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To A Stranger

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TO A STRANGER

by Molly Hooper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright © Molly Hooper, 2010

 

No portion of this document may be performed, published, reproduced, sold, or distributed
by any means either currently known or yet to be invented, or quoted or published
in any medium, including on any web site, without the proper written consent of Molly Hooper.
Disposal of this document does not alter any of the restrictions set forth above.

 

St. Bart's Agency
Los Angeles, CA

 

 

 


 

 

 

01               OPENING               01

 The screen is dark.

MUSIC: Minimalist but evocative, a plaintive violin and a piano. A quiet guitar joins in. 

A hydrangea blossoms slowly and from the unfurling petals grow the title:

TITLE CARD: To a Stranger

CREDIT CARD: an Ang Lee film

CUT TO:

 

02     INT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE - A HALLWAY. DAY.      02

 MARK - a man in his late 30s who is, on the surface, entirely unremarkable - is waiting on a bench in the starkly-lit hallway of the hospital. His brother is in surgery.

Mark is miserably, weightily weary. He looks like he hasn't shaved in a few days, his boring hair is unkempt from his fretting, and his clothes, while of good quality, are rumpled. He is on the far left of the frame, seated alone, knees together, hands on his thighs, looking straight ahead. The frame is empty of anyone save him.

Slow dolly out.

In trickles, the hallway grows busy - people rush by, their faces out of frame. The world seems to be moving in fast-forward; Mark is living in slow-mo. His every gesture is a struggle through molasses.

A NURSE knocks into small table beside the bench as she rushes past. The nurse catches a vase of flowers before it upends, and places it back onto the table, then goes on her way. But a double-headed hydrangea blossom has fallen out onto the floor.

CLOSE ON:

Mark picks up the flower and contemplates it.

BENJAMIN - dressed from what we can see in surgery greens and an impeccably pressed lab coat - comes to stand in front of Mark. His back is to the camera. He is cool and aloof, and waits for Mark to look up.

Mark takes his time raising his eyes to meet Benjamin's, afraid of what this doctor is about to say. He sets aside the hydrangea.

BENJAMIN
Mark Farthing?

MARK
Yes.

A hand reaches out - offering a business card. Mark, a little dazed, takes it.

BENJAMIN
I'm Doctor Benjamin Cummings. I'm--

MARK
I know. James?

A beat. Finally the camera finds Benjamin's face: he is in his mid-30s, slim, with a face so intelligent and sharp you could cut your hand trying to pinch his cheeks. He has a riot of luxurious, dark curls that are sweaty and matted from hours under a surgery cap. Benjamin isn't discomfited so much as annoyed that Mark has thrown him off his spiel.

BENJAMIN
Your brother is out of surgery, and has been moved into a recovery room.

MARK
And the surgery? Did you... did you get it all?

Another long moment of silence. Benjamin doesn't answer.

MARK (CON'T)
I... I see. Ah. Thank you. Doctor.

Visibly attempting to hold back distress, Mark stands up to shake Benjamin's hand. Benjamin does not take it.

WIDE ON:

Mark drops his hand and jams it into his pocket, uncomfortable.

Benjamin checks his clipboard and launches into his previously aborted spiel:

BENJAMIN
The surgery was, as far as I am allowed to say, a complete success.
The cancerous tumors were removed via laparoscopic surgery.
While this form of cancer can metastasize, I am confident that
Mr. Farthing will fully recover and have a complete remission.
That said, I would like to consult with his MD-Team and schedule
a follow up appointment to discuss a course of targeted chemotherapy to
prevent recurrence.

Mark is poleaxed, unable to follow what Benjamin is saying, especially at the speed the doctor is rattling off his diagnosis. He's also off-put by the arrogance in Benjamin's tone and word choices. He shakes his head, trying to get some energy up so he can pay attention.

MARK
I... alright. I can... I can schedule an... an appointment.

BENJAMIN
See that you do. There will be counselling sessions to book as well.
The hospital will recommend a psychiatrist once your brother has been discharged,
though he's welcome to attend an alternative choice. Nevertheless,
that doctor must report back to me as head of the MD-team.
Once Mr. Farthing is awake we will be moving him into a private room.
You will be taking him home in two days.

MARK
I will?

BENJAMIN
Yes. The incision was under his left armpit, so as his caregiver you must ensure
that he wears loose clothing and does not rotate or lift his arm extensively
for at least one week. This includes no video games, no driving, and no
reaching or lifting. No submersion in water until the skin has closed.
Change the butterfly bandage only after the first three days, and once per day thereafter.

MARK
But, the lump... I mean, you can't give someone with no tits a mastectomy...

Benjamin offers Mark a scathing look.

BENJAMIN
Consult with his physiotherapist for a recovery regime.

MARK
But the... the breast tissue...

BENJAMIN
Mr. Farthing. With all due respect, there is a reason that I am head of the
oncological surgery team here.

Mark
Ah. Yes. I just... I read--

BENJAMIN
On the internet, I presume?

Mark
Well, yes. James wanted me to ask about--

BENJAMIN
Then your brother may ask me when we meet for his followup appointment.
Now, if you'll excuse me, Mr. Farthing, with all due respect this has been a very long day
and I should like to check up on your brother and then end it.

Mark
Wha...? Yes. Of... of course. Thank you. Can I go in to see--

Mark raises his hand to shake again, but Benjamin doesn't even wait for him to finish his sentence before turning on his heel and walking off.

MARK (CON'T)
Asshole.

Mark jams the business card in his wallet, and walks to the nurse's station to find out where they took his brother.

 

03     INT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE - JAMES' ROOM. DAY.     03

JAMES is asleep. He is on a stand-drip, and hooked up to some machines, but his face is free of tubing and he is tucked in neatly.

The camera lingers on his face and, surprise, it turns out that James and Mark are identical twins. James, however, is much more fit, his face less weary and more tanned.

Mark lets himself into James' room, quietly shutting the door behind him. He sits in the chair by the bed, and watches James' face intently for a moment.

Mark reaches out and places his hand on James' chest, just feeling him breathe. Slowly, the tiredness returning, Mark takes James' hand.

 

04          EST. CONDO BUILDING. NIGHT.          04

Pure Spirits Condo in the Distillery District.

A condominium near downtown, overlooking the harbour. It's all glass and chrome, clearly expensive and the stomping grounds of well-heeled professionals. 

 

05     INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE OF JAMES' CONDO. night.     05

The hallway is clean, kept up, and fairly newish. Everything is muted and tasteful, the colours just this side of cold.

Mark is walking towards James' condo, juggling grocery bags, a garment bag, and a wheelie suitcase. He fumbles and mutters with the keys.

He nearly drops everything in his exhaustion.

A neighbor comes up the hall behind him. From the back of his head, it is clear that it is Benjamin, but Mark cannot see that.

MARK
Hey, sorry, could you help me figure out which--

The neighbor utterly ignores him and lets himself into his own condo and shuts the door.

MARK (CON'T)
(to himself)
Asshole!

 

06     INT. JAMES' CONDO. DAY.     06

The condo consists of an entry way with a closet on one side and a narrow table with a bowl for bric-a-brac on the other. The entry way opens nearly immediately onto an open-plan living room/dining room/kitchen. 

The kitchen is to the left, the living room directly off the entry way, and the dining room behind that, with the table up against the glass wall that overlooks a balcony. His condo faces the perennial construction pit that is the Lower Don Valley neighborhood.

To the right, a hallway leads to James' room, the guest room/office, and a bathroom.

The balcony is populated by a bike, some old plant pots, and a very crappy man-cave style armchair. The dining room consists of flat-pack-special table with two chairs, and a tall glass shelf unit behind that of an array of tempting, masculine liqour bottles and glasses.

The living room is dominated by a massive television on a low-slung entertainment unit, again a flat-pack special, but well cared for, and borded on either side by bookshelves filled with gaming systems, video games, and blu-ray cases. Things are a bit dusty, and well loved, but generally neat. The sofa is leather.

The kitchen, by contrast to the rest of the place, is nearly barren. The only appliances on the counter are an old, battered coffee machine and an equally crappy toaster leftover from his student days. The shelves are only half-filled. There is a big bowl on the counter of individually-wrapped single-use plastic cutlery and another of the kinds of packets of sauces that come from take-out. 

James is a man who respects his stuff, even if it's not top quality. He's also a man who eats take-out a lot.

The walls are decorated with sports memorabilia - his own framed jersey from his hockey days in college, a nail hung with a season's pass to the Leafs, etc.  

Right in the entry-way there are framed photos on the wall of James' police academy graduation, his certificate in Police Services, and a goofy photo of Mark wearing James' dress uniform hat at a bar.

Mark lets himself in and drops everything he is carrying in the entry way, exhausted.

James' cat HIGHTOWER greets Mark at the door.

MARK
Hello, you menace.

Mark spares Hightower a scritch, hauls the groceries into the kitchen, feeds Hightower, and takes his bag to the spare room.

On his way back out, Mark pauses in the threshold of his brother's room.

 

07     INT. JAMES' CONDO - JAMES' BEDROOM. DAY.     07

This is clearly a bachelor's bedroom; everything in here is designed to seduce. The bed is made up with pillows in reds and burgundies, a sort of cheap looking sateen. There's a champagne bottle on one of the side tables with the remains of a melted-down candle sticking out if its mouth. The dresser is tall, and the top littered with a bowl of condoms, a bottle of massage oil, and a book of matches.

The closet is open, and Mark moves to close it. He pauses, hand on the handle, and looks up at the safe resting on the top shelf above where James' uniforms are hung. He reaches up. Hesitates. He very tentatively tugs the handle. The safe doesn't budge. He tugs harder. It doesn't open.

Mark reaches up and tries to pull the safe down. It is bolted in place.

Mark sighs and closes the closet door.

 

08     EST. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE. DAY.     08

Corner of Murray St. and Orde St.

 

09     INT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE - JAMES' ROOM. DAY.     09

Mark is sitting by James' bedside, reading through a stack of medical brochures and pamphlets, and printouts from the internet. He is fidgety: crossing and uncrossing his legs, having trouble paying attention. His eyes stay on the pamphlet, but his fingers tap, his knee bounces, he chews on his lip, etc.

James is watching TV, doped up to the gills. 

The show is some cop procedural, and James snorts at some antic onscreen, then grimaces and puts his free hand over his left shoulder.

JAMES
Fuck, ow.

MARK
(without looking up)
Don't move it.

JAMES
I didn't move it. I laughed.

MARK
Then don't laugh.

JAMES
(jerking his head at the TV)
They got the Miranda Rights wrong.

Mark sighs, long suffering, and finally looks up.

MARK
James...

JAMES
Yeah, yeah.

MARK
Does it...? Does it hurt more? I can call a nurse...

Mark stands and moves toward the door, but stops when James says:

JAMES
Fuck's sake, Mark. I'm fine.

MARK
I'm just trying to--

JAMES
I know.

MARK
Well it's not like you'd ever speak up.

