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    lomax61
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This story is set in contemporary Britain during the pandemic. As such, references are made to UK government regulations and guidelines, although some of the timelines may vary for artistic purposes. This story is my usual flavour of gay MM romance and is not a political statement in any way, simply an observation of a budding romance during extraordinary times.

Famous Last - 22. Chapter 22

Spencer plays the waiting game.

Spencer lost count of how many times he had paced the length of his flat. Even Tiger, who followed him up and down weaving between his legs, seemed to sense his distress. Before putting his key in the lock, he had tried to phone Marshall’s mobile number, but not unexpectedly, the call had gone straight to messaging.

Darcy had been right. As soon as he switched on the television, every news channel replayed the breaking news footage of the incident. One minute, the president stood making a speech behind a transparent screen of what appeared to be glass or perspex—probably a teleprompter—the next, an orange and red explosion followed by a vast cloud of grey smoke engulfed the stage and the front rows where camera crews and photographers had been stationed. Somewhat ghoulishly, cameras in the upper stand at the back of the make-do stadium kept rolling, silhouetting figures running out of the smoke, screams of the injured and dying punctuating the general shouts and confusion. From somewhere beyond the cordoned-off area, a reporter’s voice talked as the scenes of chaos played out once again.

All we know right now is that the new president, Tobias Karimov, was injured, but survived an assassination attempt on his life during his first presidential address and has been rushed to the main municipal hospital here in the capital of Kryszytonia. We have also been told that at least ten members of his cabinet were injured, as of course, are many of the world’s press, including members of our own British media. Sources are speculating that this was an act of terrorism. An anonymous caller professing to be a member of the radical Traditional Nationalist Party, outspoken critics of the new president’s proposed reforms, claimed responsibility for the bombing although this has yet to be substantiated. As we speak, armed security teams together with emergency services are scouring the area, checking for any further threats but also recovering bodies and tending to the wounded. We will bring you more as the story unfolds. Back to the studio now, where we revisit the rise to power of Tobias Karimov.

Eventually, Spencer muted the television while he strode up and down the room. When his doorbell finally buzzed, he took a moment to compose himself, told himself to haul in his emotions in front of Darcy.

But as soon as he opened the door and saw the concern in her eyes, he lost his composure. Two steps into the entryway, she ripped off her mask and pulled him into her arms.

“Come on, Spencer,” she said, holding him awkwardly and patting him on the back. She smelled of expensive flowery perfume and fabric softener. “Don’t make me fucking cry. I’ve only just slapped on this very expensive designer makeup. And remember the old saying? No news is good news? Well, I’ve heard nothing more, and I have friends all over the press. As soon as they hear anything, they’ll let me know. Right now, I need you to go up and grab a coat. You’re coming to my place. Your ball of fluff can take care of itself for now, but we need to be somewhere more practical than this man cave.”

Within minutes, they sat quietly in the back of her car, while Spencer stared out at the bright morning. In his pocket, his silenced phone suddenly came to life, buzzing urgently with messages. Holding his breath, he pulled out the device but immediately saw that none came from Marshall. They were mainly from Bev, Nile and Prince—friends who knew about him and Marshall and he decided to answer them later. Sat next to him, Darcy tapped a long fingernail on her screen before turning to him.

“What’s this Beverley told me about you not working out your notice?”

“Muriel released me early. On full pay.”

“What the fuck did you do? Drop your pants and flash your junk at her?”

Despite himself, Spencer giggled. Maybe that’s what Darcy had in mind, but he found telling her about his final meeting with Muriel helped to ground him. Except, similar to Bev but more vocal, his retelling of the tale had her spitting expletives.

“That fucking bitch needs hauling in.”

Before she could continue, Spencer went on to tell Darcy about his brief history with Blake, stories about their short time together, and then about his friend hooking Blake and Joey up at the gay bar. Finally, Darcy tipped her head back and laughed like a fish wife.

“Karma truly is a bitch. Has Marshall met this friend of yours?”

“Not yet. I was hoping to—”

Spencer turned his head away, unsure of how to continue. Only a couple of days ago, he had mused about that very scenario, wondering how his old and new friends would get along with Marshall. They had also made plans to spend Christmas together and meet his family in Bournemouth. Now, he had no idea if he would ever get the chance.

“Listen, Spencer,” said Darcy, correctly interpreting his silence, reaching across and squeezing his hand. “Of all the people I’ve known in my life, Marshall is one of the most resilient and resourceful. He’s been in a lot of sticky situations the world over, and managed to pull through. You need to stay strong for him, need to stay positive.”

Spencer knew what she meant, but he had never been one for inaction in times of crisis.

“Isn’t there something more we can do? Call someone at the British Consulate in Kryszytonia. Surely being on the ground they’re going to know more than anyone in the press is saying? Or maybe we could look into getting onto a scheduled flight or, with Marshall’s contacts, hire a private jet—”

“Okay, Spencer. Enough. You are going to have to learn to be patient. Are you religious?”

“Not particularly.”

