Chapter III

Denny heard the phone ringing Monday morning and yelled, "I've got it!" so the staff wouldn't answer. He picked up the receiver and said, "Alan?" and was disappointed to hear Carl's voice. "Oh, it's you, Carl."

Carl harrumphed on the other end. "I'm going to let that slide because I know you're upset. I take it that means you still haven't heard from Alan?"

"No and it's been two nights! I was about to call the Police Commissioner to report him missing when you called."

"For what it's worth, Denny, I'm sure he's okay; he just needs time to cool off."

"He wouldn't need time if I hadn't been such an idiot." He was sitting in the front room and noticed a cab pulling up to the front door. "Carl, I think Alan is coming home now; there's a cab outside. I'll talk to you later." He didn't wait for an answer before hanging up. When he saw Alan, disheveled and still wearing his tuxedo, get out of the car, he rushed to open the front door. "It's freezing outside, you'll catch your death!" They had left their coats in the limo, so Alan had had no coat when he walked out. "How did you stay warm?"

Moving past the older man, Alan replied, "A hotel room and two bottles of scotch kept me warm enough, thank you." He went up the stairs to their bedroom.

Denny followed, albeit at a slower pace. By the time he entered their room, Alan had already stripped his clothing off and gone into the bathroom and shut the door. He scooped the discarded tux off the floor and tossed it in the hamper and then sat on the bed to wait.

He heard the shower stop running and knew Alan would be out shortly, but he didn't really know what he would, or could, say. The sound of Alan's electric razor came through the door followed by the sounds of Alan brushing his teeth. Finally, the water stopped running and Alan exited the bathroom wearing his blue monogrammed robe; the "ASC" partially obscured by the towel he was using to rub his hair dry.

"I bet you feel better now, don't you?" Denny said because; well, because he had to say something.

Alan glanced at him briefly before grabbing fresh underwear from the dresser drawer and turning his back to dress. "I see," he replied as he removed his robe to pull a white T – shirt over his head, "now you're interested in how I feel." Taking a pair of jeans from the closet, he put them on before sitting on the opposite side of the bed with a pair of socks in his hand. Feeling Denny's eyes on his back, he suddenly whipped around and sat Indian – style on the bed. "You really don't know why I was, and to be honest, still am so pissed at you, do you?"

"Because I threw a big party when you said you just wanted to have dinner with me. I'm sorry, Alan. Shirley told me I was making a mistake, but I didn't listen."

Alan exhaled loudly and allowed his head to hang. "That's partially it," Alan said. "Denny, my…whole life is punctuated by lies and betrayal perpetrated by people I should have been able to trust. It started with my parents and it just went downhill from there. People told me they were my friends and they weren't. People told me they loved me and they didn't. Not really and not enough. And then, I met you. Larger than life, gun – toting, life – loving, impossible to ignore you. And, my life changed. Do you remember I started to say something to you just as we walked into the Oak Room?"

Denny thought a moment and then said, "Yes, I do remember. You started to say that after three years, you finally felt comfortable enough to tell me something. And then, we came through the door and that was that."

They sat quietly for a few minutes until Alan began to speak again. "I was about to tell you that when we first became friends, I liked you, but I was afraid to trust you. When you asked me to marry you, I realized that though I trusted you to be my friend, trusting you to be my husband was something else. Marriage meant I couldn't check out anymore; that I was in it for the long haul. I said 'yes' because I hoped it would be alright, but I wasn't completely sure."

"I was about to tell you, Denny, that I totally trusted you, so when I saw all those people, I was crushed to realize you had disregarded my feelings. And, to add insult to injury, I saw people there you know I don't even like. I had to get out of there. I got in that cab and I felt trapped because I don't have my hotel room anymore and even if I did, you could find me. So, I checked into a hotel I've never used before and sat in my room and drank until I was ready to come back and say what I just said." He leaned over to put on his socks.

It was Denny's turn to hang his head as he processed what he had just been told. "Wow," he said, "I can't even blame this debacle on the Mad Cow. I am so sorry. I think I was treating you like my wife instead of my husband." At Alan's confused look he said, "A couple of my exes used to act like they didn't want something when they actually did, so when you said you didn't want an anniversary party, I just took it that you really wanted one. As for the people there who aren't your favorites, I invited them so you could rub their faces in the fact that you're happy. Or at least, you used to be happy. How bad is this, Alan? Have I lost your trust? Please tell me you're back to stay!"

Alan slid across the bed to sit next to Denny and bumped him with his shoulder. "I wasn't planning on leaving, but I was feeling hurt and afraid; hurt that you ignored my feelings and afraid that it might be the start of you letting me down, too. I honestly don't think I can handle any more letdowns, Denny. Now that I know your intentions really were good, I don't feel as badly as I did. You have to remember that I'm damaged goods, Denny. I have a lot of issues and they can manifest in weird ways."

Denny playfully pushed Alan onto his side. "I'll have you know, young man, that you are talking about my husband and he may be a lot of things, but 'damaged goods' is not one of them. Don't say that."

"Okay, Denny."

The older man grunted. "Good. Let me apologize once more; this will not happen again. Let me make this up to you: We will do whatever you want for Christmas and New Year's, no questions asked. But, I have one request."

Alan sat up again. "What is it?" He was astonished to see Denny's eyes start to glisten.

"I have issues, too. They mainly deal with my spouses leaving me, so if I mess up again, and face it, I'm Denny Crane, I can mess up big time; please, Alan, please work it out with me. Don't leave. I was worried sick when you didn't come home or answer your phone." He stuck out his right hand. "Do we have a deal?"

Alan pulled Denny into a heartfelt hug. "Deal," he agreed. When they separated, he asked, "Do you want to keep me company while I eat? I've had nothing for awhile and I'm starving."

"Sure." As they headed to the kitchen, Denny smiled and said, "My mother was right: Honesty is the best policy."