Who: Kit and Blake What: Kit and Blake meet by chance at a non-profit, Blake is foul-mouthed, Kit is forgiving. Where: The non-profit Kit works at. When: Before the Masquerade. Warnings/Rating: Swearing. Lots of swearing.
Blake didn’t go to church, and he didn’t confess. He did make himself feel a little less useless in the world by donating part of his not inconsiderable fortune to charity, and while he felt zero guilt (or so he said) for his sins and the numerous illicit acts that made up his average day, giving money to non-profits did act as something of a balm. He didn’t need to feel like he wasn’t a bad guy, because if he’d had any illusions about that, they’d fallen away a long time ago. He just got an itch sometimes to stretch the very small, shriveled part of himself that had, once upon a time, wanted to do good things. He threw money at good things, these days. It was hardly the same as building houses or working as a public defender, but money was something he had in abundance, where motivation was not.
It was often unnecessary for Blake to actually visit the physical offices of whatever charity he’d picked for donation, but the one he’d decided on earlier in the week needed him to sign some paperwork with a witness present. There was nothing better, really, than pointless bureaucracy that made him get out of bed before noon, but if that was the price of doing good around here, it was probably worth paying.
The offices had probably never seen anyone quite so ragged at the edges who was quite so rich as Blake was. He came in the front door wearing black sunglasses to beat the nightmarishly bright Vegas sun, just as garish, in his opinion, as the neon at night. He wore a black suit, wrinkled carelessly but of good make, and a red tie, slightly askew. The clothes were a little warm for the weather, but it was still cool enough outside that he could just get away them for a few more weeks.
He walked up to the front desk and pulled his sunglasses off, tucking them into his suit pocket, revealing slightly bloodshot gray-green eyes in the process. “So I think this is the time your boss told me he’d be out of the office, but I will give you fifty dollars right now if you get him the fuck back here in the next twenty minutes. I’ve got a hangover I gotta nurse, and it isn’t going to wait an hour.”
It was nearing noon when the man came in. Kit had been sitting (obviously) behind the front desk, not paying too much attention. It wasn't often that anyone blundered into the foundation without some form of an appointment, or, alternatively, without tears. As such, he'd thought it safe to peruse Penny Arcade's recently introduced news site. Honestly, although working at a non-profit sounded glorious, if you were into social justice, &c., it was much like any other job. Kit made the copies, sent the mail, helped older people figure out the scanner, and so on. On days like today, when there wasn't anything to do and all the other office assistants were out to lunch, he hit up his favorite gaming sites until it was time for him to catch the van back home.
That is, unless someone stumbled inside, suit crinkled, and sunglasses black. Then, of course, his plans had to change. At the sound of the door opening, Kit looked up from the computer. The expression on his face likely betrayed his surprise at the sight of the man who'd just entered. Quickly, however, he forced himself to smile, before immediately frowning at the man's "offer." He shook his head apologetically, appearing quite saddened by the news he must relay. "I'm afraid fifty bucks isn't going to get Mr. Airrington back from - honestly, I'm not sure where he goes for lunch, but it always takes him two hours. I can, however, let him know you stopped by..."
His voice was ever polite, but it was likely obvious that he was trying to get the man to leave.
Blake smiled crookedly at Kit’s assertion about his boss. “It takes him two hours to eat lunch? And you’re sure he’s eating food?” he asked. “Well, I guess now that you mention it, there’s a couple places I can think of outside Vegas where you could spread a meal to two hours, depending on the menu.” He leaned against the desk and glanced toward the door. “I’ll wait,” he declared, and turned back to Kit. Now that he wasn’t just an obstacle on his way to getting home again, Blake paid him a little closer notice. He wasn’t half bad, actually, was the desk clerk. Blake might actually be able to get something out of his wasted morning after all. “You like your boss, or is he a fuck?”
Spread...? When Kit's mind caught up with the man's, he nearly blushed. He offered a something of a smile, raising his eyebrows, trying not to show his obvious discomfort. He held his hands up and shook his head at the man in black. "I'm claiming absolute innocence here," he said with a laugh and a shrug. "Whatever he does, whatever menus he orders off of, I don't want to know."
