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Title: Prank Calls
Pairing: Brian Kinney/Michael Novotny
Rating: We’ll see, PG-13 for now. ;-)
Summary: Some things usually considered to be funny can be disturbing.
 
Disclaimer: …I wish.
 
 
Shaking his head, Michael ended the call and put the phone back down on the counter in his store. He couldn’t berate someone for dialing the wrong number but he always thought that the least you could do was to own up to your mistake and apologize for the inconvenience. It wasn’t exactly a bother to answer the phone but staying silent seemed to be an impolite thing to do.
 
“Michael?” A young voice interrupted his thoughts.
 
“Yes, Andy? How can I help you?” Michael forgot about the phone call and concentrated on his customer instead. It was afternoon and the usual after-school crowd filled the store, a mix of younger children and teenagers, plus the occasional college student. Of course not all of them had the means to actually purchase something but they always came back to the store anyway. Michael didn’t mind it and he treated them all the same, buying customer or not. He understood the love for comic books they all had in common, having been exactly the same as a kid.
 
~+~+~
 
Later that day Michael was looking forward to closing the store and going home. It had been a trying day and he had to go grocery shopping before he could make his way home. He swore he could hear his couch crying out for him but as much as he’d love to give in, it was his turn to ensure that they didn’t starve this week and he’d been putting it off for three days now.
 
Just when he was reaching for his jacket the phone rang. Michael blinked, looking at it for a moment before he picked it up. The caller was ‘unknown’ and it was after business hours, but maybe someone missed their wallet or something like that and he wouldn’t want anyone to worry unnecessarily.
 
“Red Cape Comics, Michael speaking.”
 
Silence greeted him.
 
Michael frowned. He was immediately reminded of that afternoon. It could be a coincidence, of course. “Erm, did you intend to call me at all?” He paused for a heartbeat and then rattled off his telephone number. “This is what you dialed. Maybe you’d like to check the number you wanted to call and correct the wrong digit?”
 
He thought he heard someone breathing but there was no reaction to what he had said. And the other person didn’t hang up, either.
 
“Fine. I’m going to hang up now. Have a nice evening,” Michael bit out. He stayed polite all the time but his friendliness had limits. Shrugging, he put the phone back in its cradle, grabbed his jacket and left the store.
 
~+~+~
 
A few days later Michael woke up to the sound of his cell phone ringing. He groaned and rolled over toward the edge of the bed, fumbling for the offensive object. His sleep-induced mind provided him with its possible location but he couldn’t seem to find it. Finally his fingers brushed the lamp on his nightstand and he switched it on. Blinking and shielding his eyes from the light as best as he could, Michael finally found what he was looking for on the floor. It must have fallen down, probably of its own accord. He didn’t remember where he put it exactly and the vibration alert must have moved it the rest of the way.
 
Mentally cursing himself for forgetting to switch it off in the first place or rather forgetting to look for a better replacement for his late alarm clock, Michael accepted the call. Since he was awake now anyway, it seemed the logical thing to do.
 
“Hello?”
 
Silence greeted him.
 
“Oh for fuck’s sake… - I’m sorry! Is anybody there?”
 
Michael waited.
 
Nothing.
 
“Hello?” Michael repeated, his tone had a sharp edge to it now.
 
When he didn’t get a response in due time, he huffed in annoyance and flipped the phone shut, ending the call. What was that person thinking? Dialing the wrong number was stupid enough, but seriously, how idiotic was calling anyone at this time of the night to begin with?
 
Michael made sure that his phone was switched off before he rolled over, curling into a tight ball around one of the spare pillows. His last coherent thought was that if this was supposed to be funny, someone had an awful sense of humor.
 
~+~+~
 
The next morning started with the insistent ringing of his cell phone and Michael shot upright instantly. He needed a few seconds to realize that this wasn’t an incoming call but the alarm function kindly informing him that it was time to get up. He wanted to throw the thing against the wall or hit it on the table until it stopped making that noise but he knew that wasn’t an option.
 
Sunday or not, he had to get up and get ready to leave the house shortly. He had to drive to the airport in order to pick up his best friend. He’d rather forget that it had been his very own idea. Brian had pointed out that his arrival time would interfere with Michael’s craving to lie in one day in the week and it’d be no trouble at all to climb into a cab but Michael had insisted.
 
