Brian hung up the phone with a sigh. Another failure. Another one of his former clients who had heard what had happened with Kip, and who had responded to his proposition with a "thanks, but no thanks."
Since the incident, Brian's life had fallen apart. Kip Thomas had filed a complaint for sexual harassment, no less, after Brian had refused to promote him. As a result, fucking Marty Ryder had bailed on him faster than a nuclear missile. Never would Brian have imagined that fucking that son of a bitch would have cost him so much - his job; his career; his self-esteem.
This was such bullshit. Being unemployed at twenty-nine was truly not part of his plan. Brian would be damned before he gave up on his career. Accomplishment meant everything to him, especially since he'd been a teenager, witnessing his father's life go down the drain. He'd made a promise to himself back then, and he wouldn't let one fucking mistake take away his dream.
Easier said than done, though. For weeks now, he had been trying to woo his former clients, without any discernible result. Brian was becoming more desperate with each passing day.
When Cynthia called to inform him that Alex Remsen from Remsen Pharmaceuticals was expected to be in town for business by the end of the week and that he would stay at the Four Seasons Hotel, Brian didn't think twice about what he was going to do. He spent the next couple of days working on a presentation, bribed someone to create mock-ups, and finally, on a cloudy Friday evening, he dressed in a spotless Armani suit, before heading off to face his fate. This was his chance to make things right. Nobody would employ him anyway, not when Marty had seemingly done all he could to destroy his reputation to avoid dealing with any unhappy, homophobic clients.
Thus, elegantly attired, Brian now walked through the doors of the Four Seasons Hotel, displaying the perfect image of self-confidence and charisma, even if he could feel his heart beating erratically. Truthfully, he was anything but calm inside. He knew he was chancing his entire career on this, as it was his last opportunity to reclaim his life and start his own firm. If it didn't work, then…he couldn't even think about it.
He headed towards the bar. He definitely needed a drink before going in search of Remsen.
"May I get you anything, Sir?" The bartender - a young, lean, sandy-brown haired man in his early twenties - asked.
"Beam. Neat." Brian responded with a nod, as he sat on the bar stool in front of the gleaming mahogany counter. The young man prepared his drink and then put the glass down in front of Brian, along with a small cocktail napkin.
Brian gulped it in one go. He set the empty glass back on the counter and began playing with it, rolling it between his fingers while staring through it absentmindedly.
"Brian?" A familiar voice called.
Brian peered over at the man standing by his side and smiled when he discovered Alex Remsen gazing back at him with a friendly look on his face. Immediately standing up, he extended his hand. "Mr. Remsen, it's good to see you! How have you been?" He greeted him cheerfully, inwardly thanking his good luck that the businessman had chosen this exact moment to come over and order a drink at the bar. "I heard you got the green light from the FDA for your new drug. Congratulations!"
"Thank you, Brian. That was a hard row to hoe, but we did it," Remsen confirmed, obviously proud, before gesturing to the bartender to serve them two glasses of Beam. He turned to look at Brian again and shared, "I have great hopes that this new drug will improve the lives of many HIV positive patients in the future."
"That's great news." Brian had always liked Alex Remsen. He was the kind of man who fought for what he believed in, and the brunet appreciated that quality.
"What about you? How have you been, Brian?" Remsen inquired with a friendly touch on Brian's arm, just as the young bartender placed two identical glasses of Beam in front of them.
"Well, you know… I don't work for Ryder anymore. We had a… falling out of sorts." Brian hesitated, not comfortable talking about what had happened to make him lose his job.
"I heard about it," Remsen informed him, confirming Brian's suspicions that Marty was spreading the news among all his clients. God only knew what his former boss was really telling them about Brian's departure.
Remsen took a sip of his bourbon and seemed to ponder something, before adding, "Just so you know, I don't believe you were culpable, Brian. I've known you long enough to see that, for all your devil-may-care attitude and your sharp repartee, you're a good man, and my gut feeling tells me that you didn't do what Ryder accused you of."
"Thank you, Mr. Remsen. That means a lot to me," Brian replied with a genuine, relieved smile. He was grateful that not all his former clients were jumping to conclusions and that some of them were choosing, instead, to give him the benefit of the doubt. Besides, Remsen's revelation also answered his question. Marty was definitely bad-mouthing him. Fucking Ryder.
