A/N- Sorry this took so long to put up, been busy with sorting out stuff for University.
Thanks to everyone who reviewed, especially JtheChosen1. I like hearing from the readers )
He kept it. Who kept what? I hear you ask. Mr Jared kept the photocopy of my ass. Yeah, I know! What's the deal with that? More about it laters…
Stupidly I went out of the office with Awan, looking to confront him about his random molestations.
I had caught up to Awan and roughly grabbed his wrist.
"Awan, we need to talk. Right now."
He turned around to face me and sighed. He looked warn out. Well, I suppose he would be with our deadline looming in a couple of months. Doesn't sound like it's too close but believe me, by the time you've sorted everything out you realise you have a day left to get the mock up done.
That and he was probably out fucking some guy he'd never met before…again.
"Ok José, but not here."
I stared at him for a second, not quite expecting him to give in so quickly.
"Uh, ok then. Where?"
"Let's go to that café on the corner. May's was it? It'll be quiet there this time of day."
I smiled warily, still not quite sure why it was so easy. "Ok, just lemmie get my stuff."
He nodded and followed closely behind me. He grabbed his black brief case while I grabbed mine along with my dark blue suit jacket.
We walked down the amazingly dry but still jostling streets of London to the small café called 'May's'. Most of the staff from 'Russ Enterprises' frequented there due to their friendly service and cheap prices. The staff knew most of us by name.
We entered May's; the warm colours and soft lighting gave off a welcoming feel. The decor had a distinctly Mediterranean feel. Terracotta's and red's were the predominant colours. Some hand painted pictures of African women were placed on the walls to add a bit of life to the area.
We ordered some drinks from the small counter near the door and greeted the owner who was, surprise surprise called May. We settled into one of the cast aluminium bistro style chairs with comfy red cushions on the seat area.
There was an uncomfortable silence for a while. The chatter of the other patrons the only noise passing between us. Awan was sipping at his coffee, he cursed a couple times when he burnt his tongue.
I eventually broke the silence, my impatient nature coming through.
"So Awan. You wanna explain what's going on yet?"
He took another swallow of his coffee, while I looked at my hot chocolate. I debated whether it was cool enough to drink yet. I hated burning my tongue.
"Look, I'm sorry. I know I said it was a one night stand but I guess you have this look about you. Sorry bout this afternoon but I meant what I said- dating people from work is a bad idea."
I stared at him, well glowered really.
"So what? I'm just here for your general convenience. Hey José's free, let's fuck him."
"No, that's not what I meant," he sighed and avoided my gaze. He better think carefully about what he's going to say, unless he wanted me to kick his ass. Not that I'd be able to, but it made me feel better imagining it.
"Back home, there's this guy. We've known each other forever."
Huh? Guy? What guy? Which guy? Which guy when and where? Huh?
He continued, "We've always been together. Growing up on a reservation everyone knew everyone. We were- are best friends. He knows I'm gay and accepts me for that. Do you know how hard it is to get someone to accept you where I come from?"
I knew what it was like coming out. I came out in secondary school, it was not fun believe me. I got well acquainted with the boy's locker room. Who ever thought about putting locks in there and leaving the keys for the students to find? I'd been locked in there for hours during after school clubs. Tony found me snivelling in the corner of the sweat smelling room and has looked out for me ever since.
I shook my head in the negative fashion. It could have been different where he came from. Y'know people in San Francisco were tolerant of gay people. Is South Dakota near there?
"They'd have beaten the crap out of me then disowned me. Me and Cody became really close. And, well, we're together."
He sipped more coffee, cool as a bloody cucumber.
"I'm sorry; I think I missed something here. Did you say you have a boyfriend?"
Stay calm José, just stay calm. It's not like he matters, not like he's anything special, right? You can put up with Mr Jared five days a week you can do this.
He looked at me plainly.
"Yeah, we've been going out for nearly eight years. We started seeing each other when we were seventeen and we just kind of clicked."
"Wait...pause just a second. You've been going out with this guy for eight years yet you knew me for barely three hours before we fucked? You're saying you just conveniently forgot you had a boyfriend?" I raised an eyebrow.
"Well, I was caught up in the moment y'know? New town and sex on the menu, what was I supposed to say?"
I stared at him. He had to be kidding right?
"So, why are you telling me this?" I said quietly.
"Well, the thing is, he's coming over to visit next week and I'd appreciate it if you didn't tell him about my little indiscretion."
"Indiscretion? You cheated on your boyfriend."
He looked at me a little stunned. And scared. There was a definite scared-y glint in those eyes. Had I struck a nerve in the chain armour?
"Yeah, but, still. I think you owe me."
I owe him? Ok, I was losing track of what was going on at this point. Hmmm, maybe I'm being paranoid?
I lowered my voice to a hissing whisper, "How the Hell do I owe you anything?"
