"Smile once more, sir." The photographer said, and the short, stocky, middle-aged man in front of him forced his lips to curl upwards into a grin. "Good. Now, let's get some pictures of the family for the campaign trail. The man nodded and turned towards the door.
"Sarah!" He barked. There were sounds of footsteps, and the door opened a minute later to reveal a harried-looking secretary.
"Get my family in here."
"Yes, sir." She scurried off to find his wife and three children, who were most likely at the opposite end of the building. Soon after, the secretary returned to the room with a pretty blond woman, two teenage boys, and a young girl that took after her mother in the looks department. They all crowded into the area in front of the camera, and the man wrapped his arms around his two sons, the woman and the girl upstaging them slightly.
"Say cheese.." There was a flash of light and a click, and the family dispersed again, going back to their separate rooms of the house.
Thomas St. Claire was forty-two years old and was up for the time of his life; running for Governor. He was already Mayor of Seattle, but his advisors had told him that this would definitely be the best time to advance himself politically. He was being billed as a family man, hence the pictures of his wife and children, and being tough on criminals, yet supportive of minority (i.e.: gays/lesbians, African-Americans, Asian- Americans) groups rights.
Lynette Mitchell-St. Claire was thirty-eight years old, and had married Thomas fresh out of high school.. This was partially due to love, but also because he had gotten her pregnant with their first child. She rather enjoyed being a mayor's wife, and between bridge, garden clubs, shopping, baking, and being an active part of the community, she also had time to be a supportive mother, making Martha Stewart look uncreative.
Nicholas St. Claire was the oldest of the three children at nineteen, and was the kind of person everyone loved to hate, and hated to love. He was the star player of no less than three sports teams (soccer, basketball, volleyball), a talented musician, and on the top of the honor roll with an average of 98% in all his classes. And although he was generally a nice person, he could be rather snobbish when the time came, and the time came more often than not.
Amanda St. Claire was the youngest of the three, and had already begun to take after her mother's good looks. She was a typical ten-year old, very bright, very bubbly and very cute. However, she was also very spoiled. She was her mother's favorite child, and made it known to her brothers every chance she got.
In the tradition of ignored middle children, Tristan St. Claire had gotten used to it. He was seventeen, two years younger than Nicholas, and although he was good-looking and easy to be around, he was also antisocial in a way. He hung around mainly with his two best friends, and reviled the family activities that he was forced into. Tristan was the type of person that one would walk by and not really notice, and he had taken a few steps to change that. Dying his hair blue from it's normal blonde had not only pissed his father off to no end, but he had gotten his ear pierced when he was sixteen to push the matter further.
While he wasn't good at sports or music or art or schoolwork like his siblings, he was a wonderful writer, although according to his father, the plots could've been changed. Most of Tristan's stories included a homosexual person or couple, and as much as Thomas St. Claire petitioned for gay rights, there was one fact that the public didn't know: He was homophobic. There was also one little secret of Tristan's that only his best friends knew: He was gay.
After the picture was taken, Tristan had disappeared to his room and sat down at his computer silently, turning his stereo on and putting some music on, closing his eyes for a moment as he sighed, listening to the lyrics. It wasn't Easy Listening like Nicholas liked to listen to, or *NSync, like Amanda listened to, but Tristan considered himself to have a wide choice of music. Tonight it was matchbox twenty.
He began to type the most recent chapter of his story, although this one was hardly as lighthearted as the previous chapters had been. So far, he had written seventy-five pages, about the life of a young man who finds out he's gay and tries to find love. Tristan himself didn't really believe that he could find love, but it was certainly fun writing about it for the time being. However, his protagonist had come out to his school, and had gotten a near-fatal beating from some people in his school, and it didn't look like a good outcome. Tristan's fingers hit the keys quickly; that was one thing he did better than Nicholas, whose typing speed was 50wpm.. Tristan's was almost double that. It was this reason that his parents thought he might be good at piano, but to no avail.
He sighed and leaned back in his chair as he was done, staring with slightly glazed eyes at the glowing computer screen in front of him. It was either this, or the term paper that he had due in Chemistry the next morning. He chose to continue the story, and was about to do so when the phone rang. He cracked his knuckles, a habit that drove his mother up the wall, and picked up the receiver.
