My Funny Valentine
(Setting: Pittsburgh; February, 2010, POV/Emmett Honeycutt)
I was trying to come up with something fresh for a party I was going to be catering for the holiday. That was my excuse. I’ve never been a good multi-tasker. Still, I was more on the ball than Brian, who normally is a good multi-tasker. He practically invented the art, or at least, if he didn’t invent it, he perfected it. But little old me, trying to decide between raspberry and cherry for the right amount of red in my Valentine’s Day truffles – that was about all I could manage. Well, that and eavesdrop on Danny’s phone conversation with his old flame, Terrell Jennings, the opera star. I couldn’t handle Brian’s part of the triangle too.
Brian was working on his laptop and watching some old movie on AMC while he argued with Mikey on the phone about some teenie tiny detail of the movie’s plot. It was so weird. Danny’s friends all came over to watch movies with him. Brian preferred to watch a movie with Mikey with both of them at their own place. Danny asked him once if he wouldn’t rather have Mikey over – which was nice of Danny, considering that Mikey wasn’t always all that nice to him – but Brian assured him that this was how they both preferred it. This way, Brian had smirked, when he finally pissed Mikey off, he didn’t have to storm off home to Ben – he was already there.
I guess it made sense when you looked at it that way.
Anyway, Brian was busy with his movie and some Eye-conics presentation and I was taste testing glace, when Danny poked his head in from his music room.
“Hey, guys, do we have any plans for Sunday night?”
Brian just looked up for a second and said, “Not that I know of,” and went back to teasing Mikey about James Dean or Marlon Brando or whoever he was teasing him about.
Me, I was standing there with two pinked tipped spoons in my hands, totally confused on which had the raspberry and which had the cherry and you’d think something like that would be easy to tell but it isn’t. But....I have a sort of sixth sense when it comes to this sort of thing. I’ve always said that I get it from my Aunt Eulabelle, you know? Because there was just something about the look on Danny’s face as he stood holding his Iphone, looking kind of, oh, wistfully, at Brian, that made me totally prevaricate off the top of my little ole head.
“You must be forgetting, Danny! We have plans for Sunday, sweetie!”
Danny turned and gave me one of his really sweet smiles. “I must be forgetting, Em. What plans do we have?” he said into the phone, “Hold on a sec, Ter.” Putting the phone on hold or something, he looked at me with his, okay, what’s up, Honeycutt look. “Do we really have plans, Em?”
I looked hurt. I do that well, if I do say so myself. “It isn’t important, Danny. You and I can go out any old time. I really didn’t think you’d want to spend your Valentine’s Day with me but you’re the one who said it wasn’t important to you and you knew I hate being alone then so....” I let my words trail off. No need to say more, I could tell that our conversation was beginning to come back to him.
Not that we ever did have that conversation. Not exactly. He really did say something like that though. And he did offer to take me out, because I had been down about another Valentine’s Day coming around and me not having a love of my own. But we hadn’t made firm plans. And to the extent we talked about doing anything together, it was probably going to be going out Saturday night and painting the town Cupid Red. But Danny was forgetful enough and sweet enough to feel guilty because he hadn’t made any further mention of it so for all he knew, I might have been counting on a romantic dinner for two at the fanciest restaurant in town, Chez Maurice, on V-Day itself.
He was slapping his free hand to his forehead and smiling apologetically at me. Good thing I don’t have such a well-developed guilt bone or it would be twinging away at the sight, I thought as I smiled forgivingly.
“You’re totally right, Em! How could I have forgotten! Let me tell Terry we’ll have to get together some other time.”
He walked back into the music room and I could hear the murmur of his deep voice. I went back to my baking, humming happily...until I became conscious of Brian’s intense stare.
“So you and my partner have plans for the big pretend non-holiday of Valentine’s Day dinner date and neither one of you happened to mention it to me?”
I didn’t know an eyebrow could go that high. I was so fascinated by it, I almost forgot to answer, but Brian’s sharp, “Honeycutt!” brought my attention right back to his comment. It really was more of a question even if it was worded like a statement.