JAMES
(dismissive)
Yeah, okay.

MARK
So you gotta work with me, punk, you gotta--

JAMES
I know! Fuck, okay Mark? I know! Fuck... owww.

MARK
See, this is exactly what I'm talking about! You never... you never let me help.

JAMES
I'm a grown ass man, and I don't need your--

MARK
You do! Shut up, James, you do!

JAMES
Aww, shut up. Jesus, I'm not dying.

MARK
(furious outburst)
Not anymore!

James is surprised by the force of Mark's anger.

MARK (CON'T)
Jesus, James, do you have any idea what this has been... what I've been... god dammit.

Mark covers his face, barely holding it together, but not willing to let his macho brother see it.

MARK (CON'T)
Fuck.

James, uncomfortable by this display of emotion, resumes watching TV. Mark takes a long moment to get himself together, huffing and pressing his lips into lines and swallowing his heart.

MARK (CON'T)
You want a coffee?

JAMES
(snide)
Do your pamphlets say I'm allowed?

MARK
(angry again)
I'm just trying to make sure that you-- aww, fuck. Who cares what they say? Do you want a coffee?

JAMES
Yeah.

MARK
Yeah. Fine. Yeah.

Mark leaves the room.

 

10     INT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE - A HALLWAY. DAY.     10

Mark leans against the wall, taking a moment to breathe and calm down. Then he heads towards the cafeteria.

The double-headed hydrangea is still in the vase by the sofa. He plucks it out and chucks it in the garbage, punching the flap viciously as he walks by.

 

11     INT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE - Cafeteria. DAY.     11

The man at the end of the coffee line is Benjamin. Mark hesitates when he realizes it's him, then nuts up and gets in line behind the doctor.

There is a curl at the back of Benjamin's neck and Mark becomes transfixed with it.

When Benjamin has paid and turns to go, Mark makes as if to say hello. Benjamin doesn't even notice him, and walks right by.

Mark deflates. Then he steps up, and orders two coffees.

 

12     INT. JAMES' CONDO. DAY.     12

CLOSE ON:

Hightower waiting patiently at the door. It opens, and Mark and James shuffle through. Mark has his hands full with James' overnight bag, and a large pizza box.

James is drawn. He shuffles straight to the sofa.

MARK
Gimmie a sec and I'll help you--

James lowers himself gingerly down into the corner of the sofa, not waiting for Mark.

MARK (CON'T)
Or not.

Mark sets the pizza on the coffee table within reach and leaves the room to put away James' bag.

Hightower jumps up onto James' lap. James uses his good arm to pet the cat.

JAMES
Hello, you menace.

James opens the box, pulls out a slice, and picks off the pepperoni. He holds it out for Hightower, who is eagerly anticipating this offer. The cat eats with relish. James, on the other hand, takes a bite of his pizza and doesn't look too thrilled about it.

 

13     INT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE - BENJAMIN'S OFFICE. DAY.     13

Benjamin has a corner office overlooking the busy University street. His desk is overlarge and richly polished, with a leather blotter and tasteful wood-and-gold nameplate and stationary-holder set. Even his in and out boxes are leather, not plastic. 

The chairs for patients are leather club seats, and his own desk chair is leather and impressive. There is a credenza/filing cabinet of a matching wood all along the wall behind his desk, over which are hung light-boxes and chart-holders.

Benjamin is clearly a Very Important Doctor at the hospital.

Tacked up behind Benjamin are an MRI and a CT scan of James' chest.

Mark and James are sitting on one side of the desk, Benjamin on the other, like a king holding court.

There are hydrangeas in the vase on the corner of Ben's desk, and Mark can't tear his eyes away from them. Anything is better than looking at the scans.

BENJAMIN
I am quite confident that we caught every tumor, Mr. Farthing.
That you will be entering a course of chemotherapy is, obviously, nonnegotiable.
But at this point it is more of a safety procedure than a necessity.

MARK
Of course. There's no question of that.

JAMES
(to Mark)
Dude, you could let me--

MARK
Sorry. Of course.

Benjamin watches the byplay between with brothers with stony indifference.

BENJAMIN
I've sent a chemotherapy requisition to the department, so you should
be receiving a phone call regarding your first appointment within the week.

JAMES
Thanks, man.

Benjamin clearly does not like being called "man."

BENJAMIN
You will attend.

JAMES
Yeah, sure.

Benjamin looks to Mark for confirmation, but Mark is too chastised to comment. He's feeling a little resentful; he was just trying to take care of his brother.

Benjamin stands and gathers up his notes to keep from having to shake hands.

BENJAMIN
Well then. Good day, Mr. Farthing. And welcome to remission.

JAMES
Yeah, man! Yeah! Thanks! Feels awesome.

James sticks out his left hand to shake, and Benjamin raises an eyebrow at him and does not take it.

JAMES (CON'T)
Right, right. Sorry. Thanks doc.

James shoves his left arm back into his sling, wincing.

BENJAMIN
You're welcome. I'm sure.

Mark stands now, and knows better than to hold out his hand. The brothers leave the office. Benjamin stares after them, his expression unreadable. His eyes drop down on the Farthing twin's bodies for a moment, then jump back up. He shakes his head, annoyed with himself.

BENJAMIN (CON'T)
(to himself; snide)
Ah yes, very professional, doctor.

Benjamin closes the door of his office.

 

14     Est. A LOW-RISE OFFICE BUILDING. DAY.     14

A red-brick office building that has seen better days, in among the low-income community housing and run-down apartment buildings of the Leslieville area.

 

15     INT. MARK'S OFFICE. DAY.     15

Mark is one of two partners in a small family law firm. His office is a bit cramped, and his furniture is scuffed and worn, but it is all clean. His windows, shaded by cheap vertical blinds, open on an alley way.

Mark is on speaker phone with James.

He is distracted, shuffling through papers looking for something. His office is otherwise freakishly tidy, but the file folder in his hands looks like it's vomited all over the blotter.

As this conversation progresses the camera cuts back and forth between the brothers.

MARK
Well, no, James, in fact I don't think it's a good idea.

 

16     INT. JAMES' CONDO. DAY.     16

James is seated on his sofa and, contrary to orders, is playing a video game. He's got his phone tucked between his shoulder and his ear, and he winces when he jerks his controller.

JAMES
The precinct is playing the 107th and I--

 

17     INT. MARK'S OFFICE. DAY.     17

Mark points his pen at the phone, scolding.

MARK
Cannot bowl.

 

18     INT. JAMES' CONDO. DAY.     18

JAMES
Jesus, mom, it's been a week.

He throws down his controller.

 

19     INT. MARK'S OFFICE. DAY.     19

MARK
Your first chemo is tomorrow afternoon.

 

20     INT. JAMES' CONDO. DAY.     20

JAMES
(frustrated)
Stop micromanaging. I'm a big boy, man. I can lift a--

 

21     INT. MARK'S OFFICE. DAY.     21

MARK
You absolutely cannot. If you promised me that you'd just sit and watch,
I would have no problems with it, but I know you. You'll have a few beers,
get it into your head that you're invincible, then rip open your incisions.
They've barely healed over and--

JAMES (OVERLAPPING)(O.S)
I don't think I'm invincible, Mark I-

Mark is growing angrier and angrier. He stands up, planting his hands on the desk, and getting very red and shouty.

MARK
Yes, you do. That's half the reason we're in this situation in the first place!
You never go to your annual checkups, you never listened--

JAMES (O.S.)
Jesus, Mark!

MARK (OVERLAPPING)
--to what your own goddamn body was trying to tell you for eight goddamn months--

 

22     INT. JAMES' CONDO. DAY.     22

JAMES
Mark!

MARK (O.S.)
-- and all you care about is your goddamn macho pride and what your buddies will think of you!
Well, guess what, we're not nineteen any more--

JAMES
Mark!

 

23     INT. MARK'S OFFICE. DAY.     23

MARK
--and if you can't handle yourself like the gun-wielding, badge-wearing
adult that you're supposed to be then you can just damn well put up with your
faggot brother micromanaging your social life!

There is stunned silence on the other end of the line. Mark blows out a groan, regretting what he's said instantly.

JAMES (O.S.)
Hey, fuck you, man. I haven't called you a faggot in literally a decade.

MARK
I'm sorry.

JAMES (O.S.)
Fuck your 'sorry'. That was low.

Another long silence. Mark is angry still, but it's bleeding out. Mark sinks down into his chair, covers his face, exhausted.

 

24     INT. JAMES' CONDO. DAY.     24

JAMES
Fine. I won't go.

MARK (O.S.)
Thank you.

James sits back, stung and pretending like he's not, shoving down his emotions.

JAMES
(falsely nonchalant)
What would I say to the guys, anyway?

A pause.

MARK (O.S.)
You could tell them the truth.

James shifts on the sofa. He doesn't like that idea at all.

MARK (CON'T)(O.S.)
There's nothing shameful in a man with bre--

JAMES
(sharp)
I said no, man.

 

25     INT. MARK'S OFFICE. DAY.     25

Mark is startled with how vehement James is about keeping this a secret.

MARK
Okay. Right. Okay.

A beat.

JAMES (O.S.)
Feel like Thai tonight?

MARK
Yeah. Yeah, sure. I'm leaving work soon. Uh, as soon as I get
this damn Brabant case file in some sort of order.

JAMES (O.S.)
So, around midnight then?

Mark laughs. It is a relieved laugh, a genuine laugh. He hasn't had many of those lately, and he startles himself.

MARK
Yeah. Yeah. I'll be home soon. Call ahead - I'll pick it up on my way back.

JAMES (O.S.)
'kay.

Mark hangs up.

 

26     INT. THE THAI PLACE. NIGHT.     26

The restaurant is little more than a battered counter, an ancient cash register, a blackboard with hand-written specials, and beat-up linoleum that is peeling and cracking. The walls are painted a sort of dirty terra cotta and haphazardly decorated with all sorts of random charity-shop art.

Mark, rumpled and carrying the Brabant file (it's marked as such), gets into the queue. There are about four people ahead of him.

The CASHIER behind the counter sees him and makes a gesture to him that his order is nearly ready. Obviously, James comes here a lot.

Benjamin is ahead of him in line again, though it takes Mark a moment of fatigued staring to realize it. That little curl on the nape of Benjamin's neck is way too appealing in Mark's tired state.

When Benjamin receives his order and turns to leave, Mark tries to say hello again, and again is ignored. 

Already filled with residual anger over his fight with James, Mark snatches his order off the counter, throws down his money, and chases Benjamin out the door.

 

27     EXT. STREET OUTSIDE THE THAI PLACE. NIGHT.     27

The Thai place is just a few doors down from the Condo, in the Distillery District.

Mark stomps across the cobblestone after Benjamin.

MARK
What the hell is wrong with you?

Startled, not expecting to be accosted, Benjamin freezes. Mark catches up to him, puffing, indignant, and circles around Benjamin to get in his face.

BENJAMIN
Well, I'm not the one yelling at strangers in the street, for one.