"Hello?" Tristan yawned, looking at the clock. He had been typing for nearly two hours. He arched his back as he heard the voice on the other end.
"Hey, dude. It's Darren."
"Did you pose for the pretty pictures?" The voice was teasing, and Tristan rolled his eyes.
"Oh yes. How I love to pose. I feel pretty, oh so pretty. I feel pretty, and witty, and bright."
"Hmm. Queers and their show tunes." Darren commented. Tristan couldn't help but laugh. Although he went to a private school when his father was elected mayor, he was still close friends with Darren and Alex, two people he had met back when he was just a kid, and it was Darren and Alex he trusted with his secret. Well, there was one other person that he told, but ..it didn't matter anymore.
"So what's up?"
"I found this bar on Liberty Avenue that doesn't card.. and they have twenty-five cent wings."
"...Liberty Avenue?" Tristan repeated dubiously. "Dar.. you do know that it's the.."
"Yes, of course I do. Hey, come on. You can meet some rich sugar daddy there and live happily ever after. Oh, speaking of which, did you kill off your character?"
"You really have to show that to a publisher, Tristan.."
He sighed. "So when am I meeting you at the bar?"
"That's my boy.." Darren laughed. "Down there in an hour. We'll see you there." There was a 'click' and the line went dead. Tristan sighed and could only imagine the headlines: 'Mayor's underaged son caught in gay bar looking for rich sugar daddy! ' He set the phone back in the hook and pulled his coat off of the back of his chair.
"Mom, I'm going out.."
"...and we want you to handle this new account, Weaver."
"Yes, sir." The dark-haired man nodded without looking up from his computer screen and clicked the mouse. It was another day at Schwartz Advertising and they had just earned a new account that would earn them all a huge sum of money: a brand-new fast food franchise.
Cori Weaver was twenty-one, and one of the top graphic designers in the company. He enjoyed his work and was well-paid at it, so professionally, he was content. However, he was not content in other areas. He was alone, especially since his boyfriend died the previous year. They had a fight in the morning, and Cori left for work, slamming the door behind him, not expecting that when he got home, his boyfriend would be lying dead on the living room floor. The doctors had ruled it alcohol poisoning, but that didn't stop Cori from taking the blame himself.
One reason that he felt so badly was that he had never even bothered to find out that his boyfriend, the man he was in love with for two years, had a series of depression-related incidents in his past, and was a recovering alcoholic. Maybe it was that fact that hurt him the most. Cori's father, Aaron, was an alcoholic, and a violent drunk that often took out his rage on Cori, his younger sister, and his mother.
When Cori was seventeen, he came out to his parents, only to have his father give him a black eye and a bruised jaw, screaming that there would be no goddamned fairy living under his roof. Cori had been forced to live on-campus with some old high school friends while he got his degree. He ended up taking two part-time jobs to pay off his student loan.
He had started at Schwartz a year ago, almost to the day of his boyfriend's death, and had gotten enough money to buy his own place, although he hadn't bought a car as of yet. It was the top priority on his list, now that he had some money put away just in case.
Cori sighed and looked at the clock at the bottom corner of his computer screen. 4:30. He had been working til midnight lately to catch up on old business, and now he was taking a well-deserved night off before starting the account that had been so recently handed to him. Maybe he'd go and get a drink or shoot some pool.. anything to relax. He minimized the window on his screen, listening to the faint music drifting from the office next door.
"Hey, Cori." A tall blonde woman stood in his doorway and he swiveled in his seat to glance at her.
"Hey." He said noncommittally.
"A bunch of us are going to The Keg for dinner. Wanna come?"
He shook his head. I'm just going to chill out by myself.. Thanks, though."
She nodded and turned to go, leaving Cori alone once again, just like he had been for the past year. He grabbed his coat and shut off his computer, closing the door behind him. First he'd go get something to eat; something other than leftover Chinese takeout, pizza and hamburgers, and then he'd relax.
Tristan sat down at the counter and set down his half-full cup. True to his word, Darren had found a bar that didn't card. Alex yawned, looking around. He was the typical punk kid, dark hair, piercings, and tattoos. The kind of kid that mothers thanked their lucky stars since their own kids weren't like that.
"You know, for a gay bar, there's a real lack of women." He muttered.
