451. Shattered Dreams

Once I thought about it I realized that I heard things all the time about television series being cancelled. You hear more about the ones that are on the air and then get cut off. I was vaguely aware that there were those that never made it to air in the first place, but I had not given it much thought. It was just one of those things, like tornadoes or famine, that you hear about in the news but which had never affected me directly before.

It had not occurred to me that it could happen to us, to Jonathan. I honestly had tried not to get sucked into the details of what all was going on, which had been fairly easy to do since Jonathan, for the most part, had been trying to hide how shitty it was to work as part of this development team in the first place. He hadn’t been successful at hiding that part, of course, but I’d had no idea something like this was coming. And J? J was caught by surprise because of the “stealth” way they did it.

He had a good cry. The phone rang at one point and he let the machine pick up. It was his agent. She sounded livid and mournful at the same time.

When he was done crying he felt better. I wasn’t sure how to feel, other than because of my own situation with BNC I sympathized. We were still sitting on the couch, wrapped around each other. I was starting to hate that couch, though.

“I want to wash my face,” he said. “But I don’t want to get up.”

“Wash your face later,” I said. “Here. I’ll lick it for you.”

I licked him on the cheek and he laughed and tried to get away, and I got in another good lick on his ear before he managed to escape.

He was laughing again and I felt triumphant, which was good. He took the opportunity to wash his face, then came back. “Ugh. Now I have to tell everyone that I’m a failure.”

I was stretching while I had a chance, trying to touch my toes, and I snapped upright. “Whoa, waitasecond. You are not a failure.”

“I know, I know, it’s just an expression.”

“No, seriously, you don’t think them pulling the plug had anything to do with you, did you?”

He sighed. “I… I really hope not.”

A cold, creeping thought spread insidiously in my brain and I shivered. What if this was the same exact thing for J as it had been for me? What if someone higher up didn’t like gays? “You don’t think it was a gay thing, do you?”

His laugh was bitter. “Daron, honestly. At least half the writers are gay, maybe more of the management.”

“Oh. Really?” I tried to touch my toes again. In the months since I’d been off the road I’d gotten out of shape.

“Really. Hollywood is full of gay power brokers. We run this town.”

“Huh. I don’t even know what to think about that.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, if we run this town…” Why is it such a shithole? “Why is everyone still in the closet?”

“Well, you know, things are changing.”

“Not fast enough,” I said, pretty much without thinking.

Jonathan was standing on the step up from the living room to the “dining” area, his work shirt untucked but still buttoned, his hair damp around his face. He crossed his arms. “You know, everyone who is still in the closet is part of the problem.”

Bam. Just like that, we were having a fight. “I’m part of the problem? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Think about it. Every person who is in the closet encourages everyone else to stay there. To maintain the status quo–”

“You’re saying I did this to myself?”

“No! I’m saying, though, that if you insist on keeping it secret, you prop up the very structure that oppresses you.”

“So you are saying it’s my fault. Mills put a bullet in my career because I’m gay, and you’re telling me it’s my fault?”

“This isn’t about you, Daron!”

“The fuck it’s not! You’re the one who just gave me the hairy judgmental eyeball and used the word YOU.”

And then we stared at each other for several long seconds, like two tomcats all puffed up and ready to start clawing.

Jonathan deflated first. “I’m sorry. That was totally uncalled for.”

I deflated a little bit, from outright angry to merely frustrated. “You know, I just noticed how often you say those words. They’re starting to not mean anything to me.”

He looked puzzled. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, you say them like rote, which now that I know you makes them sound insincere. Like when guys belch and then say ‘excuse me’ to be so-called polite when actually that doesn’t make it polite, does it?”

Jonathan did a double take. “I think I missed something here.”

“It’s just this. I’m trying to tell you. I know you’re probably genuinely apologetic. But when those exact words pop out so easily you come off sounding fake. Like do you actually believe that was uncalled for? Or was that just a phrase you learned to say to placate people?”

He blinked at me. “I never thought of it that way.”

I felt a breath of relief. I’m not sure why. I guess because not only was the fight, brief as it was, over, but it seemed like maybe I had made a valid point.

He was looking at the ceiling above my head. Or, well, he wasn’t looking at anything. “Examined subtextually, that’s really fascinating,” he said. “The whole subtext of apology is… what causes the need for apology is transgression against the status quo, and so as long as the status quo is repaired, that is, if the transgressor conforms to the rules that were broken by stating the correct, proscribed words, then the needs of status quo are maintained. And yeah, there is a way in which that entire form of social interaction is morally bankrupt and devoid of genuine semantic meaning.”

“Spoken like a true Ivy leaguer,” I said. “Does that mean you’re actually sorry?”

“It does.”

I went and kissed him to prove I believed him. “Can we go out and get ice cream now? I feel like we deserve ice cream after everything that’s happened.”

“You sure you don’t want to go out for a stiff drink?”

I snorted. “Too conformist. Besides, I like my liver.”

“Ice cream it is, then.”

We drove to a place for ice cream. After that we got a little hungry for real food, so we drove around, and we went past one of the clubs where we had gone to shows a lot when we’d first moved here, and we ended up going to eat nearby so we could wait around to go in, and we saw some local bands, totally forgettable but adequately loud and entertaining for an excuse to be out of the house. It made me realize how long it had been since we’d gone out. Was that all about Jonathan trying to toe the line at the job he didn’t have anymore? Or was that how it would have been anyway?

Hard to know.

It was past midnight when we got home but I could see the living room light on in the apartment upstairs. I have no idea if that is partly what led to us having sex on the couch, which we had never done in that apartment. We’d always gotten in bed. Or the shower. Though it was a long time since we’d done that, either.

We left a fairly huge come stain on the couch, in fact. Maybe I hated it less after that.