MARK
Strangers! God, you can't even-- no. No, of course not.

Mark deflates. He feels like ten kinds of idiot.

MARK (CON'T)
Right. You must see a hundred patients a day. And most of
them are dying so you probably don't bother to--

BENJAMIN
Oh, no. I do remember the dying ones. Always.

MARK
What? Why?

BENJAMIN
Because they were the failures. They were the mistakes
I will not allow myself to make again.

MARK
Well that's... cold.

BENJAMIN
It is efficient. My job is cut cancer out of people, Mr. Farthing.
Not to be a bleeding heart. Good evening.

Benjamin swings away, and using a key fob, enters James' condo building. He clearly also lives there.

Mark watches him go, and then the fact that Benjamin used his last name clicks, and he scrambles to catch up, getting through the door before it closes.

 

28     INT. LOBBY OF JAMES' CONDO BUILDING. NIGHT.     28

Mark follows Benjamin to the elevator.

MARK
Hey, no, wait a second. You do know me.

Benjamin sighs, put out.

BENJAMIN
Yes, I remember who you are, Mr. Farthing. Twin brother of a male breast
cancer patient. It is singular enough to stick in one's mind.

MARK
So why did you--?

The elevator arrives. Mark pushes the button for James' floor. Benjamin does not push a button.

BENJAMIN
Would you be interested in making small talk with the man who
shouted at you in the street?

MARK
(trying for flirty)
No, I guess not.

BENJAMIN
Then you guess correctly.

The elevator stops on their floor. Benjamin exits.

BENJAMIN (CON'T)
Good evening, Mr. Farthing.

MARK
I, uh. Good evening, Dr. Cummings.

Mark exits the elevator, and watches as Benjamin lets himself into an condo a few doors down from James'. Then he sighs and heads back to his temporary home.

 

29     INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE JAMES' CONDO. DAY.     29

It is the next morning. Mark is looking put together, like the lawyer he is, and he is holding two takeaway cups of coffee. He is standing in front of Benjamin's condo door.

He takes a moment to collect himself, then knocks.

Benjamin, clearly on his way out to work, opens the door whilst tying his tie.

BENJAMIN
Yes? What?

MARK
I... um, I wanted to apologize for--

BENJAMIN
Oh, for god's sake.

MARK
What?

BENJAMIN
No.

MARK
That's it? Just no?

BENJAMIN
No, I will not accept bribes to help your brother get better care.
He already has the best. He is fine.

MARK
(spluttering)
I didn't... that's not why I...

BENJAMIN
Or that I'm a doctor? I wasn't certain you played for my team,
but who can tell? Did your mother always encouraged you to snare one? 

MARK
No! I'm a lawyer, I don't need a doctor to be my sugar da--

BENJAMIN
You didn't really come to apologize for shouting at me last night.

MARK
Yes! Actually, I have!

BENJAMIN
Why?

MARK
Because that's what people do!

BENJAMIN
Not in my experience.

MARK
Then you've been hanging around the wrong people. Look, here.
Take it. I'm sorry.

Benjamin doesn't take it.

BENJAMIN
I don't drink coffee.

He closes the door in Mark's face.

MARK
God, you are a prick!

 

30     INT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE - BENJAMIN'S OFFICE. DAY.     30

It is several days later. The brothers are back in Benjamin's office.

Mark is sitting with his arms crossed, glaring out the window. Benjamin is focused entirely on James, and James is oblivious to the tension in the room.

James looks sick and wane, but he is smiling.

JAMES
Naw, man, I'm holding up. I'm cool.

BENJAMIN
I'm pleased to see no extra unexpected side effects related 
to the chemotherapy, so we'll continue with the entire course of treatment.
Is that acceptable to you, Mr. Farthing?

JAMES
Sure, man.

BENJAMIN
That's an affirmative, then?

JAMES
Yeah. Yes.

BENJAMIN
Excellent. If you'll sign here. This form just acknowledges that I've
informed you of the risks and you've given your permission to
continue with the course of treatment.

He pushes a clipboard with a form across the desk, and James signs.

BENJAMIN
And you as well, please, Mr. Farthing.

Mark, startled out of his glare, whips around.

MARK
What? Why me?

BENJAMIN
As his primary caregiver, you also need to be informed of the risks
of chemotherapy. As a lawyer, Mr. Farthing, I thought you'd be aware of the
necessity of your signature.

Low blow.

Mark snatches the form, reads it quickly. Then he signs it, glowering at Benjamin. James becomes aware of the tension for the first time.

JAMES
Am I missing something?

MARK
Nothing.

Benjamin stands, dismissing them.

BENJAMIN
If there's anything else you gentlemen need. Related to Mr. Farthing's case, that is...

MARK
Right, okay. I get it. I'm sorry. It was a gesture, okay? Sorry. I promise,
I won't try to be nice to you again. Prick.

Mark storms out of the room. James trails after him, bemused. Benjamin watches them go from behind the desk. One side of his mouth curls up into an involuntary grin. He shuts it down immediately.

 

31     EXT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTER - PARKING GARAGE. DAY.     31

Mark stomps over to his car, James trailing in his wake, amused.

JAMES
I'm just saying that if I was into dudes, I'd have a crush on him, too.

MARK
I don't have a crush. I'm a grown-ass man. Grown-ass men don't have crushes.

JAMES
Says you.

MARK
Yes! Says me. And me says -- I mean, I say that I don't have a crush on him.

JAMES
Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

Mark whirls around on his brother, middle finger up.

JAMES (CON'T)
Right, sorry, right. But you still protest too much.

MARK
He's an asshole, okay? Just... it won't endanger your care, I promise.
But maybe I should stop coming to your meetings.

JAMES
What, and deprive me of the opportunity to watch you pulling the doc's pigtails?

MARK
(giving into the humor of the image)
Aw, shut up. Get in the damned car.

JAMES
Yessir.

Though it takes some careful maneuvering, James gets into the damned car.

 

32     INT. MARK'S CAR. DAY.     32

They get in. Mark starts the engine, shifts gears, and puts his hands on the wheel. He looks thoughtful.

MARK
He does have pretty luxurious hair.

JAMES
(laughing)
Aw, now you shut up. Drive.

MARK
Home first? Or pizza?

JAMES
Nah, I'm good.

Mark stares at James. He's never declined pizza before.

JAMES (CON'T)
Chill, man. I'm good. Just not hungry, okay? It's not like I'm dying.

MARK
No. No, not any more.

JAMES
See? Not any more.
(a beat)
Thanks to Doctor McHottieHair.

MARK
(groans)
Oh, god, stop it.

Mark backs out of the parking space. James laughs, and winces, and put his hand over his left shoulder when Mark is preoccupied looking in the rear view mirror.

 

33     INT. JAMES' CONDO - JAMES' BEDROOM. DAY.     33

James stares at his exposed chest in the mirror. The bandages are gone, but there is still a massive purple bruise around his left armpit.

He winces, raises his arm, and inspects the surgery site. It is red, and angry, but the wounds are closed and puffy with new scar tissue, and clearly tender.

He spreads his right palm across his left pectoral, feeling, searching, kneading. Worried.

Hightower winds around his feet.

 

34     INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE JAMES' CONDO. NIGHT.     34

Mark exits the elevator after a long day at work. Benjamin is about to enter the elevator, wearing jogging apparel, and they nearly bump into one another.

MARK
Oh, sorry I-- oh. This is getting a bit ridiculous.

BENJAMIN
I'll say. Especially when I've never seen you in this building before. When did you move in?

MARK
Well, it's James' place. I'm here to be, you know...

BENJAMIN
His primary caregiver.

MARK
Yeah. Um. I guess that you two must have had different hours before, so...

BENJAMIN
Obviously.

MARK
Right. Okay. Goodnight Dr. Cummings.

Mark shifts out of Benjamin's way so he can get on the elevator. Benjamin enters and turns to face the hallway.

BENJAMIN
Mr. Farthing, perhaps it's appropriate for me to apolo--

The doors close on the rest of what he was going to say. It doesn't matter though. Mark didn't wait for him to speak.

 

35     INT. ELEVATOR IN JAMES' CONDO BUILDING. NIGHT.

Benjamin, clearly frustrated with himself, scrubs his hands through his hair. He puts in his earbuds and when the elevator opens, and jogs into the otherwise empty lobby.

 

36     INT. JAMES' CONDO. NIGHT.     36

Mark enters the condo, drops his briefcase, sheds his coat, and scritches Hightower.

MARK
Hello, you menace.

Mark goes to the living room, where James is on the phone.

JAMES
Yeah, yeah Mum. No, he just got in.

Mark waves vaguely, and walks into the kitchen and opens the fridge, searching for a beer. He emerges with one, listening to James' phone call. As James talks he pops the top, and then pulls out leftover Thai food and assembles two plates and microwaves them.

JAMES (CON'T)
Marky-poo says hi, Mum. Uh huh.... no, just tired mostly.
Like I could sleep for a week. ... Uh huh. Well... no, that's what all the pamphlets say.
It's normal, Ma. .... uh huh. Yeah, I know, Mum. No, I'm fine. I swear it.
I'm fine. Love you, too. Bye.

Mark comes back into the room as James hangs up, juggling the beer and the two plates. He offers one to James.

JAMES (CON'T)
Nah, I'm good.

MARK
When was the last time you ate?

JAMES
Had a late lunch. I'm fine.

Mark looks back at the otherwise pristine kitchen, frowning dubiously.

JAMES (CON'T)
I did my dishes.

MARK
You did the dishes.

JAMES
What? I got bored.

MARK
You've never gotten bored enough to do the dishes before.

JAMES
I'm a new man.

MARK
Clearly.

They sit down on the sofa, shoving aside blankets and pillows. James turns on the TV and pets Hightower, who jumps up for a snuggle. Mark eats in silence, James's dinner abandoned on the coffee table.

 

37     INT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE - A WAITING AREA. DAY.     37

Mark is in a nominally crowded waiting area populated with other people; they are laughing, chatting, sipping crappy vending machine coffee, reading magazines, and napping. There are plastic plants and vending machines against one wall.

Mark has his laptop on his knees and a sheaf of papers spread out on the seat next to him and a pencil behind his ear.

There is a hydrangea on the table beside his coffee cup.

Mark grabs the pencil, looks between the screen and the paper, makes a notation on the topmost sheet of paper, looks back up to the screen, and then drops his pencil into his coffee as if it's his desk pen holder. A second later he realizes what he's done and groans, fishes the pencil out, shakes it off, and puts it back behind his ear.

Benjamin, walking by, stops and watches the performance. His mouth twitches towards a smile again, but he stops it.

BENJAMIN
You know, Mr. Farthing--

MARK
(surprised)
Oh, fuck!

Mark jumps, upsetting the table, nearly dumps his laptop, coffee, and the vase onto the floor and scrambles to catch them.

BENJAMIN
My specialty is oncology, but my general practitioner days are not so far behind
me that even I cannot see that you are working toward a spectacular
hypertension-induced cardiac event.

