Oh, The Places You'll Go


Notes: Thanks to phoebesmum for sterling beta duties. Did I tell you I love Casey?

The first time was an accident. Or perhaps it was a confluence of events. Either way, it wasn't expected — at least, not by me. Third session in, we've already covered the basics, right? So you know me, I'm straight outta Minnesota. They didn't so much break the mould when they made me as pour in the next lump of white clay — repressed white clay. I know, I know, I'm only supposed to make positive statements, I'm still learning here. Dan's a professional client, you know, was on the wait list for therapy before he was even born. And with parents like his ...

I have completely lost track. What was I saying? Right. Accident. Confluence. Let me set the scene. I'm in my twenties, great job, beautiful wife, adorable son, fantastic friends, not enough neuroses to warrant a mental health professional. (No offence.) All is good. All is well. All is right in the world of Casey. But here's the interesting thing: instead of going home after work with a spring in my step, a song in my heart, some flowers for Lees and some cheap plastic crap for Charlie to break, instead of putting in the hours as a solid husband and father, I'm spending more and more time hanging out at my best friend's place after work.

What's he like? Oh god, how to describe him. He's a few years younger than me — we met when he was interning at the paper where I had my first job. I kidded myself for a while there that I was his mentor — but let's face it, he didn't need one. He's a born writer, has this gift of being able to nail exactly the right mood and pace of a piece, doesn't even seem to think about it. He knows sports inside out — it's like his brain's one of those concertina files, you know? He's smart and funny and he'll practically break himself in half to help someone, to fix someone. Stupid thing is that he doesn't say when he needs fixing himself. He's had it tough in lots of ways — it's all left its mark. But he doesn't say. He never says.

So yeah, he's smart and kind and a little bit broken and has the most beautiful mouth that figures in far too many of my dreams for comfort. I don't think I need you to analyze what that means. Wait. Are you supposed to be asking me about how hot he is? Because that seems kind of ... Well, I suppose that makes sense. Oh hell, yeah he was ... is seriously hot. Back then he's wearing his hair longer, bangs always flopping into his eyes. He spends half of his time hiding behind it, half of it pushing it out of the way. That kind of thing drives me crazy when women do it, always seems so put on, you know? But with him, god with him it drives me crazy in a way I'm not ready to recognize. All I know is that I like him, I like him a lot.

He goes back to college; I get on with my life. Only we stay in touch. For the first time in my life I actually make the effort, I'm usually easy come, easy go, but not with this guy. I'm not misplacing this one. I don't toss words like 'soul-mate' around but there's definitely this connection between us, something strong. It sounds stupid but you know how little girls have their Best Friends Forever? It's like that. He knows it and I know it. So we stay in touch. A lot.

Lisa never did get it.

Anyhow, years go by and there's an opportunity to have him come work with me in Texas. I grab it. I get to have my best friend by me, who also happens to be the perfect candidate for the job. How lucky am I? Then just before it all kicks off they offer me Conan O'Brien's show. Me. In New York. And it could be a dream come true and that's exactly what Lisa thinks it is, but I'm not so sure. On the one hand, I'm on national TV, the first step to great things, on the other, I'm in a local TV show working on the subject I love best and doing it all alongside the finest, most talented guy I've ever known. In my head there's no contest. Outside of my head? Well, let's just say that there was some serious persuasion needed and leave it there. Except to say that it may have been a direct result of the continual 'persuading' on both my side and Lisa's that I started to hang more at Danny's place after work.

So it's a balmy night. It's Texas, it's always a balmy night, and he's got an old cedar porch swing that we like to sit in with a couple of beers, looking out at his back yard, watching the stars and shooting the breeze. We talk about sports, about the people at work, about how we're going to go national and be in the number one slot. We talk about hot women and Danny's disastrous love life, about whether Godzilla could really take King Kong and whether Rocky VI could ever make it out of the gate — he says no, I say please. We don't talk about why I'm there and not at home with my wife and son. I don't offer, he doesn't ask.

The chair creaks. It would sound kind of alarming but it does that all that time, something to do with the wood, I guess. We ignore it. We drink more beer, swing a little harder and the creaking gets worse. We've got enough alcohol in our blood to find this hilarious, so we swing harder on purpose to see what happens. This turns out to be a bad idea because there's this huge splitting sound and Danny's end of the seat plummets to the ground. We're both thrown off and I find I'm lying on top of him. And he's moaning a little which makes me concerned, so I'm checking him for injuries only I've forgotten to get off and it's dark so I have to put my face close to his. And he moans again. And it ... well, it does something to me.

I'm supposed to be worried that he's damaged, that I may have had a hand in doing the damaging, but that's definitely not what I'm thinking about. In fact, I don't think I'm thinking at all because my mouth is pressed to his and there I am, kissing my best friend. And I'm married and he's str ... he's b ... he's ... I don't know whatever the fuck he is, but hell, like I said, I'm married so this should not be happening. But it is and he's as into me as I am into him and we're like two starving people at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Without scaring you with the details nobody went home empty-handed, if you get my meaning. You want what? No. No. No. I don't think 'cathartic' is the right choice of word: I'm not saying.

But it was an accident, you see? I mean, there was an accident and then we ... did what we did. Afterwards. Afterwards he was all stoic and blaming the beer and it never should have happened and go home to your wife, Casey and don't worry, we're still friends, let's chalk it up to experience, and I wanted to throw myself at his feet and say no, no, you don't realize, I think I'm in love with you. But I couldn't. For whatever cowardly fucking reason, I couldn't. So I left. And that was the first time. Ten years ago now.

Do I hope there'll be a second time? Well, yeah, that's the point of this whole conversation. I've got it all set up for tonight. I'm taking him out for dinner at his favorite place. Shit, I feel nervous — this is crazy, it's just him and me, same as it's always been. Same as it'll always be.

But do you think I'm ready? I know, it's all about how I feel. No. Yes. I don't know. I don't think I'm ever going to feel ready, but you know what, I don't care. I don't care because I don't want him to be my lowercase partner any more. I can do this. Can't I? I can do this.

Wish me luck.

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