  • Connie says:

    So is this gonna be the pattern until the lease is up? Getting pissy (the American version, not the British version, of course), then apology, then make up sex?

  • *covers face* Oh, Lord, please, stop this, it’s so wrong. Stop acting like lovers. STOP THE CYCLE.

  • sanders says:

    This kinder, gentler break-up… is the same relationship it’s been for the last six months only with more arguments. It’s getting depressing to look forward to the updates and then get more of the same and be filled with absolute dread that it’s just going to drag on for months both for you, Daron, and for us as readers.

    • AshleyM says:

      Exactly what I’ve been thinking…

    • Linda says:

      Jonathan! Ugh! You are still pDaron.

      • Linda says:

        I really hate replying using my kindle… please disregard the previous post! What I wanted to say was, I agree Sanders….this “break-up” is dragging out too long. I know you want to be friends and end it gently but the daily sex has to stop, please….UGH! I think Jonathan believes you are still a couple. I think you are still a couple!

        • daron says:

          Well, we ARE still a couple, until we separate before Christmas. Seriously, that’s what we agreed to.

          • sanders says:

            See, the thing is, you were swearing last post that you weren’t actually still a couple but broken up. Also, you had started to pack and separate your things.

            • daron says:

              I didn’t start to pack, just move stuff around. And this grace period is… dammit, ctan’s going to kill me if I say any more because I’ll verge into spoilers. I suppose it’s never a surprise to say nothing goes exactly as I think it will, but it rarely goes as anyone else thinks it will either…

              • Joe says:

                Best comment in a while. 🙂

              • sanders says:

                I really hope the rest of that sentence was “going to be interrupted by Ziggy’s return” or “not last until Christmas because we’re going to come to our senses” or “be subject to the kind of time jump that used to happen earlier in the story and be summed up in two sentences after which I’ll be back in Boston.”

          • Linda says:

            I am sorry, I must have misunderstood you over the last few posts. I thought you had an “epic break-up” and you were just friends helping each other out until the lease is up. So, you ARE still a couple. No break-up yet, that will come at Christmas? I guess I got confused with your words and actions. Feels like mixed signals. Break-up, doing “couple” things, packing/moving things around, daily sex. Interesting. I have 2 Christmas wishes, a REAL break-up and some form of contact from Ziggy!!! I don’t want to be mean, Daron, I know this is hard for you but it is equally frustrating for me reading it! Sorry!

            • daron says:

              We did have an epic breakup conversation, in which we decided to break up, and also decided we’d stick together for another month. Maybe I’m just stupid about relationships (admittedly, I am) but that doesn’t seem that unclear to me. I suppose what matters most is that it’s clear to me and it’s clear to J. You feel like you’re getting mixed signals, but I don’t.

    • daron says:

      There are more arguments because I have no incentive to keep the peace anymore because it’ll all be over by Christmas. This is what the relationship would have been like if I’d been speaking my mind all along instead of biting my tongue for the sake of trying to be “good.” I don’t have to hold back from speaking and Jonathan doesn’t have to hold back from sex. (Not that I understood why he felt he needed to ration himself in the first place…)

  • Kirk says:

    This relationship is frustrating ME, and I’m not even in it!!!!!

  • I hate to say this, but it’s time to move along. Daron and Jonathan have managed to bore each other to death. The comments on this post should make it abundantly clear that this interminable relationship is doing the same to us fans.

    Time to make SOMETHING happen. Anything would be OK.

    • ctan says:

      Sorry you’re bored, Alan! I don’t actually change the story based on comments, though. The twists and turns are plotted out in advance and I usually have several chapters written ahead before one posts. (And if requests for the Jonathan make-up sex scene are any indication, many readers are “Team Jonathan,” even if the most vocal commenters lately haven’t been.)

      • Amber says:

        Speaking of bonus scenes; I have a question for whomever cares to answer. How many bonus scenes are there now? I have the first three. I know I am missing the one where Daron is in California and rents a car and goes off by himself. And I am missing the Ziggy/Colin story. I also think I am missing one with Jonathan, not counting the make up sex one. I want to make one big donation and get all the ones I am missing but I am just wondering how many total I am missing. Thanks.

        • ctan says:

          Amber, there are 6 bonus scenes, not counting “Daron’s Night Out” which was a Kickstarter only story. I may make that one available again in the next Kickstarter…? But the others are:
          1. Daron & Ziggy first time
          2. Another Daron and Ziggy from soon after
          3. Daron & Jonathan date in Boston
          4. Daron & Jonathan in New York
          5. Colin & Ziggy in New York
          6. Daron & Jonathan make-up sex

    • Bill Heath says:

      The time with Jonathan is a key narrative about Daron coming of age. He learns, he grows, he grows, he learns. This interlude is central to the story.

  • Anon says:

    I don’t get what all the complaining in the comments is about.

    • daron says:

      It’s ok. Folks are passionately rooting for me to be happy and not miserable. They’ve each got very different ideas of what’ll work in a relationship though!

  • ed69 says:

    daron you are thinking with the wrong head

  • jeep says:

    i been away for a while and finally got back to the story and i’m so glad i did!

  • s says:

    Oddly, this time around, with a couple years distance and 400+ chapters read, I don’t feel as…resentful? disgusted? annoyed? Idk… by the relationship with Jonathan as I did the first time through. I don’t dislike him as much as I did before. I just wanted him gone, from the moment he turned up in New York, I just wanted him gone, and I HATED every second of your relationship with him. But this time? Idk, I feel… different. I can’t really describe it, and I’m glad it’s over because I couldn’t stand what he was doing to you, but I think maybe I’m more objective about it this time. I think you did a good thing by staying to work on the friendship and, knowing you the way we do, it makes sense that you continued having sex with him. You grew up so much in those final days together.

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