|passionbound (passionbound) wrote in paxletalelogs,
@ 2010-06-19 22:56:00
Who: Simon and Billy K.
What: Drinks and bromance
Where: Lobby then to the bar around the corner.
Warnings: Awkward talks? Extreme bromance? Do I need to warn for that?
A drink. Billy's suggestion was quite tempting, too tempting for him to pass up with the gallery showing coming up in just a matter of days. He was still surprised that he had even been approached for a showing, and while he had kept his cool while accepting, he had turned into a mass of nerves only moments later. It was big. Bigger than anything he had shown at since he started painting, and even though his expectations were low, it was still taking its toll on him.
He dragged a comb back through his hair and saw himself out of his apartment, wallet and keys in his pocket. He hadn't bothered to change from earlier, so the t-shirt and pants he wore were spattered in flecks of paint, smears here and there that were never coming out of the fabric, but Simon really didn't care. Some girls liked the look of an artist, and sometimes, he enjoyed the attention.
Sighing, he made his way down the stairs, giving plenty of time for Billy to meet him out there, knowing it would probably take him a few minutes to get himself together. So there he was, hands shoved in his pockets, leaning back against the wall near the mailboxes, a picture of serenity as he waited.
It took ten of the allotted ten minutes for Billy to get the jeans on. His leg didn't bend in the right places, and you'd be surprised what kind of hell it was to get jeans on when you couldn't wiggle and shift your weight to accommodate the material, which didn't enjoy stretching. But he managed it with a little bit of pain and a lot of discomfort, and after he found an old comfortable dark shirt that opened at the neck, he almost felt like his old self.
The first floor was the first floor, and you could hear Billy closing the door and locking it, and then his distinctive footstep-shuffle-clunk as he moved forward, brought the rest of him, and put the cane down for the next step. He was like one of those centaurs of old, with a healthy man from the hips up and something unrecognizable and frozen hips down. Billy preferred that to a wheelchair, though, thanks.
He gave Simon a grin of greeting from under the bill of his Angels cap. "The more drunk you are, the less you're going to worry." Rather than slowing down to meet the man, he kept his momentum for the door.
His lips twitched into a half-grin at those words, and he shook his head in amusement, taking a few quick steps to catch up to Billy as he made for the door. "Most likely, yes. Too bad the manager of the gallery will expect me to show up mostly sober on opening night. Of course..." There was a pause, and he took a few more quick steps forward to pull the door open to let Billy out ahead of him into the evening air.
"Supposedly. There's champagne for opening night. Some sort of tradition the gallery adheres to. So that could definitely ease the jitters." Simon gave another grin, letting the door close behind him, hands hooking in his pockets once more. He kept his pace easy, an easy-going and laid back attitude towards the world ensuring that he really was in no hurry. They'd get there eventually, after all.
Billy didn't really walk long distances before. In fact, this was going to be the longest he walked unassisted in almost a year. He almost certainly wasn't going to tell Simon that, though. He appreciated Simon's easy-going nature and the fact that he wasn't staring at him waiting for him to fall. About halfway down the block he forgot to be more aware of where they were going and concentrated on getting there. The cane took most of his weight at every bad step, but he still felt the impact in his bad leg.
He distracted himself with the conversation and Simon's plight. "Champagne is a decent tradition," Billy agreed, pleased that the gallery was the kind of place that could afford champagne, and supposedly appreciate Simon's art. "How'd you get set up in the gallery?" Billy had no idea how one went about displaying art.
Though he did his best to simply walk along as though he wasn’t paying attention to Billy’s every step, he was keeping a careful eye on the other for any missteps that could result in a nasty fall. “I’ve had a portfolio set up for a while. Just like trying to get a job, really. I’ve been sending it out to just about anyone I can think of to see if there’s interest. You get a few nibbles now and then, and finally...” He trailed off, that crooked smile coming to his lips again.
“You get a bite, and then a show and champagne. It’s...” There was a pause, and he glanced up towards the evening sky. “It’s kind of unbelievable, really. I’m still unsure that this is all gonna go well.”
“I know the feeling,” Billy said, smiling, and he did. The butterflies really high in your chest right behind your heart, waiting for a call, and then when it comes you’re so bowled over by it that you literally forget to breathe. Success. It made Billy smile a little more, remembering. “I can’t believe you haven’t gone out to celebrate already!” he beamed, though most of his attention was on the sidewalk. A few stray tourists in Mickey ears passed by in a cloud of excited conversation and the smell of cotton candy. “Or, that’s right, you said you were new to the neighborhood?”