"Jared was gunna fire your ass, José. I saved your ass. So when Cody comes here, you keep that pretty mouth of yours shut, ok?"
He raised an eyebrow then a cruel smirk made its way onto his face. He leaned forward and clasped his hands together, resting his weight on his elbows.
I was speechless. Mr Jared wanted to fire me? Me? I stared at Awan for a couple of seconds taking it all in.
I was shocked. Mr Jared was going to fire me? I sat in the café for hours, staring into space. Awan had left not long afterward with the scathing remark:
"Remember you owe me."
The noise in the café slowly filtered out until there was a quite din. There was only me and a few patrons left. How late was it?
I checked my brown leather wristwatch, just gone half eight in the evening. May's closed at nine. I didn't want to leave at the moment, but I knew I ran the risk of being kicked out pretty soon.
I gathered my jacket and brief case and slowly made my way to the door. I mumbled a "Bye" to May and went out onto the wet streets. Sometime during my stay in the café the sky had opened up. There was a fine drizzle still going so I stopped under the awning of May's and put my brief case on the floor. I shoved my jacket on then started in the direction of my flat.
I kept my head down as I walked, watching as my black shoes got swallowed up by some puddles. I was going to have wet feet when I made it home. A cold wind blew and whipped against me, I shuddered as goose bumps appeared on my skin. I wrapped my jacket around my body, my arms hugged my torso.
I imagine I was about half way to my apartment when I suddenly bumped into something.
"Ow!" Well, someone then.
"I'm so sorry! I wasn't looking where I was going," I said to the person who I'd knocked over. I offered him my hand and he took it. I helped him up and only then did I look into his face.
Bright green eyes was my first thought. He looked kind of familiar. He was short, he only reached up to my chin. I saw a shock of blonde messy hair as he looked down at the floor, then back up at me.
His eyes widened.
"José?" he asked.
Woah, how does he know my name?
"Yeah. Who're you and how do you know my name?"
He held out his hand. "I'm Andy, we met at the club the other week."
Ah, I remember. The cute little guy that Tony was raving about. I wonder how that went. I grasped his hand in mine and shook it.
"I remember you. Look, I'm really sorry about knocking you down. Me and Tony seem to have that in common eh?" I said with a grin.
It was hard to be depressed around Andy. He just had that cute bubbly air about him.
"Not a problem," He smiled. "Yeah, you guys are a lot alike."
I raised an eyebrow. I thought we were polar opposites. Rich guy versus well…not. Tall versus short. Well built versus skinny. Yeah me and Tony were quite different in appearance. Maybe in attitude we're similar.
"Well, um, I'm kinda busy right now. It was um, nice meeting you again Andy."
He smiled again.
"You too José. I hope we meet again soon."
He waved slightly and started off in his previous direction. Sweet guy, I hope him and Tony do work out. By the look on his face, I'd say they were doing just fine.
By the time I reached my apartment the fine mist of rain had managed to soak me through. I flipped on the lights and started pulling off my clothes, intent on having a warm shower to knock the chill from me.
I climbed into the shower, the warm water pattering lightly on my skin. I just stood there for a while, thinking about what Awan said. Mr Jared was going to fire me? I really thought I was doing well in my job. I mean I met the deadlines; many of the clients were satisfied with their designs. I don't think I ever had any complaints. So what was wrong?
The water started to get cold. I hauled myself out of the shower and changed into some grey sweat pants and a tight black t-shirt. I felt like lounging around and feeling sorry for myself.
I made myself a hot drink and flipped on the TV. I skipped through the channels, trying to find something decent to watch. I settled on BBC One, they normally had some random dramas. I settled in to watch a period piece. I fell asleep within ten minutes of watching it. I was woken up by the ringing of my phone. Ugh, what a pain!
I got up and rubbed the tension out of my neck. Note to self- don't fall asleep on the sofa again, it leaves you in pain.
I pressed the mute button on the TV and went to answer the phone.
I heard some muffled shouting in the background.
"Hello?" I said again, slightly impatiently.
"Oh hey! José! It's me," I could hear the excitement in his voice.
"Hi Tony," I drawled into the phone. "What's up?"
"I uh, took you advice about Andy."
"Yeah, we went out the other night. I explained everything to him and took him to that Italian place in town."
Yeah Tone, there's quite a few Italian places in town.
"Really? How'd he react?"
I could already guess the answer, what with the way Andy was practically floating through the street and now with Tony calling me like this.
"He said he wants to give our relationship a go!"
I smiled, even though he couldn't see me.
"That's great Tony! I'm glad one of us has a decent love life!"
I heard him sigh, "So things with Awan didn't work out then?"
"No, they didn't. He has a boyfriend apparently. He's coming over to visit soon and told me not to say anything about us to him."
