"I feel fucking old," says Cal.
"Why now?" David asks wearily.
"Look at this shit," Cal says, gesturing with his beer bottle at Trish's backyard -- well, Trish and Andy's backyard, technically -- the coolers and food, Andy at the grill in a Kiss the Cook apron, Trish's hot daughter gingerly touching Jill's giant pregnant lady belly. "This is like Norman Rockwell 'I'm 45 and my life is over' bullshit." He drains his beer and sets it on the picnic table with a thud. "It cannot abide."
David starts laughing.
"'It cannot abide'? Well, forsooth."
"Fuck you, I'm serious." Cal says. "This isn't going to last."
"You're looking at Beth," David realizes. She's across the yard talking to some guy Trish knows, while Andy studiously ignores her. "Are you being moony over Sex Freak Beth?" He probably shouldn't laugh, but too late.
"Fuck no," Cal says. "What? No. Shut up. Everything's awesome. She wants to have a threesome." He steals David's beer and takes a swig.
"Shit, are you serious?" David says. "Nice."
"With you," Cal finishes. David almost chokes on his bite of hot dog.
"What?!" he says with his mouth full. "What the fuck? What?"
"She wants to have a threesome with a dude," Cal says. "I said I didn't even know any guys who were even part gay except you. And now she won't shut up about it."
"I am not part gay!" David yells.
"Who's part gay?" Jay says, coming up behind them with a six pack.
"Cal's mom," David says, glaring. "She told me when I fucked her last night."
"Oh, now my mom's the gay one?" Cal says.
"Hi guys," says Beth. "Hi David." She sits down next to him and swings a leg over the bench so she's straddling it. Her shorts are very very short. Oh god, all the things David's had to hear about Cal doing to her in bed. "What're we talking about?" she asks.
Mooj is cranky because it's a day ending in y.
"What the shit, man?" he says to Cal at the stockroom door. "My customers have to wait for a fucking hour for their stereo, but his customers' stuff comes right out?" He bobs his head at David. "Why are you so gay for each other?"
"Hey," says David, who's leaning against the wall. "I didn't do anything."
"Tell me," Mooj says, gesturing back toward the woman he's been helping. "Should I tell her that you are fucking him in the ass?" He nods from Cal to David. "Or that he's fucking you?"
"I don't get fucked in the ass!" David says.
"Why are you so obsessed with asses, Mooj," Cal says, without blinking. "Are you actually getting ass-fucked every night? You can tell us."
"No one's fucking anybody in the ass," Paula says, coming up behind them. "You all give each other sloppy handjobs and call it a night. Get your asses back to work."
Bernadette wears this weird perfume that always makes David want to sneeze. It's kind of annoying, since he spends all his time around her trying not to.
"Hi?" she says. "David?"
"Yes!" he says. "Yes, definitely." It's probably the right answer to whatever she was saying, since she smiles and lets him eat half her dessert. It's weird doing all these relationshippy things again. It means that when she tells him he can keep a toothbrush in her medicine cabinet, he wants to tell her that it's only going to end in her throwing it at his head.
He mostly doesn't, though. She's a nice girl. And a nice girl he has to see every day at work. And he does like getting to do stuff like that thing where you push at each other's feet in bed when you're falling asleep. Telling her how nice she looks in some new dress. He's really good at that shit.
Allegedly Cal's got extra weed hidden in his room... somewhere.
David sighs and shoves his hands in his pockets as Cal looks in his third hiding place in the back of the closet.
"You're like a weed squirrel," he says and wanders over to the typewriter on Cal's desk. Cal manages to defy some law of physics and disappear almost entirely into the closet.
"I know it's around here somewhere," says his muffled voice. David bends over to read the sheet of paper in the typewriter.
I didn't know what to do. Manuel was standing in the rain. I wanted him.
"Ah-ha!" says Cal from the closet. David jumps and stands up as Cal emerges, holding an old cigar tin above his head triumphantly.
"Your character's gay?" he says.
Cal frowns and moves to sit on the bed.
"He's not gay. He's complicated," he says, grabbing rolling papers from the bedtable.
"You know how I know you're gay?" David asks, turning the desk chair around to sit in it. "You write gay porn in your spare time."
"Lots of great characters in literature were gay," Cal says, rolling a joint with practiced speed. David takes the joint Cal hands him.
"You know," Cal says, hunting in his pockets for a lighter. "Lots of them."
"Right," says David.
"Holden Caulfield," Cal says, and flicks the lighter on. David leans forward and lets him light the joint.
