A week before the wedding RF calls them into his office and informs them that, in the more direct run up to the wedding, they’ll be entertaining journalists from Variety. Don, predictably, says no.
“Don’t you think we’ve had enough publicity?" He says, eyes on Kathy. "Can’t we have this be simple? Kathy, are you okay with this?”
Kathy glances at Cosmo, Cosmo eyes her back. Both of them know that nothing with Don is typically simple. RF looks at them, pleading.
“It’ll be fine, Don,” Kathy soothes, not that she wants the journalists either, just that she doesn't want DOn to say something he'll regret to the head of the studio.
Cosmo heaves a large, showbiz sigh. “Hollywood law, Don. You’re in the public eye so you get mauled in public and also no privacy.” Cosmo is teasing, he curls a hand around Kathy’s shoulders, passes his thumb back and forth over the skin. Kathy notices RF watching the movement, Cosmo doesn't. He's too busy watching Don's reactions to his theatrics. “Besides, I’ll also be there, so if you don’t want to talk to them about you we can talk about me.”
“Cos,” Don says.
Cosmo ignores him. “You may not need the publicity but in the starlit story of Kathy Selden and Don Lockwood, the man who writes the music is at present merely a footnote,” he continues grandly, “and this footnote might want to branch out into the main text someday. Get some name recognition for when I write that symphony.” He abandons Kathy to drop to his knees and scoot forward, throwing his arms around Don’s legs and faux-weeping noisily. He looks up, “Come on Don, do it for me.”
Don cracks a smile for the first time since RF called them in here and kneels to join him. Gesturing wildly he says, “Well, Cos, if it’s for you.”
RF looks like he very much misses Lina’s antics in the face of these and murmurs to Kathy, “If it’s your house, why will _he_ be there?”
“RF do you look at the pay checks you sign?” Kathy laughs. “No, of course you don’t. Cosmo lives with us.”
“Don’t I pay him enough for his own place?”
Kathy puts a finger to her lips, hushing. “He’d probably say no just to get a raise.”
Cosmo and Don are up off the floor by this point and Cosmo grins when he hears the word. “Raise?”
RF sighs, hand to his temples. “No. Get out of my office, and play nice with the press. It’s just one guy and a photographer, I’ve vetted them.”
Don’s frown returns as quick as it had gone. “Hey now, I’m still not too sure about this. Why did you say yes?”
RF shuffles some papers, copies of Variety and Gossip and all the rest. “The press in this town may be, well, the way they are but if you do them a favour they are generally amenable to doing you one in return and everything moves so fast these days I never know when I’m going to need some help from the gossip magazines, especially now.”
Cosmo, over Don’s shoulder, is narrowing his eyes. Kathy files the sentence away. Don doesn't look wholly convinced, but he doesn't look about to start a fight at least. Cosmo glances at Kathy and pulls Don’s arm. “Besides," he says. "You already said you’d do it for me.”
Don smiles at that. “I suppose I did.”
“Kathy, can you stay a second?”
The boys are already half way out of the building, smiling at each other and tap dancing past poor office clerks who need quiet and calm and instead have found themselves on a movie lot that doesn't seem to stop when the cameras aren't rolling. Or present at all. Kathy hovers by the desk.
RF wrings his hands. “I’m not good at lying Kathy, you know that.”
“I had noticed. What is it RF, why do we need these journalists poking their noses in our wedding preparations?”
“Well partly because you are one half of the wedding of the century, at least in this town. Mostly, though-“ he trails off.
“Look, since it became clear that Lina and Don were never together people have been focusing on Cosmo.”
Kathy frowns. She'd have noticed that. “But like he said, Cosmo’s never been in the gossip mags as anything more than a footnote.”
RF sighs. “People are threatening to focus on Cosmo. And Kathy you only read the nice gossip magazines, there are others that are more salacious in their scope.”
“How do you mean?”
“Don and Cosmo aren’t exactly arms length.”
She supposes they have been all over each other very publicly. But they’ve also both been all over her.
