I Think I Said No, But I'll Say it Again
Gene Starwind hated that goddamn bodyguard. It was an irrational, from-the-guts sort of hatred, but Gene didn't blame himself. You left Fred Luo's office and that goddamn bodyguard was right there, looking at you from behind tinted glass.
He'd say something like, "Good luck, Gene Starwind."
And Gene'd say something like, "Finally don't wanna shoot me, huh?"
And that goddamn bodyguard would smirk behind his Look I'm Macho as All Fuck sunglasses and he'd shrug. "Not really that," he'd say, like clockwork, "it's just about time for you to come back in one piece, to keep the young master happy."
Or, he'd say, "Not really that," of course not, "but someone might shoot some sense into you, out there, about young master."
Or, he'd say, "Not really that," well fuck you too, mister, "but perhaps you'd like to bring the young master some flowers the next time you come?"
And so on, and so goddamn forth. So yeah, Gene really hated that guy, with his smug smile and his smug sunglasses and his smug suit. Gene really hated him because he had this revolting habit of bringing up two things that immediately turned Gene off a conversation: Fred Luo, and love.
Gene Starwind didn't even say hello to that goddamn bodyguard. Hell, Gene Starwind didn't even grunt at that goddamn bodyguard - and when Gene Starwind didn't like you enough to even grunt at you, then you were in trouble. No, Gene just moved past the guy without looking at him, and pushed the door to Fred's office open with one hand.
Suddenly, arms full of this bundle of unfiltered excitement, nearly suffocated by the softness of a head of blue-black hair, Gene found he had an elbow in his stomach and needed to use the doorframe to keep him from being bowled over.
"It's been so long, Gene!" Fred Luo tightened his hold. "Not a word from you for more than a month! You had me worried!"
"Ow," Gene said, but damned if Fred could hear it, with Gene's mouth full of Fred's goddamn hair. God, Gene hated this place. This was one of the places Gene hated most in the world. It was like that big toy store you remembered from when you were a kid, but you could never get to the toys. You didn't have enough money, or, you know, there was this incredibly gay, tight-fisted business-owner who kept getting in the way.
Gene swallowed, breathed, and tried again.
"Hey, Fred," he said. "D'you think you could take your elbow out of my ribs?
"Oh!" Fred said. In Gene's ear. Ow. "I'm sorry! Sit down - would you like some tea?" Fred blinked sheepishly up into Gene's face and Gene grimaced. Those eyes were so goddamn blue sometimes. Gene pulled himself away from the wall, untangled his own limbs from Fred's with a disdainful patience that only made the blueness of Fred's eyes cloud over for a moment, and got himself over to one of the office couches, sprawling down on it gratefully.
"No tea, thanks," Gene said. Fred, ever faithful, like a confused but persistent puppy, trotted over, and sat next to him, crossing his legs neatly. If guys came out of the womb with big old signs that said 'I'M GAY!' you wouldn't have been able to tell their sexual orientation as easily as you could tell Fred's. Gene sighed. It looked like it was gonna be one hell of a long day.
"So," Fred said, toying with the lob of his right ear. "How've you been, Gene?"
"Aw, you know," Gene said, vaguely.
"No, I don't." Fred smiled brightly, his eyes crinkling at the corners, his cheeks still flushed. "It seems I only know what sort of equipment you need, and that's only when you need it from me." He laughed, though Gene didn't know if he liked the sound of it.
"Yeah," Gene said, "that's true. Speakin' of which." Fred worried at his own lower lip.
"I'm just teasing you, Gene. Of course I'm just teasing you!" He rested one pale hand on Gene's shoulder for a moment, then smiled wickedly. "Speaking of which," he echoed, "you seem to owe me over a million Wong."
"You're still teasin' me, right?" Gene asked. Again, Fred laughed, and this time Gene really didn't like the sound of it.
"If only I were. You're an expensive date, Gene Starwind." Gene bristled. It was impossible to have a conversation with Fred Luo that lasted more than two seconds and didn't involve Gene or money. Hell, the two things Fred Luo loved most in the world, right? Well, if you listened to that goddamn bodyguard. "It's getting to be quite the problem," Fred went on, rubbing his thumb and forefinger over his chin, "but what's another few thousand Wong, between friends?"
"What the hell're you gettin' at, Fred?"
"Oh," Fred said evasively. "You've just come at the right time, that's all. You see, I have this benefit to go to tonight."
And Gene's brain went: oh shit.
"And you know how I hate to go to those things alone," Fred continued, smiling a smile which was some terrifying hybrid between evil genius and innocent lamb.
And Gene's brain went: I'm in shit now, aren't I.
"So I was thinking," Fred went on, nearly bouncing in his seat, "if maybe you might-"
"Just promise me one thing, Fred?" Gene interrupted. Hell, but he was in for it now. And if that goddamned bodyguard said even one thing, Gene was gonna kill him.
