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Title: Prank Calls II
Pairing: Brian Kinney/Michael Novotny
Rating: PG-13
Summary: Some things usually considered to be funny can be disturbing.
 
Disclaimer: …I wish.
 
Just as he pressed the button to accept the call, the phone stopped ringing. Michael stared at it in hatred. Did he just drag his tired body out of bed for nothing? When he checked the list of missed calls, he only learned that ‘unknown’ had tried to reach him. Well, that helped a lot. He groaned. Apparently this had been one more of these ridiculous prank calls or whatever he should call them.
 
Michael had started to dread the ringing of any of his phones over the last few days and he didn’t like that feeling one bit. He had had enough of that in the past and he didn’t want to live in constant fear once again. Unfortunately, he had no idea what to do about that. If he didn’t know who ‘unknown’ was he couldn’t confront them. Theoretically, he realized that this was what the police were for because they could probably do something to identify the caller, but he quickly decided that would take things too far. It wasn’t like he was accosted or threatened by a stalker or something.
 
Shaking his head, Michael put the phone away but only after he had switched the sound off. He had to keep his cool and just ignore the calls. They were rather inconvenient but it wasn’t like it was constant and there was no use bothering other people with his crap. That was one more thing that had happened far too often in the past.
 
Michael didn’t like to be a burden to his friends and family. Sometimes that couldn’t be helped like that time he had been in a coma after the bombing in Brian’s dance club, Babylon. He had hated learning how much people had worried but it wasn’t something he could have prevented from happening. He hadn’t asked for the attention he got even though he had been accused of that very fact once or twice.
 
But that was in the past. He had grown up since then and he had learned. Michael now guarded his independence fiercely and was proud to say that he was successful. He wouldn’t endanger everything he had achieved by whining to someone about a few phone calls.
 
So he went to bed again, making a quick detour via the bathroom and practically forced himself to sleep.
 
~+~+~
 
Daylight shone through the blinds when Michael next woke up and it took him a moment to realize it wasn’t his cell phone this time. Instead someone was knocking on the door in an annoyingly persistent manner. Michael rolled out of his bed, groaning, and quickly crossed the room. He almost ripped the door off its hinges when he pulled it open forcefully.
 
“Yes?” he hissed.
 
He immediately found himself nose to nose – or rather nose to Adam’s apple – with one Brian Kinney who looked at him in a mix of surprise and amusement.
 
“Err… Good morning. It’s later than when you usually get up and so I thought I’d come check on you. Just making sure you haven’t overslept or something.”
 
Michael swallowed and drew back a bit, restoring something like appropriate distance between them.
 
“Is everything alright? You awake now?” Brian asked, concerned.
 
Blinking slowly, Michael nodded.
 
“Great. There’s coffee in the kitchen, I think you need it, and I’m off to work now.”
 
“Uh huh... – Just how late is it?” Michael had no idea whatsoever; his mind still busy trying to figure out why his cell phone hadn’t woke him.
 
“Early enough for you to make it to Red Cape in time,” Brian assured him, grinning. “I missed you at the breakfast table sooner rather than later.”
 
Too tired to find the energy to process Brian’s comment, Michael just nodded his thanks and closed the door in his face. Glaring at his cell phone as he saw it lying on the nightstand, Michael went to grab some clothing and made his way toward the bathroom. A shower was exactly what he needed right now.
 
When Michael came downstairs eventually Hunter sat the counter, sipping coffee from a large cup.
 
“Please tell me that’s not the last coffee…”
 
Hunter shook his head, indicating to an equally large cup. “That’s yours. I fixed it for you when I heard you exit the bathroom.”
 
“Good boy.” Michael was pleased. Not only did Hunter care enough to fix him his coffee, he had also known better than to tease Michael this morning like he usually did. He was really growing up. Cradling the cup in both hands, Michael took a large gulp and reveled in the feeling of the warm liquid running down his throat. He couldn’t wait for the caffeine to reach his blood stream.
 
Raising one eyebrow, Hunter looked at Michael closely. “Is there a reason why you look even more tired than usual?”
 