“Well, now might be a good time to reconsider. In the meantime, you’re coming to my place where I have high-speed internet, working phones, and televisions in every room including the bathrooms. And I know you probably feel the last thing you need is food, but I’m going to stand over you if I have to and force you to eat something when lunch is delivered. You’re no good to Marshall or anyone starving yourself. I’m also going to open a couple of bottles of wine I’ve been saving up for Christmas and tell you stories about your man that he has only ever told me.”

Darcy’s Chelsea apartment could not have been more different to Marshall’s. Set in a pretty tree-lined square in the heart of the exclusive area, her residence felt like an extension of her personality—clean and sleek modernist artwork with a distinctive Japanese theme, perfectly complemented, but subdued colours for her stylish but comfortable couches, Asian-themed sculptures in silver or limestone, and what appeared to be items of metallic junk, all staged beneath artfully placed spotlights.

Spencer had been to Darcy’s apartment in happier times, for the post-interview party. In all fairness, he hadn’t seen much of the place, had spent most of the time waiting for Marshall to join him. Darcy’s friends included mostly names from the entertainment industry, and some Spencer had met who had been involved in something to do with the Blackmore magazines at one time or another. Not one for polite conversation, he had been grateful to have Bev and Prince there, although neither had been on particularly good form, both burnt out after the stress of the day and the days leading up to the event, both wanting to climb into bed and sleep for a week. Being good friends, they had kept him company until Spencer got the call from Marshall that he was on his way. After his arrival and a quick hello to everyone, they had barely stayed another half hour, before also excusing themselves.

Once inside the door, Darcy led him into the main living area. She took great pains to make sure Spencer got comfortable, seating him on the sectional couch in front of the enormous flatscreen with the remote control within easy reach, and, without even asking, fetching him a large mug of freshly made latte. Once satisfied, and with the television volume on low, she set about completing other chores while Spencer made a call.

“Squirrel, I am so sorry,” said Bev, as soon as she answered. “Do you have any more news?”

“No, but I’m at Darcy’s place, and if anyone’s going to hear, it’s her. Are you at work?”

“I am. Oh, and Squirrel. Your conspicuous absence is the talk of the office this morning. I know you probably don’t want to hear, but I was in the kitchen getting a drink when Blake wandered in with a couple of his people. Before I had a chance to speak, Kimberley stood up in front of everyone, and asked him what his mother was thinking, just dismissing you. Said that you were one of the nicest employees in the place, and at least deserved the opportunity to say goodbye to your colleagues. She asked if that was the way people were going to be treated in future and said she didn’t want to work in a place, with a family, who treated people like shit. She said the word ’shit’, Squirrel. And about four or five people chipped in and agreed with her. Blake just stood there speechless. You should have seen his face, as white as a sheet. Priceless. He’s probably gone to mummy dearest to report Kimberley. The way Muriel’s going, by Christmas there’ll be nobody left working for her.”

At any other time, Squirrel might have been pleased to hear the story. All he could think about was what was happening across the world. He signed off with Beverley, promising to bring her any news. After that, he went through his phone and answered messages from Garrett and his family, and another from Nile.

Eventually, Darcy stopped rushing about, doing things like checking messages and making calls, and then brought her post and joined him on the sofa. Spencer enjoyed watching her efficiency, the way she ripped open letters, read quickly and then either ripped the thing up or placed pages in a pile for action. She settled back and took a sip from her bone china mug.

“How are you feeling?”

“Pretty useless.”

“Yeah, I know. Okay, I think we need a diversion. I’m going to tell you some things about Marshall that he may not want you to know. But, Spencer, I honestly believe you’re the closest he has ever gotten to a genuine relationship, so I’m going to trust you with this knowledge. I’m not sure how much he’s told you about his childhood already, but he was a lonely kid. Having a famous mother and father didn’t help, especially when they were usually in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Making long lasting friends at school was almost impossible, with the family moving back and forth between London and LA for his father’s business, and Marshall being shipped off to boarding school in Scotland and then Eton. Eventually the family settled back in London, but almost straight afterwards they divorced and his father moved to San Diego with his new girlfriend. Poor Marshall might have wanted for nothing, and some might even argue that his father’s connections gave him a head start in the media business, but he knew very little about close relationships and friendship.”

“What about Alex, Joey’s brother?”

“He told you about him, did he? University was the closest he came to making any lasting friends. I still find it unbelievable that Alex and Joey are brothers. I know you’ve met Joey, and I’m sure you’ll get to meet Alex one day. But the two couldn’t be more different.”

“Alex is straight. And a male slut, according to Marshall.”

Darcy laughed.

“Used to be. He a doting father and husband now. You’d like him.”

“One day, maybe,” said Spencer, and hoped he would be at Marshall’s side when that eventuality arose. “I know Marshall’s close to his mother, but he didn’t say much about his father.”