MARK
Christ, you startled me.

BENJAMIN
My apologies.

MARK
(snorts)
Oh, so now you believe in apologies?

Benjamin looks chastened.

BENJAMIN
I believe I deserved that.

Mark, startled, closes his laptop and actually pays attention.

BENJAMIN (CON'T)
It has occurred to me that I... perhaps was ungracious.

MARK
I shouldn't have yelled at you.

BENJAMIN
It was rude of me to ignore you.

MARK
You were doing it on purpose?

Benjamin looks furtively around the waiting room.

BENJAMIN
Perhaps we can... take this conversation elsewhere? My office or...?

MARK
Yes - but, no, no, I'm so sick of being in this hospital I could scream. I have,
um, an hour until James is done with his blood transfusion. Is there a coffee shop or...?

BENJAMIN
There's a park a block that way.

MARK
That sounds perfect.

BENJAMIN
Follow me.

 

38     EXT. McCAUL-ORDE PARK. DAY.      38

Mark and Benjamin have coffees and are sitting on a park bench beside one another. Behind the bench is a large hydrangea bush, in full bloom. For a moment, the two men sip in silence.

MARK
Well?

BENJAMIN
Well what?

MARK
I thought the whole point of coming out here was so that you could
explain why you were ignoring me.

BENJAMIN
Yes... I. Ahem. I just...

MARK
Don't tell me you've changed your mind.

BENJAMIN
No. It's simply that I've never had to, ah, articulate it before.
I, um, you must understand that I...

MARK
(gently)
I'm listening.

Benjamin blows out a sigh, suddenly agitated and very visibly nervous. Mark is startled by the change in demeanor.

BENJAMIN
You must understand that I am good, Mark. I am very good at what I do.
I am, quite simply, probably the best at it in the country, if not on the continent.

MARK
Okay. Don't be too modest or anything.

BENJAMIN
(flashing a smile)
I only say this so you'll understand what I mean when I say that... I fail.
I fail quite a lot actually.

MARK
You said you remember the dying ones.

BENJAMIN
I remember all of them, Mr. Farthing.

MARK
Mark.

BENJAMIN
Mark, then. I remember all of them. The children, and the old men, the young women
who will never be mothers after I am done with them. I remember all of them. Part of it is ...
I am clever, Mark. You don't get to be head of oncology without being clever,
and you don't often get to be clever without a fantastic memory. Do you understand me?

MARK
Yes.

BENJAMIN
Good. But another part is...

He lays a hand on his chest, face screwing up with his frustration at being unable to articulate what he's trying to say. He looks quite anxious about it, actually, on the verge of a big emotional moment.

MARK
It's okay. I get it.

BENJAMIN
No, you don't. It's... I am the bad guy.

MARK
The what?

BENJAMIN
When we talk about the monster that comes in the night, the mutant
cells that live under the bed and attack everyone who passes indiscriminately,
when we talk of the bogeyman that is cancer, the monster has my face.

MARK
But you don't cause people--

BENJAMIN
No. But I am the one who must tell them.

Mark is silent for a moment, considering.

MARK
I think I get it.

BENJAMIN
No matter how it turns out, no matter if in the end I am the knight who
cuts the dragon out of the princess, I am first the messenger who tells them
that the dragon is there at all.

MARK
Not every fairy-tale needs a good old-fashioned villain, Dr. Cummings.

BENJAMIN
Benjamin.

MARK
Benjamin.

BENJAMIN
Whether it needs one or not, it has one. And it wears my face. So you can... ahem.
You can see why I choose not to... not to interact with... I mean, on a social scale...

MARK

So what makes me different? Why talk to me now?

Benjamin casts Mark a hopeless, slightly hungry look. It takes Mark a moment to parse what Benjamin's look means. And then he throws back his head and laughs.

BENJAMIN
Oh. Well. That's not hurtful.

MARK
Sorry. Sorry. I just... this is... James would love this.

BENJAMIN
(squirming)
I'll admit, I... ah... admired your brother first.
When I saw him in our building. But...when I met you...

MARK
(self-depreciating)
None of the muscles, all of the paranoia? Is that what does it for you?

BENJAMIN
All of the care.

Mark, flustered by this unexpected compliment, stares at his coffee in shocked silence. Benjamin takes this the wrong way, and scrambles to get Mark to understand.

BENJAMIN
I wanted to tell you, wanted to stop ignoring you because you...
you care. It's so clear that you care.

MARK
I care?

BENJAMIN
You care so much, and I've never... never seen... never had...

MARK
Oh. (The penny drops.) Oh.

BENJAMIN
I... forgive me. I shouldn't have... of course, you aren't...

MARK
I am. Uh. Gay. But.

BENJAMIN
Then?

MARK
James. And... and the hospital and...

BENJAMIN
I. Yes. Of course.

MARK
Of course.

Another long pause, but this time they stare at each other, helpless, hopeless. They are trapped by their situation. Mark licks his lips, nervous, and Benjamin's eyes slide down to his mouth. They sway close to one another, eyes fluttering, but Mark jerks back at the last moment.

It is inappropriate. It is horrifically inappropriate for Mark to be seeking love and comfort in his brother's doctor, for him to be taking the attention that Dr. Cummings should be paying to James and his other patients away with his own desires. And Mark is horrified at himself. 

Mark stands abruptly, backing away.

MARK
I'm sorry. God, I'm sorry. Benja-- Dr. Cummings. I'm sorry.

BENJAMIN
Mark?

MARK
You're not the villain. You're not. But I can't... not with James... I can't.

Benjamin nods once, gravely, all the tentative emotion that he had let through his cool facade with his confession freezing over.

 

39     INT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE - PARKING GARAGE. DAY.     39

Mark helps the weak and cranky, grunting, lock-jawed James into the passenger seat, then comes around to the driver's side.

Before he gets in, he takes out his wallet and removes a business card.

Mark stands outside of the car, staring at Benjamin's business card. He is pensive, and slightly miserable. Then his phone rings.

He jams the card back in his wallet, and answers.

MARK
Hello? Yes? Ah, sorry, Azita! Yes! Sorry, god, I'm sorry. Yes, I'll get that file
to you as soon as I get home. I meant to finish it this afternoon while James was in...
yeah, no. Good. Good. He's sleeping now. That's... good.

Mark gets into the car.

 

40     INT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE - BENJAMIN'S OFFICE. DAY.     40

Benjamin is sitting behind his desk, angry with himself. His fists are clenched, and he's scowling. He crumples up his coffee cup and jams it hard into his trash bin.

There are hydrangeas in a vase in the corner.

 

41     INT. JAMES' CONDO. NIGHT.     41

James is playing a first-person shooter videogame, shit-talking on the headset. James has also started to lose his hair.

JAMES
Aw, come on, you noob. Get the fuck outta my - you stupid little shit!
Move your ass before I kill it! (etc.)

Mark is seated behind him, at the kitchen table, reviewing case files. He looks a mess - he is clearly exhausted, rumpled, pen on his face and bags under his eyes.

Hidden from James, Mark is running his fingers over the edge of Benjamin's well-worn business card.

 

42     EXT. THE FARTHING FAMILY HOUSE. DAY.     42

The twins are just getting out of the car in front of the large house, meticulously landscaped on the Bridal Path. It screams money, but not in any sort of vulgar way.

An older woman, thin and white-haired, in a purple dress, stands at the door with a grin on her face. This is their mother DIANE.

DIANE
Darlings! Hallo!

JAMES
Hey, Ma.

James tries to wave and winces instead.

James leans against the car, and waits for Mark to come help him up the driveway. Diane takes a few steps toward them, down the walk, but Mark stops her:

MARK
We're good.

James isn't looking so good - the chemo has really started to do a number on him. He's looking sallow and wan, and his hair has really begun to thin now.

Mark looks exhausted, but pleased to be home. He lets James lean on him, and together they approach the house. Their mother kisses them both on their cheeks and wraps them into a hug together.

DIANE
And how are my boys feeling? You both look wretched.

JAMES
Mum!

MARK
(laughing)
Gee, thanks, mum.

DIANE
Come inside, come inside. Dinner's almost ready. James, you need to save your
father from himself. He's determined to carve the roast--

JAMES
Hell, no. (Calls into the house:) Dad! This is the Toronto Metropolitan Police.
Freeze! Put. Down. The knife!

Their father, spry and twinkly-eyed for his age, pops his head out the door and grins. This is OLIVER. He is wielding a fake knife.

OLIVER
What if I resist arrest?

James reaches out and transfers his weight onto his father, shouldering his way past Mark and Diane, and enters the house. Oliver helps him walk inside. Mark grins at his mum and they share a laugh.

MARK
Don't use your left arm... James! (sighs) Like talking into a hurricane, he is.

Mark and Diane linger on the front step for a moment.

DIANE
And how are you, darling?

Diane reaches out and cups Mark's face, runs her thumb along the bottom of the bags under his eyes. Mark leans into the touch.

DIANE (CON'T)
You know James can come stay with us. Or I can sleep in his spare room for a while.

MARK
We're fine, Mum. We're both fine. Everything's going to be just...

DIANE
Fine?

MARK
Yeah.

Mark holds up bottle of wine - it's sweating in the sunlight - and gestures with it to the inside of the house. Diane smiles and Mark goes in ahead of her. Diane looks after him with pity in her eyes. Then she straightens herself, and goes inside.

 

43     INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE JAMES' CONDO. Night.     43

James and Mark bicker as they exit the elevator. James looks truly horrible, and needs to lean on his brother.

MARK
I told you we should have stayed in the living room.

JAMES
I wasn't going to make mum wash the dishes. She made dinner. You know it's the rule.

MARK
I think you get a pass.

JAMES
(suddenly angry)
I don't want a pass!

Mark is taken aback.

MARK
James--

JAMES
I am fine! I don't need to be babied and I don't need to be watched
and I can damn well wash the dishes!

MARK
Funny, that's not what you say when I want you to do them here.

James opens his mouth to argue, pauses, and his anger crinckles into amusement.

JAMES
Shut up.

MARK
You shut up.

BENJAMIN
Actually, I would quite appreciate it if you both shut up.

James and Mark turn, comically, to find Benjamin leaning out of his condo door. He is in pajamas and a very posh dressing gown, and he is scowling.

MARK
(flustered)
Ah. Dr. Cummings. Sorry. Can't take this punk anywhere.

BENJAMIN
Not even home, apparently.

James snorts, amused, and snatches the keys out of Mark's hand and lets himself into the apartment. It's slow going, and it takes him a couple tries. Mark and Benjamin both watch with stricken expressions that make it clear that they would love to help but know that James would be offended.

MARK
Sorry again for the noise.

James walks into the apartment. Mark is about to follow him, but stops when Benjamin clears his throat.

BENJAMIN
Mr. Farthing... May I have a word?

Mark takes a moment to assess Benjamin. His scowl has been replaced with something... more vulnerable. More hopeful.