“Just moved in a couple weeks ago, now,” he replied with a nod of his head, the smell the sweets following after the tourists, leading him to crane his head over his shoulder to watch them pass. “And I guess... I don’t know. I’m not much for celebrations and stuff like that. Never have been, really.” Another shrug of his shoulders and he looked up as they approached what looked to be the bar that Billy had been talking about.
He pointed with one hand, inclining his head towards Billy. “That the place you mentioned?” A few people came in and out at an infrequent pace, enough to label the place several steps above a total dive.
Billy looked up, as if surprised the interminable journey was over. There was no mistaking the relief that eased some of the lines from his brow. “Oh, yeah, that’s it.” He made his strides a little shorter and as a result they got there a little quicker. California, and no one could smoke a cigarette indoors; bar owners made up for this with old style jukeboxes and really crappy lighting largely supplied by neon beer signs over the mirrorback bar. A guy on his way out for a smoke (clearly local, not tourist, you can tell by the shoes), held the door for Billy and gave his face an odd double-take, frowning as if he had seen Billy somewhere before. “Thanks,” Billy said, not noticing, intent on finding somewhere to sit. The bar was busy enough that the bartender didn’t look up. “How about there?” Billy said, indicating a table near the bar with his chin and heading in that direction already.
“Perfect.” The look the local had given Billy as the door was held was more than a little curious, but Simon didn’t question it. If there was something to tell, Billy would tell it. The bar was nice, the type of place he could get used to coming for a drink once in a while. He had never imagined himself as the sort to frequent bars back when he was young, but the atmosphere suited him, gave him time to watch the people, ponder the world, ponder everything that he was doing.
Nearing the table, Simon took a seat, leaving the closer one to Billy. “So, what’s your poison?” he asked once they were seated, folding his hands in front of him atop the tabletop, leaning forward slightly so he could be heard above the light conversation that filled the air around them.
Billy made a face as he maneuvered into one of the hard-backed bar chairs, but it had more support than a stool or a booth, and he could put his heel up on a chair opposite if he needed to. He wanted to, but he didn’t yet, because he didn’t want to attract too much attention. This probably counted as ‘going out in public’ and his manager had asked him not to do that until they could ‘discuss’ it with PR. Billy didn’t want to discuss his life with PR, and so he was going to fudge the rules a little bit. He kept his hat on. “Club soda with some lime, I guess,” he said, a little wistfully.
“Don’t drink?” Simon asked, catching the wistfulness in his tones, wondering if this was a personal choice for the man or something related to his recovery. People did things for a lot of reasons. But before he could get an answer to the question, a waitress came by to ask them what they wanted. Simon echoed Billy’s order and added on a local beer they had on tap for himself.
After the waitress left--she didn’t look too deep under Billy’s hat, though she gave Simon a tired smile and a good-natured wink--Billy nodded. “Yeah, it messes with some of the meds I’m taking, and it increases the chance of some complications. You won’t believe how fucked up your insides get when your spine stops working.” He grinned and reached for some of the salty bar mix in the bowl between them. “So what kind of pieces you have up in the gallery?”
“And we definitely don’t need any complications, do we?” He cracked a small grin, still slightly amazed at how well Billy accepted these limitations. Just another part of life to handle, he supposed, but Simon doubted that he would be able to act the same. “I would say that I could imagine, but really, I don’t think I could.” There was a pause, and he shifted, sitting back in his seat with his legs stretched out beneath the table.
“A handful of paintings. Some of the ones I brought down that night to you and some others that I had in storage. Mostly just landscapes. People seem to like those better, though I think my abstract pieces are a little better.” Shoulders shrugged, and he toyed with a cocktail napkin that sat on the tabletop. “I still think the gallery is just having a slow period, so they’re accepting anyone with a portfolio to show.”
“I don’t really get the ones with the shapes,” Billy admitted, shifting in the chair in a familiar fashion that must be routine, since he’d done it the exact same way the night they’d met. “I always feel like I’m missing something. Landscapes I can just look at and feel good, and... and that’s it. No pressure.” He reached for another handful of the salty snack.
