Elliot sauntered through the crowded hallways once again, but today, he held his head high and a wide grin was spread across his muzzle. He felt better about himself this Tuesday than he had the week, or even the day, before. Monday had been a transforming experience for him. The weekend before it had been new and exciting, in of itself, but somehow he'd still felt like a child who being shown a world by his uncle that he wasn't really a part of. Yesterday, though, had changed that.
He looked forward to seeing Hunter again today, too, even though they'd seen more than enough of one another on Monday. It had been all that was on his mind for the past day, in fact, and the time had finally come! Gym.
He walked into the locker room and began undressing, much earlier than his classmates -- out of habit now rather than a sense of modesty which he now found he suddenly muted -- and kept an eye focused on the entrance, waiting for Hunter to come through.
Other students were crowded around in the tiny hallways near the locker room door, but Hunter wasn't there yet. Normally he was. Normally he was there long before Ell, and nearly everyone on their way in or out of the locker room area was greeted by him in some way or another. By the time Ell was beginning to get into his PE clothes, though, Hunter STILL hadn't shown up.
The husky was already finishing lacing up his sneakers by the time the majority of the class was just beginning to dress themselves for gym...and still no Hunter. He gulped hard, as he synched the second knot, his wide grin quickly growing smaller.
Hunter had to be there today. There wasn't any reason for him not to be, unless...unless he was ashamed? No. Maybe he was just sick. But he said he'd be at school today and was looking forward to seeing Ell again, right? So maybe Hunter WAS sick! Sick about what they'd done! The husky gulped again, every worst-case scenario of newfound hatred, lost friendships, and malicious rumors running through his head at once.
And any hope of Hunter showing up was gone within only a few minutes. The bell rang, the locker room filled completely and then emptied -- Elliot with it -- and Hunter never showed.
Ell exited the locker room and sullenly joined his classmates in their warm-ups, his mind still wracked with all the possibilities of what had happened to Hunter...all of them negative...and all of them Elliot's fault.
William Masters stood up from behind his desk -- after closing and opening a few windows on his computer -- and then walked the few feet over, halfway across his rather small office, to his filing cabinet.
Will was in the publishing business. Though, he was actually more of a `literary agent' than a publisher. Sometime earlier in his life, he had fancied himself a writer, and pursued this career thinking that if he worked in the business, he would have the foothold he needed if he ever actually decided to really write anything worth publishing. He never did, of course...but the job was easy, the money was good, and, though not at the top of his business, he was no where near the bottom.
He pulled a file out of the cabinet, followed by two heftier bundles of paper, two manuscripts, and laid all three on his desk. He had another meeting scheduled for exactly one minute ago -- one of many meetings today -- and his office's general secretary, Denise, was sure to be paging him any minute now to tell him that his client was here.
Sure enough, before he could even sit back down, his phone rang...direct from the Denise.
``Yes?'' He picked up the phone and nodded at the voice of the female skunk on the other end. Mr. Roark had arrived. ``Of course...send him in.''
A few moments later, the door to Will's office cracked open, and the dusty tan head of a rabbit peeked in...with a quick sniffle preceding his voice, ``May I come in?''
Will stood up again, from his desk, ``Of course.'' He walked across the room, ``I'd like to reiterate my firm's apologies for any inconvenience caused by the move to a new representative, after Sylvia's...unfortunate departure.'' He held out his paw, ``It looks like I'll be taking care of you now on, though. My name's Will. I don't think it's on the door yet.''
Closing that very door behind him, the rabbit took Will's paw into his own and to shake it lightly. ``It's not. And thanks...I'm Patrick Roark...'' he spoke slowly, as if distracted, and shook his head with another sniffle as he released the husky's paw, ``but, of course...you knew that, didn't you?''
Patrick was certainly was dressed to impress: finely pressed black slacks and a maroon, button-up dress shirt, atop his lithe frame and dusty, spotted tan fur. The professionalism of his attire was unexpected, as many authors didn't bother...but it was his reddened, squinted eyes and tear stains beneath which caught William's attention. If he didn't know better, he would have assumed his client was high...but luckily he DID know better.
The husky suppressed a laugh at the rabbit's predicament, simply smiling and nodding as he waved his paw to one of the two chairs in front of his desk, ``Go ahead and have a seat, Mr. Roark.''
Patrick sat down, his eyes clenching shut and squeezing out a few fresh tears as he rubbed the top of his muzzle, ``Thanks.''