"What? That no good cheating fuck! I should go break down his door and trash his place!" He was fuming. Good old Tony, he was like my brother. Always ready to fight my fights.
He calmed down after a few minutes of ranting and asked in a softer tone:
"Are you alright?"
"What? Yeah I'm fine. I mean I'm upset about it, but the worst thing is, he said I owe him."
I could hear Tony about to get riled up again and decided to diffuse the bomb before it blew.
"He said I owed him because he stopped Mr Jared from firing me."
The line was silent for a minute. I waited.
Then the explosion went off.
"What?! Mr Jared was going to fire you? What the fuck? You're the most decent worker I know. You work twice as hard as anyone in that office. If anything he should fucking be promoting you."
"I know Tony. I just don't understand it myself. I mean I haven't had any complaints and he hasn't bought me to his office about anything."
"Look, don't worry about it José. I know you like that job, but if it all goes pear shaped you know you're always welcome working for our company. Dad would be thrilled to have you."
I smiled. Roberto Maioni had offered me a place as one of his head designers in advertising at the beginning of my career. I had declined it though, wanting to work my way up under my own power. But now, if I did get fired, I think I would seriously consider working for them.
"Thanks Tony. I think I'm going to wait it out though. See what's going on yeah?"
"Ok Jos. Just let me know if you need the job and I'll sort you out alright?"
"Yeah, thanks a lot Tony. I don't know what I'd do without you."
"Yeah you'd be completely lost, man."
"I'll keep you in the loop, ok?"
"You better do!"
"Yeah, I will. Good luck with Andy yeah?"
"Thanks man, we'll have to meet up soon. Look, I gotta go, talk to ya later."
"Ok, Tone. Thanks."
"Not a problem. Bye!"
I heard the dial tone and smiled. I replaced the phone back into the cradle.
Maybe things would be alright.
The next day at work started like any other day. I was determined to ignore Awan at all costs. I really didn't feel like talking to him at the moment.
I found another room to complete my work in, not many people used it because it was so small. I'd managed to hide out there for about half the day and had got nearly all my work completed.
I was going down to the photocopying room, praying to all things mighty that I wouldn't run into Awan or Mr Jared. Unfortunately the deities weren't listening to me today.
I ran smack bang into Awan, the papers I was carrying flying all over the place. Juuustt great.
I chanced a quick glance at him. He had a scowl on his face. Yeah well, it wasn't like I wanted to be near you either, buddy.
I quickly gathered all my papers, heart racing. God, what was wrong with me?
I stood up straight and continued towards the room, hoping to avoid confrontation.
"José! Where have you been? I've been looking for you. We have to get ready for the presentation this afternoon."
Awan sounded mad. Well, shit. I'd forgotten about that. Luckily I had most of my stuff prepared. I liked to do it as I went along, saved rushing at the end. I stopped walking and kept my back to Awan.
"Ok, no problem. I'm ready, just give me half an hour or so."
I managed to keep my voice even.
"The meetings in three hours in conference room one. You better not make me look bad."
With that he left me alone.
I reached the room finally and let out a sigh I hadn't realised I'd been holding in.
What was I going to do?
I finished photocopying and made up my mind.
I wasn't going to let Awan get to me. I was going to show Mr Jared what I was capable of.
Bring it on Awan. I was so gonna win this round.
I checked my watch. Quarter to four. The meeting started at four. I rearranged the mass of papers under my arms, in an attempt to stop it from falling out of my arms.
Two minutes later I checked my watch again. I was getting anxious. My foot started to tap a random rhythm; it happens when I get nervous or agitated.
Ten to four and Awan came waltzing down the corridor, calmly and collectedly. A much smaller stack of papers was tucked under his arms.
As he neared my perch outside the door he said:
"José! You're on time. Glad to see you took note of my warning."
I raised an eyebrow and looked pointedly at my watch. Thanks to him we now had less than five minutes to set the presentation up. Pftt, looks like he didn't need to warn me about making him look bad, he can do that all on his own.
He reached the door and pushed it open. The large conference room smelt faintly of coffee, a refreshments table had been set up at the far end. A Large thermos of coffee, judging by the smell was set on the table along with several cups. The smell made my mouth water.
Awan started setting his things up. Arranging sheets of paper in order, logging onto the computer and setting up the power point.
"You have your memory stick on you?"
He asked. I shoved my folder on the table and rummaged through it producing a small black stick that was my life. If I lost that my career would be down the drain. I hesitantly handed it over to him. I would be keeping my eye on it.
He plugged the stick into the laptop and pulled up my part of the presentation.
He looked slightly surprised by the amount of work that was in it. Hah, I'm so ready for this.
I pulled out a small model of what the overall design would look like and placed it next to my pile of papers. Now all I needed was the clients.