Simon nodded in understanding at that. “And there’s nothing wrong with that, really.” He looked up as the waitress brought their drinks, giving her a nod in thanks, hands wrapping around the mug that had been placed in front of him, frosty cold and refreshing to even hold. “I guess, sometimes, I just feel like I can’t say what I want to in a landscape. Maybe it’s because I’m not very good at them, or something. It’s...” He paused, a heartbeat of silence. “Just a matter of preference, I guess. Like, I’m sure you have things you love to play, but there are different things people probably love to hear you play?”
“Oh God.” Billy rolled his eyes upward in rueful commiseration. “Last Road?” Top ten, sophomore album. It was a ballad, and there was nothing wrong with a song about death, but... “It made me feel good to write it, and yeah it’s beautiful, but oh God, they wanted me to sing it all the time!” He sniffed a little as the drinks came. “It’s about losing somebody, and I wrote it because I was fucking depressed. I don’t want to sing the damn thing over and over.”
“But hell if it isn’t requested all the time, right?” Simon cracked a smile and took a long drink of his beer, the bitter combination of hops and barley just what he needed to calm the jitters. “Yeah, it’s kind of similar to that, and probably just as annoying.” He laughed softly, setting his beer down, fingers playing in the condensation building on the outside of the glass.
“Sorry I’m a Top-40 radio station, man,” Billy said, smiling through the apology. He reached in and squished the lime into the club soda and watched the bubbles explode for a second before licking his fingers.
Simon grinned then, popping a peanut in his mouth and chewing on it. “Don’t be. I’m just flattered you like it at all. The paintings, that is.” He didn’t say anything for a few more moments, those nervous feelings settling in his stomach, making his stomach roll uncomfortably. “Do you think there’s much market out there for a door to door art peddler? I think I’d do better at that than this... entire exhibit, thing.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You sell more this way. By the way, how much do I owe you for those?” Loud slurp of the drink. The guy came back from his cigarette break and squinted under Billy’s hat on his way back to his table. Once he got back to his table, he started talking to his friends in a low voice. “You didn’t put prices on them.”
And there it came. Simon made a face at the mention of money, scooting down in his chair slightly, his discomfort visible. “I... don’t like putting prices on them,” he confessed after a moment, running his palms against his mug. “Just...” A squirm, a glance over to the man who was whispering to his friends, wondering what in the world was up. Then his attention came back to Billy and he had to frown.
“Whatever you think they’re worth. Trust me, I’ll still think it’s too much.”
Billy just shook his head. “You gotta value your stuff. Especially if you want other people to value it.”
“You’re not seriously going to make me name a price, are you?” Simon asked him, incredulity showing in his eyes. “That’s torture. You don’t understand.”
“I’m going to make you name a price.” Cheerful grin. “Or you can hold onto them until you name one I’m satisfied with. I can’t have cheap stuff on my walls, man.”
Simon squirmed in his chair, giving Billy a foul little look before he huffed, pulled himself up to sitting straight up, and took another long drink of his beer. “You’re evil. Pure. Evil,” he stated flatly, staring down into his drink for a long moment. “Fine. Three hundred for the pair. That fair to you?”
Billy scoffed. “Too cheap. Don’t you know I’m a rock star with a rep? I need to spend ridiculous amounts of money on my image.” He was totally enjoying himself, slurping at the drink again.
“I need another beer for this,” Simon muttered, draining the last of his and signalling for another, waiting until it had been placed in front of him and several drinks of it gone before speaking again. “Fine. Five hundred. This is killing me to talk about, do you realise this?”
Billy hit the table with his palm. “Excellent. Five hundred a piece. Then you jack up the next one so my apartment is really ritzy. You know I live on the first floor?” He grinned like a kid on the playground that just got away with something big and dumb.
He almost groaned when Billy took his offer and doubled it. He had meant it for the pair, and it almost hurt to see how pleased he was at the ‘decided price’. But he didn’t argue, didn’t even protest, just slunk down a little bit in his chair as he took another sip of his beer. “I’m buying your drink tonight. Just so you know,” he muttered, though there was no maliciousness in his words. He was just humble and he didn’t like taking so much for something that he enjoyed as immensely as painting.
“So you’re going to want more, is that what you’re saying?” he asked, arching a brow in surprise. He figured two would be enough for any sane person.