William sat opposite his client, unable to contain himself and letting a short snicker escape before opening one of his desk drawers.
``What's so funny?'' the rabbit looked up through still-bleary eyes.
Will produced a small bottle of eye drops and a box of tissues from his drawer, ``These might help.''
``Uhm...thanks?'' Though a bit confused by the situation, Patrick couldn't argue; they would do wonders. Blinking near uncontrollably, he accepted them both, setting the tissue box in his lap as he went about opening the eye drops.
``It was Denise, right? Our new receptionist?'' the husky pointed in her general direction, ``The skunk?''
Blinking more as he applied the drops, Patrick just huffed out a short laugh, ``I guess I'm not the first to have this trouble?''
``Some furs are less sensitive to her perfume than others...'' William held out his paw again as his client finished applying the drops, ``But yeah, I keep those drops around for a reason.
The rabbit pawed the bottle over, ``Well, on behalf of all your clients: it's appreciated.''
``It's not just for my clients. I AM a dog, remember?'' Will smiled wide and dropped the bottle back in his still open drawer.
``True.'' Patrick chuckled again as he went about using the tissues to pat his cheeks, muzzle, and eyes dry, ``Why so much perfume, though? Isn't it a little overboard? She can't possibly need that much of it to cover up her scent.''
``Well, the thing is...she actually doesn't need any at all.'' The husky leaned in, so the rabbit could hear him in his reflexively muted tone, ``I'm gonna' assume you don't know many skunks?''
``Well most of the ones I've known, especially the females, get this elective surgery to get rid of that...problem. And she did it too.''
Patrick sat the box aside, after taking a few more tissues for his still damp eyes, ``Then what's with the chemical warfare?''
``She's just really self conscious,'' William shrugged. ``As I understand it, there's some law that keeps the surgery from being done to kids. Something to do with their right to choose when they're an adult? So she grew up with the smell...''
``...and she's still overcompensating with the perfume, even though it's gone, now,'' the rabbit concluded.
``That's about the gist of it.''
``Perhaps,'' Will nodded with another short chuckle, ``Feeling better, now?''
``Yeah, thanks.'' Patrick nodded and tried to sit up straighter and more professionally, ``I guess we should get to business?''
The husky took up his own more professional posture, fingers laced on his desk, ``Whenever you're ready.''
``Well...I'm not sure where to start. I've...uhm...only ever really spoken to Sylvia.'' Patrick scratched idly behind one of his low hanging ears, ``Did she leave you any notes about me or anything? Like...do you know where she was at with trying to get me published?''
``Honestly no,'' William sighed apologetically, ``basically all she left were your manuscripts.''
``Well that's someplace to start, at least,'' the rabbit flashed a reserved smile. ``What do you think of them?''
``Unfortunately, I've only recently started reading through your first manuscript, thanks to everything that's been dumped on my plate after Sylvia left. I'm a ways in to it, but I haven't even read page one of your second one yet.'' Will shifted the bits of paper on his desk, picking up the one of the two large collected stacks -- the manuscript he'd begun -- and flipped idly through the pages, ``So far, what I've read is very good. Though, I also notice you've drawn up some legal paperwork, already...and I haven't been able to go through that at all yet, either, to see what arrangements might have been made with legal.''
Patrick's smile twisted into a fearful wince, ``I'm not going to have to fill out all that legal stuff again am I? Any agreement between me and Sylvia is still valid even though she's not here anymore, right?''
``Oh, I'm sure it's all still very valid. The legal department handles all of that stuff anyway. Sylvia and I...or, anyone here in our position...that's not our job. So her leaving shouldn't change it, and neither should me taking over. I just have to read over it so I know what's going on.'' The husky shifted Mr. Roark's file to the top of his stack, and opened it up to expose the documents within, ``I apologize for not having gotten to it, yet...but I rather underestimated how many clients Sylvia was leaving behind for me. It's a marvel that I've even begun reading your first manuscript, to be honest.''
``Why just you? There are other agents here too,'' Patrick pointed out toward the rest of the offices. ``Couldn't the work load have been divided up?''
``Oh, it was! I didn't get everyone,'' William tapped a finger on his desk. ``But this wasn't my job before she left. I worked a little...lower down on the ladder than she did,'' he sparked an embarrassed grin. ``But when she left, I got a promotion! ...and most of her clients to go with it.''
