very quietly, “God, give me a bunch of sick people over this any day.” Then, a little louder, “Here’s your change, sir. Enjoy your visit.”

I wander around a little, subtly watching you talk to our newest project. You must be as charming as ever because the guy’s smiling and nodding enthusiastically. I’ve maneuvered myself into position in front of the painting exactly at the same time as you arrive with Mr. Pendergrass at the one next to it. Ignoring both of you, I stare at this one for a bit, then do a pretend double take and pull out my cellphone, turning slightly away from Pendergrass and you. With her usual perfect timing, Daphne comes to tell you that you have an urgent phone call, while I dial.

“David?” I say to the Florida weather service forecasting glorious sunshine for the next few days. “I need to get hold of…” I peer at the price tag on the painting, “… three hundred thousand dollars.”

I pretend to wait for an answer – apparently the wind’s going to pick up slightly tomorrow – before I say, “Because I just spotted a genuine Mitchell in the gallery I’m at, that’s why.”

I sneak a look around and, as expected, Pendergrass is paying rapt attention while pretending to do no such thing. So I lower my voice conspiratorially because now I can be sure he’ll do his hardest to hear me no matter what. “No, not that Mitchell, the other one, you moron. I don’t think the owner knows what he’s got. It’s been mislabeled. But you know me, I’m never wrong. It’s definitely an original. From her early period. It’s worth at least twice as much.”

I pause again. Then finish with a slightly hissed and annoyed, “Can’t you bring my other credit card here? I don’t want to leave, in case someone beats me to it... Yeah, alright, I’ll come and get it.”

I close my phone and stalk towards the entrance, where you’re leaning a little over the slightly elevated front of the reception desk to speak into the phone. Your ass looks as inviting as ever.

“Have a nice day,” Daphne says cheerfully.

“I’ll be back in an hour,” I tell her in a harassed manner.

“Very good, sir. We look forward to your return.”

As I walk down the sidewalk past the glass front, I can see Pendergrass staring at the painting, which took you a mere six days to finish to perfection. Your eyes meet mine and you grin a little, which is safe enough because you have your back to him. Then you put down the phone and hurry back to your customer.

I slowly make my way back to the hotel, where the concierge hands me my key with an inviting smile. He’s hot enough, I suppose, but I have other things on my mind. Recently, there are a lot of other things on my mind. Daphne calls me as I’m getting out of the elevator.

“No need to come back. He’s buying it. In fact, he wants us to crate it up and ship it to him this afternoon.”

“He probably doesn’t want to get into a bidding war with me. Alright then, tell Justin I’ll get the flight sorted out and I’ll see you next month.”

“Will do. Later, hot shot.”

“Bye, Daphne.”

After making the arrangements for our flight, I decide that I have enough time for a good workout in the gym. The equipment is on par with the hotel’s four star rating and I’m pleasantly tired by the time I make my way across the hotel lobby back to our room. You shouldn’t be much longer now and I’m contemplating if I should wait with the shower until you arrive.

“Brian?”

I hesitate for just a moment. Should I just carry on and pretend I didn’t hear? But in the long run, it’s probably best not to draw any attention, so I turn and look at an older man with distinguished grey hair and an impeccable suit. My memory supplies a name with no more than a few seconds delay. Smiling broadly, I step closer and shake hands with the guy.

“Mr. Radcliffe, nice to see you again.”

“Oh please, I thought we decided that you call me Phil. How are you, Brian?”

I'd be a lot better if he didn’t use my name so much. It’s not a good idea in the lobby of a hotel where I’m booked in under ‘Brandon Kelly’ and the concierge likes to pay me a lot of attention. But we’re all the way over by the elevators, so it’s unlikely that he can hear us.

Radcliffe was a client of mine in the good old days, when the agency was still Ryder’s. He’s a nice enough guy, who owns a footwear company catering to a very exclusive market. I remember having dinner with him and his equally pleasant wife once.

“I’m good. How are you, Phil?”

“Good, good. Small world, I was going to give you a call this month anyway. Do you still work for Ryder’s… or… it’s called Vangard now, I think, isn’t it?”

“Yes, it is, but I haven’t worked there for a while. I’m a private consultant now.”

“Are you? In that case, would you like to have a drink at the bar? There’s some business I’d like to discuss.”

Fuck. That’s really not such a good idea. The longer we’re together, the more of a risk there is for something to go wrong. There’s always the chance of the hotel staff calling me by my assumed name or Radcliffe using my real one in their presence. On top of that, when I look past his shoulder, I just spot you entering the hotel. You’ve taken off your suit jacket and your tie and are making a beeline for the reception to get your key.

