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Some Catchin' Up To Do

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> Scene one <

Although it was only a coincidence, Biff couldn’t deny that he was positively surprised when he saw Bernard also leave the neighboring building the day after he had another fight with his father.

He didn’t realize it himself, but he stared at his childhood friend the other man for a good minute or so that it took Bernard to lock the door and walk the front yard where his car stood. It was only then, that he came back to his senses. Maybe this would be his last chance. He had to set things straight. Apologize.

Before the little voice inside his head that made him anxious with every whisper could butt in, Biff was speed walking, and perhaps skipping, down the stairs. “Hey! Long time no see, pal!”, he was trying to appear confident, picking that up from his high school year memories when it hadn’t all been a façade yet.

The other man stopped his second attempt to unlock his car and turned around after he realized that he was meant. “What.?”

Bernard looked beautiful like an average working man, no longer visible cues that screamed ‘I’m intelligent but weak, why don’t ya take advantage of me, hm?’. They weren’t quite the same height, but it wasn’t too much of a surprise, it would’ve been weirder if he suddenly wasn’t the taller one anymore, you don’t grow too much after over 15 years after all.

It was only then, when they stood in front of each other, that recognition washed over Bernard’s features. “Oh. Biff? That you?”, he wore a smile that wasn’t so easy to figure out.

Was he happy? ‘Of course not, idiot, why should he of all people be happy to see you!’

Then was he nervous? Unsettled?

His own joy and underlying relief faded inside of him at that he was most certainly causing his long time crush old friend distress.

“Definitely me.”

He was sure that he was not the only one feeling the air stiffen up with awkwardness at that moment. Or it was only him, because the smaller man stuffed his keys into his pocket and fully turned to him. “Sorry, almost didn’t recognize you. It sure has been long.”

There wasn’t a care in the world in his voice. All small talk. Just catching up to his old neighbor and schoolmate. Nothing unusual. Nothing out of the ordinary. Nothing more – as it should be. That’s right, it should be like that. It was for him, too, of course. Because that is what is right, and he was right. Nothing is wrong with him. He’s no disgrace-

“You okay?”

He blinked the concerned look out of the others eyes because he was only imagining it to begin with, wishful thinking, he was tired still.

“’course. How ‘bout you.”

“Can’t- well shouldn’t complain, y’know?”

Biff swallowed hard. No. He did not.

“Yeah. Know what y’mean.”

He had had even less sleep as he thought, apparently, because it almost looked like Bernard was swaying from one foot to the other like a hypnotic rhythm. “Why don’t we- you visiting for longer? We could meet up. Catch up over a good drink.”

“Sounds better than out here like lost puppies or somethin’.”
There‘s an short pause in which neither of the two knew what to do with themselves. “Tonight perhaps?“

As more time went on, Biff could see how the before always so timid boy evolved into this man that talked so sure of himself then. There were some feelings of regret that he had missed (out on) that change for so long, but he managed to swallow them down, although with slight difficulty.

“Sounds good to me. You know if that old place they never let us in s‘still open?“
Bernard chuckled at the memories brought up of the times the got along so well, almost too well, until they were in his room and almost-

“As far as I know, yeah. Let‘s check that out and show them.“

They laughed together and it felt like the most normal thing in the world. Two pals just talking about old times, even though they weren’t even that old (but that was to be ignored because the time they spent apart sure felt like barely eternity to him).

Suddenly, Biff remembered the situation again and pulled himself mentally out of the welcoming calm moment in the midst of everything that as going on with his family.

“Oh, hey, sorry man, you were going somewhere, right? Won’t hold you back anymore.“ In more ways than just their conversation.

“Don’t say that, Biff. I’m happy to see you again!“, and the always assuring smile that he didn’t deserve was still plastered on his face. “But yeah, still have quite a few errands to run for my dad.“

He wished his dad would even entrust him with errands.

“See you at nine there?“ There was an expectant sparkle in his eyes. “You got it.“
With that they said their goodbyes for the time being. Bernard got in his car and Biff is left alone to reflect and think about what had happened over and over again.
That went pretty alright, he concluded.