“No,” I whispered in a Carole Lombard, “don’t mess things up Clark,” kind of whisper. “Of course we didn’t have plans for a dinner, and certainly not a dinner date you big lug, but I had to do something or....”
I didn’t get the chance to explain what the “or” would have been because Danny came back into the room just then.
“Got that worked out,” he announced cheerfully before nudging Brian’s legs so that he’d put them up onto the sofa. Danny’s favorite position was between them – well, duh, of course – but he also liked just watching TV while lying back against Brian’s chest, which meant Brian had to put away the laptop. I didn’t hear any complaining though. He got off the phone with Mikey too.
“What did you get worked out?” Brian asked, his voice deceptively soft. It
was only by virtue of my many years of Kinney study that I knew Brian was
belatedly on the ball and realizing that he should have been suspicious of
Terrell Jennings calling Danny. Not, of course, because Danny couldn’t be
trusted. Not at all. Danny was as honorable and honest as...well... Abe Lincoln.
But Jennings? I was pretty sure he was one of those “all’s fair in love” types.
Danny squirmed his tight little ass back until he must have been pressed right against Brian’s groin. I surreptitiously did a little squirming myself. He gave me a knowing little smile before looking back over his shoulder at Brian.
“No biggie. Just worked out being able to see Terry while he was in town and keep my date with Emmett.”
Brian’s gaze flew over to me as Danny said the “d” word, but I just kept my innocent expression on – it stood me in good stead all those years at Hazelhurst Junior and Senior Highs – while I asked Danny, “So what is the plan, sweetie?”
“I told Terry how much you loved opera, Em, so he’s going to get us ringside seats for his performance in Puccini’s Turandot. Have you seen it before, Em?”
I shook my head. “No, that isn’t one I know at all,” I said hesitantly.
Danny sat up and just like someone else might start singing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” he starting singing at full volume this incredible song that of course I knew right away. I clapped my hands.
“I know that! Pavarotti sang it all the time, they played it during his funeral when the jets flew overhead.” Then I went blank. “But I have no idea what it’s called.”
“Aria for a fat man,” Brian suggested, earning himself an elbow from Danny as he settled himself back down against him. “Oof!”
“Be glad I’m not a fat man,” Danny told him, unrepentant. He told me, “The Opera is Turandot, the aria is ‘Nessun Dorma’ and is sung by the unknown Prince, who is a suitor for the hand of the cruel Queen Turandot. You’ll love it, Em. All angsty love and death.”
“Sounds wonderful, sweetie. I love that song, even if I didn’t know what it was from. But won’t it be a case of third wheel if I barge in on you and Terry having a reunion?”
“You never worry about being a third wheel with Danny and me?” Brian pointed out. I think Danny elbowed him again because he grabbed a pillow and put it between his chest and Danny’s arms. He didn’t put anything between that delectable ass and his cock though. He wasn’t stupid.
“Of course he doesn’t worry about that,” Danny told him firmly. “We love having Em around so there is no question of him being a third wheel.”
“Yes, that’s just what I was saying,” Brian claimed, sticking his tongue out at me from behind Danny’s back. “And there would be even less reason for him to feel de trop when it comes to you and your man mountain, right?”
Danny laughed. “Well, I don’t normally call Terry a man mountain behind his back – I save terms like that for saying to his face, to get him riled. But you’re right. There’s certainly no reason for Emmett to feel like a third wheel with him either. Em, you’re my best friend! Terry is one of my oldest and best friends but you’re numero uno– if you’re with me, you should never feel that I don’t want you there. Sunday is your day. Terry has made a suggestion for how to spend it which I thought you’d like. Dinner at Maurice’s after the opera, but if you’d rather do something different, we....”
“What about me?” Brian asked, sticking his lower lip out in an adorable pout. Trouble was, he was about twenty minutes too late on picking up on this particular gambit. Danny twisted around and stared at him, totally nonplused.
