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Avery crunched the numbers over again but each time he did, it kept coming up the same, the money just wasn’t there. Renting the warehouse was going to break them. Trash hadn’t even considered the cost of utilities in his estimates. He didn’t take into account buying furniture, even if it was used. “We wouldn’t need much.” He told Avery, “Maybe a couch, a table, and a few chairs.”
“What about the equipment that Mikey took with him?” Avery tapped his pencil on the edge of the bar.
“Yeah, there’s that.” Trash put his hands behind his head and sighed.
“If Trash is right, and we can get the first couple of months free, would that leave us enough to at least start some of the repairs?” Rick slid the pad of paper that Avery had been writing on over and looked at his figures. “Man this is tight.”
“We could probably swing it for a month or two…” Avery told him, “I just don’t want to commit to something when we don’t know for sure if we can still afford it down the road, you know?”
“Yeah I get it.” Rick agreed. “Everything’s still kind of up in the air right now.”
“Well, Ave, there was one thing that we were kind of wondering about.” Trash looked at Rick and raised an eye brow.
“Hmm? What’s that?” Avery asked, going over the numbers for the fourth time.
Rick shook his head and mouthed the word “No.” Trash turned up the palms of his hands and shrugged as if to say “What’s the issue?”
Rick rolled his eyes, grabbed the bottle of beer in front of him, and took a swig. Avery looked up and noticed the tension between the two.
“What’s up guys?” He asked them. “You want me to start turning tricks or something?” He laughed at his own joke. Trash smirked but Rick didn’t seem amused.
“No…” Rick sighed. He pushed his hair back from his forehead and turned to look at Avery, his expression serious and a bit pained. “Ordinarily we would never ask this, but we’re kind of in a tight spot right now. I think you can agree. We may not be able to find a deal this good again, and right now we’re kind of out of options. Trash and I were brain storming, trying to come up with ways to get the extra cash we need, but short of selling blood and semen we just really don’t have any real promising ideas. So, we were thinking-and if your totally against this it’s cool, we understand- but, we were wondering if there was any way that you could possibly ask your parents for a loan?”
“My parents?” Avery picked the pack of cloves up from the table, examining the black and dark green design for a moment while he considered what he was being asked. He calmly lit a cigarette, took a long thoughtful drag, and then looked up; his eyes meeting Rick’s. His gaze was cold, and stern, and his body tense.
“We know you don’t get along with them very well.” Trash told him, “But we thought maybe this once you could…”
“No.” Avery said suddenly. “You don’t know shit. I can’t ask them-I don’t even want to talk to them!”
“Yeah but Ave, can’t you just pretend to play nice, just this once?” Trash put his hand on Avery’s shoulder but Avery shrugged him off.
“Play nice?” Avery glared at Trash. “I wasn’t the one that pushed them away. I wasn’t the one that called my son a disgusting, little faggot, and told him I’d rather he be dead! Don’t tell me to play nice. I’ve played nice. I even went along with my parents sending me to a fucking religious camp that was supposed to ‘cure’ me, and when it didn’t work, they tossed me out into the street like a piece of garbage. The only reason they continue to support me financially is out of guilt after I tried to kill myself. They don’t care about me, all they care about is trying to save face, so no, I can’t ask them for a loan, I won’t.” Avery took another hit off his cigarette then smashed it angrily into the ash tray.
“I know we’re in a tough spot financially and I wish I could come up with a solution but you can’t ask me to do this. I’ll do anything else, anything but crawl back to them and ask for help. I just can’t do that.”
Avery pushed himself away from the bar. He walked over to the jukebox and pretended to look through songs. Trash started to get up but Rick put his hand on his friends shoulder.
“Just leave him alone for now.” Rick said softly. “He just needs a minute or so to himself.”
“I didn’t mean to upset him.”
“I know, and I’m sure Avery knows that too. Talking about his parent’s is just a sore spot for him.”
“I had no idea any of that happened.” Trash looked down at the bottle of beer in his hand. He felt like shit. At this point he just wished he could take it all back. They could have figured out another way to get the money they needed. He just jumped on the idea of Avery getting the money from his parents because he knew that they had money; he just never considered how it would make Avery feel.
“I knew that his parent’s threw him out.” Rick confessed. “And I knew that Ave had spent some time in a psych unit, but I didn’t güvenilir canlı bahis siteleri know why.”
