A Better State Than This
by HYPERFocused

You're living in your own Private Idaho, where do I go from here to a better state than this. Well, don't be blind to the big surprise swimming round and round like the deadly hand of a radium clock, at the bottom, of the pool.
-- From "Private Idaho" by The B-52s

More times than Scott Favor can count, Mike wakes up in his arms. Warm and heavy, but not a burden Scott would ever refuse. Mike twitches into awarelness with no memory of the journey. A narcoleptic haze, he doesn't even need drugs. Scott wonders what that's like. To drop into sleep without any plan, and arrive somewhere else. Doctors might call it a disease, or a condition, but to Scott it sounds like science fiction. Time travel, or something better. Life for Mike must be like snapshots of places he's never been, or maybe the old filmstrips Scott saw in school, with bits and pieces missing and the color faded into dreams. It sounds like more of a trip than the kind Scott pays for.

He can tell Mike wants him. The way he watches Scott's every move, and clears his throat like he's about to say something. But he doesn't ask. Three years with Scott and he knows the answer's going to be no, at least while they aren't working.

It's funny, Scott thinks. They only fuck while they're working. He remembers his father coming home from the office one day when Scott was thirteen. He'd just fired a secretary - Janet, or Jane. Scott forgets, though he remembers how she'd slipped him chocolate bars when his dad went off on business while Scott was visiting. Apparently Jack Favor had caught her and her boyfriend making too personal use of his desk after he'd left one evening. Scott had to hand it to her. At least something good had come across the Mayor's desk. He hopes she's found a better position somewhere else.

"Don't you ever get, you know, horny?" Mike dares. Scott knows he isn't really just talking about sex. They've fucked before, never when they were alone, but sometimes a guy wants a show, and the contrast of Mike's light, soft features and Scott's dark angles is striking. They both know it. They're good together. They would be good together.

"Yeah... but" Scott doesn't know what to say. He bites his tongue on the words that want to come out.

"Oh, yeah. Not for a guy." Mike answers for him. Scott pretends that's what he meant.

"Mike. Two guys can't love each other. They can only be friends." Scott knows his words are bullshit before they leave his mouth. But to admit it's not just friendship, that these past three years have been more than adolescent rebellion of an extreme sort, means he has to stop bullshitting himself all together. Has to admit this life isn't temporary. The hustling might be, but the rest of it, the connection he's never felt for a woman, isn't. He's never felt it for anyone but Mike.

Scott isn't quite prepared for that. After three years on the street (not to mention a life time of watching his father), he's too good at the bullshit to quit.

Scott knows what he is to Mike. The way Mike looks at him, like he's somewhere between Jesus and Superman. Scott doesn't think Mike would want to fuck either of them, but he couldn't be sure. But Scott isn't mythical, and he wishes Mike understood that. He gets scared, too, even if he doesn't say so. He's only playing the hero. That image is as much bullshit as anything else. It's fucking scary to be needed like that. He's never deserved that kind of adulation, and it makes Scott want to run before Mike figures that out for himself.

They really aren't so different, Scott thinks. It's just that Scott chose to skip out on his life, and can slip back in at any time. He'll turn twenty-one and go back home. Pretend that his father's words have moved him, that he's remorseful and wants to make a clean start. Begin a life of responsibility. His father would never understand that Scott has been more responsible in the past few years, making sure Mike and his friends are safe, than he ever would be as a coddled, rich young man.

Though they both share a similar existence, Mike is different. Scott knows he would go home, if he could. Somewhere safe. Mike dreams of a mother he never knew, a life Scott doesn't believe he had. It's hard to tell with Mike, what's real and what's not. He spends his life asleep; it's no surprise that he dreams when awake. He does it involuntarily. Scott's almost envious of that ability. During stressful situations - and doesn't pretty much all of Mike's life fall into that category - Mike can just check out. He just can't check back in.