"What?" he says, after he finally exhales. "Holden Caulfield was not gay."
Cal frowns and nods at him, holding his breath.
"Of course he was," he says, when he can talk. "It's subtext."
"You know how I know you're gay?" David says. "You see 'subtext'."
"You know how I know you're gay?" Cal says.
"You have a profile on Manhunt dot com," Cal says.
"You're gay for finding it," David says, and they go in the other room to watch the UFC match.
"ABBA," Cal says.
"Nope," David says.
"The Captain and Tenille," Jay says. "Covering.... Limp Bizkit."
"Are you kidding?" David says. "That sounds awesome, there's no way that's worse than Michael McDonald."
"Oh, oh, Yanni," says Cal, as Jay's phone rings. David shakes his head. "Uh-uh."
"Oh, come on," Cal starts, when Jay lets out the most unholy noise David's ever heard him make.
"Oh shit, for real?" he says. "Shit. Okay, stay there. No, go. No, stay, I'm-- okay, I'll meet you there. I'll meet you there." He hangs up and stares at them with panicked eyes. "The baby. She's having the fucking baby. Shit. What do I-- fuck." He looks like he might actually pass out.
"Here," David sighs. "I'll drive you."
"Oh shit, man," Jay says. "Yes. Thank you. Yes."
"Caaalm down, buddy," David says, slapping him on the back and steering him toward the door.
"You have to come too," Jay says, turning panicky eyes on Cal. Cal looks at David, shrugs, and takes off his nametag as they head toward the door. "Half daaaay," he mutters under his breath to David as Paula starts yelling behind them.
They're at the hospital for like twelve fucking hours. Jill's sister banned Jay from the room about forty-five minutes in, so he spends the whole time in the waiting room with them, freaking out until blah blah baby, peace and joy.
"Why are babies so ugly?" Cal asks as they finally walk out into the chilly air. It's almost four am.
"Fuck if I know," David says, and drives them both to his place, because there's no way he's driving fifteen more minutes to Cal's and then all the way back.
"Crash here," he says, cutting the engine.
"You're always trying to get me to stay over," Cal says half-heartedly as they walk inside. "Stalker."
"Dude who willingly hangs out with stalker," David says. "Couch. Blanket." He points on the way to his room, falls face-first onto his bed, and doesn't wake up 'til ten. Cal's snoring on his couch, face pressed into the cushion and a million-watt patch of sunlight.
David flops down on his legs and kicks the Xbox on with his toe.
"Nrghmf," says Cal. After three minutes he slides his legs out from under David, and four minutes after that he sits up and grabs the other controller.
David manages to avoid the stockroom for four solid hours, before he has to wander over. He waits for Cal to see him and come to the door, which he does, frowning. Bernadette is slamming things around behind him.
"Shit, man," he says, lowering his voice. "What did you do?"
David makes a face and shakes his head.
"No, seriously," Cal says. "That girl is pissed."
"I... may have called her Amy," David says, watching to make sure she doesn't overhear. "...in bed."
"What?!" Cal says. He starts laughing loud enough that Bernadette shoots them a dirty look and slams out the back door. He stops laughing abruptly as he punches David in the arm.
"OW," David says. "What the hell?"
"How could you, man?!" Cal says. "You pathetic jackass. The girl I fucking handpicked for you."
"Oh, fuck you," David says, stepping backwards. "I'm the one who just got dumped."
"That is not the point," Cal starts, "that is--"
"Hi, welcome to Smart Tech!" David says brightly to a kid looking at headphones. "Can I help you find anything?" Over the kid's shoulder, Cal flicks him off.
"You know what?" Cal says. "No. You don't even deserve to get taken out for post-breakup drunkenness."
"Yeah," says David. Cal sighs heavily and they go to the bar.
Two drinks in, Cal flicks him in the temple.
"For the record," he says. "You avoid this by never saying any girl's name in bed. As far as you're concerned, they're all named 'Oh god'."
"Ow," says David without energy. After a while Beth shows up and sits on Cal's lap and tells David she's really sorry, really, that girl sucked anyway.
"Yeah," he says and they drive him home three hours later. He wakes up alone and ragingly hungover.
Bernadette quits. Andy's super cheerful all the time at work, and it's fucking annoying. Marriage. Jay looks more haggard every day, and spends lunch breaks showing them unfocused baby pictures on his phone. He's started napping in the back room when he thinks Paula's not going to notice. She does.
Cal shows up to work forty minutes late one day and David has to cover the stock room even though he knows shit-all about it.