Trash sucked down the rest of his drink. He sighed. “He doesn’t talk about his past that much. I guess it makes sense though. I just can’t believe that his own parents could be so cold. I mean, you’re supposed to love your kids no matter what, right? It’s just so fucked up that they would treat him that way. Gay or straight, he’s still their kid.”
Rick watched Trash thoughtfully. “So, it never really bothered you that Avery’s gay?”
Trash looked shocked. “Hell no, why would it? I mean, I’d never want to fuck him, I’m just not into guys that way, but Ave’s my little bro. He’s a hell of a good singer, he’s a good band mate, and he’s an awesome friend. Why would it matter who he likes to sleep with?”
Rick smiled some. Her took another swig of his drink then turned and looked at Avery. He was still standing in front of the jukebox but now he was digging through his pocket looking for change. Rick slipped off the bar stool and walked over to him. He pulled a couple quarters out of his pocket and dropped them into the machine. “Go ahead.” He told Avery.
Avery looked up. Rick had caught him off guard but he smiled warmly at him. “Thanks.” He said softly. Avery punched in a couple of numbers on the jukebox and waited. Within a few seconds ‘Creedence Clearwater Revival’s’ “Have you ever seen the Rain” began to play.
Rick put an arm around Avery’s shoulders and playfully pulled the younger man against him. “Nice choice.” He told him.
“Thanks.” Avery said again, blushing.
“Anytime.” Rick gave Avery a friendly squeeze then ruffled his hair.
Avery pushed him away, laughing. “Don’t mess up my hair.” He smirked.
“My God, you’re such a little diva.” Rick laughed.
“Hell yeah,” Avery winked at Rick. “And don’t you forget it.”
Trash threw a handful of cash onto the bar to pay for the beers they’d drank then slipped off the bar stool and headed over to the others. “I’m going to take off.” He told them. “And don’t worry about the money. We’ll figure something out eventually.”
“Take care, buddy.” Rick gave Trash a quick fist bump. “If nothing else, like Avery suggested earlier, we can just sell him into prostitution.” Both Rick and Trash laughed loudly.
“Hey!” Avery glared at them both. “Assholes.” He snickered.
Trash put Avery into a head lock and grinned. “What was that little man?” He teased.
“Let go!” Avery squealed as he fought against Trash.
“Say Uncle!” Trash demanded.
“Come on, say uncle!”
“Get off me!”
“Here comes the ‘tomb stone!’ Better give up!” Trash howled with laughter as he picked Avery up and pretended to slam him down again. Avery gasped then grabbed Trash’s shirt and clung to him.
“Stop before you hurt him.” Rick chuckled.
Trash let go finally and Avery stumbled backwards into Rick. “You bastard!” Avery glared at Trash as he tried to compose himself.
“Oh relax baby boy. I was just having a little fun with you.” Trash gave Avery a light slap on the side of the face and laughed again at Avery’s expression of rage. “Be careful.” He winked at Rick. “This one can get a bit feisty when he’s provoked.”
“You ain’t telling me anything I don’t already know.” Rick grinned.
“You can both go to hell.” Avery hissed. He folded his arms over his chest and pouted. Trash waved and walked out, leaving his two friends standing by thejuke box, one mildly amused and the other fuming. Rick slapped Avery on the ass as he walked back towards the bar. “Come on Ave, I’ll buy you a drink.”
It was nearly five. Avery stumbled through the door and over to the couch where he collapsed. He was more than a little buzzed after drinking with Rick though Rick had remained fairly sober himself. Rick walked Avery home then helped him up the stairs to the door. “You gonna be alright?” Rick laughed as he helped Avery shove the key in the lock.
“Yeah, I’m fine.” Avery threw his arms around Rick’s neck and smiled up at him. “Thank you for helping me home and being such a good friend.”
Rick patted Avery’s back. “You’re welcome Ave. Just don’t pass out on the floor once your inside.” He snickered.
“Deal.” Avery kissed Rick on the cheek then turned and entered his apartment.
Rick was a bit hesitant to leave Avery alone but he figured he’d be okay as long as he didn’t plan on going out again. Avery never could hold his liquor very well. Rick smiled as he shoved his hands into his coat pockets and made his way back down the steps. It was a rare sight to see Avery even a little tipsy; rare, but cute. His more silly side came out when he was drunk and it was a total contrast to how he normally acted.