“What about you?” he asked, after his blank stare didn’t get him anywhere. Brian had just continued to look cute and while Danny looked appreciative, it wasn’t making him forget how to think. I should learn that trick, I decided. Show me an incredibly beautiful man like Brian and I swear, I lose all ability for rational thought. Of course, having a face like Danny’s to look at in the mirror every day is probably how a boy gets used to such beauty. Me, on the other hand...no need to go any further with that thought, Honeycutt.
Brian must have realized he needed to shift tactics because he wove a hand into Danny’s hair and bent his head to kiss him. I sighed. It was quite a kiss. He started out just touching their lips together softly, and then tasted with his tongue, running it gently along Danny’s lips, teasing the bottom lip until he pulled it into his mouth, then he slipped his tongue inside Danny’s mouth and...
I swallowed. I should have put on looser pants.
“I thought I was your Valentine,” I heard Brian murmur. I tried to look away but really, they are just too gorgeous together. Just as I was reaching my happy place, seeing how romantic they looked in each other’s arms, I realized Danny was laughing. I think my face must have looked as chagrined as Brian’s did as he lifted his head away from his chuckling partner. Seeing Brian’s expression, Danny started laughing even harder. He turned around gracefully, folding his long legs under him into a sort of modified lotus position as he poked Brian in the chest.
“Oh, come on, Brian! You hate Valentine’s Day! You know you do! How many times have you told me exactly what a stupid non-holiday it is, created by the advertising industry for the sole purpose of selling....”
“Candy, flowers and sex toys,” Brian finished for him, grabbing Danny’s gesturing hands. “I know that’s what I say. But in case you haven’t noticed, we have spent the last several Valentine’s Days together, haven’t we?”
Danny scrunched up his face adorably as he thought about it for a moment, then said, “Have we?”
“Yes, we have,” Brian told him, leaning forward and kissing his nose. “Obviously you are the unromantic one of the two of us. But it just so happens that while I don’t make a big hearts and flowers, big box of chocolate deal out of it....”
“I kind of like the idea of a big box of chocolate,” Danny interrupted. He was leaning back now, his arms behind him, his legs in that pretzel position between Brian’s legs. I had no idea how he could twist his body in the positions that he could. If I could manage to get my legs like that, I’d need help getting out of it.
“You wouldn’t eat a big box of chocolate,” Brian pointed out.
“I might,” Danny argued, a grin still on his face. “Maybe I’d better go exercise – I bet Terry gives me some chocolates...from Paris even. He knows I love Parisian chocolate, there are some chocolate makers there.....” Danny managed to unfold his legs in one smooth motion and jump up.
“Where are you going? You didn’t even tell me all of the plans for Valentine’s Day! What time should I be ready? What should I wear?” I looked after him as he started up the stairs, no doubt to his gym to work out for an hour or two.
“And we were discussing our Valentine’s Day plans,” Brian told him.
Danny paused. To me he said, “Don’t worry, you’ll wear what I get for you, Em, and knowing you, you’ll spend all day getting ready so what does it matter what time I say? You’ll be ready when we finally walk out the door.” To Brian he said, “Very funny, Brian, but no way will you convince me you were serious. And we were not together last year for Valentine’s Day,” he added as the clincher. “You were in L.A. and I was in New York. The year before we were together but it was purely by accident. The year before that....”
“Never mind, you made your point,” Brian grumbled. “I just thought maybe you’d like to spend Valentine’s Day together since we’re both going to be in town for once.”
Danny’s green eyes sparkled mischievously. “Well, Terry had planned on inviting one of his opera buddies along for Emmett, so the numbers would be even, shall I suggest he doesn’t need to do that because you’ll be joining us?”
“No!” I exclaimed at the same time that Brian said, “Sure.”
Danny looked between the two of us. “Let me know when you make up your minds so I can tell Terry how many to make the reservation for.”