“I figure they’re an investment,” Billy began, still grinning, when a shadow crossed the table. Both looked up. It was the guy from the door, and a couple of his friends behind him.
“Hey,” the guy said, giving Simon a look as if he thought he should know him but he wasn’t coming up with anything. Then to Billy. “Are you Billy K.?”
Billy tried not to wince, and almost managed it. Almost. “Uhm... yes?”
There followed the most awkward conversation ever. The guy didn’t actually have any of the albums on hand, but he knew the band’s entire history, and he didn’t really seem to hesitate when he got into the recent accident and how much it sucked that the band wasn’t recording. Had they caught the guy that hit him yet and wow he heard that Billy couldn’t walk and...
Simon listened on in silence, wondering what exactly the man was going on about, but judging by the look on Billy’s face, it wasn’t anything the guy seemed to want to talk about here. And it also seemed that Billy was a fair bit more popular than he had let on, not that that bothered Simon at all. So when the man continued to go on, Simon got up to his feet, head tilted slightly to the side, his gaze intense.
“Listen. Me and my friend here are just trying to have a drink. Do you mind?” he asked, his voice leaving very little room for argument. The laid back aura that usually surrounded him had completely fled the scene, leaving an intense air that hung heavily.
Billy hadn’t ever seen anything bother Simon before, and he’d been too distracted by his own embarrassment to actually notice it happening until it was too late. He made a move to get up, but obviously he couldn’t, so he just said, “Hey” a couple times until everybody looked at him. To the fan he said, “It was really cool to meet you, uh, Steve,” (yeah, it had been Steve), “maybe I’ll catch you around some other time.” Looking over and up at Simon. “Have a seat, Simon.”
Steve, who looked pissed at the confrontation and then confused, nodded slowly. Finally, Billy said, “Maybe we can keep this between us, Steve. I’m trying to, you know.” Flashing the rock smile. “Get back into the scheme of things.”
He was quiet as he took his seat once more, pulling his chair in and focusing on his beer, wondering when exactly he had gained hackles and why the hell were they raised. A few long breaths and he found his cool once more, enough that he could look up towards Steve, his expression carefully schooled and blank.
Billy was watching his drink and the bubbles exploding on the surface. Steve took the hint and took off, taking his friends with him. He looked pleased as punch to be trusted with Billy K.’s presence in this bar. Silence.
The silence extended for a long while, broken only by the waitress stopping by to check up on them. When neither of the men asked for anything, she quickly made her exit, leaving them to their own devices. Finally, Simon let out a breath, looking up from his beer and across the table towards Billy.
“Sorry about that. Butting in like that, I mean.” The words were spoken quietly, awkwardly phrased.
Billy looked up quickly and then back down. “Oh, no big. They’re all kind of like that. Harmless, mostly. They just kind of don’t get that I’m not... you know. Just the guy on the CD.”
Simon was quiet for a bit longer before giving a small nod of his head in understanding. “Doesn’t mean...” He trailed off, the words sounding clumsy when said aloud, not that his thoughts were making much sense. “If it makes you feel any better, I have no clue who Billy K. is.” He managed a smile then though it was quickly hidden by the rim of his beer glass as he took another long swallow.
“Well... yeah, it does. Because then I’m just Billy. In 103.” Now he got his chin up and grinned.
“The Billy in 103 that just agreed to pay me for my paintings.” Simon let out a breath and managed a grin of his own then, a small laugh escaping him moments later. “Thanks.”
“I’m the buyer,” Billy said, gaining some of his former cheer as the awkwardness wore off. “It’s okay to thank me this once.”
The smile he gave then was genuine, reaching even to his eyes. “I’m... just really serious about it. It. You buyin’ those from me... it. It means a lot. Makes a big difference for me.” He looked down, examining the remainder of the foam on his beer before draining it back. “And, I’m feelin’ better too. So thanks for comin’ out here with me.”
Billy was starting to notice the dropping syllables, and his smile became indulgent. Operation: Force Simon to Relax was successfully underway. Steve and his friends occasionally shot them interested looks, but they weren’t going to bother him again. Billy waved the waitress over again for refills. “Most of my buddies are busy at the moment,” Billy said, casually. He was fortunate to have returned a handful of good friends that weren’t hung up on the fame and fortune. “So it’s nice to have someone to chill with.”