"Anything!" Fred agreed.
"Don't try'n dress me in anythin' yellow," Gene said, helplessly.
"Well," Fred said, pausing, thinking, "how's pink?"
There was a reason Gene didn't go to many social events. One of the reasons was that most social events Gene had already been to, he'd been invited specifically to not come back. The reasons for that were so varying that Gene really didn't think it necessary to go into them. Ever again. It probably had to do with being a redhead, or with just being a big, loud jerk, or probably, in Gene's case, a little bit of both. Well, anyway, Gene couldn't help it, because the last thing in life he ever wanted to be was a piece of arm-candy for Fred Luo at a goddamn benefit for what-the-fuck-ever. The problem was, Gene needed the money.
Hell - that was always the problem.
Gene's biggest problem was knowing that every time Fred touched his arm or laughed that little, tinkling laugh and turned his eyes on Gene, everyone was watching and wondering who the hell he was and why he looked like he was sucking on a lemon the whole night. At least there was some good food and some good alcohol. He was getting fed better than he would be than if he was home, but it just didn't seem to be enough. Especially in the face of that goddamn bodyguard nodding and giving him the thumbs up on their way out. Gene coulda killed him for that, he really coulda.
At least he was wearing a suit.
A plain, black suit.
It was uncomfortable but it was not, at that, pink, or yellow, or anything particularly egregious, and so it could have been worse. Not much worse. But Gene didn't want to think about how much worse it could have been.
"Well, Gene," Fred said, leaning close and breaking through Gene's thoughts, lips up against his ear, breath hot inside it, "I think I'm getting tired, and your face might freeze that way if we're not careful!"
"Just get your face outta my ear," Gene said, "and I won't kill you."
"Mou," Fred sulked, but he did as he was told. Goddamn those goddamn blue eyes. Goddamn Fred Luo making such a goddamn spectacle of himself - of them, even though there wasn't a them - all the goddamn time. "You could be nicer, Gene."
"I could," Gene agreed. "And Aisha could be useful for once. And the snow could be warm. Can we just get the hell outta here?" With a shake of his head, Fred stood, pushing himself out of his chair.
"And you didn't even ask me to dance," he added, as he took Gene's arm, as Gene made a face more deadly than the most expensive caster shell, "once all evening. You're not much of a date, Gene Starwind."
"So ask someone else, next time," Gene managed to get out through gritted teeth.
"Not in a million years." A little smile played over Fred's lips. "Not when I have you where I want you at last!"
"Fred, if you put the moves on me in the goddamn car, I'm gonna kill you."
"That's why I have a chauffeur." Fred let Gene help him with his jacket, sighing softly as Gene's rough fingers brushed over his neck. "You are such a gentleman."
"Yeah, yeah," Gene muttered, "let's go, I've got better things to do."
Outside, it was crisp, pleasant after being in a warm room filled with overweight businessmen and their trophy women. Fred tapped the toes of his right foot on the ground as they waited for - yep, that goddamn bodyguard - to pull a car up in front of the place. Gene opened the door and Fred slid in with a little, pleased laugh, and Gene got in next to him, slamming the door shut. The first thing he noticed was that the tinted divider was up between the drivers seat and the back of the car. Of course. That goddamn bodyguard would think to give them privacy. Well, there might not be anyone to hear Fred's - or Gene's, depending on who was victorious - pathetic cries for help.
"So," Fred said, into the silence.
"Fred," Gene said.
"Get your hand off my thigh."
"Oh, my, I hadn't even noticed. How careless of me."
"Fred," Gene said again.
"Get your hand off my thigh now."
"Oh," Fred said, and, sulking slightly, he did as he was told. For a guy with as much money as Fred had, Gene thought to himself, there sure wasn't a lot of space in the back of his car. "It wasn't that bad," Fred said, thoughtfully. "It wasn't wonderful, but it wasn't that bad."
"What, you didn't have fun, either?"
"There's nothing like making an appearance in bunch of a lot of ugly old men," Fred murmured absently, "with whom you have nothing in common. I brought you along to stir things up - you certainly were a disappointment."
"Hell," Gene snapped, "I was tryin' to be a fuckin' gentleman."
"You don't do it very well," Fred said. "I hate to be the one to point this out."
"You're not the first." Gene grinned a little, looking out the window for a minute. "Are we taking the long way back to your place, or what?"
"I thought we might stop off somewhere. Have a little drink, first. Don't worry! My treat. A little something so the night won't be entirely pointless." Fred smiled that smile, tugging at his ear again. It was funny, but he hadn't done it all night - not since they'd stepped out of the car at the beginning of the evening, anyway.
"The night's already pointless," Gene muttered, and then shrugged. "But I think I don't have much say in the matter. Why the hell not, huh?" Fred clapped his hands together once, eyes brightening again. You had to hand it to him. He was stubborn as hell.
It was going to be an even longer night that Gene'd originally thought.