Scott rolled his head back and forth with his chin tucked down to his chin. It had been a long night after a long day, but the event had gone perfectly to a T and they couldn’t have hoped it would run any better than it did.
All that was left was some digital clean u that he and Billy would do, and they could go home. It wouldn’t only be and hour or two longer, and they’d start as soon as Billy came back from walking Ruth to her car.
Of course, if Ruth had stayed the work would be cut down to under forty-five minutes easy, but Ruth had been there three hours earlier than Billy and helped with all the set up and when she offered to stay, Billy wouldn’t hear of it. Scott refrained from pointing out that he’d been there for a couple of hours before Ruth and worked just as hard. He knew that Billy would reply with “Yeah, but, you’re different” and then stumble through some excuses regarding their lifelong friendship or whatever. Scott knew the real difference was that Billy in no way wanted to sleep with Scott, and he was kind of okay with that. Besides, with Ruth gone—it would give Scott the chance to carry out the second part of his hastily made plan.
Scott waited until the work was almost done before approaching the subject. If he distracted Billy with thoughts of Ruth from the start, the work would take ages. So, he waited until the work would only take him about fifteen minutes working alone before saying, “You should just ask her out, you know?”
It said something about Billy’s frame of mind that he didn’t even ask who. “Yeah, I can think of better ways to make a complete fool of myself than asking out Ruth. But thanks for the suggestion.”
Scott turned in his chair to look at Billy head on. “Fool of yourself? Really? What makes you think that?”
Billy turned as well, leaning back in his chair, interlocking his fingers behind his head with a sigh. “Ruth is so far out of my league, Scott. She’s so smart. Did you know she’s fluent in Russian? She is–all because she got bored one summer and decided that Russian sounded pretty, so she taught herself Russian. Because she could. She looks at the world in a way hat I could never even begin to understand. And beautiful, not just in a she had pretty features way but in a properly beautiful person heart and soul kind of way. If you meet her and don’t want to become a better person, then you’re simply dead inside.” Billy shook his head and sat up a little straighter. “No—we’re not on even playing ground.”
Scott laughed in spite of himself. They were more alike than they realized. But more than that—he knew Billy well enough. That didn’t come off the top of his head. “You’ve been practicing that little speech haven’t you? Waiting for me to ask you why you haven’t asked her out?”
Billy smiled back and didn’t even try to deny it. “I write speeches. It’s literally what I do for a living. And I have a flair for the dramatic. Doesn’t make anything I said untrue.”
“I think you’re wrong,” Scott answered.
“I think she’d never say yes,” Billy countered.
“Okay. Then you have to see this,” Scott beckoned Billy over to his computer while he pulled up the video file from earlier. “I don’t think she intended for you to see this, but since she was well aware of the fact that I was recording it, I have no qualms about showing it to you whatsoever.” When Billy rolled his chair over towards him, Scott pulled up video, which loaded to the paused first frame—a shot of cleavage in a red shirt.
“Scott, if you and Ruth made sex tape I cannot explain to you how much I don’t want to see it,” Billy replied, leaning across the arms of their side by side chairs to get a better look at the screen.
“No, you dolt. Watch.” Scott played the video, and then rolled his chair out-of-the-way so Billy could sit squarely in front of the screen. He let the video play—unedited and uncommitted on. He just let Billy watch the mocking exasperated sigh that was an intimation of himself, the blunt compliments of his nature and his looks, the smiling joy of the fantasy of Billy showing up at her doorstep, the all too familiar off-hand remorse that he’d never be interested.
He waited while the on-screen Ruth saluted and walked out of frame. Billy turned slowly in his chair to look Scott in the eye. “You faked this?”
Billy scoffed insulted. “I wouldn’t dare. I maybe mean to you sometimes, but I wouldn’t be so cruel.”
“You planned this?”
“No, it just kind of happened—but I did steer it towards our advantage once I knew what was happening. I wanted to prove a point.”
“She didn’t deny liking me?” Proper hope spread across Billy’s face.
Billy pulled his eyebrows together in confusion. “Why didn’t she deny liking me?”
“Because she’s not an eleven year old in a twenty-seven year old body?” Scott suggested. “I wouldn’t call Ruth coy in any sense of the word, Bill. I asked her a question and she gave me an answer. She would have said the same to you if you’d had the guts to ask her.”
Billy jumped out of his seat, with the energy and vigor usually reserved just before going on stage in front of a big crowd. “I should go to her, right?” Billy asked, grabbing his coat off the back of his chair, “Big romantic gesture, right? Ruth always said she’d like a big romantic gesture to start a relationship.”
“The fact that you remember that means you should have done this ages ago,” Scott commented before pointing to the digital read out hanging on the wall. “Uh, Billy—it’s three in the morning.”
“Ah,” Billy acknowledged, sinking back into his seat, “Ruth likes her sleep more than big romantic gestures. We know that.”
“Yeah,” Scott agreed.
“I should wait until morning,” Billy wheeled his chair back to his desk.
“Probably for the best.” Scott laughed, and set to finishing the work, sure that Billy wasn’t going to get anything else done.