The rabbit looked around a bit and back to the dog, deciding to be as straight forward as possible, ``I really hope this doesn't sound rude, but why exactly did you set up this meeting, if you aren't even up to date with my stuff, yet?'' He held up a paw preemptively, when he realized that he must sound like he was complaining, ``Not that I mind getting a chance to meet my new agent, of course. I'm just wondering why the meeting's happening so soon.''
``Well, you actually just hit it on the head:'' Will motioned between the two of them, ``this is really just all about us getting to meet each other. I have meetings like this scheduled with all my new clients.'' He pointed across at the rabbit, ``Yours is just one of the first few, because you've, apparently, had a meeting scheduled with Sylvia for a couple of months now...kept getting rescheduled and rescheduled...'' he looked down at the file to make sure he was right about that, even though he already knew he was, ``Yeah. Two months now! And that's why I called you in so soon. I didn't want to keep you waiting any longer.''
``I had a meeting scheduled? I can't for the life of me remember what it was for...'' Patrick rubbed his forehead in thought. ``I mean, thank you, of course, for getting to me so quick if that was really the case! I just can't remember why I had the meeting scheduled. Whatever it was, I doubt you could help me yet, though, anyway...not if you haven't even finished reading all three of my manuscripts.''
``Three? I only have two.'' The husky blinked momentarily, and then looked startled, ``That's right! THAT'S what it was! The meeting you kept having to get reschedule with Sylvia: it was about bringing your next manuscript in! She doesn't seem to have it written down here anywhere, but, now that I think about it, I remember hearing our old receptionist give her that message about two months back.''
Patrick sat stunned for a moment before speaking up, ``Oh my God, it was.'' He put his head in his palm again, ``I can't believe I forgot. She kept putting me off, and then I hear she's leaving, and now I forget to even bring the damn thing when I find out I'm meeting someone else...'' He looked back up, ``Somehow in the middle of all this, I convinced myself that you already had it.
``That's fine.'' William smiled warmly, ``You can bring it up whenever you need to. We may not be able to have an actual meeting, but you can at least drop off the manuscript and we can get a meeting scheduled for later.'' He plucked a pen out of a mug on his desk, ``In fact, before you leave here today, you'll have my phone number. I'm hoping I don't regret it after giving it out fifty times, but I feel it's best for my clients to be able to get in touch with me directly.'' He reached for a stack of post-its, but was stopped by his client...
``Actually,'' the rabbit leaned back a bit and reached into his shirt pocket, retrieving his own personal business card, ``take this.'' He handed it to Will, ``It's most of my personal contact information.''
``Much appreciated. I'll still need to give you my information, so YOU can contact ME, though.'' Will read over the card before stowing it in his own shirt pocket, ``Though it's really not all that relevant that we get your third manuscript yet, anyway. We already have two we haven't gotten published.'' He opened the first manuscript, speaking to the rabbit while looking through the first few pages, ``I honestly don't understand why we haven't managed to get the ball rolling on this yet,'' he looked up with a raised eyebrow, ``We have two well written manuscripts, and a slew of legal documents. Did Sylvia explain to you what the hold-up was?''
``No, she didn't tell me much. I kind of got the feeling that she didn't like me,'' Patrick chuckled and shrugged. ``Do you know what the hold up is? Or do you not like me either?''
The husky chuckled as well, ``I like you just fine. And, honestly, you may be right. I can't figure why Sylvia had both of your manuscripts, and didn't even seem to be getting the first one taken care of, unless she was just leading you along or something. I mean, don't get me wrong, she did her job well enough: signed and molded some of our most profitable writers...but she could be uhm...''
``A bitch?'' Patrick finished the thought for him.
``Some here would consider that comparison an insult to bitches,'' William responded softly, before looking back at the paperwork. He flipped through it again, then looked back up before Patrick could say anything else, ``Here's what I'll do for you. Give me a few days to at least read your first manuscript, and talk to legal and whoever else I need to harass...and we'll see about actually getting you published finally! You can get a hold of me any time you want to between now and then to see how things are progressing, or to set up a time for you to give me your third -- assuming you still want to do that right away instead of waiting -- and I'll contact you the second I've found anything out. Sound good?''
``It does. Except, uhm...'' the rabbit pointed at the post-its his agent had earlier retrieved, ``...I don't have your contact info yet.''
``Oh! Right!'' Will snatched the pen back up and went about scribbling his name, phone number, and email address on the note, ``Sorry, I don't have my cards yet. Since my change of position here at the company, all my old ones are out of date.''