Once Avery got himself settled, he pulled the post it note that had Brian’s number written on it out of his pocket and read over it again. His heart güvenilir illegal bahis siteleri was pounding in his chest and he smiled a bright, exuberant smile.
Brian had called him, he did still care. Avery felt silly for ever doubting it but the lack of contact had started to take its toll. Avery crushed the note against his chest and giggled like a child giddy over a new toy. He couldn’t wait to hear Brian’s voice again. He wanted to hear all about the tour, his fans, and the kinds of people that he met; most of all though, Avery wanted to hear Brian tell him that he loved him. Once he heard that, he could bear the rest of the time apart from him until he finally came back.
Too excited to contain himself any longer, Avery picked up the phone and dialed Brian’s number. He held his breath as the phone rang. The hum of the call signal seemed to drag out for hours though it was only a few seconds. Avery’s heart was racing, he felt nervous, but at the same time exhilarated; then, finally, the hum disappeared as the line was picked up on the other end. “Avery?” A familiar voice asked.
Avery hiccupped. “Brian…I can’t believe I get to hear your voice again!” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath as he tried to calm himself down. “I’ve missed you so much.”
“I’ve missed you too.” Brian told him. “I’ve been thinking about you a lot. I’m so sorry that it’s taken me so long to call but I’ve just been super busy with the tour, and signing autographs. I hardly have time to even sleep but I had to hear your voice again.”
“I’m glad you called.” Avery wiped away the tears that had sprung to his eyes when he heard Brian’s voice. It was like a dream come true. No, better than that. Avery felt that every horrible thing that had happened to him up until this point was being slowly erased from his mind to make room for all the wonderful new memories that he was going to have now. Memories that he planned to make with Brian.
They talked for hours. Brian told Avery everything about what he had been doing since they’d last seen each other. He told him about his fans and the countless numbers of women throwing themselves at him, but how he could only think of Avery, and the amazing night that they had shared. He couldn’t wait to see Avery again, he confessed. He called him his beautiful French angel and Avery blushed. He felt himself melt against the cushions of the couch as Brian spoke. Avery had never felt this happy in his life. He’d never felt more loved or in love. It was truly magical.
Avery didn’t want to spoil the mood so he chose not to mention the issues with Mikey and the band. He didn’t know how Brian would react. Would he rush back and go after Mikey? Would he blame Avery and never want to speak to him again? Avery didn’t want to risk it and he didn’t want to worry Brian when he was so far away and unable to help anyway. He thought about telling Brian about the ware house and how broke they all were but he didn’t want Brian to think that he was just trying to get money out of him, so he decided not to mention that either. In the end, they mostly just talked about Brian and his band.
Asendin was climbing up the charts. They had already sold out the last three concerts. Their album was disappearing from the shelves as fast as it was being put out, and their next album was already in the works. Avery couldn’t wait to get a copy. Brian wrote all the songs for the band and while most of them were pretty dark or sorrowful, he also had quite a few love ballads on their previous album. Avery was eager to see what songs he had written lately, and if any of them were about him.
He realized that it was a bit presumptuous but he also knew that Brian was known for using his real life as inspiration for his songs. Avery was the same way. Most of the songs he wrote-though no where as good as Brian’s- were songs that reflected certain moments in his life, whether good or bad. Avery’s writing was very emotional, deep, and well thought out. He took great pride in his music and wanted to write something that would touch his audience on a personal level, the way Brian’s music touched him. The real problem with Avery’s music though, was that he was way too self-conscious to sing his own songs in public, so he mostly sang Asendin covers, or songs that Trash and Mikey had written.
As the conversation came to an end Avery had a hard time saying good-bye. He knew that they would talk again. Brian promised to call in a week when he had more down time, but Avery didn’t want to wait that long. In all honesty he didn’t want the conversation to end at all but he knew that Brian was tired and so was he. They exchanged “I Love you’s” then a few parting words to comfort each other, and hung up. Avery lay back against the couch hugging the phone to his chest. “I am so in love with you Brian.” He said out loud. “I never actually thought that I could be this happy.”