Even while he was already driving around the airport parking space, searching for an acceptable parking slot since he knew Brian wouldn’t want to walk a few miles after having been confined in a crammed plane for hours, Michael couldn’t wrap his head around his stupidity. Brian had told him not to bother and yet here he was. He knew he couldn’t expect gratefulness, if anything maybe a recognition that he’d come after all but only if Brian had been serious when he’d told Michael that he didn’t take him for granted…like other people. The last part hadn’t needed to be said aloud, it was implied clearly enough.
 
After he left the car in a place he deemed worthy, Michael hurried toward the arrival area. In passing one of the monitors he quickly scanned it and realized that he must have gotten the time wrong. Brian’s plane had landed nearly half an hour ago.
 
Michael wanted to stomp his feet and turn around immediately, drive home and indulge himself by downing a bucket of…hmm. No. That would be immature and overall overreacting and if he was lucky Brian hadn’t even left the airport so far.
 
Once his breathing had slowed down and he managed to fight his frustrations back, Michael thought it was even more possible that he was still around than already sitting in a cab on his way home. It was an international flight, meaning a big plane with many people on board and baggage claim could take forever. What would be the next logical step? Michael fished for his phone and called Brian.
 
It was still switched off and since Brian turned it on the instant his plane reached its parking position, he was most likely still on board. Michael exhaled and forced himself to relax. He’d just wait for him a bit longer and everything would be all right. There was no reason to get agitated, was there? Yes, he wanted Brian to feel loved and cared for but he was a grown man almost forty years old and didn’t need to get pampered. If Michael himself felt a bit shaken from time to time that didn’t mean that other people had the same issues. One night of interrupted sleep and he wasn’t functioning properly anymore? Michael didn’t think so.
 
He dialed the number again.
 
“Mikey! Hi. I’m just about to exit this tin can, get through passport control and then I’ve got to get my luggage. I’m – thank you – sorry, the flight attendant… Anyways, I’m ahead of everyone else, so it shouldn’t take too long… - Where are you?” Brian sounded hopeful.
 
“I’m here, waiting for you,” Michael told him. He chuckled quietly at Brian’s comment. Of course he’d be the first to get out of the plane. He could show the patience of a saint when it was to his advantage and maybe where his son was involved. And Michael’s children. And Michael. But that was all, nothing more. Waiting patiently in line was not among those things.
 
“Its – early.”
 
Michael nodded. “Yup, it is. You owe me a coffee supply lasting a week for being here. Because that’s what I had this morning.”
 
Brian laughed. “So I guess if I don’t see you once I come out I’ll find you in the bathroom?”
 
Michael wanted to deny that possibility. “No, I…” Then he realized that he had a rather urgent need to find a bathroom now that he was a little more relaxed. Like a child, he admonished himself, frowning.
 
“Are you still here?”
 
“Yes. Just looking for the nearest bathroom,” Michael admitted and swore he could hear Brian smirking at that.
 
Michael growled because it was expected from him and ended the call. He went to take care of his business and just as he stepped out into the waiting area again his cell phone was ringing once more. Michael accepted the call, figuring it had to be Brian informing him of the progress he’d made but instead of a familiar voice he heard nothing. Momentarily distracted by the noise level surrounding him, it took him awhile to realize it, though. When it registered, Michael put the phone down and stared at it in disbelief.
 
Without saying one more word, Michael hung up. This started to piss him off in earnest. How stupid could this person be, calling him constantly? How bored could they be?
 
~+~+~
 
Michael hadn’t have to wait too long before Brian joined him in the waiting area. He let his gaze wander over Brian as he came near and noticed with satisfaction that he looked great, maybe a bit tired. All things considered the business trip, a big photo shoot, apparently had been a success.
 
They hugged briefly and made their way to Michael’s car. If Brian noticed the convenient parking position, he didn’t let it show. Brian also hadn’t said much about Michael’s presence if he recalled their conversation correctly. Brian had been chattering nonstop about people Michael didn’t know and how they’d be helpful if he ever wanted to start up an agency in Australia. Brian seemed to think that everything working out in his favor was his God-given right and that realization damped down Michael’s joy to see him after two weeks apart.
 
Scowling as he went over to the driver’s side he ignored Brian’s blatant struggle to fit his luggage into the trunk.
 
Brian was clearly in a huff when he finally flopped into the passenger seat, pulling the car door shut with more force than what was strictly necessary.
 
“Thank you so much for your help…” he muttered.
 