> Scene two <

Biff got to the bar a bit more than ten minutes earlier, for one, because he got there by foot, because he mysteriously had the lingering foresight he would overdo it with the drinks tonight and he didn’t want to let Bernard have to wait for him he deserved so much better and he would feel really shitty if he got there before him even though Bernard had a full scheduled day with work and all he did as look around his old room and reminisce at all the almost forgotten personal treasures and connections he rediscovered.

He thought about waiting to order after Bernard got there too but felt uncomfortable with how awkward that must’ve looked to everybody else.

He had sat down in a booth, the thought of the possibility of some stranger talking to him out of nowhere at the bar sent a cold shiver down his back.

“Here.“ The waiter smiled forcefully when he sat his beer down. Sorrow and exhaustion written all over his face. He didn’t even try to hide it, shamefully so. Biff gave him a sympathetic smile nonetheless, “Thanks“. He sat back and relaxed with the background music out of the jukebox in the corner. He let it drown out all the other noises and voices fighting for dominance.

When the door opened and the chilly evening air flooded in, Bernard hurriedly looked around, anxious if Biff had already left after having to wait for him. He was relieved when proven different when he stepped further in and spotted the other man sitting on the stool-couch with nothing but patience.

He liked this newer Biff.

“Hey pal, sorry it took a little longer.“

Biff turned to him, seeming a little out of it. “Hm? Oh, no problem, really,“ He motioned to the seat across from him, “sit down. No point in standing around like that.“

“I guess you are right.“ He took off his scarf and jacket and laid it next to him and between the wall. After a steadying breath he clapped his hands together and smiled as bright as sunshine, warming everything in his presence friendly.
“So, what have you been up to? What’re you doing?“

Biff blinked, contemplating how honest he can and should be. In the end he came to the conclusion to ‘fuck it all‘ after some hard thinking progresses. “Well, kinda depends on who you ask…“

He didn’t make it sound so pitiful on purpose but lying was something he swore to avoid with Bernard and at least that would be something he’d pull through ‘til the end.
“Well, I’m asking you. Not what someone else thinks.“ Bernard raised an eyebrow along with that, but there was nothing testing or judgmental in his voice. He was serious and that alone was comforting for him, however strange that might appear.

Bernard read the ‚thank you‘ in his eyes and mentally nodded his way.

He let his head drop but overplayed the exhaustion with an easygoing laugh. “Oh I’m just wasting my life way on a farm in Texas.“

He man with glasses looked skeptical and somewhat disappointed back at him. “Didn’t I just say that I was asking you?“ They locked their eyes in an intensive gaze for a moment before Biff whipped his head to the side. Any longer and a blush would be visible, even in the dim lighting.

“I’m still trying, okay. I’m trying to make this work.“ He missed the empathy the other had for him with not looking up and meeting his eyes.

“Alright. Nothing wrong with that, you can do it. Don‘t let all of them get to you.“
Ah, he thought after a short, sudden surprise shock, forgot I had told him. Weird that he remembers still.

“Thanks, I guess but enough of that, talk about yourself. You’ve really put yourself out there, haven’t you.“ Part of him just wanted to get the spotlight off of him, of course, but he had also been genuinely interested for a while.

He dragged out some more time with laughing as if Biff had told him a joke and rubbed his neck with his arm up, a nervous habit he apparently hasn’t been able to get rid of. Good, he always thought it was adorable.

“I got a job in father’s company after college and been working there for a while. Pretty boring most of the time to be honest but I’m happy I found something. I got a case in DC now but no idea if they are happy with my work.“

He could tell he was holding back with his choice of words as to not hurt him. He didn’t like that.

“Awsome man! Glad to hear it’s going good like that.“ He gulped. Heavy lump in his throat down. "And nothing new with the ladies?“ He tried so hard to be interested, but could only hope it came through the way he intended.