After his last episode güvenilir bahis şirketleri of binge drinking, Rick felt it was better that he abstain for a while, at least when alone. Trash and Avery were great wing men; they kept Rick from getting totally wasted and making a further fool of himself. But Avery wasn’t with him at the moment and Rick was feeling vulnerable. On the walk home Avery was talking about Brian again. He couldn’t wait to get home and call him. He wanted to hear his voice again and his ‘sexy’ accent. Every other sentence was about Brian.
Rick was seriously getting sick of hearing that guy’s name. What was so special about Brian Mueller? What the hell did he have that Ricky didn’t? Rick was just as good looking, and as talented, maybe more so. Avery didn’t care about money and material things so it wasn’t that. He knew that Brian was Avery’s idol, the first time he’d ever heard Brian sing Avery had been hooked. He admired him, respected him, and aspired to be like him. Rick guessed that eventually that admiration had turned into some misguided form of love, but what was it about him that had drawn Avery in to begin with?
Avery was the type of guy that was always looking for his ‘Knight in shining armor.’ Apparently Brian had become that knight. It made sense, Rick supposed. After being thrown out of his parent’s house; totally rejected by his family, being alone and scared, living on the streets and so young, Avery was looking for something to give him hope for the future. He and Brian came from similar back grounds. They had suffered similar issues in their lives, and through it all, Brian had risen to the top and became a rock and roll God.
Avery probably needed to put his faith and love into someone like Brian. He became a symbol to Avery. Someone he could look up to and possibly learn from. He was living proof that you could overcome any obstacle if you were willing to work hard for it. He symbolized dreams turned into reality, and that was something Avery had clung to through his darker times.
‘I could be that to Avery.’ Rick thought as he walked down the side walk towards his end of town. ‘I could be his knight in shining armor. At least I’d actually be here for him when he needed me.’ He sighed and looked up at the sky. It was getting darker earlier now. Street lights were starting to come on and hard working men and women were rushing home to their families for dinner.
He thought about that morning when he sat at the table across from Avery and shared breakfast with him. He remembered the way that he looked standing at the stove; the smile on his face as he poured the juice. He was practically gleaming when Rick told him what a great cook he thought he was.
That sweet, innocent, and obviously loving look on Avery’s face was priceless and Rick wanted so bad to see that look again. “What could I do to prove to you that I could take care of you?” Rick realized that his own dreams weren’t so farfetched. He only wanted Avery to be a part of his life. As a friend would be great, but as a partner, a lover, that’s what he really wanted. If Avery could only see that, if he knew how Rick felt, they could be a family. That’s all Rick really wanted. With Avery by his side, he’d be the happiest man on Earth.
Rick didn’t feel like going home suddenly. The last thing he wanted was to be alone right now. He couldn’t go back to Avery’s. Avery was no doubt in deep conversation with his beloved Brian by now. That thought pissed Rick off. That bastard had everything. He was famous, rich, and good-looking. He could have anyone that he wanted, so why did he have to choose Avery? Rick supposed that he should be happy for his friend, he found the man of his dreams after all, but Rick just didn’t feel that way.
He turned and headed down Chase Street.
Hanging out in a bar all night was that last thing he needed to do but he just couldn’t think of anywhere else to go. There was a local pub on Chase called Shaggy’s. Rick knew the owner. He was an older guy named Boomer, but he was cool. Boomer used to play in a band years ago, but after drugs, drinking, and a few failed marriages, he retired his guitar and went into business for himself. That’s how Shaggy’s was born. The past ten years or so Boomer’s place had been a favorite hang out for the older crowd, attracting mostly blue collar workers, retirees, and rednecks. Most of the patrons were regulars but once in a blue moon someone breezing through town would stop in for a beer or two.
Shaggy’s was one of the few places in town that didn’t kick Avery out on sight. Boomer only asked that he not openly drink in the bar in case the cops happen to show up, though he’d never complained when Avery would take small sips from Rick’s beer. Avery was reluctant to drink anything harder which was fine because Rick knew that Boomer wouldn’t allow it and he didn’t want to piss anyone off.
When Rick walked in, Boomer was sitting at the end of the bar talking to a regular named Max. Max was a retired truck driver who currently divided most of his time between drinking and working in his garden. His wife had passed away three years ago; his children were grown and rarely visited, so his friends at the bar became his family. Rick greeted both men as he sat down beside them.
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