"Oh, this Sidney Kidd, ladies and gentlemen, this self-same Sidney Kidd who blackmailed the Screenwriters Guild of America into offering him honorary membership, this Sidney Kidd who was famed for buttery shenanigans with Miss Dairy Queen 1935..."
Dexter looked up at that. Not that it hadn't been hard to concentrate while Mike went on... and on, and on. So many details that Mike was skipping. So many thing Dexter would have to follow up, trying to piece together the real dirt from the man's ramblings. Not to mention that he wanted to laugh - nearly all the time. And that wasn't C.K. Dexter Haven. He didn't laugh. He smiled. He smirked. He occasionally grinned, in an ironic fashion. He didn't actually laugh.
His lips twitched again as he sat, staring up at Mike, watching him talk. He had the most expressive face. And his hands. They were very... mobile. Dexter watched Mike wave the bottle of champagne in the air, hypnotic patterns forming even as he swayed. That was it right there. There was a funny kind of longing in the air.
His hand ached. He'd never written so much since he was at school, and even then it hadn't been like this, concentrated into such a short period of time. Had exams been this bad, and tests? Dexter didn't remember having this much trouble. Ah, but he'd been younger then, hadn't he? They all had been. A faint vision crossed his mind; Red in pigtails and gingham, her knees scabbed and her eyes shining. She'd followed him about when she was small, when their paths had crossed. For all that he'd been that much older, and not interested in brats, she'd still had a way about her. She'd stowed away on his yacht once, and been unrepentant. He'd not have missed it, and he had the memory now. He was glad of that, at least.
"You, sir!" said Mike, suddenly, and Dexter realised he'd been staring.
"You, C.K. Dexter Haven, are not listening to me!" said Mike accusingly, and plumped himself down on the table, right next to Dexter's elbow. Paper went skidding, and Dexter made a grab for it. His pen rolled across the table, dropping blobs of ink on the shining surface, and Dexter sighed faintly. He'd get a scold for that, his housekeeper took no prisoners.
"I thought you wanted to know. I thought you had a plan," Mike said, "I thought you wanted..."
He took a swallow of champagne, and Dexter swallowed with him.
"I do. But I'm not a secretary - and I don't appear to have found my vocation," Dexter said equitably, "It seems that you can dictate faster than I can write. Imagine that."
"Pshaww," Mike snorted, and a gust of champagne-scented air wafted across the room. Dexter blinked.
"I have a cramp," he tried. It seemed simplest.
Mike stared back with the horribly detailed scrutiny that only children and the extremely inebriated seem to manage.
"Then, C.K. Dexter Haven - can I call you C.K. Dexter Haven? I will help you."
"Call me Dext," said Dexter, "All my enemies do."
"Ah, but I'm not your enemy, D...Dext," said Mike, hiccupping, "I am the enemy of your class, and your pyjamas." He flipped the collar, just to illustrate. Mike's fingers were very long.
Dexter wanted to laugh again, and restrained himself. He wanted to cry too, somehow. But that was easier to hold back. He'd been doing that for a long time.
"My friends also call me Dext, you know. It's often hard to distinguish between them in the dark."
Mike leaned forward a little, looming over Dexter. He really was remarkably tall, all angles and knobbly wrists. Dexter realised he'd been noticing a lot of physical details. That was a bad sign. The green glass of the bottle rested on Mike's thigh, Dexter could see his bookshelves distorted through the translucent glass. He wondered how many other things would be green, and distorted, before tomorrow's dawn.
"Here," Mike said, and picked up his hand. Dexter wondered if he should protest.
Mike began to massage Dexter's fingers, his wrist. He had to concentrate to do it, his tongue sticking out, a very little. Dexter could smell smoke clinging from the party, the spiciness of aftershave. The tiny rustle from Mike's wool jacket, like a susurration from a distant sea. And the sweet scent of alcohol wrapping it all up like a present.
He might be rich, but he couldn't buy everything. He couldn't buy Tracy, swathed in her image of Kittredge the perfect man. He couldn't buy true love, although he could the sell the True Love. He couldn't even buy this, Mike might deck him if he tried.
But Dexter wasn't sure he could pay the price again, if he risked the other alternative - winking at him from its green glass home.
So, what was left? Mike's fingers were warm and calloused. It had been a long time since Dexter had let himself feel a temptation, but it was that kind of a night. A reckless, awakened night - and him in his pyjamas. He wanted to laugh again, and that sealed it for him. Mike had wanted something - he'd come knocking here himself. Knocking, knocking on the mansion door. And the raven quoth...
Dexter found his skin was prickling, his body shivering, as Mike dug into the muscles at the base of his thumb. And Dexter realised when Mike looked up, that he'd made a sound. A groan, even, perhaps. How... unrestrained of him. Mike's eyes were very blue.
There was never a perfect moment. Red probably thought there ought to be - she thought there should be order and rationality to everything. To love even, the most unrestrained passion of all. But life was messier than that, and she'd learn it someday. Dexter hoped she'd learn it someday.
Dexter leaned forward and Mike didn't move away. Their noses bumped, and Dexter felt the beginnings of stubble scrape his lip, his chin. Mike opened his mouth, and then there was heat, and the slip sliding of tongues, and Dexter felt Mike push a hand into his hair. He was rough and the hair was yanked, because Mike was a clumsy drunk. It felt fantastic.
Dexter opened his mouth wider, because he wasn't a man who laughed, or cried, or mourned his true love. He'd learned to live in the moment. He'd had to. The bottle Mike was still clutching bumped against his shoulder, and Dexter thought, beat you too.
He opened his mouth and he tasted. Life, and love, and all the sweetness he'd ever left behind.