Piece By Piece: Tabloid Ficlet

This is a short companion ficlet to Piece By Piece. You should read that work first.

Sunday July 20, 2014


"Hm?" Carlos looks over the selection of candy bars by the register, trying to decide if he feels like caramel or nuts today, before deciding that he really wants both, and grabs a Snickers.

"Have you seen this?"

Carlos turns to see his husband frowning at the racks of tabloids by the register.

"What, was Michael Jackson spotted in Florida again?" He moves next to Nick, his arm slipping around his waist as he follows his gaze to the taboid Nick is staring at.

James Bennett spotted attending gay San Francisco wedding, reads the headline. Who are the grooms?

"Dude." The photo on the cover is blurry, as if taken from afar with a telephoto lens, but it's clearly them, standing at their makeshift altar in the Presidio Park, with a larger headshot of James that Carlos recognizes from a previous tabloid article -- something about an affair with Dan -- overlaid in the corner.

He isn't sure if he should be amused or horrified.

Nick apparently chooses amusement, because his face morphs into a grin. "I don't know about you, but they definitely caught my good side."

"Dude." He flicks through the rack. "You think we'd get a discount if we bought all of them?" He's grinning now too, wondering what kinds of things he could do with the copies.

"We're giving Adam one for his birthday next month, right?"

Carlos isn't sure he wants to wait that long. "We have the key to his apartment. Why don't we tape a copy to his bathroom mirror?"

Nick smirks. "Hm. Maybe we should go see if any of the other lanes have additional copies, just in case."

Carlos watches his husband walk off to the other checkout lanes as he starts loading their groceries onto the belt.

He's definitely sending one to Dan.

Carlos settles into the couch at home and grabs a copy, pulling it open to the article. Nick sits next to him, maneuvering his head between Carlos' arms and the paper, and setting it on Carlos' chest.

"'Famous heartthrob actor James Bennett was spotted in San Francisco during the weekend of July 12, attending a wedding with his mysterious and elusive boyfriend-or-maybe-husband Chris in the historic Presidio district of the city'," he reads, finding the writing surprisingly tolerable. "'Our unnamed source also claims that the writer Dan Carlton, famous for his hit series Fifty Things and in town for a book tour, was also in attendance.'"

"Dan's going to be upset he got second billing," Nick says, and Carlos can tell he's grinning without seeing his face.

"'You may recall our bombshell exclusive with photographs of the two of them in Los Angeles, apparently engaged in a lover's quarrel.'"

"I do remember seeing that on the stands," Nick says, contemplative. "I wonder what the story behind it was."

"Probably something like Dan showing up in the city and stalking James, and James not appreciating it," Carlos says, remembering how much Dan and James didn't get along in undergrad, and wondering in retrospect if he should have seated them at different tables at the wedding.

"Keep reading, babe," Nick says, and Carlos wants to point out that Nick has eyes, too, but he kind of likes speaking the ridiculousness out aloud.

"'Rumors also abound that the handsome actor and his long-time boyfriend finally tied the knot earlier this year in an intimate families-only event. Could this new wedding have rekindled the long-buried feelings between James and his ex-lover Dan?'" He laughs at the thought of that, and Nick chuckles. "'Imagine the irony if these new nuptuals marked a sudden end to James' wedded bliss.'"

"After spending even five minutes with them, I could tell you there's absolutely nothing there." Nick chuckles again. "I know that enemies-turned-lovers, or sexual tension, or whatever is a thing, but there was absolutely none of that, at least from James' end."

"I don't know, baby. Are we homewreckers now? We should have known that Dan's charm would make him irresistable."

Nick grins up at him. "Keep reading."

"'Our source has obtained exclusive photos of the gay wedding and of a tearful Chris storming out of their shared apartment.'"

Sure enough, there's a picture of Chris next to the paragraph, although Carlos isn't sure he'd call it 'storming out'. Chris just looks like he's drawn inward in the way he's familiar with from undergrad, when he just wants to get somewhere quickly without being bothered about it.

The rest of the article is just rampant speculation about the relationship between James and Dan, and who he and Nick could be and how they would know James, including additional blurry photos of the two of them and of the restaurant where they'd had their reception. Even through the grain and bad quality, he thinks it's easy to tell how happy he is in the photos.

"Apparently you're a millionaire tech founder, babe." Nick turns to him, putting on a put out face even as he grins. "I'm pretty sure lying about your hidden stash of money is a breach of our marriage contract."

"Hm. Well, apparently you're my pool boy, so maybe you'd better shut your mouth and get to cleaning the pool."

Nick turns in his arms and looks around the apartment. "We have a bathtub. Is that close enough?"

Carlos kisses him. "There's no one I'd rather be married to than you, baby."

Nick laughs. "Not even your pool boy?"

"Not even my non-existent pool boy."

"Mmm. Well, that's fortunate for me, at least. So when's dinner?"

Carlos laughs and kisses him again, leaving him on the couch as he heads to the kitchen to start the food.