Michael chose to ignore that as well and concentrated on driving them safely out of the parking lot. As it was getting later things had started to go crazy while he had been waiting for Brian. One glance in the rear view mirror confirmed his suspicion. Two cars sped toward the empty slot and Michael could only imagine what kind of fight would break out soon. Thank God he was leaving.
 
“Trying week?” Brian asked. He was still staring straight ahead but his tone was almost back to normal, nothing like the hiss it had been moments ago.
 
“No, not particularly…”
 
Brian nodded, finally looking at Michael. “But you’re tired.”
 
Michael’s mouth twitched. Tired? No shit… “It’s Sunday and I had to get up in the middle of the night to make it to the airport in time.”
 
“You remember that I told you I’d grab a taxi, don’t you?”
 
“Yes, well… I wanted to do that, okay?” And now stop asking. I’m not prepared to tell you yet that I missed you like hell and that I want you to know that I’d do anything to help you and make things easier for you.
 
“I would have understood.”
 
“Of course,” Michael replied smoothly.
 
A few minutes passed in silence.
 
“Thank you for coming for me. I liked seeing you there and knowing that someone’s happy to have me back.”
 
There wasn’t much Michael could say to this and so he kept his mouth shut. Well, there were a few things he could say but they weren’t things Brian would like to hear, first and foremost that Justin would be deliriously happy to have him back if Brian ever gave him a chance.
 
Silence settled over the car and this time they stayed quiet until Michael parked the car in front of his house.
 
“Welcome home,” he said cheerily.
 
Brian harrumphed and got out of the car. Michael followed and this time he helped Brian with his stuff, dragging one suitcase behind him toward the front door. He pushed it open and went inside, dropping the suitcase almost instantly. It weighed approximately a ton and since Brian was the one who had packed it, he should be the one to carry it upstairs and ruin his back.
 
The door locked as Brian shut it and came up behind him.
 
“Where’s Hunter?”
 
Michael turned around, a frown on his face. “Where do you think? Take one look at the time and then ask me again.”
 
Brian shrugged. “Sorry, different time zones and such. – So, things went all right while I was away?”
 
Michael sighed. “Leaving an adult and an almost grown-up alone for one fortnight is hardly a crime so no one’s going to sue you for it. I assure you we managed to survive, albeit barely. Luckily for us you’re back now.”
 
“It’s just that you… Is everything all right?” Wide eyes looked him over carefully as if checking for damage.
 
“Yes, of course.”
 
“You would tell me if anything was wrong?” Brian seemed concerned now. “Michael?”
 
“Do you want to take a nap or can I offer you something to eat?”
 
“No, thank you.” Brian left his luggage beside the stairs, kicking it against the wall probably to ensure that no one, namely Hunter, would fall over it when he came downstairs, and went down the hall toward the kitchen.
 
Michael trailed behind him. Didn’t he just say he didn’t want anything to eat? Or was he just being an ass?
 
“I could make you something,” Michael offered again. Brian had to be dead on his feet; surely he’d appreciate a little help.
 
“I’m capable of feeding myself, Michael.”
 
Oh how he hated that condescending tone. Michael growled and stormed out of the kitchen. He didn’t beg. If Brian didn’t want him around he’d leave him alone, no problem.
 
~+~+~
 
Later that day Michael came back from a long walk. He had decided he needed the exercise and hoped that it’d help clear his head. And it did help. He felt better now than when he had left two hours ago and thought he understood why Brian had acted the way he had earlier. His friend wasn’t stupid and he must have picked up the fact that Michael was stressed and obviously he had tried to help him by not letting him take on one more task.
 
While Michael knew that he was perfectly fine and there was no need to spare him he felt a wave of affection run through him. Brian was a good friend – the best. He didn’t think of himself all the time but cared about Michael as well. That was part of the reason why he loved him so much.
 
They got along amazingly well seeing that they lived together for the first time in their friendship that lasted for decades now. Michael had been wary at the beginning, afraid that they’d clash all the time, assuming that his way of living would be totally different from Brian’s, but he soon found out that his worries hadn’t been justified.
 
Brian had been on his best behavior from the start. He hadn’t complained when Michael told him firmly that he was expected to keep his room clean and since there was no cleaner they had to make sure on their own they didn’t drown in dirt. Brian went grocery shopping when it was his turn and he took some responsibility for Hunter when Michael asked him to, otherwise he left the kid alone. Brian seldom intruded in Michael’s life and whenever he overstepped a line he backed off when asked.
 