"Mr. Remsen…" Brian started, but Remsen cut him off by lifting his hand.
"I know what you're going to ask me, and as much as I'd like to help you, I can't." Remsen sighed, shaking his head almost imperceptibly. "Not when I'm dealing with a new, potentially revolutionary drug. I need it to be successful and can't afford to fuck it up. No offense Brian, but while I don't doubt that you're one of the best in your field, I would be a fool to hire you when you have absolutely no staff or resources to help you build an entire campaign."
Ouch. Shit. "Mr. Remsen, I…"
However, before he could try to defend himself, a deep voice interrupted, "Excuse me? Mr. Remsen?"
Annoyed, Brian turned to look at the intruder, ready to tell whoever it was to fuck off, but his murderous glare turned into a more impassive gaze when he beheld a beautiful man in his late thirties wearing a long, elegant coat, with a silk scarf around his neck. The stranger had thick, grey hair, and his deep, piercing, green eyes were staring back at him intently.
Brian knew that look. Interesting. It was almost enough to make him forget about his own disastrous situation.
Remsen's voice broke their connection. "Yes?"
"I'm Matthew Gallagher," the man introduced himself.
"Of course! Matthew... I was expecting you. Brian, this is Matthew Gallagher, from Jensen's agency, the firm that will deliver our drug. Matthew, this is…" Remsen paused, obviously not knowing exactly how to introduce a former advertising genius, freshly accused of sexual harassment, and soon to be fucked - literally - and not in a positive, life-affirming way.
Brian decided to resolve Remsen's dilemma. "Brian Kinney," he extended his hand.
"Nice to meet you, Brian," Matthew greeted him in return. Brian felt a spark as their hands touched and he couldn't keep a little grin from appearing on his lips. Matthew was definitely gay. Sure enough, the man smiled back at him, and Brian could tell that he, too, appreciated what he was seeing. Hell, Brian knew he was hot.
Suddenly, the three men heard a ringing sound. Remsen, realizing that it was his cell phone, excused himself and walked a few feet away to take the call, leaving Brian and Matthew on their own.
"My room number is 107," Matthew announced unexpectedly in a low, serious voice with a seductive look on his face. "If you want to join me when you and Mr. Remsen have finished your… business."
Brian smirked. "Sure. Why not?" He wasn't used to being accosted so boldly – he was usually the aggressor – but the man was too hot to let such an opportunity pass. Moreover, if Remsen turned him down, he would need to let off some steam; fucking all night while drinking champagne in a first-class hotel might definitely fit the bill then.
"I'm sorry," Remsen interrupted them as he returned. "I need to go. My daughter was in a car accident, so I need to catch the first plane home."
"Is she alright?" Brian immediately asked, concerned. He had a son himself, and he would be devastated if anything happened to him.
"Good Lord, yes, but she is quite shaken," Remsen revealed. "I will have to reschedule our meeting, Matthew. I'm sorry about that."
"Your family comes first. Please, let me drive you to the airport," Matthew proposed.
"No, I will just check out and take a cab, but thanks anyway," Remsen refused politely.
"Then please go pack, while I will ask the desk clerk to call a cab for you," Matthew suggested.
"Okay, thank you. I will call you next week," he added before addressing Brian, "Brian… It was good to see you again."
"Likewise." Brian didn't know what else to say. "Go now; go home to your daughter."
Remsen gave them a little smile and a nod before turning around and heading hastily towards the elevator.
Brian stared at his retreating form, until the elevator doors closed. Shutting his eyes, he took a deep breath to stop the unwanted, yet overwhelming feeling of failure from completely overtaking him.
He finally opened them again with a sigh and gazed back at Matthew as he bit down on his lower lip. Without breaking their gaze, he grabbed his forgotten drink and gulped it before slamming the empty glass back down on the bartop. "Wanna fuck?" he asked sarcastically with a fake smile on his face.
Twenty minutes later, Brian was senselessly pounding into the man. An hour later, he was being fucked into the mattress, the feeling of being used and full making him forget for a little while that he didn't have any more cards up his sleeve to save his career.
Oh yes, he was well and truly fucked.
The next morning, Brian woke up in an unfamiliar bed to the smell of coffee. Sunlight was shining through the gauzy curtains covering the windows and flooding onto the carpeted floors of the large room. Brian might have appreciated the sight if he hadn't been dealing with a pounding head.
