Disclaimer : This is a work of fiction and does not imply anything about anyone, real or imagined.
Zac looked through the window of the parked cab and checked to see if the address of the building matched the one he'd written down on a small piece of paper. Satisfied that it did, he threw the driver some cash and quickly crossed the sidewalk to enter the building. He didn't want to risk being seen on a busy city street. That had happened previously, and he had not enjoyed the events that followed.
The lobby of the building was impressive, filled with white-gray marble and red carpet interiors, as well as gold inlays in several places.
"Can I help you, sir?" an overeducated voice said from a short distance away.
Turning he encountered a well dressed middle-aged man with an indifferent smile on his face.
"Yeah, I'm here to see Mr van der Meer, please. But don't worry; I know where his penthouse is."
His smile seemed to bounce right off the man whose face was suddenly serious. "I'm sorry sir, but no one may enter any area of these premises without being announced."
"But I..." Zac began, but was halted by the man lifting a commanding hand while at the same time picking up the receiver of an overly fancy phone.
"Whom should I say is calling?" the man said.
"Za... Tom, a messenger from the board." He thought if he provided his real name he might not get much further than the lobby.
After a short conversation that he struggled to eavesdrop on, the man put down the receiver. "Mr van der Meer says that he is not expecting anyone from the board." Zac felt his heart sink. "But he says that you may proceed."
Zac smiled widely and almost ran for the elevator, afraid that someone might change their mind. Climbing into the elevator, he pressed the penthouse button, which lay above the 35th floor. The doors closed and he started to move. Leaning back against the elevator, he started to wonder about the second phase of his plan. He knew he was here to apologize, but he hadn't really thought about much more than that. It had been two days since the incident where he'd embarrassed himself, and considering he'd hardly slept since then, he had loads of time to think about a plan of action. The elevator chime rang to signal that he'd arrived at his destination, and a sudden sense of anxiety flooded over him. He was afraid that the elevator would open on to Tristan's apartment, but luckily there was a passage leading up to the door. Walking forward, he felt as if his joints were frozen solid. The air seemed to burn his nostrils. Suddenly he was standing in front of the door, and he only managed to knock on the third attempt. Silence.
"Coming," he heard faintly.
His heart started to beat rapidly in his chest, and he swallowed reflexively. He could hear the door being tampered with and his eyes widened. The door swung open, and there stood Tristan with a smile on his face that instantly became one of anger.
"You!" he said.
"Let me explain," Zac said rapidly with a placating hand.
"What do you want?" Tristan nearly shouted.
"Please, I just want a chance to apologise. Please don't throw me out. Please." He was begging. It felt strange, and it had been very long since he'd been forced to do so.
Tristan seemed to hesitate, and Zac could see the conflict in him. He felt a surge of anticipation in himself, but thought perhaps that he was jumping the gun. There was still a good chance that Tristan would slam the door in his face. Tristan had a great face and even in his casual clothes his body seemed to be defined in all the right places. Zac thought that he looked hotter when he was angry, but he could think about that later when he was alone.
Tristan turned around and walked into his apartment, but didn't close the door. "Come in and close the door," he said.
Zac entered quickly, almost wanting to laugh with glee. He started to speak, when suddenly Tristan's phone rang.
"Sit down somewhere," Tristan said as he walked to the phone.
Zac quickly appraised the apartment, and suddenly envied it and wished it was his. The floor was dark, almost black stone, but the walls were formed from large panes of glass that gave him an almost unbeatable view of the surrounding city. The kitchen was close to the door, and small passages led off to other rooms that seemed to hint at comfort and good decorating. A small staircase led up to an open plan studio that seemed to have large tables covered in drawings that he couldn't make out. His ear suddenly caught on to the conversation on the other side of the room.
"Yeah... you won't believe who's here... I thought about doing that... Are you feeling better?"
Zac felt his face burning with embarrassment, and he quickly found a place to sit down. He tried to make himself comfortable, but failed utterly. He heard Tristan end the call, and watched as his face hardened for their encounter. It was almost comical, but Zac had absolutely no desire to laugh.
"So? What do you want to say... Tom?" Tristan said as he sat on the other side of the room in a comfortable chair.
Zac smiled for a second, then coughed and looked at the floor. "Listen, Tristan. Mr van der Meer. Whatever." His words seemed muddled in his mouth. "I just want to say that I am so sorry. Please forgive me for my bad behaviour. It was inexcusable."
"It WAS inexcusable, Zac. I wonder if you would have apologized to anyone else. If I had just been that girl's boyfriend, would you have cared, or would we have just been another one of what I assume to be your many victims?"
Zac looked to Tristan, and his heart was flooded with shame. "I'm not always like that. I swear!" It was a lie.
"I find that hard to believe," Tristan said, with eyes that flogged him.
There was a moment of prolonged silence, where it seemed that nobody moved. "Would you... Have you... you know, cancelled my contracts?" The answer terrified him.
Tristan pointed with his eyes to the table in from of Zac, and he noticed a black binder, which he reached for hesitantly. Opening it carefully, he found a large stack of contractual jargon staring at him, but he couldn't miss the motion to strip all of his contracts from him, put forward by the owner, Tristan van der Meer. The entire board had signed the document, and only one space was left unfilled, that being Tristan's.
"Shit," Zac said softly. "You haven't signed, and this document is almost two days old."
For the first time, Tristan's anger seemed to subside slightly as he turned his head and looked out the window. "I've been wondering whether it's the right thing to do. You deserve to have your ass kicked because you're a prick, but I don't know if that means I should ruin your life."