Patrick reached out and took the note from his canine agent, and read over it. As he did so, though, he froze in his seat. William Masters. His agent was William Masters?
He looked up and eyed the husky curiously. It WAS him! He hadn't been told the name of his new agent, it wasn't on the dog's door, and he'd only introduced himself as Will. But this...was THAT Will! How didn't he see it before?
William stared back at the rabbit, noting the odd look in his eyes, and suddenly felt awkward under his clients gaze, ``Uhm...is there anything else I could help you with, Mr. Roark?''
Patrick quickly shook his head and blinked, regaining his composure, ``Well...maybe. But it's kind of awkward to ask you. No offense, but I knew Sylvia a bit better than I know you...Mr. Masters.'' He smiled slyly as he said Will's last name aloud.
``None taken. And I can assure you, so long as you've not committed a crime,'' the husky paused to smirk, ``and even if you have, depending on the crime,'' he regained his more business-like posture, ``you needn't worry about whatever it is you have to say to me.''
``Well...'' Patrick was hesitant to begin, but his sly smirk never left his muzzle, ``...do you think dating an unpublished client is...wrong? And I mean on any level: morally wrong, bad business practice, legally complicated?''
``Were you and Sylvia dating?''
``We weren't. No. I'd just like to know what you think.''
``Hmm...well, that's complicated really. I can't speak for any legalities, or what special provisions or contracts might be needed for your or the agent's protection. I'm...not a lawyer.'' Will stroked his chin, ``As business practices go, that's kind of on a firm by firm basis. Some might forbid it completely, and not let any agent date any client. Others might just make sure you're not REPRESENTING whoever you're dating. Others still might allow it, but expect you to report it to...HR, maybe?'' He pointed up at the ceiling, ``We, specifically, have no real rules on it. Everyone's work has to go through so many different people and levels of acceptance here, that no one person could tip the scales for you. No real conflict of interest, you know?''
``What about morally?'' the rabbit repeated himself. ``What are your thoughts on that?''
``Depends,'' William shrugged. ``If it's a power play, I would think it was wrong. Like, if the client was doing it hoping for special treatment, or the agent was expecting to be paid in sexual favors for advancing the client's work...that would be a pretty bad situation.'' He shook his head, ``But...if it's a real relationship, or even just casual dating, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. Why all the questions, though? I noticed the main character in your manuscript is an author. I assume this is research for further stories?''
``It is.'' It wasn't, but there was no need for Patrick to overplay his paw...not so soon. Might as well let the dog believe it was just an innocent business related question. Plus, maybe he could segue it well into what he really wanted, ``You'd...probably understand the question better if you'd read all three of my manuscripts. You'd know the characters and the situation a bit better, and might could give me better insight.''
``I'm sure that's true,'' the husky nodded.
``Well, would you want to set up some sort of meeting right now?'' Patrick had a feeling, and, in fact hoped, the answer was no. ``You know, so I can get you my third manuscript?''
``Unfortunately, I'm booked solid for a few weeks right now. Like I said: I'm taking in the influx of Sylvia's clients.'' Will squinted in thought, ``So we could, but it would be quite a while from now before we could meet.''
The rabbit had to restrain a victorious smile. That was exactly what he'd hoped to hear, ``Well, it doesn't have to be a `meeting' meeting, does it? We could always meet up outside of the office.''
``Like I said: we can meet up wherever you want for the exchange. It can't be an actual meeting, though. It would just be you giving me your manuscript. Any actual business should really be handled here, and...besides, I won't be looking to do even more work outside of the office.''
``Well, what time do you get off work on Fridays?''
``Fridays?'' Will thought for a moment, ``Well...we don't exactly have `hours' here...so it's different every time. As for this Friday specifically?'' He thought again, ``Probably late. I know I sound like a broken record, but I'm neck deep in Sylvia's leftovers right now. So, I probably won't be able to catch you then.''
``Hmm...well...'' Patrick thought for a moment as well, ``Do you think it'd be too much to ask that we meet up somewhere whenever you get off, say...today?''
The husky smiled apologetically, ``Unfortunately, yeah, it would be. Today's one of my heaviest days as meetings go...and not just with clients, but with legal and some other staff.'' He leaned forward, ``But, look: it's not that prudent we do it yet, anyway. Like I told you...we don't really need your third manuscript yet. With the fact that Sylvia never really got the ball rolling on the first one, we may not need the third one for a year or more, honestly.''