As if reading her thought RF sighs, says, “and you and Cosmo aren’t exactly arms length either. Look Kathy, some people can’t see happiness without trying to dig up the worm in the apple core. Either you’re having an affair with Cosmo or Cosmo is having an affair with Don. And if we don’t rout this, if we don’t push our version of the story, one of those is going to come out. And with Hays making noises already.”
“And it’ll ruin at least one of us.”
“That’s generous. It’ll ruin at least two of you. Even though Cosmo doesn’t really have anything to ruin just yet. Not to mention the studio.”
“No offence RF but hang the studio. So you want Don and I to show the world that really, there’s nothing behind us. We’re getting married and Cosmo only lives in our house because the house would be too big otherwise?”
“Well, yes. With Hays breathing down our necks--”
Kathy thinks of evenings draped over sofas in the firelight, not sure which limbs are hers or Cosmo’s or Don’s. Not caring whose limbs are whose and whose hand is in hers. Thinks of Cosmo hurt, or worse, in jail. “Just one day, before the wedding.”
“Two days, the day before and the day of.” RF looks apologetic. “Kathy it’s already agreed.”
“Some warning would have been nice.”
“I’m sorry. Just you be in love with Don and tell Mr Brown to be, you know."
Kathy bristles. She knows RF isn't like that, that he doesn't think any less of Cosmo for what he thinks Cosmo is, but it smarts all the same. She feels the need to defend him, both of them. Her boys. “Cosmo will be perfect. We’re actors RF.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of, Kathy. You’re movie actors. And Cosmo’s, he’s vaudeville through and through.”
“I always wanted to be on the stage.”
“Well, teach your boys some subtlety before Sunday, will you?”
She takes her coat from the rack and turns to him at the door. “To coin a Lina phrase: RF, this stinks.”
“Showbusiness isn’t for people who want to be themselves, Kathy.”
Later: Don is out getting something when Cosmo drapes himself over the back of Kathy’s armchair and sighs against her cheek. “What did our fearless leader have to say to you that he couldn’t say to me and Don?” He says it casually, but she's known him long enough now to know he's really interested.
Putting her bookmark in and dropping the book into her lap Kathy turns her head to lean against his shoulder. “Cosmo, do you read the gossip magazines?”
“Sometimes, when you leave them around. I’m never in them. Tragedy, really. Tragic, really.”
“RF has it on some authority that that’s liable to change.”
Cosmo takes a little intake of breath. “Little old me? In a magazine. I must write home.”
Kathy reaches to take his hand where it rests on the cushion, holding him up. “No, darling," she says. "Not good press.”
Cosmo laughs, but it sounds a little hollow and Kathy turns to look at him. “All publicity, Kathy. The world’s a stage only if the people know you’re on it.”
From grand Cosmo to personal Cosmo, he slides off the back of the chair and comes to kneel in front of her.
“Or not,” he says softly. “What is it?”
“RF’s got wind of some stories brewing about you and me, or you and Don. Stories that won’t do us any good.”
“I knew it. Stories about poor gay Cosmo Brown always following movie star Don Lockwood around.”
“Or Kathy Selden and Don Lockwood’s best friend carrying on behind his back.”
“The gutter press never known for consistency.” Cosmo looks angry, now, and it's so rare that Kathy doesn't know what to say to him. How to fix it. She feels wrong footed, she wants to say hang the press. She wants to kiss him. But they haven't had that conversation yet and she can't do it without Don here and--
"RF has organised for us to set the story before the story sets us."
Cosmo looks distant, says, bitterly, “No matter that the scandal isn’t true.”
Kathy takes his hand. “Cos-“
He pulls away from her. “I’ll keep my distance Kathy. Tell Don I said goodnight.”
She looks at his retreating back and thinks of how quick he'd been to make Don agree. Wonders how long he's been expecting something like this to happen. Realises she's made a rather bad miscalculation and she needs to fix it fast.
She stays up, mulling it all over, until Don comes home. He’s laden with shopping bags and he’s smiling up until he sees her face and frowns, putting them down and rushing to her.
He pulls her to him. “What’s happened?”
“Don, you know that conversation we had when we proposed? I think it’s time to act on it.”