At four O'clock precisely Mr Jared walked in with two men. One I guessed to be in his late sixties, his grey hair plastered back with some form of gel. His skin sagging around his eye sockets and his posture was slightly bent over. He was wearing a grey suit, which sucked the colour from his skin.
The other man was fairly young. He was tall, his black hair slicked back in a similar fashion to the older guy. He was wearing the same style suit but in black. Family members' maybe? They looked alike, their bone structure was similar.
Mr Jared walked over to us. He looked like he normally did, Armani suit, not a crease in sight. His black hair in place, a warm smile on his face. He was in 'client mode', as I liked to call it.
"Mr Arbarca, Mr Warner. Meet Simon Key," we each shook hands with the grey haired man and exchanged "Nice to meet yous."
Mr Jared then turned towards the younger of the two.
"…and Reno Key, they are the clients that requested this project."
I resisted the urge to say:
I didn't think it would be appropriate with Mr Jared already wanting to fire me.
Mr Jared clapped his hands together sharply and smiled.
"So gentlemen, shall we get this started?"
Which was code for 'Hurry it up'.
The clients made themselves as comfy in the seats opposite the large white board which had the company logo projected on it.
Awan went through his presentation, outlining the look of the ward and the construction. All the time through his presentation, I regarded the clients. The older man didn't look very impressed, whereas the younger guy was taking it all in and looking really eager. Hmm…the old geezer looks like he's gonna throw a spanner in the works.
Awan finished and Mr Jared looked impressed. He stood up and shook Awan's hand.
"I knew there was a reason you came so well recommended."
I scowled. Awan sat down opposite me, looking smug.
"Mr Arbarca, care to show us the interior design?"
Mr Jared said as he sat back down. Oh yeah, bring it on.
I slowly stood up and made my way to the lap top and keyed in my login details.
I had created a virtual tour of the finished ward, having photocopied a few extra sheets with Awan's main design on. I was responsible for the interior design and as it was for a children's ward I had created it using warm colours and popular cartoon characters.
As I went through the presentation, explaining about the design, I chanced a look at the old man. He looked impressed.
Yeah, beat that Awan.
"And that concludes my presentation." I finished.
Mr Jared looked shocked. It took him a couple of minutes to snap out of it.
"Well, Mr Arbarca, that was very thorough. Thank you."
After discussing some of the designs with the clients and making some minor changes, we showed them out.
They each shook our hands.
When the old guy…Simon was it? Came up to me he clasped my hand and shook it enthusiastically.
"I'm really pleased with your designs. If we ever need anything else, I will be sure to ask for you."
"Thank you sir, I would be more than happy to help."
He nodded and made his way out, followed by Awan. He had already packed his things up and as it was the end of the day, was making his way home.
I smiled. I had so shown them!
I went over to the table and started to collect my papers together.
"Mr Arbarca, I have to say that was one of your best presentations."
I jumped. Shit, was he still in the room?
"T-Thank you sir."
I finished gathering my work together and turned to leave but Mr Jared's voice stopped me in my tracks.
"Mr Arbarca, are you having any troubles at work?"
I froze. What to say to that?
"Uh…no sir, everything's just fine."
He raised a perfectly shaped eyebrow. I think he must pluck them.
"Really? You've been very quiet today, not your usual self."
Now it was my turn to raise my eyebrow. Since when did he pay attention to what I was like at work? Maybe now I should confront him about what Awan said.
"Well, Sir, there's one thing that has been bothering me."
Here goes nothing.
"Why do you want to fire me?"
Mr Jared's eyebrows rose, a genuine look of shock appeared on his god like face.
"What on Earth are you on about Mr Arbarca?"
It was my turn to be shocked. Surely he would remember about wanting to fire me.
"I heard that you wanted to fire me."
He folded his arms over his muscular chest; his powder blue shirt outlined his well toned upper body.
"That's absurd. Where did you hear such nonsense? Mr Arbarca, you are one of my top designers. The only difference in job you would have is if I could promote you. As soon as a higher position becomes available it's yours."
I looked him in the eyes for the first time since we began the conversation. His blue eyes were slightly darker than usual…was it anger?
"Really? I just…I was told that you wanted to get rid of me because you now had Mr Warner."
His facial expression darkened.
"And who exactly told you this Mr Arbarca?"
"Uh…no one exactly," I said avoiding his piercing stare.
"Mr Arbarca. I would like to know who is spreading false rumours amongst my work force. They will be dealt with accordingly."
"It was anyone and everyone. Y'know passing talk, you hear it in the corridors. Unless you wanna fire your whole work force I really don't think it's worth pursuing sir."
He looked at me dubiously.
Just leave it alone, I don't want any more trouble.
"Well, if you ever have any trouble please come and speak to me anytime."
With that said he walked past me and clapped me on the shoulder in a manly display. He smelt good…woah, hold it. Where'd that come from?