Mark is torn - he doesn't want to have to sit through another conversation like in the park. But in case it's not about that, he wants to hear Benjamin out.

MARK
Come inside.

Benjamin hesitates.

MARK (CON'T)
I want to make sure James is settled, then we can talk.

Benjamin tentatively follows Mark into James' apartment. 

 

44     INT. JAMES' CONDO. NIGHT.     44

James shuffles out of the kitchen, hand on the walls, with a glass of water, and is surprised to see Benjamin in his condo.

JAMES
Doc?

BENJAMIN
Mr. Farthing. I, uh, I just wanted a word with your brother.

James smirks at Mark, who rolls his eyes in return.

JAMES
Yeah, sure. Whatever you say. I'm gonna go lie down for a bit.

MARK
Okay. Shout if you need anything.

JAMES
Sure. Have fun, boys. Call me if you're going to be out late. Wear a condom. 

MARK
(scandalized)
James!

James laughs and shuts the bedroom door behind him.

A beat.

Mark walks toward the dining table, the furthest point from James' room.

BENJAMIN
I must confess, Mr. Farthing, I'm surprised to see James out and
about so soon after an infusion.

MARK
That's what you wanted to talk about? Not the almost ki... uh, in the park?

BENJAMIN
James should be resting. Chemotherapy makes the body sicker in order to
kill the cancer, so he must--

MARK
You think I don't know that?

BENJAMIN
Then why have you allowed--

MARK
(scoffing)
Trust me when I say that I haven't allowed my brother to do anything.

BENJAMIN
He should be listening to you.

MARK
Now I know for a fact that you're an only child.

BENJAMIN
I don't understand how that has any relevancy here.

MARK
If you had siblings, you'd understand how difficult it is to make one do anything.
If I had a dollar of every time I heard "you're not the boss of me" I could...

Mark sighs and trails off, scrubbing at his eyes. He looks around the condo, miserable and exhausted.

MARK (CON'T)
I could hire a damn cleaning service.

Mark moves to tidy up the dining room table, which by now has been completely taken over by his files, but his sleepy shuffles are unsteady. He trips over Hightower.

Benjamin rushes forward and seizes Mark around the waist and keeps him from crashing.

MARK (CON'T)
Shit! Fuck! Goddamn menace!

 

He kicks out at the cat, something he would never do if he wasn't so scared and tired. Hightower dodges, yowls at him indignantly, and bolts into James' room.

Mark turns in Benjamin's arms, and nearly at once they both realize that they have somehow found themselves in a romantic clinch. It is cliche and awkward and they both shift, clearly out of their depth.

Benjamin is studying Mark's face intently, and Mark licks his lips, half anticipation, half agony.

They shift a little in their hold, so Mark is standing on his own feet and Benjamin isn't quite so close, but never truly separate.

BENJAMIN
Mr. Farthing. You... you're exhausted. Possibly to the point of impairment.
You should not have driven home tonight.

Mark
You're probably right.

BENJAMIN
You are overworking yourself.

MARK
It's gotta get done.

BENJAMIN
Surely your workplace must have compassionate leave--

MARK
I'm a partner, I can't just--

BENJAMIN
Of course you can. I see nothing but take out boxes here, you must
maintain a proper diet, for you and for James--

MARK
James hasn't eaten a vegetable of his own free will
since the day he moved out for college.

BENJAMIN
Then you must make him--

MARK
I'm not a miracle worker.

Benjamin cups Mark's cheek and it would be intimate, romantic, if it wasn't so clinical.

BENJAMIN
I will not allow my hard work with James to be wasted
by insufficient after-care. You must--

MARK (OVERLAPPING)
Your hard work?

BENJAMIN
-- be more mindful. You will risk that if you do not take care of yourself.
Hand your work over to another partner--

MARK
What? No!

BENJAMIN
Mr. Farthing... Mark, you must--

Mark shoves Benjamin back hard. Benjamin crashes into the sofa arm, and clutches it to stay upright. Mark is seething.

MARK
No. No, you don't get to come in here and dictate how and
where I parcel out my time and my energy.

BENJAMIN
But surely you see that--

Mark thrusts his hand at the messy table.

MARK
These people need me. They came to me, a lot of them specifically asked for me,
because they need someone on their side. I can't abandon them.
It is a privilege to be their voice.

BENJAMIN
James needs you. He needs you to be present and well enough.
And to do that you need to sleep, you need to--

MARK
This is nothing new! James will always need me. I'm the one who picked him up
from the parties he wasn't supposed to be drinking at, I'm the one who helped
him when he thought he'd gotten his girlfriend pregnant, I'm the one who
posted bail when he got into brawls in bars. So what if this time it's just
something a bit bigger? He's my brother! Your 'hard work' won't
be wasted, Dr. Cummings, because taking care of James is what I do.

 

A beat.

Benjamin is shocked into a momentary silence. And then he glowers, mulishly.

BENJAMIN
But even that must not be at the expense of yourself.

MARK
Why not? Why not, Dr. Cummings? What good am I to anyone except in this?
This is what I do. This is what I am. Just like you said;
all I do, all I'm good for, is to care.

Benjamin surges up, grabs Mark's head, and tries to kiss him. It is desperate, passionate, a loss of control that is startling to both of them.

But Mark gets his hand up between them too fast and Benjamin ends up kissing Mark's palm instead. Benjamin settles for this, sad, and stops fighting to get around Mark's hold.

Softly, regretfully, Mark presses his own mouth against the back of his knuckles, as if he could kiss Benjamin through the barrier of flesh, and bone, and responsibility.

But he can't. He can't.

They part slowly, reluctantly.

BENJAMIN
You mean something more to me.

Mark pushes Benjamin away, gently this time, and laughs bitterly. The quiet, intimate magic of the moment has shattered.

MARK
No I don't. You don't even know me. You just want a piece of me, too.
You said so. In the park. You said so. You only want me because
I care. Because you want someone to care for you. And I can't, I don't have anything left,
Benjamin, Dr. Cummings. I'm tapped out. I, god I just...

Mark starts to cry - not demonstrative sobs, but just helpless, unconscious weeping of the truly beaten-down. He drops down onto the sofa.

MARK (CON'T)
I'm so tired.

Benjamin sits beside Mark. It is awkward, because he is torn between wanting to comfort Mark and the fear that he'll be rebuffed again. His hand flexes, near to reaching over to take Marks, then changes his mind and makes a fist. He stares straight ahead, hands primly on his knees, falling back into Doctorly Formality to protect himself.

BENJAMIN
You're overtired. You should sleep.

MARK
I have to finish my deposition.

BENJAMIN
Whatever you write now will be gibberish. You do neither yourself,
nor your clients, nor your brother any good like this.

They sit in strained silence while Mark gets himself back under control. Eventually Mark stands, and Benjamin follows suit. They stare at one another for a long moment.

BENJAMIN
Go to bed.

MARK
It's terrible of me, it's awful, but sometimes, sometimes I wish that it was just over.
That he had... that he was...

BENJAMIN
Dead.

Mark makes an ugly noise, parts scream and part sob, and part choking on his own bile, and jams his knuckles into his mouth to stifle it.

BENJAMIN (CON'T)
It's not an uncommon wish, Mark.

MARK
God, don't say that!

BENJAMIN
But I must. I'm the fairy-tale villain, remember? It is my job to say
the things that no one wants to hear.

Mark shoots Benjamin a disgusted, pitying, hurt look. Benjamin takes that as his cue to leave. There are no lingering looks back.

The sound of the front door shutting is muted and miserable.

 

45     INT. JAMES' CONDO - JAMES' BEDROOM. NIGHT.     45

James is standing at the door to his bedroom. He's holding an empty glass, which he clearly meant to go fill until the fight in the living room caught his attention.

His expression is grim.

 

46     INT. THE MILL STREET BREW PUB. NIGHT.     46

James is out with his cop buddies. There's one or two still in uniform, drinking coffee, but the majority of the guys are in civvies, drinking beers and pounding each other's backs and generally goofing around in order to try to cheer James up.

James looks marginally better, more the right color, but he's sort of on the periphery of the evening.

James's partner RYAN is seated beside him, in the midst of telling a story.

RYAN
--so then Jamie here, he says, "No, man, I haven't paid yet!"

The assembled officers roar with laughter. James chuckles weakly, but he's really not all that amused. Or engaged, really.

He has a lot on his mind. His friends have to keep dragging him back into the moment. Someone reaches out at rubs his bald head, and James returns to the moment, laughs, and swats his college.

 

47     INT. JAMES' CONDO. NIGHT.     47

James comes home from the bar. Hightower greets him at the door. He picks up the cat, slowly, and shuffles into the living room.

JAMES
Mark?

Mark doesn't answer. This is because he's asleep at the kitchen table, face-down on a pile of paperwork. James grins mischievously, and sets the cat down right on his head. Mark jerks, Hightower freaks out and bolts, and Mark sits up, suddenly wide awake.

MARK
Ouch! What the hell is wrong with you, you mental cat--

James starts howling with laughter. Mark pinches James hard, and James stumbles back, giggling, tripping over furniture.

Mark attacks, tickling, pinching, trying to get his brother in a noogie. It's like they're thirteen again and nothing at all in the world is wrong. They tumble all over the condo, until they collapse on the sofa.

JAMES
Uncle! Uncle!

MARK
Gotchya, punk.

James doubles over and starts hacking, coughing hard and unable to catch his breath.

MARK (CON'T)
Shit! James? James? Put your hands above your head.

Mark grabs James' arms and James shoves him away, and not playfully this time. He raises his arms on his own, coughing and glaring at Mark. After a few very uncomfortable moments, he stops coughing.

MARK (CON'T)
Fuck. Fuck. I shouldn't have-- I'm sorry.

JAMES
I'm fine.

MARK
I shouldn't have. I know better, dammit. I can't--

JAMES
Aw, stop it. I'm not that fragile.

MARK
But you are! You are though, and--

JAMES
I'm not!

MARK
We shouldn't be roughhousing.

JAMES
I'm fine! Stop fucking treating me like I'm made out of goddamned glass!

 

Mark is taken aback. He gapes at James, hurt. James scrubs his face with his hands, frustrated and annoyed.

JAMES
Sorry. Shit. Sorry, man. I drank too much, I think. I should go to bed.

MARK
James, I--

JAMES
I'm fine. I'm sorry. I'm just tired.

MARK
Maybe we should talk about--

JAMES
I don't want to fucking talk, okay?

MARK
Well, you can't keep it all bottled up. Dr. Cummings said you
haven't been to any of the group counseling sessions.

JAMES
(snarky)
Isn't it against patient confidentiality for your boyfriend to be
discussing the details of my case with you?

MARK
First, he's not my boyfriend. Don't be a punk. Second, I'm your primary caregiver contact.
He has every right to call me and tell me when there's concerns about your recovery.
There's more to getting better than just being injected with chemicals or cutting
something out of your body. James, if you won't talk to me, at least talk to--

JAMES
I fucking said 'no', okay? I don't want to sit in a room with a bunch of strangers
whining about my life!