The waitress was gifted with another smile when she brought back his third beer, long fingers threading through the handle of the mug as he listened to Billy’s words. “I have got to agree with you completely on that,” he said, his smile coming with more ease. “I don’t usually...” He gestured with his free hand to the bar. “Go to places like this. Or go to places like this with other people. But you. You’re cool. You like my paintings. How can I dislike a guy like that?” Simon had to laugh at that, another drink taken before he sat the mug down, chewing on another peanut.
“Why don’t you hang out more? Pick up girls?” Billy watched the waitress head back behind the bar and then grinned at his friend, illustrating his point. “Get drunk?” Not that getting drunk was mandatory to having fun, but he was trying to get a picture about what was going on with this guy.
“Because...” Simon trailed off at that, tilting his head to the side. “I know I have a good reason somewhere. I just... I don’t? I dunno. People and me...” He gave a shake of his head, absently tucking a lock of brown behind his ear. “I don’t trust people. They tend to screw you over or just cause ya a lot of pain and trouble.” Simon paused, lips pursing, thoughts flying. “I like to play it on the safe side. Don’t get close and no one gets a chance t’hurt ya.” His head canted to the side for a moment, pondering over what he just said. “Or somethin’ like that. I think.”
Billy nodded slowly, but in understanding, not agreement. “I get that. Play it safe, and all. Gotta be kinda lonely, though. Especially after that thing that happened with your family?” It was a gentle prompt, but how many beers were they in now? And Simon wasn’t a big guy. It wasn’t like Billy was going to betray him, or anything. He hadn’t been real giving with his friends lately, either.
He was quiet for a long while, wondering why he was talking about all of this, and why he just couldn’t seem to shut up about it. He wasn’t one to monopolize a conversation with talk about himself. But here he was yapping like a Chihuahua. “After the truth about the adoption came out...” Simon frowned, taking a long drink of his beer before continuing.
“Well, I felt real alone after that. Still love my family back home and all, but. There was suddenly somethin’ there that I couldn’t really share with ‘em. This big ol’ hole of mystery where my real family was s’posed to be.” He let out a breath, another drink, another sigh. “I just kind of backed off then, y’know? Figured now that it was out and real that I ought t’just do it on my own or somethin’. Doesn’t make sense, I know, but...” Simon sighed, looking across the table towards Billy. “I’ve gotten real used t’bein’ on my own. I don’t even notice it anymore.”
“What happens when you find them?” Billy wanted to know. “Your real--biological, I mean. Biological family?” This was a little worrying. It sounded like Simon was separating himself from everybody and walling himself up, and then he had stuff like this gallery come along and nobody was there to buy the man a drink.
That gave him reason to blink, staring across at Billy in absolute silence for the longest time. “I...” He paused, a frown, and the rest of his beer was drained. “I don’t know, at this point. Never got that far in my plannin’ and searchin’.” Simon swallowed hard, glancing over his shoulder towards the waitress and lifting his glass to get another refill.
Billy nodded, and then made a show of relaxing back into his chair and massaging his thigh absently. “Maybe you want to think on that. I mean, if they do come along--you’ll want to let ‘em in, right?”
Another hard question. “Honestly? I’m not really sure. Good chance that they won’t even want me in their life, and I really don’t wanna deal with that. I just...” He sighed softly, looking up towards the waitress as another mug was sat down, staring at it for a long moment. “I just wanna know. Where it is I came from. Why the hell my parents didn’t want me or m’sister. Parents just don’t give kids away like that. Or... they shouldn’t, at least.”
“Hard to know,” Billy said, not one to judge people in tough situations. “Maybe there’s a reason. Your sister, you never know what her deal might be. Just gotta stay positive about the whole thing, right?” Encouraging.
“Yeah. Maybe.” He laughed a bit, his eyes widening for a moment before he tried to bring back some of the ease to his mind, fogged and clouded as it was. He had had an early lunch, nothing since then, and the alcohol was hitting him hard that night. But it felt good to talk, to get some things out, things he hadn’t talked about to anyone in a long time.
“Maybe you’re right,” he said after a moment, taking another drink, draining half the beer in one go. “I think I am lonely.”
“Well,” Billy said, quickly, like most men who hit a pretty deep nerve and didn’t quite know what to do with it, “that’s pretty easy to fix, in the long run. Just talk to some people. All the people in our building, man, they can talk up a storm.”