He'd hoped his offer to leave a message would send the visitor away promptly. Most didn't want to stick around in some white waiting room, with only outdated copies of Paraplegia News Magazine and Good Housekeeping for company. But, well, apparently he'd underestimated the force necessary to evict someone such as this man with his red tie. The man announced he was going to stay, and, reluctantly, Kit closed the windows of his browser to give the guest his full attention. Folding his hands on the pile of papers in front of the ergonomic keyboard, he turned his gaze to the other man, as he leaned casually against the desk. At the next question posed, Kit opened his mouth, but before he could answer, he was smiling. He laughed, propping his chin in his hand. With his free hand, he idly picked at some sticky spot on the desk where someone had (messily) eaten their lunch. Kit wasn't worried about being overheard. Nearly everyone had gone out. He quirked a brow at the stranger with sunglasses hooked in his front pocket. "Would you prefer I answer you honestly, or shall I be polite?"
Blake grinned when Kit politely deferred his implications about his boss's predilections. He liked the ones who could laugh it off. If he'd become incensed, he would have immediately begun to lose interest. Turning the self-righteous ones around could be fun, but that was more a game than anything else.
He watched Kit click the mouse a few times before turning his attention back to him. "Did I interrupt something good?" he asked. "Did you get a really good game of solitaire going?" He glanced around the office. "I always want an honest answer. You might have noticed, but it's a fucking waste of time to bother with decorum with me. Never really saw the point in it."
Although he hadn't been playing Solitaire, but rather had been reading video game news, Kit readily replied: "Oh, I did. The highest possible score one can achieve in this version of the game is 24,113 - points, I guess they'd be called. That's my goal." He was lying, or, as he preferred to think of it, joking, although he sounded serious enough. Kit smiled innocuously at the visitor, and continued to do so, even as the man peered about the front room, then proceeded to swear. The boy blinked a couple times, the corners of his mouth frozen where they were.
He decided to ignore that and to answer the original question posed. After a moment of thought, during which he did, indeed, appear thoughtful, Kit cocked his head and said, "He's a fuck." Now, it should be known, that while Kit was no saint, he wasn't prone to aggressive behavior, be it in speech or otherwise. He wasn't one to throw things in others' faces. He didn't swear at work, for example, even if he did around friends (or alone). And he certainly didn't often engage in complaining about his boss while sitting at the welcome desk. But, no one else was around, so he felt safe saying what he said. Then, of course, the thought slowly leaked into his head that this man might tell Mr. Airrington that Kit had called him a fuck.
"It's good to have goals," Blake observed, nodding sagely. "Solitaire's as good as anything else, I guess." He smiled a little wider at Kit's careful expression. That was hilarious. Poor kid. Very few things brought Blake genuine pleasure anymore, or shut up the blathering, critical asshole at the back of his head, who apparently thought that being a magician or some shit made him the authority on everything. When Blake found something he could enjoy without being prodded by Sirius or it being poisoned by his own rather deep-running everyday bitterness and anger, he tended to enjoy it to the full.
Blake laughed. "Alright, you've come this far. Why don't you tell me why he's a fuck?" He saw Kit's face fall, and held up a hand. "I'm not going to tell him what you said, my plan isn't getting you fired today. I'm just trying to get a feel for the guy. I'm supposed to be donating a pretty good chunk of change today, and if he's an asshole I'd like to know that going in so I can make things extra hard for him before I drop the cash. Sometimes the guys who run places like this need to get knocked down a peg just like the guys at the profit-profits do."
The widening smile on the man's face was not a good sign. Kit just nodded in response. Though, if hitting the high score in Solitaire were actually a goal of his, he'd wonder where he went wrong. Not that trying to get high scores in games was a waste of time. But, Solitaire? Really? If he'd been alone, Kit would've shaken his head. (He often reacted to his own thoughts physically or aloud, but only when no one was around to wonder what in the devil was going on with that kid.) The voice in Kit's head had no clue what his host and this other man were even talking about, so he simply sat quietly in his corner, watching.
Sometimes it was easy for Kit to forget how expressive his face was. When the man promised not to tell on him, the boy felt somewhat embarrassed for being so easy to read. Again, he nodded in agreement to the sentiments expressed. "Well, so long as you pinky promise... He's a fuck because he takes two hour lunches everyday, and, really, I don' know if I've ever seen him working. He talks to his wife - or someone - on the phone, goes out to get donuts, ...I don't even know." The boy paused. "I don't think he's a bad person, per se, just kind of a shitty one."