"Dude, what the hell?" he says when Cal rolls in, then sees his face. "Whoa, what happened?"
"Broke up," Cal says.
"Fuck," says David. He thinks about patting him on the back, but doesn't. "Fuck, man," he says again.
They're at Paladino's, drinking $9 beer, because the girls there are hotter, and Cal says it inspires him.
"Inspires you to what?" David says, making a face as he drops a ten on the bar.
"Forget what a sadsack you are," Cal says immediately. "Also brainstorm my novel," he adds with dignity.
"Hey, remember when you didn't talk about your novel?" David says. "Those days were great."
He found out about Cal's novel at Andy's bachelor party. 3am, drunk, it had seemed like a good idea to start bellowing secrets in the parking lot.
"I'm a virgin and I'm getting married!" Andy shouted, tipping his head back so far he almost fell backwards.
"I'm a novelist!" Cal bellowed, and threw his beer bottle on the asphalt.
David thought of yelling, "I'm still in love with Amy!" but the words didn't even seem to mean anything anymore, and it would probably make Cal punch him in the neck. He settled on, "I had sex today!" even though it was yesterday, and it was awkward since it was only the second time he and Bernadette had done it. "Wait, a novelist?" he said in his normal voice after his brain caught up.
Now, Cal continues like he didn't hear him.
"Writing," he says evenly, "is a blood sport."
David's not sure what there is to say to that, so it's lucky Jay shows up, fifteen minutes after he texted to find out where they were.
"Hey!" Cal says. "You're allowed out of the house?"
Jay gestures at the giant case of Pampers he has under his arm.
"Strictly on business. I figure I've got fifteen minutes here, twenty if I tell her they were out at the first place."
"Why did you bring the diapers inside?" David asks, nodding at them.
Jay looks down at them blankly and then back up as Cal and David start laughing.
"Look, you guys don't even know," he says. "I haven't slept in weeks. It's like fucking 'Nam up in there. I'm bugging out."
It's the first time David's seen him outside work in weeks, and after he takes off it's sort of weird to just be him and Cal again. Even though it's only ever the two of them these days.
"Oh, yes," Cal says, leering at a redhead with giant boobs, and slides off the stool to go talk to her. It turns out she has a friend, a drunk friend, who keeps touching David's arm, but when Cal asks if they all want to get out of there, David shrugs and says he has to open tomorrow. He can't remember when he got sort of bored of sex with strangers. 'Gay,' Cal mouths at him as he leaves. David puts on an overly cheerful smile and flicks him off.
"Why won't anyone ever hang out anymore?" Cal asks during Guitar Hero.
"Because they're all pussies?" David suggests.
"They're all fucking pussy-whipped," Cal says.
"Gay," David says.
"No, gay is how I hang out with you so much now that you're practically, like, my wife."
"Why do I have to be the wife?" David says, then has to stop talking for a crazy solo.
"Beth called me," Cal says when it's over without looking at him.
"Oh yeah?" David says. "Why?"
Cal shrugs inside the guitar strap.
"Drunk dial," he says. He's quiet for a minute, apparently thinking of sex lives past. "God, she was kinky."
"Yeah, I've heard," David says dryly.
"She used to have these filthy, amazing ideas," Cal says sort of wistfully, slamming on the fret buttons. "And we didn't even get to half of them."
David stops playing and turns to look at him.
"Oh my god," he says. "You wanted to do it! You wanted to have a dude threesome."
"Fuck you," Cal says. "I didn't want to do it." He pauses. "I didn't not want to do it. It's just an experience, right?"
"Oh my god," David says again, as a new song starts. "Why didn't you ever tell me how gay you are?"
"I'm a writer," Cal says. "I have to understand the fucking human condition."
"The human fucking condition, you mean," David says.
"But don't worry," Cal says. "I definitely definitely wouldn't do it with you. You'd get all stalkery on me."
"What the fuck does that mean?" David says.
"You'd want to stare into my eyes and talk about our feelings. Forever."
"Yeah, I'm pretty sure the day anyone wants to stare into your eyes is never," David says.
"You'd want to have a picnic with me in the park while we listened to a mix CD about our love," says Cal.
"Whatever, gaymo," David says.
"Hey, everyone's a little gay," Cal says. "It's just science."
"Speak for yourself," David says. Fuck yes, he's going to get a new high score.
"If you're not gay," Cal says, "why is half of Bonerjams '03 two dudes doing it?"