He had to laugh at that, a reflexive action that he just couldn’t suppress. “Yes. Yes they do,” he said with a slow nod of his head, lips curled in a small smile. “It’s just hard. I...” There was a shift as he sat up a bit straighter, playing with his mug. “I don’t wanna let people in. Just. I’d rather be lonely than hurt. I don’t wanna deal with someone hurtin’ me again like I felt when I found out about m’past. I can’t do that ‘gain.”
“Maybe your family thought it was for the best,” Billy suggested, gently. Billy’s family did all kinds of really stupid and hurtful things because they thought it was for the best, but Billy, being Billy, was willing to believe the best in people right up until they pushed him off a cliff with their generosity. Take Steve, for example.
Shoulders shrugged up at that and he looked down into his drink, wishing it had some of the answers. “Maybe they did, maybe I’m just overreactin’.” A drink, the back of his hand used to wipe his lips clean.
“It’ll be fine in time. There’s that one song... When the morning comes, let it go. This too shall pass.” Simon frowned just a bit and knocked back the rest of his drink. “Words to live by.”
Billy just nodded. It seemed to be a good policy at this point, nod at everything that Simon said. He wondered when the last person had nodded at him like that, friendly agreement, like it was all going to be okay. “I’m sure it will.” He crunched thoughtfully on a peanut.
He didn’t say anything then, growing quiet as he looked down into his empty mug, running a finger along the rim. The world was fuzzed over at the edges, and he had a strange giddy feeling settling in his stomach along with the melancholy of that conversation. Simon sighed, glancing up and over towards Billy a moment later. “You’re not... like. Gonna tell anyone ‘bout this. What I said. Right?” He didn’t believe he would, but there was the matter of the trust issues Simon had with the world in general.
“No. Not even when the annoying reporters come around, asking for your life story, master painter.” Billy gave Simon his best smile, the one that said ‘trust me, I’m your best friend in the world.’ That smile got him a lot of girls, and no few friends, either. Probably because he meant it.
Simon had to laugh at that, his grin crooked and actually lighting up his face more than anyone else in the building had actually seen. “I’m gonna hold you to that, Billy,” he said with a slight drawl to his voice, more alcohol-induced than any real accent. “I... appreciate it. I don’t talk about this stuff much. So.” His smile grew shy and he looked back down to his mug, tucking a bit of hair back behind his ear.
“No big deal,” Billy said, not to dismiss Simon’s sentiment but rather his own. Billy waved an airy little hand, as if the world was his oyster. “No big,” he repeated. Awkward drunken heart-to-hearts were not exactly new, but as far as Billy could recall, they’d usually taken place when he too was drunk, so this was a bit new. “You think maybe we should be getting back?” He wanted to find a way back to the hotel while Simon could still walk. He hoped he could still walk.
He pondered the question for a long moment before finally giving a nod and another smile of his own. “Probably a good idea. I didn’t mean to have this many in the first place.” The mug was pushed away and he shifted on his chair, pulling out his wallet and digging out a few bills to leave on the table. “Do you need a hand up or...?” He trailed off as he got to his own feet, a bit unsteady but holding his balance.
Billy decided it would probably be best if he got to his feet on his own, otherwise they both were going to end up in a heap. The chair hadn’t been a good one for him to sit in, and a great majority of his body was royally pissed off at him, but he got upright and relatively stable. He glanced at Simon, who was weaving a little bit, and then said, very reluctantly, “I think we better call a cab.” To get two blocks. Fuck.
Simon blinked at that, but when he watched Billy get up to his feet, he remembered that if something were to happen, he really was in no condition to help him out. “It seems kinda silly for the two blocks,” he said, but really, Billy had a point.
“Well,” Billy said, unwilling to make it about Simon. “Sometimes two blocks is two blocks too far.” He looked away, and then abruptly, set off across the bar with his awkward gait off-beat with the bar’s tinny radio. “I’ll go ask the waitress.”
He frowned then, but he didn’t move to stop him, deciding that if this was important to him, then he had no room to argue. So instead, Simon sat once more, folding his arms on the table and letting his head rest upon them. When had he gotten so... melancholy. This was supposed to be about relaxing, and instead he had dragged up all of his baggage and issues and literally plopped them on the table for the world to see. He wanted to groan over it, and even though Billy had said it wasn’t a big deal, it felt big to him.