Bernard bit his lip, something he could stare at for hours effortlessly. “Actually.. “

Oh no

“I- I got married a while ago.. I also have two little kids.“

No, please. He didn’t care if it was selfish to no end, he couldn’t help the jealousy bubbling in every vein of his body.

“Though it hasn’t been going the best recently..“ He was calm, not as upset about their marriage falling apart as one would expect.

Guilt replaced the jealousy worry when Biff caught himself happy about hearing the last bit.

He should comfort him, shouldn’t he? That’s what a friend’s for. Support. “I’m sure it’ll be fine.“

“You don’t have to lie, I’ve already made my peace with it.“ Still calm, no ill will in a single syllable.

“O- Okay then.“ Then what??

They continued talking about shared memories, nostalgia bringing them as close back together as they have been. As close as others saw them as. Bernard filled him in in what kind of office, paperwork he was missing out on. Truly tragic.

On the other side could Biff have sworn he caught a glimpse of something resembling longing when he talked about his daily work, that the assignments varied from one day to the next.

“I really can’t get it in my head how so many make fun of those things even though the rely on it. People like you deserve lot more acknowledgment and respect as you do at the present!“

Angry would have been the wrong term but perhaps frustrated. Yes, that was more fitting.

At least someone defended him.

“Thanks, for real, I appreciate it.“ Hopefully no one looked at him in that moment, they would’ve questioned it more than just once and who knew how it would get from there.

His way of dealing with problems is perhaps more destructive and cliché. He relies on alcohol. And now again when everything becomes too much he turns to drinks. But this time he is not alone. He is there with Bernard. He manages to make him feel like he used to. The way Biff felt when he was younger, when everything wasn’t as hopeless, when his family was still whole-

Biff took a big sip of his beer after a cheer with the other one.

> Scene three <

It might have been a bit awkward at first to talk and basically getting to know each other again but they quickly noticed that it was as if no time had passed for their connection at all. Well, they didn’t notice but that was a good thing, they conversation and whole evening flowed on effortlessly like a never-ending river.

In their fun, time flew by like it was nothing and suddenly it was three in the morning and the bar was about to close. The two were the only ones left that weren’t already sleeping half dead on some counter or table.

Standing up wasn’t an initial problem, not even putting on their jackets, paying went fine too, but the second they stepped outside, gravity activated like it always does and Biff grabbed onto his friend so he wouldn’t fall on the pavement.

It wasn’t his fault for accidently throwing his arms on Bernard’s shoulders and it wasn’t said man's fault for instinctually holding his waist, either. Biff blushed and detangled himself but when he tried to put more distance between them, he stumbled over his own feet. Bernard caught him again which did nothing to help with the pounding in his chest, Biff could only pray that it wasn’t as loud as he heard it or else, he was absolutely screwed, if Bernard were to confront him right then he would have all his filters drunk away.

Fear struck through him, he just got his friend back, it was too soon to ruin it. Forever would be too soon. He should get control over his alcohol consumption to keep his secrets in check. It was too late for that then though, maybe the next day.

“Woah, watch out.” Bernard grabbed his wrists and pulled him towards himself, he then put an arm around his waist to stabilize him and who was he to stop him when he secretly wanted him to hold him in his arms forever. Perhaps he should scrap his previous idea and go out drinking with Bernard all the time. Biff sneaked glances at the man who was almost carrying him.

For Bernard, who had a few less intense drinks, he was just ‘sneaking glances’ but straight up staring and he was a little lost for words. It was the middle of the night and they had to get home somehow, supporting him was simply the easiest way.

Even though it was nighttime, there was still a fair amount of cars driving through the streets of the suburbs, so they (he) had to be careful to not let Biff wander off on his own. He stayed quiet for the majority of the way, Biff too exhausted to do small talk as well, but when they had to wait at a crosswalk for the streetlight to turn green for them, the taller started to mumble something inaudible under his breath.

The lawyer looked at his friends face in search of answers. “Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. What is it?“ He waited for a moment, his focus stayed on Biff and he missed the light changing from red to green. “‘m sorry..“ Biff slumped over and hid from the piercing gaze that inquired more.