“Michael?” Hunter called from the living room.
 
Michael put his coat away and followed the dim, flickering light of the television to the living room. He sat down beside Hunter and only then looked at the screen. He flinched.
 
“God, son, that is a lot of blood, isn’t it?”
 
“Yeah. But it’s from three or four different people,” Hunter told him before he stuffed more chips into his mouth.
 
“And that makes it better why?” Michael blinked. He really didn’t want to see what was happening on screen but he couldn’t look away either.
 
Hunter shrugged and then extended the bowl to Michael. “Want some?”
 
“No, I don’t think so.” Or else I will be sick for certain.
 
“Mmm.” Hunter turned his attention back to the movie, cradling the bowl in his arm.
 
“Is this your dinner?”
 
As Michael got a grunt for an answer, he stood up again.
 
“Michael…” Hunter’s arms reached out for him in an impressive speed, wrapping greasy fingers around his wrist. “You don’t have to start cooking now. I’m fine. I had a nice healthy lunch and I won’t die without a nice healthy dinner for once.”
 
“No, but-”
 
“No nothing. Are you hungry?”
 
Michael shook his head.
 
“Then don’t bother.”
 
“But Brian-”
 
“Brian’s disappeared to his room ages ago and I think he’s asleep, he probably won’t come out again until tomorrow.”
 
Hunter was right, of course, Michael reasoned. And he was tired as well and he could really use a longer period of uninterrupted sleep. “I’m going upstairs.”
 
“Okay.”
 
“You plan to stay in tonight?”
 
Hunter looked up, obviously unsure what would be the correct answer. Michael grinned. “It’s your decision. Just leave me a note or something so I won’t have a coronary when I wake in the middle of the night and find you’re gone.”
 
“It’s only eight…”
 
“I know. Like I said, when I’ll wake up it’ll be the middle of the night.” Michael didn’t want to give Hunter more details. He didn’t need to know that he had trouble lately sleeping through the night. He was welcome to believe that Michael’s bladder was causing problems.
 
“Sure. Good night!”
 
“Don’t stay up too late,” Michael couldn’t help saying.
 
“Er… Vacations start tomorrow…”
 
“Yes. Believe me, I know.” Of course he did. He already dreaded the extra work he’d have over the following week because while it was great for his business and he really loved all his customers, it’d be exhausting.
 
Not believing that he needed to stress his point further, Michael went upstairs. Hunter was a great kid and his instinct of self preservation was helping as well. Hunter was dead set on making life easy for Michael, showing him that he really wanted to be with him.
 
Reaching the top of the stairs Michael’s feet took him to Brian’s room without a conscious decision on his part and he was tempted to open the door in order to check on him. Just a tiny peek, he told himself, and he’d sleep better, knowing that Brian was well. His hand already resting on the handle, Michael forced himself to take it away. That was childish. He was telling Brian every chance he got that they were both adults and used to looking after themselves so imagining his expression when he caught Michael staring at him while he was sleeping off the effects of his business trip was rather terrifying.
 
In the end Michael won the battle and he shut his own door firmly behind himself. Deep down he knew Brian wouldn’t really mind if Michael went into his room but he had been quite distant toward Brian all day long and he shuddered to think what kind of conversation they’d have if Brian woke up.
 
Shrugging his clothes off and dropping them on a chair, Michael reached for his pajamas. He could forego his daily routine of brushing his teeth before bed because he hadn’t had anything to eat since he had brushed them before leaving for his walk. His mother would laugh at that. She always told him that he was obsessed with his dental care but he was almost forty and still the proud owner of all his teeth. His mother hadn’t been so lucky when she had been his age.
 
~+~+~
 
Michael must have fallen asleep without realizing it because it was pitch dark outside when he woke up. It took him awhile to fully come to his senses and only then he registered the ring tone of his cell phone. It was muffled and Michael figured that it still had to be in his jeans pocket. He fumbled for it on the nightstand. Yes, definitely jeans pocket. And that meant he had forgotten to set his alarm which, though quite careless, didn’t bother him much at the moment.
 
Who in the world was calling him now?
 
He briefly considered letting it ring itself to death but was already crawling out of bed, stumbling toward the chair and retrieving the phone. Michael had received enough serious phone calls in his life at various times throughout the day to know that ignoring the phone could be fatal. His sense of responsibility forced him to pick up the phone. Always.
 

 --TBC--
 


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