Billy, who hardly thought that Simon’s recent bout of truth-telling was worth being down about, was currently caught up in his own frustration with himself. He should have thought about getting back before leaving to come here. That was logical, right? Sensible. He should have known he could not walk back unassisted. As the waitress turned away for the phone to call a cab, Billy cursed vehemently under his breath and avoided her gaze when she looked back to see what bothered him.
He set off back toward the table. He’d slipped the waitress several bills, and he just needed to make sure Simon’s money got back on his person somehow before he went up to his room. Billy was pretty sure the other man was drunk enough not to notice when he handed him his money back later. Yes. That was the plan.
“She’s calling one,” Billy said, trying to sound cheerful.
He lifted his head when Billy returned, managing a smile before he hauled himself up to his feet once more, taking a moment to steady himself before turning his attention back to the other man. “Wait outside for it? I think I could use some fresh... well. Fresher air.”
“Yeah.” Billy swept Simon’s bills off the table as if that was the most natural thing in the world, folded them in one hand and pressed them into the other man’s hand. “Here, let’s go.” Then, without waiting (and hoping he’d be too buzzed to protest), he headed painfully out the front door. Steve and his friends were silent, watching.
Simon blinked at the bills that were suddenly in his hand, looking up and after Billy before he followed after him wordlessly, keeping that quiet until they were finally outside and away from the staring eyes that seemed to follow after Billy. Once out, he leaned against the outside of the building, raking a hand back through his hair. He wasn’t sure what to say at this point. “Question for ya.”
Distracted with his watch of the road and the throb of his knee as it informed him how much it disliked the situation, Billy looked back. “Yeah?”
“First day of the show. I can... bring a guest if I want. You wouldn’t want to come along, would ya? Moral support and t’make sure I have at least one person there that isn’t me or someone from the gallery?”
If Simon had been female, the invitation would have set off little alarm bells in Billy’s head, but Billy was just returning to a normal life that didn’t smell like antiseptic. “Sure. I’d be there anyway, but this way you can tell me what time I’m supposed to show.”
He laughed at that, pleased at the acceptance. That was one other bit of nervousness that he didn’t have to worry about. “I’m actually not showing up until six that night. That’s when the champagne comes out, so if you’re with me, I guess there’s more champagne?” Another laugh, and it was around then that the cab showed up, pulling up to the curb right nearby. “Ready for the long ride home?” he asked, making his way unsteadily to the cab to pull the door open, standing aside out of politeness for the other man. Might as well give him room to slide in first.
Billy sighed, and he got in. It took a lot of maneuvering, and a lot of it was Billy getting to one point, and then dragging the rest of his limbs in after him. By the time there was a spot for Simon, the cabbie had turned around with his elbow on his headrest to watch, and Billy had lost a couple shades of color. “How many people is a good turnout for a thing like that?”
He slid in beside him, pulling the door shut and giving the cabbie a look that said to get going. Even inebriated, there was still a certain fierceness about him when he got irritated. “Honestly? I’m not sure. A few? I’ll be happy if anyone shows up. I’ll be ecstatic if somethin’ gets sold. Just... tryin’ not t’hold my breath. Can’t be disappointed then, y’know?”
“It’ll be awesome.” Billy was dead-certain on that, and he said it a couple times over, thinking to himself. He looked at the cabbie too, but he already turned back around to cruise the cab forward. There was nobody on the road this time of day, and the cabbie was grumbling to himself about going two blocks.
It did feel a little silly to only go the short distance, but he had to admit. It was kind of nice at the same time. Just as the cabbie was pulling to a halt, Simon remembered the bills that had been shoved in his hand shortly before they left. He raised them up with a triumphant, albeit tipsy, smile. “Let me pay, hm?”
Billy shrugged and smiled. “Sure.” He pushed open the car door, hauled himself out, and got onto the sidewalk. By the time he got there the irritation and pain had now risen a few levels to some unhealthy agony. “I’m heading back. Take the elevator, okay? Don’t break your neck.”
Some of the bills were handed off to the cabbie before Simon slid out of the cab himself, giving Billy a look as he headed towards the building. Maybe having that many beers had been a bad idea. But he didn’t say anything, just picking up the pace so he could at least pull the door open for the other man who was clearly in pain. He didn’t say anything, just waited until they were both inside before he headed off towards the elevator.
It had certainly been a night.