“I don’t think I’m dressed appropriately for anywhere in the hotel and I would dearly like a shower.” I wipe my neck with the towel I’ve draped over my shoulder to illustrate the point. “Maybe another time?”

“How about later on this evening? We could have dinner. Felicity would love to see you again.”

I try to look suitably apologetic. “I have a flight later on tonight. Sorry. But let me give you my number. Or you can give me your card and I’ll call you next week.” I watch you turn around and see me but your face doesn’t show any sign of recognition. I’m always amazed at how good you are at this game. It’s second nature to you. You amble over to the tables with the newspapers and take a seat in one of the armchairs. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that you’re not even aware that I’m here, never mind watching me closely for any sign of trouble.

Radcliffe hands me one of his cards. “Write your number on the back. I really need some new strategies for the new campaign and the agency I’m with is boring as hell.”

“You should never have left Ryder’s while I was still working there.” I give it just the right amount of teasing and smugness. “But I’m sure I can help you.” I write down my old Pittsburgh number, which is still in service because Emmett is now living at the loft and making good use of the amount of guys that call there.

He hands over another one of his cards for me to keep and my casual attire gives me a good excuse for not returning the favor. I don’t actually have any business cards anymore, at least none under my real name. After a little more small talk and the promise of a phone conversation that’ll never happen, we shake hands and he makes his way out of the hotel. By the time the elevator arrives, you’ve strolled over to get in with me.

“Problems?”

I shake my head. “Old client. Wants me to devise a new campaign for him.”

You’re quiet for a long while until I finally look at you. “What?”

“Do you miss it?”

“Advertising?” I chuckle. “Hardly. Why would I, when I can have so much fun with this?”

Your smile is soft. “You’re having fun still? Really?”

We’ve been over this a few times. No matter how many times I talk about no apologies and no regrets, there will always be that part of you that feels guilty about what you did. I can’t see why, because we make more money than I ever did before and I’ve travelled more in the last year and a half than I did in the whole of my previous life. We own properties in three different countries but live mainly on our estate near Ensenada, where I have copious leisure time to enjoy the three hundred days of sunshine a year. The neighbors think I’m a very successful PR consultant, named Bryson Kennedy, and you’re my PA.

But what’s more important is that I never had so much fun in my life. For several weeks after we left Pittsburgh, you went about setting up some kind of underground network online, which isn’t so much clandestine as untraceable. Ostensibly it’s a sounding board for injustices which are beyond the long arm of the law because they fall into legal loopholes. You trawl through these every day and pick the ones that either anger you the most or have the best chance of being remedied. Then we devise a plan. Only, while you were so busy networking, the planning mostly fell to me.

It’s lucrative. Although our main aim is to give money back to the victims, we usually manage to make a substantial profit. But the fun is in the act. People who use the law to their fullest advantage or simply cheat the unsuspecting usually have a high threshold of wariness. It’s quite a challenge to con a con man.

Take Pendergrass for example. He’s a professional fundraiser who advises charities on how to maximize their profits. He also dabbles in art in his spare time. Three months ago he 'helped' raise funds for the Liberty House in Pittsburgh. There was a bike ride from Toronto back to Pitts which was very successful. Unfortunately it turned out that Mr. Pendergrass takes a rather large cut for his efforts. Debbie was spitting with anger when she told me that they had a mere pittance left after they had to pay his fee. You decided that we should help restore their funds.

Three weeks ago you met Pendergrass ‘accidentally’ at a party. You got talking about art and I have no doubt that by the end of the evening he felt like he’d known you for years. Everybody always does. Meanwhile I scoped out some suitable galleries – quiet, not too well known and small enough to have very few staff. But most of all, they should be looking for a receptionist.

The rest was simply about timing. You’ve perfected your forgery skills, so the painting was always going to be convincing. The owner of the gallery, who spends every Thursday afternoon across town with his mistress, is not to know that on those afternoons you pose as the gallery manager without a clue. All you had to do was make sure that Pendergrass would pick a Thursday for his visit. Then it was just a quick exchange of the exhibited painting for the one you painted and me planting the idea in Pendergrass' head that if he was quick enough, he could get an expensive original for a very low price. His greed did the rest. The trick is to not give people a chance to think for too long or check out the facts.