Danny started singing that opera song again as he continued up the stairs. I sighed again.
“What are you sighing about?” Brian asked grumpily.
“He really has a beautiful voice,” I said, surprised that he had to ask. I was even more surprised when he reached out and grabbed one of my tester cupcakes and popped it into his mouth whole.
“What happened to the help you were clumsily trying to give me?” Brian asked, going so far as to take a second cupcake. I don’t think I’d ever seen him eat two sweets at one time before. I pushed the plate closer and walked to the fridge for some milk.
“Well, I figured that it was okay, now that you’re going along too, if I get to meet some hot opera singer. You are going along too, aren’t you?” I poured him a big glass of milk. He made a face at it but drank it nonetheless.
“I’m going,” he said, with a grimness that lost nothing to the milk mustache decorating his top lip.
I bit my lip. “Well, I thought you wouldn’t want Danny going out with Terry alone. That’s why I said what I did about plans, which I thought was pretty quick thinking on my part.” I felt slightly put out – I had done my best, after all.
Brian put his arm around me and gave me a quick hug – which was almost as shocking as his eating the cupcakes and drinking the milk.
“I appreciate the effort, Honeycutt. And I’m being stupid about Jennings, Danny and he are just old friends, good friends. But – he’s an odd sort and while I trust Danny 100% – I’m not sure I trust Jennings. He’s made it clear to me that he thinks Danny can do better and that he thinks he could be that ‘better’ for Danny. Lanier used to have that same attitude and until he dropped it he and I didn’t get along either. It’ll be the same with Jennings, no doubt. But in the meantime, this Valentine’s Day date will be...interesting.”
After drinking down his milk and stealing another cupcake to give Danny after he was done exercising, Brian kissed me on the cheek and headed off to their bedroom. Wow – make that three firsts for one night. I put the dirty dishes in the sink to do in the morning. I had a date with my diary!
(Babylon; Saturday Night, Feb. 13th; POV/Brian Kinney)
I leaned against the catwalk railing and surveyed the dancefloor beneath me, which writhed with the sweaty, half-naked figures of the men enjoying each other’s bodies while engaged in some semblance of dancing. Some, of course, were more proficient than others at the dancing part, while others focused on the enjoying each other’s bodies aspect. Brandon and Hunter were engaged in the latter to such a degree that I thought I’d better have security suggest they move the action to the backroom or Mikey was likely to have a heart attack next to me. I really didn’t want to perform CPR on him – too much like kissing – so I signaled the closest bouncer to take care of it.
Ben must have noticed what I did, for all that I tried to be subtle, because he handed me a drink a moment later with a mouthed “thank you.”
I grinned. No need to say anything really. We both loved Michael and we both accepted him completely. Ben nodded toward another couple, who fell on the other end of the spectrum – the dancing end.
Danny and Emmett.
I had to smile whenever I saw the two of them together. Emmett used to tell me that my occasional dance with him back in the old days raised his fuckability quotient by three hundred percent. His friendship with Danny, and especially what Danny had done to improve that stupid “praise Jesus” dance style of his, must have sent his popularity through the roof. The two of them were the center of attention in their part of the room and for good reason. They weren’t groping each other, they were dancing and having a lot of fun with it, their mood infectious. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Danny had low-cut jeans on that just clung to his ass and had tossed his shirt before taking to the floor. It was a testament to his dance skill that you actually forgot how fucking hot his body was and became entranced by how beautifully he moved.
Em, well, Em was Em. He no longer made his Praise Jesus move, unless it was in fun and then both he and Danny did it in such a way that they got the whole damn room doing it. I must have had a besotted look on my face because the Professor remarked, “He really is something special, isn’t he?”
“Who, Emmett?” I asked, turning an innocent look toward him. He just smiled that Zen smile of his. Since Michael had gone over to talk to Ted and Blake now that his son was out of sight and presumably out of mind, I felt comfortable discussing my personal life with his calmer half.
“Ben, may I ask you a question?”
