Author: the blind visionary PM
m/m University professor meets a biker afflicted with a travel bug. Love ensues. Sequel to Psychobabble!Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Angst - Chapters: 14 - Words: 15,272 - Reviews: 17 - Favs: 7 - Follows: 6 - Updated: 10-07-11 - Published: 04-16-11 - id: 2908116
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
February. The weather in the city is unrelentingly brutal with its cold, unforgiving slabs of concrete and steel monoliths. Brooklyn is quiet, lifeblood tucked away inside networks of brownstone houses during the endless winter. I wake to the bang and hiss of the radiator, gathered frost on the windowpanes.
A small mass of white fluff uncurls beside me and lazily stretches itself out.
"Cake," I wrap her up in my arms. "I suppose you're ready for breakfast?"
She meows in the affirmative. I dutifully rise out of bed. Cake's dining habits are strongly regimented. As I set her bowl down on the floor, it occurs to me that the cat exercises an unacceptable degree of control over my morning schedule.
"Might I remind you, Cake, that you seem to be under the false impression that you are an alarm clock, and not a cat?"
Unimpressed, she nibbles into her food.
A few minutes later she settles into my lap ( whether I like it or not ) and waits to be doted upon. This is her favorite activity-to make sure that nearly all of my attention is devoted to her. She does this a lot, especially when there's something important to be done. And today's important thing to be done is a depressingly large pile of student papers. I suppose I could just mark them all at random, but even that would require too effort. Sundays are not conducive to working.
But there's too much shit to be done-the student's papers, lecture preparations, a brush-up on Tolstoy so that I look like I know what the hell I'm talking about, letters of recommendation, a piece for the New Yorker that I've been procrastinating on.
"Let's switch bodies today," I suggest to Cake, holding her to my chest. "I can be you, and you can be me. How does that sound?"
She twists her head to look up at me, probably indignant over the fact that I've stopped petting her. Or perhaps she didn't like the idea of inhabiting my body, tall and awkwardly human, a vessel not fit for even the clumsiest of cats.
Halfway through the student's papers, I'm already restless. I open the front door to collect the Sunday paper, braving a bombardment of glacial air. A streak of white darts out under me and out the door into the snowy landscape.
"Cake!" I rush outside, but she's nowhere to be seen and she'd probably just blend in with all the snow anyway. Consumed with panic, I stand dumbly on the stoop, wind whistling against my scantily clad body. I grab a coat and spend about an hour searching for her and inquiring with the neighbors. Cake is not an outdoor cat, and the thought of her getting lost and suffering in this heartless weather is more than I can bear.
I give up after a while and go back inside. My other cat, Robinson, sleeps undisturbed in a patch of pale sunlight. A wave of loss passes over me as I remember the day I rescued Cake from the shelter, a tiny white kitten just moments away from euthanization.
She is somehow more than just a cat.
Monday passes uneventfully. Blake visits my office and attempts to cheer me up with an awkward tap dance routine, but then he trips over a shoelace and almost ends up hurting himself, which only makes me feel worse than ever.
"Hey, I'm fine." Blake gets up and dusts himself off. "Did you laugh while I was falling?"
"Not really. But I would have, under normal circumstances. Thank you."
"Maybe you can go pick up another cat?" He sits on the threadbare couch in the corner and casually starts flipping through old Vice magazines.
"I don't want another cat."
"I know what you need," Blake adjusts his tortoise-shell glasses. "Let's go to Tumulty's after work."
"Not Tumulty's," I groan. "Not tonight."
"John, it's time you found yourself a new boyfriend. Haven't you had enough of being lonely, already?
Blake, being a married man, will probably never again understand the virtues of singledom, or what it's like to feel unwanted. Despite his awkwardness, he's still very masculine. Gay men of his type are in heavy demand. He has a certain male swagger that is executed with clumsy finesse. But at least he has it.
"You're pretty, but somehow untouchable. I think that's partly why I was so attracted to you when we first met," Blake explains to me later, on the subway. "I wanted you, but at the same time you seemed so out of reach. And then once I had you, I never really had you. You were always so irritatingly secretive."