It’s debatable how illegal today’s undertaking really was. After all, you never actually said that the painting was an original, in fact the whole point was that you gave the impression that you didn’t think so. If Pendergrass decides to come back once he realizes that he was duped, the gallery owner will have an alibi and the only suspicious person will be his receptionist, a young woman called Deidre Chapman. By that time Daphne will be long back in Chicago and we’ll be sunning our asses on the Mexican coast. It was one of the easiest jobs we ever did.

Most of them are a lot more intricate and require longer planning or a longer execution. But we have time and patience. Well, I have. You seem to be in a hurry to help as many people as you can. Nothing we do ever seems to be enough for you to make the amends you’re so intent on. And if we had the time, we could do ten times as much because we’re inundated with cases. I don’t consider it stealing. You promised me you were done with that. What we’re doing is re-appropriating funds to their rightful owners. The secret is in the labeling. I should know, I used to be an advertising genius.

The agreement we have is that you leave the final decision to me. My main goal is always to avoid violence in any shape or form. Any case with even a hint of a possibility of any of that is left to the police. You getting shot once is definitely enough for me, thank you very much. You promised me faithfully that there would never be another gun involved in our dealings, not even as a prop. We’re what Daphne called ‘strictly white collar’ and to be honest I’m the most comfortable and therefore the most effective in that kind of environment anyway.

I plant a kiss on your cheek before the doors of the elevator open. Sometimes a wordless gesture convinces you better than any words could. It should go a long way to reassure you that I’ve no doubts about preferring this life to my old one. “How did it go?”

“Pendergrass thinks I’m a hapless gallery owner who doesn’t know his ass from his elbow. He bought the painting. Electronic transfer. That guy I hired this morning delivered the ‘original’ Mitchell to his home an hour later. And Daph handed in her notice. I dropped her off at the station. Everything worked like clockwork. When’s the flight?”

“Seven, tomorrow morning.”

I let us into our room and find myself pressed against the door within seconds. You’re kissing me hungrily and rubbing your hard cock against my thigh, while your hands insinuate themselves under my waistband. I love how turned on you get after a job. And I must say I feel the same way. The rush I get from seeing it all come together after weeks of planning is better than any I ever got from winning even the biggest accounts. It’s probably the risk involved in what we do that makes it so exciting.

“Now fuck me so I can get rid of this adrenaline.”

I’m only too happy to oblige. After all, doing this – or anything else – with you is the single most important factor in how much I enjoy my new way of life. With you I finally got my more, bigger, brighter. I’m flying higher than I ever thought possible.



******JJJJJJ ******



“Don’t ogle my ass,” you chuckle as you walk in front of me, away from the small office that looks more like a converted cloakroom.

I move closer until I’m practically pressed against your back, my hands on your hips. “You love it when I ogle any part of your beauuuutiful body.”

Stopping for a few moments, you lean back into me and your head turns until your cheek strokes against mine while I’m resting my chin on your shoulder. It’s only for a moment but I love these little touches you give me on the oddest occasions. That never gets old. “You might not want to distract me when we’re in the air,” you smirk.

Then you walk out of the hangar onto the airfield, putting on your aviator sunglasses against the bright sunlight. God, you’re hot! The sunglasses and those jeans and the body-formed t-shirt you’re wearing – I hate that I never get to join the mile high club. It’s not fair.

Our Diamond Star is sitting on the edge of the field, fully fueled and ready to fly. Officially the plane belongs to a small airline in Southern California and is available for private charter. In reality the airline belongs to us and we’re the only clients, albeit under various assumed names. Everything we do is untraceable. It’s time-consuming but one of the most enjoyable parts of my job and I’m very good at it.

It took you several months of studying and taking lessons to get your pilot’s license. It’s one area where forged papers won’t do any good. Nobody in their right mind would go up into the air without the proper training. But now it’s like you’ve never done anything else. You fly like you do everything else, expertly and with complete dedication. Still, you’re right about not distracting you in the air, although I’ve managed to give you the equivalent of road head once. It gave a whole new meaning to the term ‘airhead’.

“So where are we stopping over?” I ask after you finished the pre-flight checks. From here the flight home would take too long for one day, so we usually take a break halfway there, before landing in Southern California. We never cross the border in the air – too much bureaucracy involved, someone might decide to look at our papers too closely. We usually go home by boat from San Diego. It’s not far to our estate south of Ensenada.

“How does Pittsburgh sound?”

“What? Are you serious?”

You grin at me and as reassuring as your confidence is, I always get edgy when we get too close to our former home. In general, travelling all over the States is pretty safe, provided we use aliases and don’t fly with any commercial airlines. As long as we stay in US airspace and away from any strategic areas, nobody pays much attention to our flight plans. But Pittsburgh – though definitely not strategic anything – is a whole different ball game.