“It could be because I overslept.”
 
“It could be,” Hunter conceded.
 
“Why are you up already anyway? Isn’t today the day when you haven’t got classes until later in the morning?” That question was only partly meant to distract Hunter. Michael was truly curious to know what made the teenager leave his bed earlier than he absolutely had to.
 
“Well, you see there’s this girl I’ve got a few classes with and yesterday I overheard that she’s got a few issues with an assignment and I suggested we meet before class today and I try helping her with it.”
 
Michael chuckled. “That’s awfully kind of you. I’m so proud of you, son.”
 
Hunter smiled sweetly and buried his head in the sport pages.
 
~+~+~
 
“Good evening,” Brian greeted as he glided into the kitchen late one night.
 
“You don’t say…”
 
“Somebody’s grumpy tonight,” Hunter told Brian helpfully and then fled the room when he saw the glare Michael was aiming in his direction.
 
“Well, you’re not the only one who’s not especially happy today.” When Michael didn’t react Brian went on, “Some person’s been calling my office all day, you know. And they’ve been threatening poor Cynthia when she refused to put them through to me until she caved eventually.”
 
When he didn’t continue after some time Michael felt obliged to ask, “And?”
 
“Apparently your cell phone went straight to voicemail and it wasn’t possible to get you on the phone at the store…”
 
Michael rolled his eyes. “So what did she want?”
 
“To talk to her beloved son and only child. And she was desperate enough to try contacting you through me. I think that’s saying something, don’t you?”
 
“Mmm.”
 
“Obviously I wasn’t able to help her and after a few trying minutes she gave up.”
 
“Great.”
 
Brian sighed. “Is something wrong? Did anyone piss you off today?”
 
“No.”
 
“Really? You sure? Not even your mother?”
 
“I didn’t talk to her today so no, she didn’t. – I just don’t understand why she couldn’t have come by and told me, if it was vitally important, instead of wasting hours trying to call me.
 
“Point. – But if you were aware that she tried to reach you why didn’t you just pick up the damn phone?” Brian asked incredulously.
 
“Too many phone calls lately… I decided to cut back my dependence on the stupid things.” In order to back up his lie – no, his statement, of course – Michael pulled his brand new alarm clock out of the shopping bag he had placed on the counter when he got home earlier.
 
“Nice. – Listen, about the grocery shopping this weekend…”
 
~+~+~
 
Michael had been relieved when Brian had changed the topic a few days ago and had happily agreed to take over his duties from him for once. Now that it was time to actually get the job done he was less enthusiastic. He had to work longer that night and he hated going to the store late.
 
He always felt produce appeared less appealing when it had been lying in the shelves all day long and God knew how many people had had their hands on it. It probably didn’t make much sense but it was his opinion and he found it hard to forget about it when he eyed the fruit in front of him. In the end he settled for oranges because they had this really thick peel and therefore they were practically indestructible. 
 
The rest of his shopping trip went by without any glitches and now he was dragging the bags out of his car and into the house. Looking over the huge heap Michael asked himself once again how the hell three rather slender people could require that much food.
 
Of course, their diet had changed over the last months or so. Since Ben didn’t live with them any longer the consumption of chips and other stuff usually sold in big bags and packages had increased. Ben used to insist on cooking proper meals; making tomato sauce from scratch instead of opening a jar and dumping it over pasta. Michael didn’t really understand it, but somehow, the ingredients for home-cooked food took less space than whatever it was he tended to reach for now.
 
Not that he was complaining. After years of suffering by forcing himself to eat extremely healthy food he figured he deserved to make up for that time by indulging himself and his loved ones with the contrary for a little while. If that meant making one more trip between the car and the house, he’d do so.
 
While he put everything away Michael couldn’t help but think about how much longer he’d have to care for three people before he would be left on his own. Hunter would not stay with him forever – he knew he had to be grateful that the kid chose to live at home instead of on campus for the time being – and Brian had already been there far longer than Michael had ever dared to imagine. What was supposed to be ‘temporary’ had already lasted for almost a year now.
 