MARK
You don't have to make it sound like it's a scene out of RENT. Maybe one of the 
guys from the station, then? You get along with your partner, maybe he can--

JAMES
Are you out of your mind? I can't talk about this shit with Ryan.
I can't talk about it to anyone.

MARK
Why not?

JAMES
Do you know how bad I'd get teased? I get enough shit from the guys for the cancer.
I can't tell them it's breast cancer. I can't tell them that I feel like shit all day,
or like I'm scared I'm gonna die every time I close my eyes to sleep.

MARK
(stricken)
That's what you really think?

JAMES
Fuck! See, this is what I mean. I can't say this shit to anyone, because you're
all so goddamn serious. You take everything I say as a sign, or a ... an indicator
of some great internal emotional turmoil, and it's not! I'm just tired, okay!

MARK
Okay. Okay! Chill out. I'm sorry I brought it up, alright?

JAMES
Yeah, fine. Alright. Fuck. I'm going to bed.

James stands and walks toward his bedroom.

MARK
Drink some water before you do. You're drunk and you look like shit.

James stops at the door, and without turning around lobs back:

JAMES
(petulantly)
You look like shit.

Mark blurts out a surprised laugh.

MARK
God, not you too. First Dr. Cummings, then Azita...

James turns back and stands in the hallway, watching Mark, softness returning to his demeanor.

JAMES
Tonight's been the first time I've heard you laugh in...

MARK
A while.

JAMES
You should laugh more.

Mark
Same to you.

James is clearly thinking something over.

JAMES
You should... you should take care of yourself... more.

Mark squints at James.

MARK
What?

JAMES
I said that... that you should worry about yourself more.

MARK
Who are you, and what have you done with my punk little brother?

JAMES
Aw, shut up, man. I'm serious.

MARK
So am I.

Mark stands, goes over to James, and puts his hand on James' forehead.

MARK
Are you running a fever? Seeing pink elephants? Just getting drunk-philosophical?

James playfully pushes Mark away.

JAMES
Shut-up, man. I'm being serious.

MARK
Someone call Satan and warn him that hell is about to freeze over.

JAMES
I'm just saying that... that you're gonna wear yourself out.
You gotta sleep more, Mark. You gotta... get out, you know?
Go hang with your friends.Go drinking with your buddies
from work, or something.

MARK
You have met my partner, right? A thousand years old, no sense of humour?

JAMES
Or something. Man, I can't be the center of your life forever.

MARK
(amused)
You're not the center of my life, punk.

James is silent. It's clear from the look on his face that he disagrees.

MARK (CON'T)
You're not.

JAMES
You have been living in my condo, nearly non-stop,
for nine weeks, bro.

MARK
That doesn't necessarily follow.

JAMES
Have you been home at all? Even once?

Mark makes an evasive, dismissive noise and heads into the kitchen.

MARK
I thought you were going to bed.

JAMES
Oh, smooth transition. I liked that.
Could barely even tell you were changing the subject.

Mark flips him the finger from behind the open door of the fridge.

JAMES
Well, then if I'm really not the entirety of your life, when's
your next date with Dr. McHottieHair?

Mark straightens, holding a beer, frowning at his brother.

MARK
Really?

JAMES
Really.

MARK
Where is this coming from?

JAMES
You're the one who just said that I'm not the be-all and end-all of your life,
so that must mean there's someone else. Ergo, dating.
And I saw the way you two avoided eye contact at my last check-in.

MARK
We weren't avoiding eye contact!

JAMES
(laughing)
Oh my god, you're still a shit liar. You will always be a shit liar. 
How did you ever become a lawyer?

MARK
Lawyers don't lie.

JAMES
Fine, fine, you exaggerate the truth. The point is, you and
McHottieHair were acting like twelve year old girls.

MARK
And that somehow equates with dating?

JAMES
(teasing)
Or are you just fucking?

MARK
James!

JAMES
'Cause if you are, good for you, just spare me the details.

MARK
Oh my god. Just go to bed, you drunk.

JAMES
Seriously, bro. Have you called him?

MARK
No, I haven't. It would be unprofessional. He's your physician.

JAMES
Not for much longer. One more hospital visit, and then I'm a free man.

Mark contemplates this.

JAMES (CON'T)
You deserve happiness, Mark. You deserve something good in your life.
Someone who appreciates you.

MARK
(snorts)
I don't think that's Dr. Cummings, James. Besides, I have you, don't I?

A beat.

JAMES
Sure. Sure you do, bro.

James goes into his bedroom. Mark flops down at the kitchen table with his beer and resumes working.

 

48     INT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE - BENJAMIN'S OFFICE. DAY.     48

James is officially in remission. Benjamin is justifiably smug about it. James is pleased but chill. Mark looks like all the exhaustion he's been putting off for the last nine weeks has come in all at once and slapped him in the face.

BENJAMIN
I'm pleased with the results. There is no sign of remaining metastatic cells.
If any remained after your surgery, then the chemo has entirely eliminated them. 

Mark frowns and rouses himself.

MARK
You can be that certain?

BENJAMIN
Mr. Farthing, at the risk of sounding immodest, I am going to be, well, immodest.
I am very, very good at what I do.

MARK
Right. Okay then.

BENJAMIN
So, we've just got a little bit of paperwork for you, and
then you may return to your life, Mr. Farthing.

James leans across the desk to sign with a massive grin.

The twins get up and move to leave.

James opens the door for his brother, Mark goes through, and then James lingers behind as Mark walks away. He turns to Benjamin, all joviality fled.

JAMES
I just want it to be really, really clear, Doc, that I am a cop. I own a gun.

BENJAMIN
I ... beg pardon?

JAMES
Don't break his heart.

BENJAMIN
(spluttering)
I... I'm sorry, are you giving me a shovel talk?

JAMES
I figured I better do it now, before Mum does. She's a battleaxe.

BENJAMIN
I'm not dating your brother.

JAMES
Mark's always gotta be told what's good for him; I'm gonna be peeved if
I have to start giving you orders, too. Stop being such a pussy.

Benjamin, agog, flaps his mouth at James, but no sound comes out. James nods once, firmly, smug, and leaves, shutting the door behind him.

Benjamin scrubs his hands through his hair, down his face, aghast. He stares in disbelief at the hydrangeas in the vase.

 

49     INT. MARK'S OFFICE. DAY.     49

Mark is eating lunch at his desk, tie tossed awkwardly over his shoulder.

AZITA - his assistant, a middle-aged woman of Indian descent, very competent and well put-together - is standing beside his desk with a note pad. She is marking up his calendar as he speaks around the take-out he's shoveling into his face.

MARK
Ah, and since I have Thursday afternoons back,
see if you can get in touch with Dobson about, um--

AZITA
The Okafur file.

MARK
Yes, Okafur. Menzel and--

AZITA
Tanya. With the custody?

MARK
Baby Raquel.

AZITA
Yes.

MARK
I want to see what Child Services has dug up about the aunt.

AZITA
I'll see if he has a packet ready.

MARK
Great. Thanks. That's it, I think, Azita.

Mark turns his attention back to his takeaway and the files under his carton. His assistant, however, lingers.

A beat.

AZITA
Mark.

MARK
Hm? What? Yes?

AZITA
Mark. I have been your assistant for seven years--

Startled, Mark's head jerks up.

MARK (OVERLAPPING)
Oh my god. Are you quitting? Is this you quitting?

AZITA
--and I have had the privilege to call this firm my home for twenty three.

MARK (OVERLAPPING)
Please don't quit!

AZITA
So please understand that I have the utmost respect for you when I say--

Mark stands.

MARK (OVERLAPPING)
I can't do this without you right now!

AZITA
--that you really need to get the hell out of here.

MARK
(deflating)
What?

Azita snaps shut the calendar, reaches out and also snaps shut the lid of Mark's laptop. She takes his lunch out of his hands, closes the boxes, and hands it back.

AZITA
Your brother is in remission. You haven't slept in three months. I cleared
your schedule for the rest of the day, and tomorrow, too. Go. Home.

MARK
But--

AZITA
Go.

Mark collects his coat and briefcase and lunch, and, dazed, leaves.

Cut To:

 

50     INT. HALLWAY OUTSIDE JAMES' CONDO. DAY.     50

Mark is staring at James' front door, a little shell-shocked.

Benjamin exits the elevator and walks down the hall, just returning home from work himself. His attention on his phone, and so he is startled into freezing when he realizes Mark is just... standing there.

BENJAMIN
Mr... Farthing? Is... is everything all right?

MARK
(in a small voice)
My assistant kicked me out.

BENJAMIN
(snorts)
Well. It seems that there is, at last, someone you will listen to.

Mark
She told me to go sleep.

BENJAMIN
Sound advice.

MARK
(childishly)
I'm not allowed to go back for another whole day.

BENJAMIN
(amused)
Shocking.

MARK
I wasn't even allowed to take my files. She slapped my hand.
Told me to go home.

 

Mark blinks and looks around, then looks at the keys in his hand. 

MARK (CON'T)
My house keys don't work.

BENJAMIN
This isn't your house.

MARK
It isn't? Oh.

Benjamin is starting to be a bit concerned now.

BENJAMIN
Mr. Farthing? Mark? How long has it been since you last slept?

Mark
Hmmm?

BENJAMIN
Sleep. When did you last sleep?

MARK
No, no, I don't have time to sleep. I have the...
baby Raquel, you see. With her aunt.

BENJAMIN
I'm sure that I don't see, Mark. But I know that you are in
no position to help baby Raquel nor her aunt right now.

MARK
Not helping her aunt. Heartless bitch.

Benjamin puts his own coat and briefcase down on the floor in front of his own door, shoves his phone into his pocket, and comes back to stand beside a swaying Mark.

BENJAMIN
No, not the aunt then.

MARK
No. Heartless bitch.

BENJAMIN
Yes, you said that.

MARK
Not supposed to, though. Not supposed to have an opinion.
All the awful things in the world, all the terrible things human beings do to each other,
and I'm not supposed to feel any of it and it's awful.

Mark's face crumples. Benjamin gingerly removes the bag of take out and the keys from Mark's hands and opens the condo door.

BENJAMIN
In you go, Mark. (calling out:) James? Officer Farthing? Are you in?

No answer. Hightower comes to the door, demanding scritches. Mark tries to bend down to pat him and sways into the wall.

MARK
H'llo, menace.

Benjamin just barely catches him.

BENJAMIN
This is absurd. I assume your guest room is this way. 
Come on, Mark, off we go.

MARK
S'not my cn'do.

Benjamin walks Mark toward the spare room at the end of the hallway. 

 

51     INT. JAMES' CONDO - SPARE BEDROOM. EVENING.     51

Mark flops down on the bed, face first. Benjamin allows a rare, affectionate, affected smile creep into the side of his lips. He bends down and pulls Marks shoes off.

MARK
(slurring)
Hey. Now you're takin' carea me.

BENJAMIN
That I am.