"Thanks," Zac said softly.
"Don't thank me yet, pretty boy," Tristan said, his anger returning.
"I'm just trying to..." Zac started to say.
"I know what you're trying to do," Tristan said, standing up from his seat and walking to the window. "Just try not to say anything. Just be quiet. Please."
Zac closed his mouth and looked at his feet. Tristan seemed agitated and seemed to be struggling with himself.
"You know, you're much easier to hate," Tristan said angrily, but he seemed to be speaking to himself. Zac wondered at the meaning of the comment. "Aren't you going to say anything?"
Zac jumped up. "You told me to be quiet!" he shouted loudly.
Tristan's eyes widened slightly, and then he smiled softly. His face took on a sad expression. "Sit please, Zac. Let's just talk."
Zac felt the sudden burst of anger settle in himself, and he flopped down onto the seat.
Tristan sighed. "I don't get you, Zac. I was looking forward to meet you a few nights ago, and you were so nasty to my best friend. Why?"
"So she's not your girlfriend?" Zac said quickly, and hoped he hadn't sounded too rushed.
Tristan looked confused. "What? No. We're just friends. Now answer my question, please."
Zac looked at his hands, and seemed to be searching for anything to distract himself. "I'm so sorry, Tristan. People... expect things from me."
"I expected good things from you," Tristan said with a pained expression.
"I know," Zac said. "I just wish I could convince you that I'm not a bad guy. I'm not here to save my career. To tell you the truth I accepted that my career was over. I came here to ask your forgiveness. I swear to you my future played no part in it."
His expression must have given something away as Tristan's face seemed to soften. There was definitely something in his eyes, and he wondered if it was pity. He hated being pitied.
Tristan sighed loudly. "I forgive you." Zac felt his emotions surge wildly. "I promised to hate you forever, but what kind of asshole would I be if I can't forgive someone who says sorry a hundred times?"
"Thanks man, I can't tell you how happy this makes me," he said with a wide smile. Tristan smiled too, but Zac could see that he didn't want to. "Do you think we could be friends?"
Tristan looked confused, and a deep frown crossed his forehead. "Why would you want us to be friends?"
Zac felt himself blush. "I dunno. I think we have a lot in common."
"Dude, you don't even know me," Tristan said with a small laugh as he settled back into his chair. The way he moved made Zac think of all sorts of indecent things.
"Trust me, I know people." Zac said. "I've got a good feeling about you."
Tristan looked at him as if he were a puzzle he was trying to figure out. "Okay then, I guess time will tell. I'm gay though. Still want to be friends?"
Zac kept his face impassive, and shrugged as if it made no difference to him, but it felt like a nuclear warhead had just gone off in his brain. He was on the verge of admitting his own feelings, but suddenly decided against it. It was too great a risk. It could ruin him. "It's okay, I have gay friends. More girls for me," he quipped with a half smile. He felt like vomiting.
Tristan laughed openly, and Zac's heart missed a beat. "Zac, if you want to be friends, you need to do one more thing to make it possible."
"Sure buddy," he said reflexively.
"You need to apologize to Jen."
"Jen?" he replied with a confused look.
"My best friend who you treated like a crack whore."
"Ah, Jen," Zac said sheepishly. "I can do that."
"Here's her address," Tristan said, quickly jotting down some details on a piece of paper that had been lying around. "A good apology. Not some lame ass attempt like you tried with me." Tristan was smiling.
"Fuck you," Zac said with mock anger. "That wasn't easy, you know."
"I know," Tristan said, while giving him a pat on the back. "Go make things right with Jen, and then come visit me when you have some time."
"When are you free?" Zac asked, while walking with Tristan to the door.
"I'm always free. I don't have to work. I do it for fun. So when you find time in your busy schedule, drop by. I'll tell Martin at the door that you can just walk up whenever you're around."
"Awesome," Zac said with a smile. Tristan started to close the door. "I'm glad we could sort this all out, Tristan."
"Me too, Zac," Tristan said with his first truly warm smile. "You know, I never would have signed that form. I'm not cruel enough."
Zac smiled and laughed. "Yeah, it's nice to know. It's why we'll be great buddies."
Tristan winked at him and closed the door. Walking towards the elevator, he breathed a sigh of relief, as if he'd been holding his breath since the moment he stepped from the elevator. He felt exhausted and elated at the same time. He looked at the address written on the paper, and found himself admiring Tristan's quick, untidy writing. Zac sighed and put his head against the elevator door. He liked Tristan more than he was willing to admit. It was a mistake being friends with a guy who could threaten his emotional security like that. And yet, he found it exhilarating. He'd been around Tristan only a handful of times and found that he charged the room, almost dominated it. The image of Tristan's face was seared onto his brain and he couldn't wait to think about it while lying in bed that night.
"Tristan," he mouthed to himself, and smiled.
He ran towards the first cab he found, and told the guy to drive to that address, but to make a stop at a good florist on the way. He'd patch things up with Jen. If his years of Hollywood charm couldn't save him now, then he really was screwed. He wondered when he could visit Tristan again without seeming weird. He'd give it at least a day. Suddenly a day seemed like a millennium. As they stopped alongside a florist, he decided he'd hold out as long as he could, which would mean tomorrow morning at best. Running into the florist, the lady who worked there smiled. He smiled back widely, because he knew that all would be well.
Thanks for reading chapter 2 guys, and for all the great feedback. Send all comments and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Ideas are also welcome.