“Of course, but I don’t know if I’ll have a useful answer,” he said, leaning those powerful arms of his on the railing next to me.
“I’ll take what you’ve got,” I assured him. It had to be better than Honeycutt’s advice, considering their respective track records at romance. “Danny has plans to ....”
“Have dinner with Terrell Jennings tomorrow night,” Ben interrupted. He smiled apologetically. “Sorry to interrupt but I think I have a conflict of interest here. Danny already asked me for advice.”
“He did?” I frowned. Why would Danny need advice?
“I’m going to suggest to you the same thing that I did to him – talk to each other. Danny likes Terrell a great deal. He also cares about not spoiling Emmett’s Valentine’s Day, knowing that it is an important day to Emmett. What he doesn’t know is why you would care how he spends it – and he can’t understand why you would suddenly be jealous of Emmett or want to ruin his special time. But...that isn’t quite it, is it?”
I looked at Ben, who, as usual, had seen to the heart of the matter. He smiled at me as he clapped his big hand on my back. I didn’t quite know how to respond to this unusual gesture of bon amie from the good professor.
“Don’t look so worried,” he advised, sensing my discomfort. “While you’re busy worrying about Jennings, you really are missing the point, Brian.”
“And what is the point?” I snapped, beginning to be irritated that everyone else seemed to understand my partner better than I did. Zen Ben was unfazed by my bad mood, naturally.
“That Danny thinks it is Emmett you are jealous of because it is Emmett whom he cares most about,” Ben said, speaking slowly, no doubt so I could follow. And indeed, turning to look at the two of them hugging down on the dance floor, I could see how someone might get the impression that there was something between the two of them.
Yeah, like all those tricks circling around, trying to get the attention of either one of them, content with Honeycutt since they knew Danny wouldn’t look twice at them.
Since he was mine.
Just then, Danny looked up and his eyes met mine and it was as though electricity went through me. I excused myself from Ben without even looking at him, hurrying down to the dance floor as a slow number started. As soon as I reached him, Danny melted into my arms. His sweaty body dampened my shirt but I didn’t give a damn, I just tightened my arms around him, holding him even closer.
“Hmm, this is nice,” he murmured against my chest.
“What’s this song?” I asked. “It sounds familiar but I can’t quite place it.” It was just an instrumental version of something playing on the sound system, something old, featuring a trumpet, no doubt something Danny had added to the playlist at some point.
“An old Rodgers and Hart song...Miles Davis’ version. I like it,” was all he said before resting his head a little lower and pressing his body closer. I didn’t push for more – sometimes there were more important things to think about than the song when you were dancing.
But then he started to croon it. When Danny sang those old songs in that deep, whiskey voice of his, you realized why they were classics. They hit you, somewhere in the pit of your stomach and you knew that you could fall in love just listening to him sing.
My funny Valentine
Sweet comic Valentine
You make me smile with my heart
Your looks are laughable
Yet you're my favourite work of art
Is your figure less than Greek
Is your mouth a little weak
When you open it to speak
Are you smart?
But don't change a hair for me
Not if you care for me
Stay little Valentine stay
Each day is Valentine's day
When the song ended, Danny kissed me, then pulled on my arms slightly.
“Come on, buy me a drink?” he asked.
“Just one dance is all I get?” I teased, but I put my arm around his waist and headed toward the stairs. He was trying to hide it but I could tell he was tired and he was favoring his right leg.
“You can have all the rest of my dances tonight,” he promised. “But can we make them horizontal ones?”
“Sounds like a plan.” I grabbed his discarded shirt from the railing and put it on him, brushing his hair back. It was still a lot shorter than he usually wore it but it was growing fast. It was already down to his collar and long enough to push back behind his ears, which is what I did now, enjoying the feel of running my fingers through it.
“Skip the drink and I’ll treat you to whatever you want in bed at home,” I offered, whispering in his ear.
“Whatever I want?” he repeated, his deep voice making it sound positively pornographic. I pulled him close, my hands molded to his ass.