Benjamin creeps out of the room.

 

52     INT. JAMES' CONDO. EVENING.     52

Benjamin finds a pad of sticky-notes on the dining room table and writes a note:

MARK WAS DEAD ON HIS FEET. LET HIM SLEEP. I HAVE HIS KEYS.  --Dr. Cummings

Benjamin creeps back to the door, toes Hightower away, sticks the note to the doorknob, turns off the lights, and shuts the condo door behind him.

 

53     INT. JAMES' CONDO. DAY.     53

The next morning. Mark looks healthy and well rested for the first time. He is curled up on the sofa in a robe and PJs with a giant mug of coffee. His hair is endearingly mussed and there are still pillow-creases on his face.

James comes in the front door. He's been grocery shopping, and the bag is filled with all sorts of post-chemo healthy foods, and one horribly sugary children's cereal.

MARK
Mornin'.

JAMES
Afternoon.

MARK
Whatever.

JAMES
You sound mellow.

MARK
Coffee.

JAMES
I can see that.

Mark wanders into the kitchen. He eyes the groceries James is unpacking and picks up the cereal.

JAMES (CON'T)
Don't start.

MARK
I wasn't going to start.

JAMES
Uh-huh.

MARK
Leave out the eggs. And those veg. Shove over.

James makes room for Mark at the counter. Mark starts washing and chopping vegetables. He cracks eggs, seasons, whisks in milk and butter, etc..

JAMES
(genuinely pleased)
Lordy, lordy, what a glorious day. I'm being treated to Mark Farthing's
Famous Omelet. To what do I owe the honour?

Mark cuts him a dirty look.

MARK
We're celebrating.

JAMES
That we are.

MARK
And you're doing the dishes.

JAMES
Nope. I'm the man of the hour.

MARK
If the man of the hour can do the dishes at Mum and Dad's house mid-chemo,
then the man of the hour can do the dishes at his own house when his big brother cooks.

JAMES
"Big".

MARK
Hush.

James is about to say something snide, but Mark's phone, (lost under the papers on the dining room table), makes a noise and vibrates.

JAMES
That yours or mine?

MARK
Uh, probably yours. You know Azita won't let anyone text me today.

The phone makes another noise/buzz, and James hunts around the condo for it.

JAMES
And that is why that woman is my hero. If she had a dick,
I'd say you should marry her.

MARK
(light)
Please don't be crude about my magical assistant.

The phone makes the noise/buzz again.

JAMES
Ah-ha! Oh, it is yours. "I just want to check in to see if you slept well."

MARK
Don't read my texts!

JAMES
Then password protect your phone! "Your brother retrieved your keys when he got in.
I was also hoping your original offer of coffee might be..." Oh ho! Maaaark.

Mark lunges out of the kitchen and tries to snatch his phone back, and it turns into a game of keep-away. Both brothers are filled with joy, and life, and are happy with the world.

MARK
Don't you dare!

JAMES
So you are chatting with Dr. McHottieHair after all.

MARK
We're not chatting.

JAMES
He has your number and you invited him out for coffee.

MARK
I brought him a coffee as an apology and he texts me because
I'm your primary caregiver.

JAMES
Sure, and you think he pays such special attention to all of his patients?

MARK
Are you suggesting he gave you special treatment?

JAMES
I'm suggesting he wants to give you special treatment.

Mark manages to grab the phone and immediately drops it into his underwear to keep James from snatching it back.

JAMES (CON'T)
If you think sticking it next to your junk is going to keep me from--

The phone dings and buzzes again, and Mark makes a scandalized, kind of queasy face.

JAMES (CON'T)
You had the vibrate-mode still on?

Mark nods. He points at the kitchen and the abandoned omelet.

MARK
Don't touch that.

Mark heads for the spare bedroom.

 

54     INT. JAMES' CONDO - SPARE BEDROOM. DAY.     54

Mark retrieves his phone and reads the texts.

TEXT: DR. C: I just want to check in to see if you slept well.

TEXT: DR. C: Your brother retrieved your keys when he got in. I was also wondering if your original offer of coffee might be available for renewal.

TEXT: DR. C: Perhaps not.

TEXT: DR. C: Or perhaps you are still sleeping?

The phone vibrates and dings in Mark's hand, three times in quick succession:

TEXT: DR. C: Congrats again on James' remission. This means, of course, that I am no longer his physician.

TEXT: DR. C: In case you were still worried.

TEXT: DR. C: Mark?

Mark waits for another text, but one doesn't come. He opens up the composition window, and hesitates. He writes:

TEXT: ME: Did James put you up to this?

Mark immediately deletes that. Instead he writes, and sends:

TEXT: ME: I'm awake.

The reply is nearly immediate.

TEXT: DR. C: Excellent! Coffee?

Mark grins like a twitterpatted school boy, then catches himself, and scrubs the smile off his face. He replies.

TEXT: ME: Not yet.

Again, a nearly instantaneous reply:

TEXT: DR. C: "Not yet" suggests "later."

Mark replies:

TEXT: ME: How clever of you to figure that out. Are you a doctor or something?

Mark forces himself to set the phone down on the nightstand. Then he lifts his nose into the air and sniffs. He scowls.

MARK
James! I told you not to touch the eggs!

Mark dashes back toward the kitchen.

 

55     EST. THE FARTHING FAMILY HOME. DAY.     55

Mark's car is in the driveway.

 

56     INT. THE FARTHING FAMILY HOME - KITCHEN. DAY.     56

MUSIC: A return of the piano, violin and guitar theme, now bright and confident.

Mark, James, Diane and Oliver are standing around the kitchen table with champagne flutes and a half-decimated plate of nibbles between them. Oliver is struggling with a champagne cork. Diane takes the bottle from her husband and opens it.

Mark snaps a picture at the absolutely perfect moment, and then, slyly, as Diane is pouring the champagne, he texts it to someone.

Mark shoves his phone in his pocket, and they have a toast. James raises his glass high with his left hand, winces a little, and clinks. As they all drink, he rubs his left pec. 

 

57     INT. PRINCESS MARGARET CANCER CENTRE - BENJAMIN'S OFFICE. DAY.     57

Benjamin is wrapping up with a client, an OLDER WOMAN with her DAUGHTER. The daughter is sobbing and clinging to her dying mother, but the older woman is resigned.

Benjamin sees them out, and then returns to his desk. He takes a moment to compose himself, scrubbing at his face and displacing his curls. His stoic-doctor mask has fractured and he looks heartbroken and haggard.

He pulls his phone out of his desk drawer, and opens his text messenger. Mark has sent Benjamin the champagne photo. 

TEXT: MARK: (PHOTO)

TEXT: MARK: I thought you'd appreciate a Happily Ever After for your folder of Fairy-Tale memories. You defeated the dragon this time.

Benjamin checks his watch. Yes, he has time to reply.

The following text conversation happens with inter-cuts between Benjamin's office and the Farthing Family Kitchen:

Benjamin texts:

TEXT: ME: Thank you. Very thoughtful. Is that your mother?

TEXT: MARK: Yeah, and Da in the background.

TEXT: ME: You resemble her more than him. James too.

TEXT: MARK: Yeah, it's like we're identical twins, or something. Strange.

TEXT: ME: Ha ha.

TEXT: MARK: (:p)

TEXT: ME: Emoticons? How juvenile.

TEXT: MARK: (party cracker) (stars) (champagne flute) (cake) (smug face)

TEXT: ME: Mark.

TEXT: MARK: (:P) (rude gesture) (wine) (poop) (kissy face)

TEXT: ME: (kissy face) (question mark)

TEXT: MARK: James stole my phone. Asshole. Sorry.

TEXT: ME: Another sibling thing that I wouldn't understand?

TEXT: MARK: No, this is a straight-guy thing. You have straight friends, right? Wierdos.

TEXT: ME: (thumbs up)

TEXT: MARK: That's the spirit! (champagne flute)

TEXT: ME: Are you really drinking that much? Does each emoji indicate a new glass? If so, I sincerely hope you're not driving tonight.

TEXT: ME: Mark?

TEXT: ME: Mark?

Benjamin hesitates for a moment and then writes:

TEXT: ME: Thank you for the Happily Ever After. I was just defeated by the dragon, and having to tell the damsel was wretched. Your photo has reminded me why I still bother to put on my armor every day.

There is a long moment, and then Mark texts back:

TEXT: MARK: We'll build you a whole mind-palace filled with Happily Ever Afters.

 

58     INT. THE MILL STREET BREW PUB. NIGHT.     58

MUSIC: The piano, guitar and violin shift to a faintly ominous tone.

James is out with his colleagues again. His hair is growing back in, though it's still prickly and tufty. Ryan is seated beside him. They both have beers, though James' is only half finished. Ryan swigs off the last swallow of his own.

RYAN
One more?

JAMES
Uh. Naw, man. I'm good.

RYAN
You've turned into a health nut.

JAMES
Better late than never.

RYAN
Ha! I'm buying you another one anyway, and you have to drink it.
This is your last weekend as a free man.

JAMES
It wasn't exactly a vacation I was on, partner.

RYAN
You had four months off! Come on, on Monday you'll be back in the cruiser with
me and we'll have to be good. Have another beer. Don't be a pussy.

JAMES
Yeah, fine.

RYAN
There's my man back again!

Ryan staggers to the bar. James pours most of his beer into Ryan's empty pint glass.

 

59     INT. JAMES' CONDO. NIGHT.     59

James staggers in the front door, drunk and feeling no pain.

JAMES
Menace?

Hightower mews, and James sticks his head into the living room to find Mark and the cat on the sofa. Mark is texting with Benjamin.

JAMES (CON'T)
Traitor.

MARK
It's not my fault Hightower loves me best.

JAMES
You're going to steal him when you move home tomorrow, aren't you?

MARK
Maybe.

James makes a drunken attempt at a rude gesture. He rollicks his way up the hall toward his bedroom.

 

60     INT. JAMES' CONDO - JAMES' BEDROOM. NIGHT.     60

James lists in his doorway.

MARK (O.S.)
Night! Drink some water!

JAMES
Aw, fuck off, mother hen.

MARK (O.S.)
Love you too, bro!

James snorts and shoves open the door.

 

61     INT. JAMES' CONDO - JAMES' BEDROOM. NIGHT.     61

James clumsily undresses as he staggers toward the bed. He grabs a bottle of water from the nightstand and drains it.

In only his boxers, he catches sight of himself in the mirror. He has lifted his left arm to drink, and this gives him the perfect view of his surgery scar.

He switches the bottle to his other hand and steps closer to the mirror, inspecting the scar. It is small, and white, and nearly invisible under his hair.

It still freaks him out, though - his lips thin, his eyes go tight, and his hand is shaking when he puts down the bottle of water and turns to the closet.

One of his uniforms, fresh-pressed and ready to go, is in a see-through drycleaner's bag. He pulls it out of the closet and hangs it on a hook on the back of the door.