Besides, he was having difficulty comprehending how he'd ended up there. Frowning, he tried to recall the previous night's events and squeezed his eyes shut as soon as he remembered his encounter with Alex Remsen.
"Morning," a man's voice greeted him. He was sitting at a table situated a few feet away from the bed, drinking hot, steaming coffee.
"Hrff…" Brian mumbled, too tired to form a coherent word.
"You want some coffee?" The man – Matthew, that was his name - offered.
"Hmpfh…" Brian shook his head and grimaced. That wasn't a good idea.
"Here…" Matthew came to sit on the bed, a cup of hot coffee in his hands. "You look like you need it."
Brian peered up at the man, and his eyes lingered on his bare, toned chest for a few seconds, before he finally straightened up and accepted the cup Matthew was offering. "Thanks…"
"Hmm…" Matthew replied vaguely. "How do you feel?"
Brian contemplated blowing the man off, but he eventually decided against it. "Sore," he responded with a brief smirk, before squeezing his eyes shut again, as he tried to fight off his headache. "Shit…"
"Here," Matthew leaned forward to retrieve two pills from a bottle on the nightstand. "Take these; you'll feel better." It made Brian eye him quizzically. "It's Advil," Matthew informed him with a laugh. "I'm not a drug dealer. Well, not really. I'm a businessman, remember?"
Brian took the pills and swallowed them with a sip of his coffee. "Jensen's agency…right."
"You know the firm?" Matthew asked, seeming surprised.
"Sure," Brian answered curtly. He was getting annoyed with the small talk. As good a fuck as Matthew had been, now that it was over, Brian couldn't wait to get out of there.
Matthew must have sensed that Brian wasn't the talkative type because he inquired, "You want to take a shower before you leave?"
"No, it's okay," Brian declined as he finally stood up, in all his naked glory, and went in search of his clothes, which were spread all over the carpeted floor. He heard Matthew clear his throat loudly behind him as he bent over to retrieve them and couldn't help but grin. He wasn't in the mood for an encore performance, though, so he began to dress, intending to leave as soon as he was fully clothed.
"Wait," Matthew requested, as he stood up and removed his wallet from his coat. Brian frowned, wondering what he was doing. The grey-haired man opened it and took out five one-hundred-dollar bills as well as a business card. He then took a pen and wrote something on it. "I'm not sure how much you charge for an entire night, but this should cover the bill. If you don't mind me telling you this, my best friend, Jeffrey Miller, manages the most exclusive, premium escort agency in the Pitts. I'm giving you my business card as well as his name and number. You should definitely give him a call."
"You think I'm a fucking escort?" Brian asked, astounded. Even if he had no problem with his sexuality, someone mistaking him for a professional was a first.
Matthew realized what Brian was implying and blushed. He fucking blushed. "You're not?"
Brian barked out a laugh. "Well, I've been called a slut more than once in my life, but no, I'm not," he retorted with a false smile.
"I'm sorry, I… I really thought…" Matthew stammered.
"Keep your bullshit apology to yourself; I don't care," Brian countered dryly.
He walked towards the door and paused, frowning, "You know what?" Brian turned around and approached Matthew again, plucking the business card from his hand. "I will keep the number. Who knows? If I need an escort, I'll know who to call. I'm sure you will ask your friend to give me a discount, won't you?"
Matthew looked at him with a stunned expression on his face, obviously not knowing if Brian was kidding or not. "Sure."
Brian stepped back with a nod, adding one last thing, "Bye, bye, Mr. Gallagher. It was good fucking with you," he quipped, and Matthew rolled his eyes, his lips turning upwards.
Brian gave him a last, knowing smile before walking out the door.
When Lindsay called him a couple of days later, Brian was at the loft staring at his bills, wondering one more time how he was supposed to pay them without any income. He thought it was the worst situation he would have to deal with in the coming months. He was dead wrong.
When he finished his conversation with Lindsay, the dial tone buzzed in his ear for too long, indicating that the mother of his only child had finally hung up after having cried on the phone for over twenty minutes. Brian thought he was going to suffocate from the deep, cutting pain filling his chest.
Kidney failure. Peritoneal dialysis. Months of treatment.
Gus… Jesus Christ.
That evening, Brian drank an entire bottle of Beam and passed out on the floor.
The next day, he retrieved Matthew's business card from his jacket and called Jeffrey Miller.