“Whatever...you...want...” I trailed kisses over his collarbone and neck as I reiterated my offer. He tipped his head to the side, either to consider my offer or give me better access...or both.
“It’s after midnight so you know what that means,” he told me.
I blinked. “Uh, sure.”
He laughed. Then leaned up on his toes to capture my lips for a deep, searching, possessive kiss that had the men around us cat-calling and hooting – not that I gave a damn. I was too busy returning the kiss for all I was worth.
Lifting his head away, Danny said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Bri.”
Smiling at him, what else could I say but, “Same to you, Danny.” Walking out of Babylon early, with my arm around my “valentine,” I had to concede that just maybe this wasn’t such a stupid holiday after all.
(Setting: Maurice’s; February 14th; POV/Danny O’Keefe)
I smiled at Emmett’s happy face. He’d been chattering to Terry nonstop for the past ten minutes, telling him all his “absolute most favorite” parts of Turandot. Which he had loved. Emmett might not be the most educated of opera buffs –Ted could talk for hours about the history of any given opera and its composition, who first performed it, what the critics had to say about it, etc. – but Emmett was certainly among the most passionate of opera fans. And that made him interesting to Terry, who would much rather listen to an Emmett than a Ted anyday. Now, to give Ted his due, he sincerely loved opera also, but Emmett, he felt opera on a level that few people do. I never knew George Schickel but I knew he was quite a philanthropist, but as far as I’m concerned, one of the greatest things he ever did was introduce Emmett to the world of opera.
The man Terry had invited to be Em’s “date” tonight, Glen Yates or Tates or something like that, was busy trying to hit on me, which was tedious as hell but for Em’s sake, I was willing to put up with it. I don’t think Terry had realized that he would be as taken with Em as he was. I was feeling pretty smug. I knew Em would get along great with Terry, who loved real people, and they don’t come much more real than Em. I was willing to be bored for an evening if it meant giving Em a night to remember.
Still...listening to the band play the opening notes of “My Funny Valentine” I couldn’t help remembering my dance with Brian. I wished I were with him now. Maybe we should make a habit of spending Valentine’s Day together...even if it was a made-up holiday, no reason we couldn’t make it our made-up holiday. Who better to celebrate it than an ad man and a model?
“Excuse me, but I believe this is our dance.”
Looking up in total shock, I saw Brian in a tuxedo. I was all ready to accept and was half out of my seat...when I realized that he was asking Emmett to dance! Emmett, who looked completely and utterly thrilled. Brian gave me the faintest of winks before he led Em out onto the floor.
While Glen wandered off to the bar in search of more congenial company, Terry moved over to sit next to me as we watched Brian and Em dance together.
“Your partner is a man of surprises,” Terry noted.
“Yes, he is,” I agreed, and I probably had a pretty big smile on my face. Terry put his hand over mine.
“You’re happy with him, aren’t you, Chief?”
“More than you can imagine, Ter. He makes my dreams come true.”
“That’s all I wanted to know.”
I looked at Terry, who had always been exactly what I needed when I needed him. “I love you, Ter. You’re special to me. And I hope you find the man of your dreams one of these days soon.”
He sighed. “I’d like to think so too, Chief. But some of us find our dream man and he isn’t ours to have...or we lose him along the way. Still...there’s something to be said for a funny Valentine, isn’t there?”
I looked over at Emmett, who was laughing at something Brian had said. His face was never going to be mistaken for a Grecian coin, and he didn’t look like he hit the gym more than, oh, once a month or so, but, he was funny and kind and had a heart as big as all of Pittsburgh. A man could do a lot worse.
“Yeah,” I answered. “There’s a lot to be said for a funny Valentine. And I hope that one never changes.”
Terry ruffled my hair and said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, Chief.”
“You too, Terry. You too.”
Then we both got up and cut in, to claim our valentines.
Feedback for Arwensong
or email to email@example.com
Return to the Valentine Challenge