"Oh, you're a quick one, Pierce." Darren laughed. "God." He looked over at Tristan. "Did you meet your Mr. Right yet?" He downed a quick shot of vodka and giggled softly. Another few shots and he'd be up dancing on the barstool with five dollar bills stuffed down his pants.
"Not yet." He took another taste of the drink, coughing a little. "Shit.. my dad's going to kill me if I come home drunk again."
"You gotta work on your sober act." Alex advised, helping himself to a handful of peanuts as he ignored the men checking him out. Popping a few peanuts into his mouth, he heard a voice from behind him.
"How'd you like to have -my- nuts in your mouth, baby?"
Alex started choking, looking around wildly as he gasped for breath. Darren had his head on the counter, and was laughing hysterically, also gasping for breath. Tristan laughed, shaking his head and turning around, his back against the barcounter. Alex punched Darren's shoulder as they struggled to catch their breath. "Asshole." He coughed.
"We're going to get going, Triscut. You staying?" Darren stood up, grabbing cab fare out of his pocket.
"You got money for the ride home?"
Tristan smiled a little. He and Darren had always been closer than he and his own brother were; always looking out for each other. "Yeah. I'll be fine, Dar. Thanks."
Darren nodded with a grin. "God.. Alex, you should've seen your face. I would've killed for a camera."
"That wasn't funny." Alex muttered as he followed Darren out of the bar. Tristan chuckled and took another sip of his drink, leaning back again. A tall, burly man walked over and smirked.
"Hey there. You new?"
Tristan looked up, tensing slightly. "Yeah." He said softly, turning back around.
"Mm. Well.. I could be your teacher.. you wanna stay late for detention?"
"Look.. I. I really ..I'm not interested."
"No!" Tristan growled softly and yelped as the man yanked him around.
"Look, baby.. you don't always get a chance in thi-"
"Excuse me.. might you consider getting your hands off my boyfriend?"
Tristan looked over to where a good-looking man with dark hair and green eyes was standing. He blinked a few times, his eyes going wider. "I.. I didn't know." He stammered. "And I wasn't..." He trailed off as the burly man backed away.
"Hey, sorry. " He muttered, snorting. "Wasn't that good of a catch anyway." He walked off, and the dark-haired man sat down.
Tristan smiled gratefully, and Cori felt his heart tremble. "Thanks.. a lot.. "
"No problem. Can I buy you a drink?" He asked, watching Tristan nod as he waved down the bartender. They ended up having a two-hour conversation about everything under the sun, and Cori felt himself falling rather hard, becoming enthralled with how the boy's eyes matched his hair color to the exact shade.
"I.. should be getting home." Tristan said finally, looking at the clock. Shit. Midnight.
"You gonna turn into a pumpkin?" Cori teased, causing Tristan to smile faintly.
"Maybe. You want my glass slipper?"
"Does it have your phone number in it?"
Tristan hesitated. Last thing he needed was some strange guy calling his house and his father wondering who it was. "Um.. well.. No."
"How about I drive you home?"
He couldn't do that either.. "I have cab fare."
Cori looked faintly hurt. "Okay.. I can take a hint.. I.. see ya." He stood, and Tristan reached out, grabbing the man's arm, looking a bit surprised.
"Wait.. I.. I'd really like to see you again.. "
"But you won't give me your phone number or address. I suppose e-mail's out of the question too."
"Can we meet here tomorrow night? M.. maybe go out for dinner?" Tristan said finally. Cori hesitated, but nodded. "At seven then.. tomorrow."
Cori smiled. "Alright. Seven. I'll see you then." He leaned down and kissed Tristan's lips once, causing a shiver to run down the length of the shorter boy's body. It was his first kiss, and it wouldn't be the last that they shared. Tristan pulled away finally and hailed a cab, managing to sneak inside without his parents noticing. He lay back on the bed with a silly grin on his face, and suddenly blinked. All that time.. they hadn't bothered to find out each other's names.
Locking the door behind him, Cori sighed softly. He had developed a huge crush on some kid he had met in that bar. And on top of that, he didn't even know the boy's name. He shook his head and wondered for a moment if the kid would even keep his promise.. but he couldn't help but wonder why the kid wouldn't give out his own phone number.. Questions to ask next time.. if there was a next time.