Scott tries to check out. He thought he had when he first left home. Traded boarding schools and professional favors for run down boarding houses where the tenants drowned in their own vomit. Really, it was just exchanging one type of commerce for another. His body or his name. Neither one mattered. Either way he was going to be used. At least when he gave his body, it was his choice. Jack Favor was ten times the whore his son seemed to be.

The drugs and sex of life on the street was meant to be an escape from his father's world. He's a fortunate son who would gladly give up the fortune. Anything to avoid becoming a clone of the man he hates.

Before he knows it, Mike is in his arms again, and if that's not love, Scott doesn't know what is. Scott strokes his hair, and lets him fall asleep in peace.

The search for Mike's mother is more than following a dream. His brother gives hints of where she might be found, and they follow the trail without much luck. Always too late, but now at least Scott believes she existed. If only they were faster, she might still be waiting.

Italy is beautiful. He's been there before, but the sanctioned class trip at sixteen was nothing like this impromptu excursion. Scott doesn't tell Mike how they got there, how much of his father's money added to the folded bills Hans gave him after he fucked Scott. It doesn't matter, as long as he can give Mike what he needs. Maybe they really will find his mother, this time.

When it becomes clear that this is a dead end as well, Mike is devastated, and this time Scott can't fix it. He feels utterly powerless as he lets Mike sob in his arms. He feigns interest in a girl he hardly knows rather than deal with Mike and his pain.

Carmella turns out to be a good fuck, but the escape, like all escapes, is temporary. She turns out to be an even better listener. It's what he needs. She understands him, has come from similar wealth, and similar corruption. She tells him truths he hadn't told himself, and calls him on his bullshit.

Mike may not have found his mother here, but Scott thinks they've found something better. It doesn't take long to devise a plan. It won't be a sacrifice to take her back to his father, pretend she's the perfect future his family wants him to have. Scott's whole life is a pretense. This will just be a bigger role-play.

He could almost believe it, but they both know the truth. He's a way to a better life for her, and she's a safety net for him. His father is just concerned with appearances. He won't care enough about Scott to know he's being misled.

He gives Mike enough money to do what he wants while Scott works things out at home. Mike won't have to sleep on the street, or fuck anyone he doesn't want to. Still, handing him the credit card and leaving makes Scott feel dirtier than anything he's done o the streets.

His father's mansion feels nothing like home. But Carmella is impressed, and he enjoys watching her explore it. He was right; the old man thinks she's an excellent choice. "If this is what all your shenanigans were leading to, then I guess you turned out all right after all," he tells Scott. Scott wonders if he had any real idea what he'd been doing all these years. He knows his father's aides have filled him in, but maybe he doesn't believe it.

What he does believe is that Scott wants to wipe the slate clean, become the fine, upstanding young man his expensive education was supposed to produce. Scott pretends not to care about Bob Pigeon's entreaties, turning up his nose at the great unwashed who used to be his friends. That was his old life, and he has a new reputation to maintain. He hopes Bob, and the rest of the guys, will understand it's just an act.

At least he hopes it is.

He hears about Mike through the grapevine. Even in the insulation of his proper life, word gets around. He's back in town, and back to hustling. But without Scott there to protect him, he's vulnerable in a way he hadn't been before. So is Scott, though he'd never have guessed it.

Carmella is the one who tells him to leave. "This isn't what you want," she says. "Go get him. We'll figure out what to do later, once he's safe." Scott knows it won't be easy. At very least he expects a scene from his father. But Scott is twenty-one now, and if the old man wants him to stick around, he'll have to let Mike stay as well. Scott's not sure he'll even notice. If Scott lies low enough, his father hardly knows he's there.

Mike is out by the side of the road when Scott finds him. It's just like old times. Scott scoops him up, and lays him in the passenger seat. He hopes Mike will sleep awhile, because he's not sure how to say what he wants to say. I love you. I need you just as much as you need me. Be my family. I'll be your home.

Back at the mansion, Mike wakes up in Scott's arms.


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