CHAPTER TITLE: Working Realistically Within Michael’s Wants & Needs _Sixty-Nine of One Hundred
RATING: this chapter: PG
WORD COUNT: this chapter: 1,185
WARNINGS: this chapter: none, Michael_POV
DISCLAIMER: Nothing I can say that hasn’t been said already? Not min
Originally Beta’ed by herefordroad, all subsequent mistakes are mine
Story throughout contains excerpts from The Brian Kinney Operating Manual including commentary from the Editors
SUMMARY FROM THE EDITORS: ‘Having no choice, he and Ben had waited, watched and saved so that when opportunity finally did come a’knockin’, they’d be ready....'
Michael becomes a great big fucking success
AUTHOR‘S NOTES: This story projects 59 years into the future and reflects all that that entails, many of the loose ends are tied-up. I dance with POV, I dance with time, in essence, I just dance to the song Brian & Justin sang to me.
Contains: Brian_others, Justin_others. They grow old, they are always together for just as long as time allows, but, ultimately, they will die.
As someone wise once said, ‘In the end, it’s all about Brian and Justin’ and I can only agree
A Time From Now
Working Realistically Within Michael’s Wants & Needs
Six Months Later - Around Two & a Half Years - Pittsburgh
From the time he bought his store until it went under was almost two years exactly. Beginning to end, the start of a dream until its demise, and it wasn’t exactly like Michael had been just sitting around waiting for it to happen. Ben had told him that that would’ve been wrong and, actually, he had pretty much figured that out all on his own. Bad, bad karma. But when the For Sale sign went up in the window of the store next door, he just wasn’t that sad either.
When that storefront had first come on the market about three and a half years after Michael had opened his comic store, he and Ben hadn’t had the finances in place to swing the asking price, and there’d been no fucking way he would’ve asked Brian for the money. He needed to grow up, to take charge of his own life, to make things happen on his own and anyway, Lindsay had gotten to him first for her gallery so there was no real point.
Having no choice, he and Ben had waited, watched and saved so that when opportunity finally did come a’knockin’, they’d be ready. Interest rates were good, they had enough for the down and they could fairly easily swing the monthlys on the loan so…no problem. Sure, there was already all the added expense of visiting Toronto regularly, but it wasn’t like Lindsay and Melanie had moved the kids to California, that would have been a bitch. No…this was doable, he felt it in his soul, that this was how it was supposed to go down.
It’d helped that Brian had asked an architect friend of his, living in Seattle, to help with the conversion. They’d drawn up detailed floor plans, emailing them to Jayden, and he’d sent back his design suggestions based on what he knew about these old buildings, Pittsburgh’s building codes, and what he considered to be the more realistic of his wants and needs.
Brian said Jayden was some kind of genius and apparently he was because he gave him and Ben just what they wanted with only a few minor redesigns. He even recommended a building contractor and a structural engineer, and the combining of the two spaces into one came off without a single hitch. Alright, maybe there were a couple of hitches, but nothing they’d needed to panic about and maybe it had taken longer than they would’ve wanted, but that was the way it always was with these sorts of jobs or so he’d been told.
And Jayden had saved them some serious money because he’d drawn up the plans as a favor to Brian. Funny, but he remembered thinking of Jayden as just another one of Brian’s long-term tricks, one who maybe stayed around a little longer than the others but still…just a trick. When reminded that these men had a life beyond Brian, that they were all accomplished professionals, that they were more than just someone who belonged to Brian for a while, he was always a little amazed. After the conversion was done, when he’d asked Brian if Jayden would come to the Grand Reopening, Brian had told him ‘no’. He’d noticed that Brian looked kind of sad, said he’d asked Jayden, but Jayden had said he couldn’t make it. Brian said he could try asking, if he wanted, but he’d sensed that he shouldn’t. That it was best to just let it go, so he did.
They had their Grand Reopening Event on a warm summer Saturday with Emmett’s Dishin’ It Baby naturally doing the catering. Emmett had complained how when doing art openings, he usually had to reign himself in ‘just a tad’, so Michael encouraged him to let his imagination run wild and since he always had been one to let himself run wild whenever encouraged to do so, he did. Except, very little in the way of actual decoration was needed. He concentrated instead on the food and the servers and the consensus was that he pulled off yet another triumph. The servers looked fabulous dressed as their favorite superheroes and not a crumb was left of any of the food or a drop left of any of the drink. Emmett concluded that it ‘just didn’t get much better than that’ and everyone agreed.
The large space had been designed with a comic book slash science fiction slash manga theme. No one could walk into Michael’s store and ever be confused about what was sold there. His inventory had expanded to include graphic novels low to high end, manga with a special emphasis on shonen-ai and yaoi, electronic gaming books, and a decent selection of science fiction slash fantasy books for kids and adults alike, and Jayden had conceived of an interior that reflected those changes. Red Cape Comics had become more than a comic book store to Michael and Ben. It had become a specialty book store and of that they were proud.
And a great part of their thanks had to go to Justin, who had come into town a couple of weeks early with two of his New York buddies, Jake and Allen. It was their job to paint the walls, floor to ceiling, with muscle-bound, comic-book superheroes, with crystalline, futuristic cloud-cities and with lithe, beautiful manga school boys. They would have done the work for the experience alone, that and for the credit and the opportunity to add the photos to their portfolios especially since food and lodging had been included, but Michael paid them anyway.
Debbie had put them up and had fed them better than they’d been fed in too long. She teased them about being so skinny and told them she was ‘gonna fatten you boys up‘. Justin turned to his two friends and reminded, ‘didn’t I tell you so?” And they all nodded chuckling. In coming days, whenever they would tell the story of their Pittsburgh Adventure, they would always conclude with, ‘and swear, we woulda done it for the food alone…ohmygod…for the food alone,’ And always, Allen would add, ‘and I don’t even much like Italian, at least…I didn’t.’ And everyone would laugh.
And when at last near the end of a long and beautiful day, when only family and a few friends remained, when a toast was proposed, it was Brian who gave it. He reminisced a little, reminding everyone how nerdy he and Michael had both been when they’d first met at 14 because remembering that made the journey to where they were now all that much sweeter. Living well was the best revenge he assured them, and no one noticed his wink to Justin except Justin. He concluded by walking over to and standing directly in front of Michael, he gave him a sloppy kiss, raised his glass and simply said, “To you, my friend, ya’ done good.” They linked arms and drank the last of their champagne and, for that night anyway, another party was over.
Next Chapter: Brian takes his first steps towards becoming a big-time business man although not without his regrets
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