“We were going to break it to him gently.”
“I don’t think we have time for that, you see, RF’s journalist plan, he thinks it’s his fault.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, RF has heard some worrying murmurs from the, well, the worst of the magazines.”
“Murmurs about Cosmo?”
“Murmurs about printing stories about you and Cosmo, or me and Cosmo. Stories Hays won’t like. You know what they’re planning, with the code. Cosmo didn’t take it well when I told him.”
Don drags a hand through his hair, damp - it’s raining in California again. “Why’d you tell him?”
“Well I wasn’t about to lie to him, besides he knew something was up.”
“I didn’t. I believed that bastard RF’s story about favours.”
“RF is on our side, Don.”
“Sure he is. And the studio’s side. Say, where is Cos?”
“He went upstairs, said to tell you he said goodnight. He’s upset and I think we’ve let all this go on too long. Get told you’re a hanger on long enough and no wonder he starts to believe it.”
“When does the journalist come again?”
“Alright, long enough to convince Cosmo and come up with a plan. Let me put this stuff away and we’ll ambush him.”
Kathy knocks gently on the door to Cosmo’s room, lavish and far enough from theirs that the occasional night time composition doesn’t disturb.
“Cosmo, can we come in?”
Cosmo opens the door looking crumpled and unhappy, like he’s flung himself on the bed and wallowed for a bit which of course he probably has. “What is it?”
“Cosmo we have something we’d like to say to you. Together.”
“Well hurry then, I’m very busy as you can see.”
“Cosmo don’t be mean.”
“I’m sorry. I’ve been reading the fan magazines.”
“Oh Cos, stop.”
Don looks at Kathy, Kathy nods.
“Cosmo, as you know you’re my best man.”
Cosmo’s head whips up, he looks terrified suddenly and Kathy’s heart hurts at how badly this has all turned out. Nothing like the time they’d anticipated having, the plans they had made for doing this.
“Jeez Cos that isn’t going to change.”
“You’re more than the best man, Cosmo,” Kathy says. “That’s what we’re trying to tell you.”
“The wedding is for propriety. For expediency. Because that’s what we’re supposed to do. But if we could have you sign the register too we would.”
Cosmo eyes them from under his messy hair. “What does that mean?”
Don looks at Kathy. Kathy nods.
In two short steps Don has Cosmo in his arms, and Cosmo tries to squirm. “Don?”
“Cosmo,” Don says. “You know this has been a long time coming.”
Cosmo casts desperate eyes at Kathy and Don laughs.
“Both of us, Cosmo. Don’s just going first because he has a longer claim.”
Don kisses Cosmo, and Kathy sees Cosmo go tense then relax, his arms winding up around Don’s shoulders and clinging. When they break apart Cosmo looks at Don a little like they’ve never met before.
Don reaches out a hand to her and she takes it. She holds her own to Cosmo.
“The scandal wouldn’t be wrong, Cos. It would just be a bit dangerous.”
“We’d meant to break this to you on the day, to have you know that while it may have been just us two walking the aisle, you were getting married to.”
“We don’t mean to let you go,” Kathy tells him. “We don’t mean to have you leave, journalist or no journalist.”
“If you’ll have us, of course,” Don says, sounding so worried now that Cosmo laughs at him.
“Should have thought of that before you kissed me,” he says, which doesn’t make Don look any less terrified. Until he leans over and kisses Kathy, lacing his fingers through Don’s.
“What do we do about the journalist though?”
“We act,” Kathy says. “We put on a lot of dumb show.”
VARIETY EXCLUSIVE: INSIDE THE HOME (AND WEDDING) OF DON AND KATHY LOCKWOOD
Excerpt from Paragraph 5:
Also present in the house and acting as Best Man for Mr Lockwood is noted Hollywood Lothario, Cosmo Brown. Mr Brown, Head of Music at Monumental Pictures, brought home three seperate gorgeous girls over the two days this journalist spent in the Beverly Hills mansion. When we asked why a man about town such as himself was living with a married couple he merely smiled. "They'd be lost without me. Who'd d'you think taught Don how to be such a ladykiller?"