“They clashed. Still do. Almost came to blows one holiday, when Marshall was a teenager, and the old man tried to pick a fight with his mum. Highlander senior is in his eighties now and has kids from his second and third marriages. He’s still worth a small fortune and has threatened to leave Marshall nothing when he passes. Which is fine by Marshall, because he’s independently wealthy, money bequeathed to him by his grandparents. But, you know, even with all of that, he is a very humble, a very private person—

“I know—“

“—and terribly lonely most of the time. And he gives back so much to charities, not just in terms of his money, but also with his personal time and getting his hands dirty. And he’s doing so because he genuinely cares, not for any kind of publicity like some celebrities—”

“The day of my interview, he was going to help out at a homeless charity, in the freezing cold morning, to load boxes into vans.”

“Maybe I should have started by asking how much you already know. Sounds like he’s opened up to you. Let’s play a game of things you know about him, and we can tell each other whether it’s something we knew. I’m not a prude, exactly, but can you keep the bedroom shenanigans to yourself.”

Spencer enjoyed the diversion. Most of what Spencer knew, Darcy knew, too. Darcy knew lots of things he had no idea about, and the knowledge made Marshall more human. As they talked, he kept one eye on the flatscreen on Darcy’s living room wall.

“Most of his clothes are chosen for him by his mother, or me,” said Darcy. “He’s pretty hopeless when it comes to putting an ensemble together, even though he looks amazing in the right outfit.”

“And out,” said Spencer, grinning. “But I totally agree. Okay, my turn. He cooks a mean steak dinner—”

“Wait, what? He cooked for you? In all the years I’ve known him, he has never cooked for me. I didn’t even know he could cook. Steak dinner, huh? Did he make dessert, too?”

“Um, he kind of was dessert.”

“Okay, time out. Too much information.”

At midday, a delivery of an eclectic array of hot and cold food arrived. Everything looked fresh and healthy; assorted sushi, vegetarian moussaka, chicken wraps, wholemeal noodle concoctions—enough to feed a family of four. Darcy quickly explained that she would keep any leftovers for her dinner, but Spencer wondered if she kept some back in the event Marshall came back. When she opened a bottle of Chablis, at first Spencer declined. But after some gentle nudging, he relented. And he felt happy to have done so, the combination of food and wine taking the edge off, helping to relax him so much that later in the afternoon he managed to doze off on the couch.

He was awoken at four-thirty, with Darcy’s phone ringing. In her usual curt way, she answered the call. After placing her hand over the receiver, she hissed out a command.

“Spencer. Some of the British media crews have just landed back in the UK. It’s on channel six right now. The remote is on the sofa. Push three-two-four.”

On the television, the news showed a KriztoAir A320 landing at one of London’s airports and coming painfully slowly to the gate. Crowded around the arrivals gate, reporters shouted as the very few travellers, some dazed at the attention and probably on different flights, exited into the arrivals terminal.

Spencer stood close to the screen, studying each of the faces, to see if one of those might be Marshall. After the first few came out, people began to cluster around the cameras, emerging media people interviewed by reporters on the ground, and Spencer could not tell who else appeared.

“Don’t worry,” said Darcy, still on the phone. “My contact is getting a copy of the passenger manifest. As soon as he does, he’ll contact me to let me know if Marshall was on board.”

By nine o’clock, with Darcy always on the phone, they had still not heard anything. Eventually, after returning from the kitchen, Darcy parked herself at the end of the couch. He could tell by her face that she had some news and braced himself for the worst.

“Marshall wasn’t on the plane. And nobody’s heard any news about him. But one of the survivors who landed earlier said they believe Colm O’Donnell, Marshall’s cameraman, was killed in the blast. That's all they know.”

Spencer’s heart sank. He had met Colm in the studio and seen him in the van when Marshall’s team had picked him up. A big bear of a man, he had seemed happy working alongside Marshall, happy to be a part of the team. Now Spencer wondered what loved ones Colm had at home—maybe his own family—and guessed they too were anxiously sitting by the phone, waiting for news from Kryszytonia. Not only that, he thought, but wouldn’t Marshall have had the cameraman with him at all times, recording footage and providing his own commentary? As always, Darcy seemed to sense his dread.

“Look, I have three bedrooms here. You’re more than welcome to stay the night. Do you want me to make up a bed for you?”

“No, it’s okay, Darcy. You’ve been really kind today, but I think I need to go home.”

Spencer needed his cave. Maybe he really ought to be around other people, but his nerves felt frazzled with each report coming in, and he wanted to be home. As always, Darcy sensed his resolve because she didn’t try to argue.

“Are you sure?”

“I am.”

“In which case, I’ll call you an Uber.”

Thank you for reading.

Please post any comments, suggestions or remarks, or simply leave a reaction.

If you find any edits or typos or other errors, please PM me (using the envelope option at the top of the screen) on Lomax61, rather than posting a comment on the chapter.

Copyright © 2020 lomax61; All Rights Reserved.
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That you very much for reading.

Any reactions, comments or observations are very much appreciated.

Let me know what would you like to see happen? Or what you foresee happening next?

 

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Patience is a venture we all have to go through at times.  Just hope there is good news! 

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Great chapter, but really need to know about Marshall. Please don't hold us in to much suspense.

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Brian, you are a horrible, horrible man. The last time I felt like this was when Kieren walked away from Kennedy in Gay Vacation Companion. I just hope the result is just as good. (I have faith in you)

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