He looks back and forth between the uniform and the mirror. He touches his abs and his arms - he's thin, almost scrawny from his illness. He rubs a hand over his head.

He cups his pectorals and palpitates them, searching. Worried.

He drops his hands, abruptly, face shuttered.

James walks over to the safe at the top of his closet, punches in the code, and takes out the gun. He sits on the side of the bed and inspects it, taking it apart a little, looking into the barrel. The ammo is still in the safe.

He reassembles the gun and sets it down on the bedside table. He looks up at the ammo.

From off screen, the annoying sound of a ringtone. James jumps.

MARK (O.S.)
(laughing)
Benjamin Cummings! What a surprise. Well, you've never called before... uh-huh.
Well, yes... okay, I can see that... Oh, is this going going back to your weird phobia
about shaking hands?No, you are going to have to explain it one day. Uh-huh. James?
Oh, he's passed out in his room. Had one last drunk-up with his buddies before he
returns to work on Monday. Mmm-hmmm...

Through all of this, James listens at the door, smiling faintly. He turns back to the gun, scowls at it, picks it up, and puts it back in the safe.

 

62     EXT. JACK LAYTON PARK. DAY.     62

Unbeknownst to Mark and Benjamin, they are currently in the same park. They are on opposite sides. Benjamin is near a ferry terminal, under a green-roof awning in his exercise gear; he's headed to Toronto Island for a run.

Mark is walking down the tree-lined boulevard toward the terminal, the parkland on one side of him, the water on the other. He is carrying a cloth bag of produce from the harbour-front farmers' market.

There are hydrangeas in a paper wrapper in Mark's sack.

They are on the phone with one another, and we cut back and forth between them during this conversation as appropriate.

MARK
--moved everything back home yesterday, and of course my fridge was empty, so then I had to go to the farmers' market.

BENJAMIN
Is it odd?

MARK
Being at home alone, you mean?

BENJAMIN
Yes.

MARK
A little. I guess? I think I miss Hightower more than James right now.

BENJAMIN
Hightower?

MARK
The cat. You know, from Police Academy?

BENJAMIN
Is that a film?

MARK
(laughing)
Oh god! Okay. Okay. As soon as I've managed to get my place back in order,
you're coming over. I'll make dinner and we'll watch the film that
convinced my brother than he needed to be a cop.

BENJAMIN
I must have missed it while I was in school.

MARK
You can't tell me you were that dedicated to your studies as kid.

BENJAMIN
I wanted to be a doctor from a very young age. I was focused.

MARK
So focused that you totally missed Police Academy.

BENJAMIN
Yes. Is that odd?

MARK
I guess not. Alright. We'll have to fix that. Maybe we'll have a regular movie nights,
get you all caught up.

BENJAMIN
I would... I would like that. Very much. Mark.

MARK
Good. I, I would, too. Like it. I mean. I... (laughs) God.
I've turned into a thirteen year old again.

BENJAMIN
No more than I.

MARK
It's been so long since I've done this.

BENJAMIN
I have... never.

MARK
Never?

BENJAMIN
Passing stranger... you do not know how longingly I look upon you.
You must be he I was seeking. It comes to me, as of a dream.

MARK
Are you quoting Whitman at me?

BENJAMIN
Yes?

MARK
Was that rehearsed?

BENJAMIN
(cagey)
...perhaps?

MARK
Oh my god, you colossal dork.

BENJAMIN
Was it... was it not good?

MARK
It was fine. A but unexpected. But fine. It was... nice.

BENJAMIN
I thought poetry was supposed to be romantic.

MARK
It is. It's just... no. It was romantic. Thank you. A bit early in
the proceedings,I'll admit. But welcome.

BENJAMIN
The truth of the matter, Mark, is that I've... I've never really taken
... a risk... like this.

MARK
You cut people open every day.

BENJAMIN
That is not a risk. That is a calculated procedure which I have perfected
and at which I am the top of my field.

MARK
Then going to med school...?

BENJAMIN
Also not a risk. My parents are both doctors, I had plenty of support
and preparation, and my marks have always been extraordinary. It was
hard work, but not a risk. I knew I would have no problems finding work,
either because of my education or because of my skills, or because of
my connections. Med school was... easy.

MARK
And I'm not.

BENJAMIN
Correct.

MARK
I'm not certain if I should be insulted by that.

BENJAMIN
What I mean is that... I find myself... questioning.

MARK
What? Me?

BENJAMIN
No, me. You care Mark, openly and easily. It comes to you naturally. And I find I
have to remind myself to text you back, to say 'thank you', to... to make it clear,
every time we communicate that you are... on my mind. That you are in my thoughts.

MARK
Relationships aren't meant to be hard work, Ben. Don't change who you are for me.
I know who you are and what you're like, remember?

BENJAMIN
Which is why I don't want to just be me, Mark. I have lost, ah... opportunities before by
just being myself. Nobody wants to be with that version of me.
The cold, arrogant one. I want... I want you to want me.

MARK
I do.

BENJAMIN
Are you certain? Are you sure Mark? Because I... I have never felt this... this... deeply before.
I have never felt this... raw. I am doing my best to be honest, to be the sort of person
who deserves all your care and attention and I... if I break down these
walls to allow you in and you walk away, I don't know if I can... if I can rebuild...

Mark is stunned by this confession. He comes to a stop under a big shady tree, moved.

MARK
Benjamin...

Benjamin, scanning the park idly, spots him. Mark is shuffling a bit, nervous, unsure what to say.

BENJAMIN
Mark, are you... are you in Jack Layton park?

MARK
(confused)
Yes. Why?

BENJAMIN
I... I think I see you.

MARK
You're here?

Mark looks in the wrong direction.

MARK (CON'T)
Where?

BENJAMIN
Turn around.

Benjamin strides toward Mark across the grass.

MARK
Ben?

BENJAMIN
Mark. Watch me. Don't look away.

MARK
Why?

BENJAMIN
Because I am about to take a risk.

Mark's hand falls to the side, phone forgotten. A few paces away, Ben tosses his own phone into the grass, walks right up to Mark, and seizes his face between his large hands and, confident, swoops in and kisses Mark.

Mark seizes Benjamin’s arms and he returns the kiss. It grows passionate. And then, smirking, proud of himself, Mark takes a step back a little, and they remain in a half-clinch.

MARK
Well. Well.

BENJAMIN
Was that good?

MARK
Poetry and a snog in one day? I'm a lucky man.

BENJAMIN
I could make you luckier, if you like.

Mark smirks. He bends down and picks up his bags. Benjamin retrieves his phone. They walk out of the park.

 

63     INT. BENJAMIN'S CONDO. DAY.     63

Benjamin's condo is much, much larger than James', and faces the water. It too is open plan, and laid out nearly identically to James' but that's where the similarity ends.

It tastefully appointed, nearly staged, and sterile. Benjamin's furniture is mostly white, his dining room table and chairs are the clear plastic kind. His furnishings are expensive, and his belongings and art are all precisely placed on shelves as if they were museum exhibits.

The men tumble in the front door, keys, phones, market backs, groceries, and sneakers flying as they tussle and snog their way toward the bedroom.

 

64     INT. BENJAMIN'S CONDO - BEDROOM. DAY.     64

They slow down a bit once they hit the bedroom. Again, this room is extremely tasteful and wealthy. The carpet is plush, there's a wall with a fireplace and a large flat-screen television opposite the bed, and the door to a massive walk-in closet is ajar. The bed, king-size of course, is very masculine but nearly opulent in the choice of fabrics - a cashmere throw, high thread-count sheets, a muted grey jacquard duvet cover, etc.

Mark reaches up to undo the zip on Benjamin's running shirt. Benjamin retreats a little. It's not a recoil, but it's a shock.

MARK
Shhhh. Shhh. It's okay.

BENJAMIN
I... Mark...

MARK
We can.. if you want... start slow... we don't have to...

BENJAMIN
No. No, I want... I want.

He opens his arms, allowing Mark access. They undress each other slowly, and licking his lips, feeling both brave and wicked, Benjamin pushes Mark down to sit on the edge of the bed, and kneels between his legs and gives Mark a hand-job, peering up at Mark through his lashes coyly.

Mark is startled, and thrilled. His eyes flutter closed, and his head falls to the side like an overripe poppy.

 

65     INT. BENJAMIN'S CONDO - BEDROOM. DAY.     65

Mark and Benjamin are napping, drowsy and pleased. Mark is more asleep than Benjamin, and Benjamin is watching Mark sleep through his lashes. For the first time we see a soft, natural smile on his face.

He reaches out to brush a loose hair off of Mark's cheek, one of his own, and Mark grunts and wakes up, turns to face Benjamin. He captures Benjamin's hand and starts kissing up his fingers.

MARK
Mmmm. I love these hands. Nice long fingers. Dexterous. Strong.

BENJAMIN
My mother despaired that I had no musical talent. Perfect for violin. Or piano.

MARK
(smarmy, leering)
You played me pretty well, just now.

Benjamin laughs and it is free, and honest.

MARK (CON'T)
Your hands are beautiful.

BENJAMIN
Thank you.

Benjamin slowly grows uncomfortable by the attention and tugs his hand away.

MARK
What is it?

BENJAMIN
Nothing, it's fine.

He tucks his hands under his armpits and shifts, extremely awkward now. Mark sits up and studies Benjamin's body language.

MARK
It's not fine. What is it?

BENJAMIN
It's... it's not you.

MARK
Then it's you?

BENJAMIN
No it... uhg! It's just... it's the... it's something someone said, once,
and it's completely irrelevant. Shall we order in some Thai?

Benjamin sits up and flings aside he blankets. Mark stops him with a hand on his arm.

MARK
Whoa. Slow down. Did I say something wrong?

BENJAMIN
No. Not you.

MARK
Then someone else.

BENJAMIN
It's irrelevant.

MARK
Clearly it's not, if it's bugging you this much. Come on.

BENJAMIN
I don't... you'll just...

MARK
I won't laugh or anything. (pause) Okay, you don't have to tell me if you don't want to.

Feeling rejected, Mark scooches by Benjamin and steps out of the bed, giving the camera a lovely show. He pulls on his underwear and pants. Benjamin reaches out and grabs his hand, twining their fingers.

BENJAMIN
It's surgeons' hands, do you see?

MARK
(warmly)
No. I don't. But why don't you explain it to me.

Mark lets Benjamin tug him back down onto the bed, and they curl around one another. Benjamin holds up his hands, spreads them wide in a shaft of sunlight.

BENJAMIN
Surgeon's hands. My hands are my life, Mark. I don't shake hands.
I don't hold hands. I don't... these are my life.
And I daren't put my life into someone else's... hands. Do you see?

Mark grins, and rolls over on top of Benjamin. He grabs Benjamin's wrists and pins his arms above his head, and kisses him thoroughly.

MARK
Then I am extremely flattered that you have allowed them to fall into mine. Trust me, Ben.

BENJAMIN
I do. I am.

Mark lets go of Benjamin's hands so Benjamin can push Mark's clothes back off.