"Or maybe...you just thought you could get an easy A."
Blake winces a little, probably recalling the B-grade I had given him, mostly due to his douchebaggery and utter laziness at the time.
We get off the subway at Lorimer and walk to Tumulty's. Charley, the owner of the bar, is a scruffy bloke with a bit of a thuggish past. But now his thievery is mostly petty and superficial-the prices he charges for drinks are exorbitant, even by NYC standards. And depending on who's working the counter, the service is questionable, at best. The real draw of the place are the karaoke machines and the scene, a wondrous mix of subcultures mingling freely. Pretentiousness is abandoned at the door.
"Good news mates," Charley greets us at the counter, a brunette with sharp eyes like a hawk. "It's our annual Nerd Night here at Tumulty's, two dollar drinks all night for those who qualify."
"Nerd Night?" Blake says, with not a drop of amusement. "That is ever so hilarious and original. Look at all the fucks I give."
"We're not really nerds," I chime in.
"Naw mate, I'm serious. It's nerd night." Charley gestures towards the other patrons of the bar, a gaggle of people clad in horn-rims, oxford shirts and bowties. This crowd somehow managed to escape our attention upon entrance. "Two dollar drinks, boys. It's your lucky day, as you both happen to qualify by default."
"This is fucked." Blake mutters.
"This is possibly the most brilliant thing ever," I reply. "And these people, they love it."
"We're being ridiculed!" Blake cries. "Mocked! Derided! Shat upon! Parodied!"
"Two-dollar bloody drinks," Charley reminds us. "Unless, for some stupid reason, you'd rather pay full price?"
"I'll let this little incident go, just this one time." Blake adjusts his glasses. "And get me a vodka on the rocks."
"What?" Charley asks.
"You bloody heard me!"
"What the fuck are you prattling on about, mate? Here." Charley slides the vodka across the counter.
I order an import beer, and the night commences.
"Do you think you can find a potential suitor in this masquerade?" Blake asks.
"Look, that girl is wearing a pocket protector," I exclaim.
Blake glances across the room and sighs. "And there's Adrian and Veyt. Can't believe they're here on a weeknight."
"Let's go say hello!"
"Let's not," Blake says with a grimace, pushing a loose lock of blonde hair aside. "I don't know why my brother hangs with that scoundrel. A diva, if I ever saw one. And he says the word 'honestly' so many times that you can make a bloody drinking game out of it."
To Blake's dismay, Adrian and Veyt have already spotted us. They saunter over with dual smirks. Adrian's gangly form towers over the sea of nerds, while Veyt's rather diminutive stature becomes swallowed up. The pair weave their way towards us and sit at the counter.
"Honestly," Veyt says. "You two aren't even trying tonight." He narrows his golden snake-eyes at us. "And you!" he shoves his finger at me. "You're not even wearing a bowtie! On fucking Nerd Night! What the hell is wrong with you?" He adjusts his pair of fake spectacles.
"Fuck Nerd Night!" Blake slaps a palm against the counter.
"We didn't know it was Nerd Night," I explain.
"A likely excuse," Adrian lights up a ciggy. "So if you're not here for Nerd Night, what brings you two out here?"
"We're trying to find John a boyfriend," Blake says.
"Honestly," Veyt says, flicking his chestnut mane of hair. "You should probably just go to the library."
"What library is open at twelve in the bloody morning?" Blake snaps.
"Blake's got a point," Adrian says, removing his coke-bottle glasses to reveal a pair of eyes identical to his brother's. "Besides, the library scene's a little dry. And probably saturated with old lady types."
"Honestly," Veyt says. "Nobody does nerd better than me."
"Don't you worry, mate." Adrian taps my shoulder. "Someone will turn up one day, and he'll be magnificently nerdy and exceed all of your wildest expectations. And he'll be amazing in bed."
"Yeah," I stare into the amber liquid in my glass, clear and crisp. "Sure."
*** A/N: I'm at it again! Yeah, not much to see here. But this story is indeed in the same universe as Psychobabble. It takes place a few years after Blake meets Sam and gets into that mess with John. Ugh, sounds confusing but really, it totally isn't :3