Patrick smiled sofly, not entirely sure if the husky was being difficult on purpose or not. He sighed, and paused to think...re-evaluating his approach.
William returned the soft smile, noting the sigh, ``Is there something else on your mind? I promise you, I'm not giving you the run-around like Sylvia did. I WILL get back to you as soon as I can about this. I may be booked as meetings go, but I can at least get in touch with you without us scheduling one. And as soon as I've made some real headway with your work, you'll be one of the first in line for a more serious meeting.'' He closed the manuscript he had opened earlier, ``This probably just sounds like something we say, but you ARE a priority for me. I feel horrible that you've been in the system so long and gotten no where.''
The husky obviously had no clue that his client had any ulterior motives, and it was beginning to frustrate the dusty rabbit. He'd have to try a lot harder...and be a lot more forward, ``William, I would like you and I get to know one another better.''
``That's why I gave you my card: so we could keep in touch.''
``Well how about `we get in touch' tomorrow?''
Will looked more than a little confused, ``You...can call me whenever you need to.''
Patrick sighed audibly, and looked his new agent right in the eye, spelling it out even further, ``Will. I am asking you right now, in person, do you want to get together later?''
And only then, did the husky finally realize what was going on. He had been so caught up with their more professional topics -- meetings, manuscripts, business cards, and legalities -- that he'd actually believed the rabbit had been asking about client/agent relationships for research. He obviously wasn't. And, now, his every question since then...
Now, the dog understood what his client was getting at, but he still had to hear it out loud. Eyes widened and eyebrows arched, he leaned forward across his desk, ``Uhm...I'm not sure if I'm reading you right. But are you...are you asking me out on a date?''
Patrick's eyes narrowed in playful frustration, ``I'm trying...''
William leaned away again with a deep breath and a sigh, ``I think you've got the wrong idea, Patrick. I'm not gay.''
The rabbit didn't miss a beat, ``That's fine. I've dated my share of bisexuals.''
Will couldn't help but laugh at his client's confidence, ``Okay.'' And although he continued to argue, his newly wide and entertained smile didn't leave his muzzle, ``But I'm not bisexual either.''
Patrick scoffed, eyeing him in both disbelief and certain resolve, ``You're really trying to tell me you're straight?''
``I am!'' the husky, though still smiling, threw up his paws...dumbfounded by his client's refusal to believe him.
Patrick, though, just shook his head. ``I don't buy it. I...'' he paused and held up a finger for emphasis, ``...and this is not an exaggeration. I am NEVER wrong about this sort of thing.'' And more to the point, he KNEW he wasn't wrong this time. Not now that he realized who his agent was...
``Well you're wrong today,'' William shook his head with a warm chuckle.
``Am I?'' The rabbit raised an eyebrow and leaned forward, ``Cause, you know, most `straight' guys would take an accusation like this as an insult.''
Will leaned forward, as well, ``Well, luckily for you, I'm not like most straight guys.''
Of course not! Patrick legitimately had to stop himself from firing back. Most straight guys don't have gay sex!
But then it dawned on him what really must be going on. Of COURSE Will knew he wasn't really `straight.' He was just putting on a front to keep up appearances! He was one of those: one of the ones who lies and tells the world he's not really gay. He's just a `bachelor' who `hasn't found the right girl yet.' And no matter how much gay sex he does or does not have...he certainly can't undermine his lies by going out on a DATE with a guy. So long as he could keep that up, to the world at large, he'd stay respectable -- normal -- and all that unfortunate homosexuality could be kept under wraps, behind closed doors...
But that was fine! If that's what made the dog comfortable, Patrick could play along. He'd just have to shift his approach a bit, and play his agent's little game. ``My apologies, then, for the...obviously unfounded assumption,'' the sarcasm in his voice, though, remained thick.
And noting that sarcasm, the husky just smirked and stared back in silence...
``And, look,'' Patrick clapped his paws together and continued along, undaunted, ``you need as much of social life as you can get, right now...thanks to all this new work from Sylvia stressing you out, right?''
``I guess so, but-''
``Good!'' Patrick cut him off before he could argue, ``So then let's not make it a `date' per se. It'll just a couple of friends hanging out: no work, no stress, only minimal sex...''
``I know, I know. NO Sex,'' the rabbit held up his fingers, to pantomime quotation marks around his last two words. He even considered a wink, but decided against it. ``It'll be exactly like two straight guys hanging out. You know: normal `bro' stuff like dinner, a movie, drinking, dancing...no inappropriate touching unless we're REALLY drunk...''