“Sorry? Biff,“ Bernard‘s voice as gentle and comforting, like everything else about his aura, “you don’t have to say sorry for any of this. It’s alright, trust me, okay.“
The light had long turned red again.

“I do trust you. I trust you so much. You are so great, you know, I really really trust you and you know..“ He stopped himself before he could let anymore slip but it was enough to make the smaller man hold his breath in anticipation, for what exactly he did not know either.

Then they eyes met, generally, it was a bit hard to make anything out in the dim lighting of the stars, let alone facial features. But they met and time slowed down, all of a sudden the alcohol took control of their doubts with both of them, or maybe they just didn’t care anymore.

Neither of them could tell who came closer but when their lips met, also neither of them wanted to break apart first. They were clumsy but blaming the alcohol for that worked out just fine so they kept kissing under the night sky.

“..hey.. stop, someone could come this way.“ He tuned around and pushed the button for the traffic light yet again. Biff hugged him and apparently forgot all about the situation they were in. “I don’t care anymore.. can we please.. kiss.. again? That was nice, right? I liked that.“

Bernard sighed, couldn’t he have had one drink less? This was too complicated and risky for his taste. If they could at least get home first- he stopped right in his tracks, what was he thinking? Home? That wasn’t really a word they could associate between the two of them.

“Come on, this way.“ It was unnecessary that they even waited this long, there had not come a car by since they stood there. “Don’t leave me, please.“ Biff wasn’t desperate per se but pleading in a way adding to the tiredness that consumed him.

Bernard didn’t look, but it was obvious from his voice, he knew him good enough for that.

“Biff don’t be like that!” He tensed up when Biff’s grip tightened, “I- I won’t just leave, but tomorrow you’re gonna see that this is bad, okay, so let’s leave us like that, we’ve done too much already.” He was biting his lip nervously and could swear that the taste of Biff hadn’t left.

But Biff wouldn’t let it end like that again, he wanted to have a say too. “No.” He stopped walking, making Bernard stop by default along with him. They were only another two or three minutes away, though if they kept this pace up it might be sunrise soon. Around them were all houses that looked the same, it made the space look that much more crammed and... sad.

“Stop arguing, you aren’t thinking clearly-” He turned his back to Biff. This wasn’t a conversation they should even need to have but, he also couldn’t deny that thinking about them and a home was making him feel warm.

“Yes, I am! For once I am! Please...” He had taken one of the hands of the man in front of him into his own, he was taking small steps towards him and when the other made no move to push him away, hugged him again from behind. The fog in his mind was starting to part ways by the minute. “I want this, I do, and I don’t care, ok? I don’t care about everyone else!”

The hugged one clenched his fists, ‘Where is he going with this?!’ he thought. The frustration built up but the second he received a light squeeze it spilled over the edge. “Oh? You don’t care, is that so? And since when do you have had this marvelous revelation, hm?”

There was a silence around them but neither moved. Bernard was ready to break loose and keep walking but that’s when he noticed the dampened sobs on his shoulder. His head shot back up from staring at the ground and with the momentum he spun around, facing the now crying man. “I’m so sorry. I know I was an idiot, I still am. I should’ve trusted you back then, too. I’m stupid! I’m sorry, but please accept me again. You are the best guy there is, okay? You are great and, and I never stopped loving you.”

He was speechless. All he knew to do was stand there and stare. Biff looked up at him with eyes full of tears and that was more than enough to break the spell that was trapping him. Without even questioning his actions he took the initiative and cupped Biff’s face in his hands, wiping away the stray tears that poured down his cheeks. “Please stop.”

Shock and fear spread over Biff’s whole being like wildfire, sensing this, the other man quickly carried on. “No, wait. Not like that.” He sighed, sorting through his own thoughts for a moment. “I mean, please don’t insult yourself anymore, you are so strong, too.”

Yet again they locked gazes, just like minutes before and just like they used to years ago and even though for just a moment, they could be happy, together. Under the moonlight they kissed once again, smiling like the idiots in love that they were.