It had started out of convenience, really, when Brian and Justin split up. After they called the wedding off the kid went to New York to pursue his dreams and Brian stayed behind. Well, the loft had been sold by then and Michael was the first to encourage him when he alluded that he didn’t really fancy staying in that monster of a love nest he had bought on a whim. Not that he voiced it like that but Michael had always believed that acquisition had been somewhat too spontaneous for a guy like Brian.
 
Of course it wasn’t exactly logical to invite Brian into his marital home. Theoretically he had the financial means to find accommodation in whatever hotel he wanted for however long he wanted. In reality, all his money was in the house. If he was going to move into a hotel where was he supposed to store the furniture? Michael didn’t remember that time clearly anymore but somehow, Brian’s couch had replaced their own worn-out one and the guest room (so far used as a storage for everything they didn’t even look at anymore but had been too lazy to actually throw out) had turned into a very cozy bedroom; a cozy bedroom with high quality furniture that put the rest of the house to shame.
 
Brian had done his best to put the house back on the market immediately and it didn’t take long to sell it, albeit with a loss. So that had been when he should have packed his things and moved into another, more stylish, loft or something like that, but it had also been the time when Ben got sick, really sick. Not like, I’m-going-to-stay-in-the-hospital-for-a-week-and-be-right-as-rain-afterwards sick, no, he was there for almost a month. And when he came back home eventually, things were awfully strained between all of them and there were times when Michael was grateful for the distraction Brian represented. Not necessarily for him, but for Ben’s temper.
 
Michael shook himself out of his thoughts and just when he had successfully talked himself into spending a nice, quiet evening in front of the TV, just him and a bottle of wine, the phone rang. Too tired to care, he picked it up, and, with his defenses lowered, let himself be talked into a breakfast date the very next day.
 
~+~+~
 
“Ma, I swear to God, if I had known that I had to earn my food, I would never have picked up the fucking phone,” Michael told Debbie, deliberately ignoring as her face fell.
 
“Michael Charles, stop using that kind of language! And really, if I ask one little favor of you…” Debbie banged the plates on the table and turned away again, probably to get some breakfast ingredients out of the fridge.
 
Michael rolled his eyes. Little favor? He begged to defer. The little favor, as his mother liked to call it, had included moving almost every piece of furniture in the kitchen, after emptying it, of course, painting the walls, and putting everything back in place. It only took them about five hours, so technically it wasn’t even breakfast any more but late lunch they were about to have, but who cared about the details. Only egotistical, narrow-minded individuals did, or so his mother informed him repeatedly as he was complaining from time to time.
 
To make things worse, now that she was in her element again, namely cooking, she resumed their earlier topic.
 
“So, tell me, did you happen to hear anything of Ben?”
 
Michael couldn’t suppress a sigh.
 
“Oh, none of that, young man,” Debbie rebuked him. “I’m your mother and I’ve only got your wellbeing at heart. So, Ben? Any news?”
 
“No, Ma, nothing. And that’s the way it should be. We’re no longer together, remember?”
 
Oh, it was hard staying civil when she was like that, but Michael was a pro when it came to his mother and he knew it never paid to provoke her by telling her what he really thought.
 
“Well, yes, and whose fault is that? Michael, I never understood why you invited Brian to stay with you. Maybe for a few nights, at most, okay, but not for all eternity! Of course Ben felt the need to pack his things and leave. He felt threatened. Add to that that he never felt quite alright after his health scare last year and…” Debbie trailed off, taking a moment to gather herself, before she continued. “See, I get that you thought you had to help your friend, but shouldn’t your marriage have been more important? Hmm?”
 
Just what was he supposed to say to her? That his marriage had been unsalvageable long before? That only Brian’s presence had stopped things progressing even faster? Neither was what she wanted to hear, though, therefore Michael decided to save himself the trouble.
 
He put the last pots back in the cupboard and straightened up. His back cracked audibly and his mother, deaf to everything she didn’t want to hear, swiveled around instantly.
 