William took a breath to speak...
...but Patrick still didn't let him, ``You're right, you're right...I guess we only have to PRETEND to be drunk. You know, to save face?''
Once granted a moment of silence from his client, the husky used it to finally speak up. And as he did, his voice took on a more serious tone, no longer letting himself laugh at the rabbit's antics. His friendly smile, though, remained, ``Look Patrick, it's cute...really. Flattering even! But I'm being serious. I mean, if you really wanted to hang out as FRIENDS sometime, we could. But as for the rest, I...'' he took a breath and winced apologetically, ``...I'm really not gay.''
In response to his agent's serious tone, Patrick's playfulness faded as well, ``Or bi?''
The rabbit looked around for any framed pictures of a female in the office, before turning his eyes back on the husky, ``Are you married?''
Will was slower to answer, realizing that not having a mate, really wasn't helping his case, ``...no.''
Even without that for proof, though, Patrick was finally beginning to believe that Will might actually be serious, ``But you're really not interested?''
The husky shook his head, ``Sorry.''
Patrick's first thought was to consider another course. He could suggest a business meeting instead of a date! Maybe that was the real problem. It wasn't that Will wasn't really gay or bi, or even that he wasn't interested; he just wanted to keep things professional. So the rabbit could suggest a business meeting instead, and maybe use that to wear the dog down a bit...to see if he could get him to loosen up...
But no. He knew that wouldn't work either. William would probably just see right through the ploy. And even if not, he already made it very clear that he didn't want to take on any extra business meetings outside of the office...not with how much work he already had to do.
Patrick's head and his shoulders fell, defeated and embarrassed. What if he was just wrong? Maybe Will really WAS straight. Or maybe this wasn't even the right Will! Sure, the name was right, and he was a husky, but certainly it was possible for there to be more than one William Masters...even of the same species. It was a common enough name, after all.
But his face. He really did look like the same guy. So maybe he was the right Will...and maybe Patrick had just jumped to the wrong conclusion.
Completely crestfallen by his failure, but hoping he could at least manage some damage control, the rabbit simply flashed an embarrassed smile...but it was everything he could do to not just hide himself from the husky's gaze, ``I'm so...SO sorry. I shouldn't have just assumed...and I didn't mean to complicate our...I mean...I really only meant...''
William held up his paws, halting his client's stammering apology, ``It's okay, Patrick. I took it as a compliment. I'm just...I'm sorry that it didn't work out how you wanted.''
Great. That was just what Patrick wanted. Pity. ``I'm a big boy, Will. I'll live. I just hope this doesn't make our business relationship...awkward.''
``You know...we could still be friends,'' the husky leaned in again with his continued warm smile. ``Outside of work, I really don't have near enough. I could always use another.''
``If...if it's all the same to you, I'd rather not.'' Patrick shook his head, now avoiding all eye contact with his agent, ``Now that I've so...thoroughly embarrassed myself, I think I'd much rather just go crawl in a hole somewhere.''
``I'm...'' Will felt horrible. Even though he barely knew the guy, he couldn't stand knowing he'd caused him to feel this way, ``I really am sorry.''
``Don't be,'' Patrick sighed. ``It was just...silly of me to think you'd be interested, I guess.''
``It's not that I'm not interested...'' the husky stuttered to correct that, ``Or...I mean, I'm not, I guess. But it's not because there's anything wrong with you. I just...''
``Look, I get it, okay?'' Patrick stopped him, and finally made eye contact. ``Are we done?''
And as he stared back at those eyes, William's heart broke. There was no anger in them, and the rabbit wasn't crying...but he was nothing short of crushed. And in that moment, all Will wanted to do was to make him happy again: to circle his desk, to hug the beaten rabbit, and to bring back that infectious smile he'd shown so unabashedly while busily flirting only minutes before.
The dog opened his muzzle to ask what he could do to help, but he didn't speak. He knew the rabbit would answer `nothing'...and he knew that wouldn't be true. There WAS something he could do. All it would take was a date.
And would that really be so difficult?
Will took another breath, and his eyes dropped, watching his feet shuffle as he exhaled. What was he so damned afraid of? He'd been with guys before. It was only Tuesday afternoon, and just this past Sunday, he'd gotten his dick sucked in a photo booth at a mall...by his nephew! Could he really pretend he was scared of the sex?