As he spoke, he couldn't help thinking to himself that this... philanthropist was certainly a character. Had Kit attended a public high school, he likely would've identified the man as the kid who wears leather and drives a motorcycle, and is generally badass. But, he hadn't gone to such a school, and as such, remained in the dark.
“What a dick,” Blake said, thoughtfully. “And he’s taking a salary from the non-profit to do that?” Idly, he began to format a plan to get the guy outsted, or at least cut what they were paying him if he was going to keep taking money to do nothing. Hey, he might be a bitter asshole, but he still didn’t like the idea of some guy taking money from crippled people. That was just fucked up. It was the first act he had considered in quite some time that Sirius offered no objections to. In fact, he even seemed to approve.
“What about you?” Blake asked, after a moment’s thought, refocusing on him. “Why’d you decide to work here? Big into the cause and everything?”
Mr. Airrington had never truly done anything bad by Kit. He wasn't what you'd call pleasant, but he wasn't outright rude, nor had he given the boy any distinct reason to dislike him. It just so happened that Kit was good at picking up on the little things, and that he was quite sensitive to them. And, despite the lack of any single damaging interaction, the boy had witnessed enough in the past two months he'd been at the foundation, to come to dislike the older man. Like this visitor, it too bothered Kit that Mr. Airrington was paid to act wantonly. How he'd originally become the direction, Kit never knew. For a third time, Kit simply nodded sagely as an answer, saying only: "A dick, indeed."
But then the man's eyes narrowed on Kit himself. He almost blushed a second time, averting his eyes. Big into the cause. Yes. Kit had to bite back a laugh. He looked up again and smiled; he gestured a hand toward his just-visible chair - which, in reality, was a wheelchair. "Something like that."
This one blushed. Now that was a serious rarity in the world today. Blake leaned over the edge of the desk, his brow shooting up in undisguised surprise at the wheelchair, but his reaction faded quickly. It made sense. He leaned his elbows against the edge of the desk. “Must drive you extra crazy that your boss is such a prick,” he observed. He hadn’t thought to introduce himself before, but now seemed as good a time as any. “Blake Thorne,” he said, leaning across the desk and extending a hand well within Kit’s reach.
Kit took the proffered hand - he was shaking a lot of hands these days, wasn't he? - and shook. His handshake wasn't especially firm or soft. He wasn't trying to prove anything by the gesture, like some did. He had smiled at the vanishing expression of surprise on the other man's face, but it was immediately forgotten when the other man introduced himself. Kit told himself that Blake wasn't so uncommon a name, but after deliberating over their brief interaction, he surmised, from the swearing and general behavior, that this had to be the Blake he'd spoken with in his journal.
He supposed there was only one way to find out for sure. Kit pushed his hair out of his eyes and grinned. "I may be wrong and forgive me if I am," he said slowly, letting go of Blake's hand. "But are you "fucking precisely" Blake?"
Blake’s smile widened to a grin. From the lines on his face, one got the feeling that he didn’t smile that way often enough, genuinely, without smirking. “Fuck me. You’re...Kit, right?” Somehow it fit perfectly. Kit was even more the gentleman in person than he’d seemed on the journals, and Blake was glad to see it hadn’t just been a wry act. “Fancy meeting you here.” He could think of very few people on the journals whom he would want to meet in person, but here was one of them. “So you’re not just in Vegas for the hotel scene, like the rest of us,” he said, assuming Kit would understand what he meant, and assuming, too, that the job at the non-profit must mean he had roots in town. “You from around here?”
At the utterance - “Fuck me.” - Kit couldn’t help but laugh. He gave a shrug, for no reason really, as he smiled. “I am Kit,” he confirmed, with a slight inclination of his head. He should have known. Now that he did, it was all very obvious - that this Blake was the Blake from the journal. The image Kit had conjured in his head, while not exact, had been decidedly close to reality, he realized with a bit of pride (even though he had failed to notice the similarities before the other’s identity was revealed. Whatever. Small detail).
“Is there a hotel scene? I didn’t realize there was such a thing.” Blake’s assumption was wrong on the first count. Kit shook his head. “Not originally. I grew up in Alaska, but, for some reason, I thought I’d like it here. I’ve had to learn the hard way that it is not so.” But he was only slightly wrong on the second assumption.