"A girl getting doubleteamed is not two dudes doing it," David says. "Have you even ever watched porn?"
"All I'm saying is you seem to have a lot of video of cock," Cal says.
"At least I don't want to have sex with you," David says.
"At least I don't want to listen to Enya and cry while we do it," Cal says.
There's this new bar down the street from work and checking it out had seemed like a good idea but it's apparently the worst decision David's ever made. Because of course there's Amy in the corner with some guy who keeps sliding his hand under the edge of her pretty, no, slutty little tanktop.
"FUCK," he says loudly enough that three people turn to look at him. "Fuck, shit, fuck."
"What?" Cal says, then sees.
"Oh, Christ," he says.
"Get me a shot," David tells the bartender. "Now. Anything. Now."
The girl gives him a weird look and pours him a shot of vodka. When he downs it and looks back at Amy, she's on the guy's lap, laughing at something that's apparently incredibly hilarious.
"Oh, god, her sister's here, too," David says. "And, like, all her friends. Who hate me."
"Why, just because you stalked her for two years?" Cal asks.
"Wait, what the hell," David says. Amy's holding out her hand and half the girls are cooing over it. Because there's a ring on it.
"Of course," he says. "Jesus fucking Christ, of course."
Cal sees too.
"Uh, want another?" he asks, gesturing at David's shot glass. David presses the base of his hands into his eye sockets until he sees stars.
"No," he says. "No, I just want to go."
He drove, so Cal has to come, too.
"This place sucks, anyway," Cal says as they cross the parking lot. David doesn't answer. If he and Amy were still together it would be like three years now, which is a totally reasonable length of time to get engaged. He could have saved up for a ring and shit.
When he pulls into Cal's driveway, all the lights are on.
"Why... are all my lights on?" Cal says. "If I've been robbed, I fucking swear to God, I will kill something."
David frowns and gets out of the car with him. The door's unlocked when Cal tries it.
"What the shit," he mutters.
"Hi guys," says Beth brightly. She's on the couch, watching TV, which she turns off.
"What the hell, Beth." Cal says. She shrugs and stands up.
"I just thought it would be fun if maybe we all hung out." Cal frowns.
"Yeah, you know, hang out, shoot the shit, just like old times?"
"Are you drunk?" Cal says.
Instead of answering she smiles brightly as she peels off her shirt and throws it at David. He catches it reflexively. She's not wearing a bra. Cal groans and takes a half-step forward.
"I... should go?" David says.
Beth makes a show of pouting as she comes toward him.
"Well, if you have to," she says. "But I was wondering if maybe you could help me out with something first." She's so close he can feel her breath on his face, and she takes his hand in hers and slides it up under her skirt before he knows what's happening. Oh, Jesus, she's not wearing underwear.
She kisses him, hard and slippery, and oh god, he's absolutely going to pull away and run the fuck out of here but she grabs his other hand and presses it to her boob. Un. Fair.
Beth moans a little into his mouth and David stops kissing her long enough to realize Cal's behind her, grabbing her other breast.
"Okay, no," he says out loud, startled by his own voice. "This is messed up. I can't do this."
Beth pouts again.
"It's just for fun," she says. David looks at Cal who shrugs.
"He can't do it," he says to Beth, without breaking eye contact with David. "He's still totally hung up on this chick who's banging other guys."
It's like being punched in the windpipe. Cal tweaks Beth's nipple and she arches back against him, making really obscene noises.
"Oh, fuck you, Cal," David says, and kisses his ex-girlfriend hard.
Porn hardly ever shows you how hard it is to feel up a naked chick while trying super hard not to even touch hands with the other guy doing the same thing. It definitely never shows you what to do when your dick is as hard as it's probably ever been and the chick is touching herself and begging the two of you to kiss, because it turns her on so much.
David knows they're both expecting him to wuss out, which is why he does exactly the opposite and grabs the back of Cal's head to plant one on him.
"Oh, fuck yes," Beth moans. "Now do it with tongue."
She's acting so turned on it's messing with David's head, making this turn him on.
"God, I'm getting so wet for you," Beth says. How is he even supposed to handle that? Cal grabs David's ass and she shrieks in delight.
"Touch his dick," she says, and it's unclear who she's talking to. "Oh god, that would make me come so hard."
All the lights are on in Cal's smelly, familiar bedroom, so it's easy to see the look on his face when David meets his eye. Cal in his untucked Smart Tech shirt, having his Experience. Reaching down like grabbing David's dick has been some kind of inevitable thing all this time.
And, well, fuck. Here they are.