“Michael, you should really pay more attention to your health. You’re not exactly young anymore and now that Ben’s no longer there to look after you, you have to make an effort and do it yourself. Go to the gym or something like that,” she suggested. “Or, you know, you could always go find a new partner. Even sex can count as exercise.”
 
She winked at him. Winked at him! Something in Michael snapped.
 
“So suddenly I’m not supposed to wait for Ben’s return any longer?” he asked sweetly.
 
“Well, I wouldn’t dare tell you how to live your life, now, would I?”
 
His eyes narrowing to slits, Michael made sure not to look at her. Seeing anything remotely looking like a smug expression on her face and he’d lose it. That had to be avoided. She was his mother after all and there were still times where he thought he loved her, so killing her now didn’t seem like a good idea.
 
But he knew he had to say something. Something to make her understand…
 
“Ma, how’s Carl?”
 
“Don’t change the subject. – He’s fine, thank you.”
 
“That’s great. So, how’s the sex? Still exciting like it was in the beginning or are you in that comfortable stage now, you know intimacy and trust after being together for some time, where you start to experiment to stave off eventual boredom?” Michael kept his tone light and slightly concerned.
 
Debbie huffed. “Excuse me?!”
 
“Oh, I’m so sorry. So you’re not getting any? That’s too bad, Ma. I had no idea you two had issues in this regard. Or are we talking about more general problems?” he inquired. Inwardly he was smirking. No doubt she was seething by now, but wasn’t that exactly the kind of conversation she used to force upon him regularly?
 
“We’re not talking about anything! What the hell is wrong with you? Who the fuck do you think you are? Asking me about something like that?” Debbie all but yelled.
 
A smell of slightly burned bacon wafted through the kitchen but Michael ignored it. “Why, Ma, we always used to talk about me and now I wanted to return the favor.”
 
“Stop it this instant!”
 
She cursed and then something was tossed into the sink.
 
“But Ma, problems in the bedroom can indicate serious issues in the relationship. You used to ask me all the time whether we had difficulties in bed because Ben seemed moody and, how did you call it? Generally unsatisfied, was it? So, seeing that you refuse to give me even a little information, I naturally assume that there’s something wrong. Who wouldn’t?” Michael explained patiently.
 
“It’s not your place to ask. Back off!” Debbie hissed.
 
“I thought you liked discussing sexual relationships. Did I get this wrong?”
 
He couldn’t resist any longer and dared to turn around to her. Leaning his back against the counter and folding his arms across his chest, he watched her scrubbing furiously on the burned pan. He knew they’d have a lot to discuss when she was done abusing the dishwashing brush, but for once Michael didn’t feel like the underdog. On the contrary, in spite of the situation at hand he was calm and almost looking forward to what she would come up with to restore her dignity.
 
This could be fun.
 
~+~+~
 
It had taken his mother longer than he had expected to restore her composure to a level where she had been able to talk to him normally. Normally for her meant that she was still ranting and complaining, but not at some earsplitting level, and the use of curse words was limited to one every two sentences.
 
To Michael’s utmost relief he didn’t get to learn more details about his mother’s intimate relationship with Carl. He didn’t think he had been able to stomach that, so her refusal to share details was rather fortunate and very, very welcome.
 
“But do you see why I don’t want you to ask me that kind of questions every time we meet? Hell, you used to ask me about my sex life in the middle of the diner with all and sundry listening in. No phone call goes by without me defending my decisions concerning every little aspect of my life,” Michael told her, almost beseechingly. He really had no idea how else to make her understand.
 
“But Michael, don’t you see that there’s a difference? I’m your mother, but you were, are and will always be my child and I feel a certain responsibility to ensure you’re alright,” Debbie argued.
 
In the end Michael admitted defeat. It hadn’t been as fun as he had hoped it to be and instead of coming to an agreement where it counted, they simply agreed to disagree on that matter.
 
He had returned home, praying all the while that someday someone would be able to make her see. The worst part was that, as usual, he couldn’t be cross with her for long because deep inside he knew she only did what she thought was her duty as his mother. She was doing her best to keep her child safe and happy, never realizing that, with her behavior, she put what she was aiming for on the line.
 

--TBC--


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