“You haven’t checked out the hotel yet, then?” Blake asked him. He leaned a little further forward. “You got a key, didn’t you? I thought everybody got a fucking key.” Most people had been around early enough to have been to the grand opening of the hotel, he guessed, and the rest, he assumed, had read the journals to find out where to go. “I’ll have to drag you down there. It’s up to you whether you want to go through the door your key opens. I sure as hell haven’t.”
“Alaska.” Now that was about as far and away as Blake could imagine. The US, Canada, Alaska, and then the North Pole, the only further point. “You’re going to melt in the summer,” he said, rueful. “Damn shame.”
Oh. That hotel scene. Kit watched Blake lean toward him. The boy nodded and shrugged at the same time, a confusing gesture. "I got a key, yes, but I haven't gone. I'm still practicing that ignoring trick. I wouldn't mind going and seeing the place, I suppose."
In the Lower 48, Alaska was seen, it seemed to Kit, to be as foreign as Europe (or Scandinavian countries, anyway). And, of course, in the wake of Sarah Palin, meant that whenever Kit mentioned where he was from, he got stupid questions about whether or not he could see Russia from his backdoor. He smiled. "It's winter here that is more dangerous for me, it seems. I made it through last summer in once piece. Then come December, and suddenly, I'm in this chair."
Blake shrugged. “You don’t want to go, you don’t have to. I figured you should at least know, though, some of these people seem to be having a grand fucking time running around other universes.” Blake himself seemed...less than keen on such activities, that much was obvious.
The offhand joke about winter putting him in the chair did catch Blake a little unawares. He’d always made it a habit to mock his own marks of difference or not let anyone make him care, to blather through social situations feigning so much blind self-confidence that people were forced to bow to it, even when it didn’t always match up with what he really thought. No one could make him care that he was into guys for all the money in the world, and he’d make the joke before they would. But there were other things, like whether he would ever settle down, or that to be a long term relationship was simply not in his character, that he would make blithe jokes about even when they were out and out lies, even when he knew them to be untrue, or they dug the knife in deeper. That was what you did, to get through it. The better the joke, the more comfortable people around you became, and the more they treated you as if everything you were was par for the course. You became the image you mocked, and people grew used to seeing you that way. He knew the strategy intimately, and, despite any other connotations, he liked anyone who could at least pretend they didn’t take the worst thing that had ever happened to them seriously. He did the same thing all the time. “We better send you back to Alaska,” he observed, with that same crooked smile. “Sounds like Vegas gets cranky as shit with you come winter. What did you do to piss it off?”
“I want to,” said Kit with confidence, before pausing. “I think.”
Although Kit couldn’t hear the other man’s thoughts, they rang true all the same. Perhaps the boy didn’t think of it that way - the self-deprecation, the can-do attitude, but Blake had the gist of it. It was better to beat others to the jokes that grew on their tongues. It was better to mention his “condition” before they conspicuously tip-toed around the issue, trying to meet his eye and treat him like everyone else, all the while, appearing wholly uncomfortable. It was easier to joke about being Jewish before the anti-Semitic comments came out. It was better to make a jape about being gay than let someone use his sexuality as a barb, or worse, appear shocked and confused when the topic surfaced. (‘You? Gay? I had no idea!’ As if that was supposed to make him feel better. ‘Can you even do anything? Y’know... because of your accident?’)
The crooked smile. Kit considered it before laughing at Blake’s words. He gave a bewildered expression. “Perhaps its intentions were good. Maybe it wanted to give me the adventure I came looking for and simply overdid it.”
“Might be that,” Blake said, with a small smile. Behind him, there was a small commotion as the much discussed director came through the door, spotted him, and grabbed an intern who happened to be nearby to send for coffee. “Looks like my date’s arrived,” he said, watching the way the man dealt with the intern. He turned back to Kit. “Here.” He picked up a piece of paper off the desk, scribbled something down, and pushed it across to him. “That’s my number. You get bored with this job and that prick, you give me a call, alright?”
A few moments later, the prick in question walked up, offered a large, false smile, and gestured to his office. Blake gave Kit a knowing smile and a quick wink. This asshole was about to wish he’d decided to become a monk.