Anderson has a finger in his ear and one eye on the television when his office door swings open. He looks up, finger still crooked so his tiny pinkie nail can scratch at that annoying itch, and is confronted by the reddened face of Keith Olbermann.
"You have got a lot of nerve," Keith starts.
Anderson debates the wisdom of it, but pulls the finger out--taking a quick glance to check for ear wax--in order to hear him better. "I beg your pardon?"
"A daytime talk show? Really? Looking to corner the Oprah market on desperate housewives? Are you going to start giving out adorable orphans like Toyota Priuses?"
They've gathered a crowd of amused looking interns--he suspects most got turned down from an MSNBC internship, resulting in a high ratio of English and Political Science majors, an uncanny number of whom are lesbians, an alarming percentage of which would like to have their wicked way with Keith Olbermann--and a concerned looking producer, who Anderson absently waves off. He rises and scoots around Keith's massive and heaving form to close the door.
"I don't get it, are you mad because I'm on daytime or are you mad that I'm on at all?" Anderson asks.
"It can't be both?" Keith says, belligerently.
"You're currently in contract talks for, like, eight shows!" Anderson protests.
"That is entirely beside the point, because I am only looking to do one of those shows."
Anderson is missing something vital in this conversation. He often feels that way when talking to Keith. The man isn't known for subtle, but damned if he can't make Anderson think he's been getting the color of the sky wrong all these years based on one innocuous comment about swamp gas and color-blindness.
"So, it's the two shows that are bothering you?"
Keith's face is thunderous. "Why do I even bother? Do you have a brain? Hell, do you have any sense of the impact your decisions have on the people around you?"
Anderson considers that a rather rich assertion given who's making it. But then he remembers.
Oh. Well, shit.
"I'm not trying to get away from you, Keith," Anderson tells him. "This isn't--that."
It seems to have been enough to at least deflate Keith's anger into genuine hurt. Anderson feels his mouth twist involuntarily. He has gotten better at confrontation over a satellite feed, but confrontation with a disappointed loved one is still the pits of discomfort.
"You're getting a show yourself," Anderson says. "I thought, I mean." He doesn't really have any excuse. He likes the talk show format and he's wanted to do a show in that format that doesn't have to discuss Lindsay Lohan or interview the latest kicked-off reality show contestant. He can be a happier version of himself, let the jokes fly a little more freely. At least he hopes--his sense of humor has always been regarded as some kind of taboo to be tittered about and then promptly forgotten in light of his "serious newsman" persona. Still, maybe his partner would have liked to have been involved in the whole decision making process and not made to feel like Anderson is so desperate to escape from his bearded, layabout unemployment that he has to take up a position as the gay, white, and awkward version of Oprah.
"I just didn't think," Anderson says simply. He's not sure what he's supposed to do now. Does he go over and kiss him? Or does he stick his finger back in his ear and hope that looks like unstudied nonchalance and a complete misunderstanding of the rules of, well, courtesy and human decency?
He picks at a scab on his hairline on the back of his neck.
Keith's face unexpectedly clears and he laughs. "All right." He comes up and wraps an arm around Anderson's neck and drags him in, giving him an uncomfortable hug. Anderson half expects a noogie. "But don't think this means you can suddenly stop doing chores."
"Who else is going to fold your nasty underwear?" Anderson grumbles.
"All right, now I have to go and get a show and then--"
"Lose another show?"
It startles a laugh out of Keith. Only Anderson has been allowed to make these kind of jokes. He takes advantage as much as possible.
"Fine, asshole, stay here and build your empire. The couch is missing me," Keith says. He never even took off his coat.
Anderson watches him go then winces at the renewed itch in his ear. He stares at his nail and thinks maybe he'll send one of the interns to buy him some Q-Tips.