Crosstown Traffic
by Match

Kurt knows how to work it (work it, work it, croon the nubile backup singers, his subconscious colonized by Jay-Z videos). He watches Carson and Rick launch their cheery international-frat boy romance, watches Gideon watching Carson and Rick. And this feels almost too callous, too "Dangerous Liaisons" to admit: Kurt plans.

What with the banter and the ass-slapping, a casual observer could mistake Rick and Carson's affair for a long-standing inside joke. It's only Kurt's years of watching celebrities hedge and parrot their way through interviews that let him decode their glances. It's only those years that tell him Rick isn't joking when he leans against the conference room doorframe and announces, with an exaggerated glower "Well -- guess I'm not gettin' any tonight."

Across the table from Kurt, Gideon jerks upright and darts his eyes to the opposite corner. Down the hall, Kurt hears Carson yell something indistinct. Rick cranes his neck out and calls plaintively "You're only saying that 'cause you want my ass!"

"Oh yeah, baby, yeah." Carson austin powers the words as he appears behind Rick, slapping his ass genially. Gideon stares at the joint of his own thumb. He looks ill.

Work at the Times Square building's been like this for weeks. Gideon's eyes follow Rick when he thinks Rick's not looking, his hands linger too long on Carson's when handing him papers. Gideon's puppy-dog come-ons will never work, Kurt thinks. Those two are insular in their happiness. Gideon can't break their private language.

In the conference room, Gideon tumbles his sheaf of papers into order, taking exaggerated care to avoid having to notice Rick. Rick wanders away, still oblivious.

"You've got a strong presentation there. I really think she'll go for it," Kurt says, rising. "Your appointment's this afternoon, isn't it? Why don't we share a cab downtown?"

This is the way to work it: subtle, straightforward flirting. It's the warmth in Kurt's gaze, his carefully worded compliments, the attention he pays more than purely friendly, never fawning.

So. Riding downtown, Kurt sitting closer than is strictly necessary with only two of them in the back seat. Kurt rolls his eyes, shares a tolerant grimace with Gideon at the expense of the driver's musical tastes. He's blaring what sounds like Slavic heavy metal, strong polka influence.

Later he will be grateful for the music. Safer for a wash of noise to drown out conversation. It's jarring and oddly hilarious to hear familiar guitar crunch and whine wrapped around foreign syllables. Polish? Czech? Kurt's glad he can't identify the language. Dull or insipid lyrics will break a song (and shouldn't he try to pitch a special? -- Breakout Songwriters. Making the Album: Lyricists. True Life: I Was Diane Warren's Love Slave -- or save them for some To Be Anounced airdate on his dream network, the one for aging pop wonks).

Even now, he must remember: that is not Gideon's dream. Gideon the young rock geek, Gideon not long past his own personal existential crisis, Gideon the man he can't predict. Gideon with whom words are dangerous. He could still take Kurt's words wrongly, brush them off or feel them too deeply.

They've nearly arrived. The driver's running with traffic, taking corners and green lights at speed. Kurt presses his thigh against Gideon's hip (perched, pitched forward, repeating the street number to the driver with a broadcaster's trained enunciation: always courteous) and waits for him to sit back. When Gideon does, Kurt shades his open smile into something sharper. Holds Gideon's eyes through and beyond the last moment of hetero discomfort.

And by the time most men would've broken away Gideon purses his mouth and rolls his eyes, content, indulgent. He slings an arm not quite around Kurt's shoulders, fingers brushing the nape of his neck. Slowly, with feigned nonchalance, he strokes once down Kurt's cheek with the back of his hand.

This is no longer a seduction. Kurt can take, lordly and genial, but he's forgotten how to shape an expression that offers. He feels lockjawed into something sober and impassive, permanent ontheair face. He can't read Gideon's expression.

Gideon squeezes Kurt's shoulder and smiles wickedly. The taxi lurches to the curb, hurling them forward as the driver brakes. Kurt decides he will always think of that as their first kiss.


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