And, for that matter: why was he getting so ahead of himself? Sex?? Patrick hadn't even asked for a kiss, let alone sex! All he wanted was a date...
He shook his head and looked up, a new resolve in his eyes...though one the rabbit couldn't see, with his head now turned away again.
What was wrong with him? He was an adult, damn-it! He had to have at least a little more common sense and maturity than this. This was ridiculous. All the guy wanted was a date, and he was fighting it at every turn. What was there to be afraid of? Worst possible scenario: he might end up a getting a close look at a bit of rabbit dick, before long. And it definitely wouldn't be the first time that THAT happened.
Enough of this. It was time to suck it up...pun possibly intended...and be an adult.
With a sigh, and with a muted chuckle directed at his own long-overdue internal monologue, William finally spoke up, ``Patrick?''
``Yeah?'' Patrick muttered in return, hoping to be sent on his way.
``How's tomorrow?'' The husky leaned in on his elbows, ``I don't think I'll have much energy after work, but I've gotta' step out for lunch at some point, and I could definitely use the company.'' Realizing it might still sound like he was just suggesting a `friendly' meeting, he amended himself before the rabbit could answer, ``I mean...lunch isn't too lame for a date, right?''
Even though he felt like cheering and launching into a victory dance, Patrick fought his instinct and gave a mock-whine a response, ``Well I don't want a pity date...but I guess it'll have to do...''
Will shook his head, ``It's not a pity date.'' He shrugged and paraphrased all the screaming he'd just been doing to himself in his head, for the benefit of the poor bunny he'd been torturing, ``I was being an idiot, Patrick. I've been with more guys than I can try and count.'' He halted, squinting his eyes, ``Jesus...that made me sound like a slut. What I meant was: I'm 31, and I've been `experimenting' since I was 15. You'd think at some point I would have realized that that word doesn't work anymore.''
The rabbit wanted to confirm that he knew already knew all about that, but wasn't interested in saying anything to stand in the way of his soon-to-be-date's reasoning...lest he give him a reason to change his mind.
William just laughed as he continued, ``I don't know what the hell was going through my head. I spend over 15 years fooling around with guys...even did it two days ago and I'm,'' he mimicked his client's earlier finger quotes, ``not gay? I guess I thought, so long as it was all casual, with no intentions on a relationship, that it was just...a game? I dunno.''
``Do yourself a favor Will. Don't think that, just because you like the sex, it makes you gay. And jokes aside, a date doesn't have to mean anything: it's how you feel about the fur you're with, that counts.'' Patrick stood and leaned over to squeeze his agent's shoulder, ``Besides, for the time being I'm still just a client. Don't put so much pressure on yourself.''
The husky smiled wide, mockingly, ``Just a client? Oh. Well never mind then.'' He playfully moved the rabbit's paw away from his shoulder, and looked away, ``I'm pretty sure I already told you that I have enough work as it is.'' He busily went about putting on a show of closing Patrick's folder, and stacking his papers, before stowing them away with an exaggerated sigh, ``It's okay, though. I'm used to eating lunch alone.''
Patrick could barely control his smile, ecstatic to hear Will being so playful now, too, ``My apologies, again! I accept your offer, Mr. Masters.''
William glanced over his shoulder at the rabbit, ``Mr. Masters? That's what my clients call me...and I seem to remember withdrawing the offer to my client.''
``Sorry.'' The rabbit coughed and tried again, ``I accept your offer...Will.'' He accentuated the husky's name, ``Tomorrow, me and you, at Bacchanalian Cafe?''
Will counted off on his fingers, as he turned around completely to face his would-be-date, ``One: you meet me here first, and then we make our way there. Two: take a cue from me, and stop pretending like there's nothing gay about this. And three: the date's on me...'' he lowered his fingers with a soft smile, and a nod, ``An...apology for the way I acted.''
Patrick gestured as if wiping sweat from his brow, ``Whew! I thought sex was going to be one of your `conditions.'''
``Like you could have objected,'' the husky raised an eyebrow. ``Well Mr. Roark,'' he sat up straighter, acting once again like this had all been nothing but a normal meeting, ``I'll look through your manuscripts and paperwork, and get back to you. I have other clients to see, now...''
Patrick extended his paw for a courtesy shake, ``I'm sorry I took up so much of your time, Mr. Masters.''
And William shook the paw with a smile and a wink, ``See you tomorrow Patrick.''