I agree with you that we’re hardly on America’s Most Wanted list. We’re small time con men, who defrauded a second-rate, aspiring politician of all his money – well, I did. The fact that Stockwell got indicted, even though he got away with a laughable sentence, makes us even less of a priority. Nobody wants to show too much allegiance to a crooked cop by putting a lot of effort into pursuing us. But in Pittsburgh there are still some cops who did well under Stockwell’s regime and are holding a grudge against us for putting an end to it. Never mind that there the chances of anyone recognizing us on sight are highest. After all, my father and your mother and sister still live there and there must be hundreds of guys who know you rather intimately.

When Ethan started talking to the police to save his neck, he took great pains to put all the blame squarely on my shoulders, where it admittedly belonged, but also on Daphne, who was no more guilty than he was, and… on you. Without you there to defend yourself, he made it sound as if you were in on it from the beginning. I hated him for that. I could forgive him more easily for shooting me than for telling lies about you to get his revenge.

He never even went to prison. He pleaded guilty to being an accessory and then his father decided that he didn’t want a scandal involving his only son and sent his best lawyer. Ethan got away with a gazillion hours of community service. I saw him a couple of months ago in the society section of one of the national papers. He was representing his father at some gala or other – with his girlfriend by his side. After that I felt that he’s just too pathetic to spare any more thought on.

But because of him there’s been a warrant out for your arrest for the past eighteen months, solely on the grounds that you’re wanted for questioning. According to Carl, nobody in the police department quite believed Ethan because they’d effectively eliminated you from their inquiries already. But still, if they find you, they’ll take you in. Which is something I’ve promised myself will never happen. I’ll turn myself in and prove somehow that you’re innocent before I let them arrest you.

However much visiting Pittsburgh might increase the danger of that, it’s also the place that holds anyone who’s dear to you, other than Daphne and myself. After a lot of queening out, your friends finally calmed down enough to keep in touch. We’ve seen Michael and Ben, and Lindsay and Gus, and even Debbie on a few occasions, always abroad, usually in the Caymans, where they can have a nice all-expenses-paid vacation into the bargain. We never invite anyone to our home because you don’t want to put them in a position where the information they have about us could get them into trouble. Needless to say, that Carl and Melanie always pretend to have no idea that their loved ones go anywhere but on a nice relaxing vacation.

I have a lot of regrets. You usually laugh when I voice them and tell me that the life I wish you could still lead was boring as fuck and you much prefer being a modern day Robin Hood. Whenever I mention how sad it is that you don’t see much of Gus, you tell me that if you’d gone to New York, you would have seen even less of him because your workload would have been horrendous and you’d probably have lost yourself in the club scene there. And eventually would have got just as bored with it there as you had in Pittsburgh. I hope I’m not reading too much into the fact that you then usually kiss me and fuck me right after saying, “This is much better.” The look you give me certainly seems like a declaration of love to me.

“Lindsay needs to go to her conference early and she can’t fly Gus out, so she asked us to come and get him.” I watch you as you pull us up a little higher into the air. I never tire of watching you do anything but flying might just be my favorite. It’s so obvious how much you love it. Although I reckon your smile at the moment has as much to do with what you’re doing as it has with where we’re going and who’s coming back with us for a visit.

Gus is the only one who’s ever been to our home. You reckon we can get away with it for another year or two before he’s too old. At the moment, there’s no risk involved. Even if somehow the police found out that he’s been with his father, he’s too young to tell them anything of real value. What could he possibly say? We went on a plane and a boat and Daddy lives in a big house by the beach and everyone speaks funny? That’s hardly going to lead anyone to us. But as he gets older, we’ll have to meet somewhere else. Neither one of us wants Gus to have to tell lies.

“So, we’re having him an extra three days?” I can't help but smile.

You nod, pretending it’s no big deal to you.

That’s definitely worth a visit to the Pitts. Having Gus around is always a lot of fun. He’s a bit of a handful but I love you and him together. You’re always doing stuff, swimming, snorkeling, camping. I didn’t think you were the outdoor type, beyond topping up your tan and doing laps in our pool to keep in shape. But when you’re with Gus, you turn into Action Man. You told me you can’t wait for when he’s old enough to go out on the speed boat and water skiing.

It’s strange how things turn out sometimes. I’ve always been good at predicting. I can usually tell with accuracy how situations will play out in any given circumstances. Half our schemes rely on that talent. And yet people still surprise me sometimes. Like Mrs. Chanders, for example. I was a little nervous about meeting her again, but when Paul and Daphne got married last year, I could no longer avoid it. Rather than admonishing me for persuading her daughter to run away when she was barely fourteen, she thanked me for looking out for her and keeping her safe.

Of course, when it comes to you I’ve been off the mark more than once. But that was only in the beginning. Over time, I got to know you and what is more, I let you know me. That’s something I only ever allowed Daphne before. Nowadays I don’t hide anything from you anymore, not even my emotions.

We work well together. You have a flair for devising intricate and astounding strategies and have the confidence and demeanor to carry them out successfully. I’ve been so busy with setting up a system, which is safe but makes it easier for us to find our clients – or rather makes it easier for them to find us – that a lot of the planning for our actual targets falls to you. We're both happy with that.

I’d like to do more. I’m still making amends. But you keep me from taking on too much and you quite rightly pointed out once that by now, we’ve probably helped more people than I ever harmed in any way. But I’m not like you. I can’t just let bygones be bygones and even though I’ve accepted the things I cannot change, that doesn’t stop me from feeling guilty. Most of all for what I did to you.

How can I accept that I’ve harmed and hurt the person I love most and then just move on? That’ll be with me to the end of my days. It doesn’t help that you won’t even let me apologize. I do owe you an apology. For quite a while, even after we left Pittsburgh together, you remained a little angry and very wary. I could understand that. Apologies are just words. I want to make it up to you instead. Over time, you’ve completely forgiven me and I don’t deserve that. I’d like to earn it.

Sometimes I get the impression that you still expect me to disappear at any moment. Then again there are occasions when you show me your complete trust without any hesitation. I think it’s because you want to. It’s a conscious decision on your part. In our line of work it’s essential to trust your partner implicitly and to break that trust has more consequences than having your heart broken. I trust you with my life, because you’ve never broken your word and you’ve never let me down. It’s who you are.

I know that you love me. You don’t have to say it. Talking about how you feel isn’t your strong point but, as the saying goes, truth is written in white and can be read between the lines. That’s you in a nutshell. You left your whole life behind and started a new one with me. How much louder could you possibly proclaim your love for me? And it is there in every look and every touch.

I understand that occasionally you have doubts, given how we met. However, I honestly believe that you’d have those issues under any circumstances. That’s also who you are. Trust isn’t easy for you. But I intend to prove to you that I’m worth it. Eventually I will. And I also intend to prove to you that you are worth it because I know that you can’t quite believe how much I love you. I will spend the rest of my life making you believe it. Whether I succeed next month, next year or next decade doesn’t matter because we’re both planning on sticking around.

It’s too noisy in the cockpit to have a conversation, so I just place my hand on your thigh as we’re cruising north. You smirk and raise an eyebrow at the gesture, willfully interpreting it as sexual rather than affectionate. I smile and look out the window to watch the clouds. About thirty seconds later your hand folds gently over mine.






A/N: This was written for a wonderful prompt by the lovely [livejournal.com profile] missteacakes over on [livejournal.com profile] promptmesomeqaf. All credit for the premise goes to her. The community is Members Only but this is what she suggested:


"I can't even remember how this bunny struck me, and I'd love to write it myself. But I just don't think it's gonna happen.
So my idea was that Justin was disowned and, instead of becoming a hustler/stripper/sexy pool boy, decided to go down a slightly less angelic route. He's now an experienced conman with an eye on a rich, successful adman. Or rather, his bank account.
Bonus points if he actually goes all the way through with his plot, especially if he and Brian
still somehow end up together."


I loved this idea from the moment I saw it and this fic is the result. It doesn’t fit the bill exactly but I hope it’s close enough. Thank you so much, [livejournal.com profile] missteacakes, for being so generous with your ideas. I wish I had great ideas like that and I hope you like it. ♥



Thank you, everyone, for reading and your lovely comments. ♥


From:
Anonymous( )Anonymous This account has disabled anonymous posting.
OpenID( )OpenID You can comment on this post while signed in with an account from many other sites, once you have confirmed your email address. Sign in using OpenID.
User
Account name:
Password:
If you don't have an account you can create one now.
Subject:
HTML doesn't work in the subject.

Message:

 
Notice: This account is set to log the IP addresses of everyone who comments.
Links will be displayed as unclickable URLs to help prevent spam.

Profile

kachelofen: (Default)
kachelofen

July 2014

S M T W T F S
  12345
6789101112
1314151617 1819
2021 2223242526
2728293031  

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 21st, 2017 11:14 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios