Writing isn’t helping. Michael sighs deeply, dropping his head to the desk. He’d thought maybe working, writing something, might get his mind off it, but he still can’t focus.
Well, he can, but not on what he’s supposed to be focused on. Instead, all he’s seeing is Colin. Colin, sitting down beside him at the bar last Saturday after the show. Colin, drinking alongside him well into Sunday. Colin kissing him and stumbling into a cab. Colin, underneath him in Michael’s bed. Colin in the morning, asleep, sunlight soaking him in gold.
And then Colin telling him that it was a mistake, that it never should’ve happened. Colin, leaving Michael alone in his apartment with a broken heart and shattered hopes.
Now it’s Tuesday and they have a readthrough on Thursday and Michael will have to see Colin then, and he has no idea how he’ll do it. He’d avoided Colin for the entirety of the day yesterday, and as far as he knows, no one else is even remotely aware of what had happened.
Michael doesn’t ever want to have to talk to Colin about it. He doesn’t even want to see Colin, because everything he’d ever wanted had finally happened and then it had been ripped away from him just as quickly, and Michael is still reeling in the aftermath.
Colin had always been some great unattainable love of Michael’s, and he’d all but come to terms with just being friends with him. Just being around Colin, getting to see him smile and make him laugh and work with him, that was as good as enough for Michael. Most of the time. But then there were times that they’d be too close on the couch in Colin’s office, or get into a little wrestling match, and all Michael would be thinking about was kissing Colin. Usually it was only a few inches that he’d have to close, it would’ve been easy. Just to lean in and kiss him, like he’d wanted to do for years now.
The urge was always there, to kiss him, to tell Colin how he felt, but he knew what was waiting for him if he did. Rejection, and then Michael would lose the best friend he’d ever had. Colin was the best thing that had ever happened - he’d given Michael his job on SNL, and he’d become the most important person in Michael’s life. Colin knows Michael better than he knows himself, and Michael never would’ve risked losing that just to be selfish.
In his defense, Colin kissed him .
It’s 11am, and still Michael gets up and gets the secret stash of vodka out of the tallest cupboard. He’s not a day drinker, not usually, but he figures that maybe alcohol can lighten the aching in his heart.
Not that it’d helped him much last Saturday.
A few drinks do, in fact, make it a little easier for Michael to stop feeling like he’s going to burst into tears at any moment(Michael realizes that he can’t remember the last time he cried, and honestly, he doesn’t really know how to feel about that). He works his way through the writing of two shitty sketches, and reasons having anything to show for the table is better than having nothing.
Maybe he can skip table? Just give his sketches to Kate and have her present them? Michael considers this, but manages to convince himself that he can’t just skip out on his job because he got his stupid heart broken.
He stays in his office nearly the whole day. The bathroom demands that he sneak out of it around four, but luckily his office is close enough to the bathrooms that he doesn’t have to stop and talk to anyone on his way.
Beck and Kyle are whispering together when he enters, but he doesn’t pay much attention to them. It’s only when he hears Colin’s name that he tunes in and desperately tries to eavesdrop. The words he picks up are few and far between, but he definitely hears “Jost” “hot date” “some famous model” and “tonight.” Michael’s heart sinks. Colin’s straight, you knew this, why are you still moping around? He thinks.
Beck and Kyle give him a wave as he leaves, and he manages a nod.
Back in his office, the silence is deafening. Michael’s breath is heavy and he finds himself wanting to cry again. It feels like he’s being crushed under the weight of Colin with someone else and there’s nothing you can do about it because he doesn’t fucking love you and suddenly Michael is hefting the glass from his vodka in his hand and throwing it at the wall and screaming “FUCK!”
The glass shatters and Michael lets out a sob. He sinks back against the desk, lowering himself to the floor. A moment passes, and then another, and then the door opens.
It’s Kate. She’s wearing a look of concern and alarm, and without speaking, she shuts the door and comes over to sit beside Michael, back against the desk.
Neither of them speak for a long moment, until Kate sighs. “He’s just afraid. He’s a coward, and a fool, but I promise you he’ll come around, if I have anything to do about it.”
Michael jerks his head up and stares at her from red eyes. “He told you?” he croaks, and Kate laughs.
“Honey, he called me the second he left your apartment.” And Michael shrugs, because that honestly doesn’t surprise him all that much. Colin and Kate have always been close.
“He’s not afraid, he just… doesn’t want me. He said so.” Michael tells her. She shakes her head, and lets it fall against Michael’s shoulder. The pressure is grounding and Michael is suddenly very glad she’s the one who heard him.
“Colin doesn’t know what he wants. That’s the thing about him. He pretends like he’s got it all under control, but on the inside he’s just as lost of the rest of us. But one thing I’m sure of is that he’s crazy about you. He has been since the beginning, and frankly he’s a fool for not saying anything sooner.” Kate murmurs.
Michael huffs a disbelieving breath. “Kate, he has a date tonight with some hot model.”
Kate picks up her head long enough to squint at Michael. “Did you not hear me when I said he’s a fool? Because I did. Twice. He’s a fool, and he’s fucking terrified, because he’s in love with you and he fucked up. Big time.”
“And you know this because?”
“I’m his best friend. Besides you. And I’m a woman, which means I’m smarter than you.” Kate tells him.
“That’s sexist,” Michael jokes, smiling despite himself. She stands and dusts herself off, and pulls him up after her.
“Please, just talk to him. I promise you, it’s not as fucked as you think. Y’all just need to work things out.” Kate hugs him, and Michael relaxes just a little more. She, out of everyone in the cast, is the best at giving advice, and she’s managed several miracles over the years. As much as Michael would like to take credit for Alex and Mikey finally getting together, he’s gotta hand it to Kate. However, as much as she understands other people’s advice, she and Vanessa took forever to figure it out for themselves.
Kate leaves after a moment and a consoling squeeze of her hand on Michael’s bicep.
Okay, talking to Colin. How bad could it possibly be?
Colin sighs, catching the foam baseball for the millionth time. Leaning further back in his chair, he tosses it up in the air again. It doesn’t help him calm down, doesn’t stop the sick feeling in his stomach. He just can’t stop seeing the look on Michael’s face, the way he’d crumpled when Colin had said that them hooking up had been a mistake. And Colin can’t stop hearing himself say “ Kate, I really fucked up ,” as he sobbed outside of Michael’s apartment.
She had, of course, had him come over to her apartment, but not even tea and advice from Vanessa and Kate made him feel any better. He doesn’t know how to apologize for what he’s done to Michael, doesn’t know if he can.
And the worst part? He hadn’t meant any of it. He was just… Michael had always been this great, untouchable dream of his, and it was too much. All of it. Putting their friendship on the line for something that could be so great, but had the ability to break him so easily. Colin just couldn’t risk it. So maybe just staying friends, or trying to, would be better. Would be safer.
But now? He’d gone back on it all and lost Michael anyways. Kate says he should tell Michael how he really feels, that he should apologize, but Colin doesn’t have the words.
Tossing the baseball doesn’t help, of course, but it’s easier than sitting in silence waiting for his own failures to crush him.
His door swinging open causes him to jerk up, and the baseball falls, forgotten, behind his desk chair. It’s Michael, and Colin’s heart feels like it’s ripping in half at the sight of him. Michael’s eyes are bloodshot like he’s been crying, face gaunt like when the two of them don’t sleep for days on end.
“Don’t do it,” Michael says, and Colin blinks.
“What?” he breathes, torn between rushing to Michael and staying as still as possible. He chooses the latter, afraid to mess things up even more than he already has.
“The date. Don’t do it. Don’t go.” Michael bites his lip like he’s trying to stop himself from talking, or from crying, and Colin doesn’t know which.
Samantha. Right. She’d asked him yesterday, and he’d been so out of it, so confused and miserable and generally unsure of himself that he’d just said yes, without thinking about it.
“Michael-” Colin starts, tries to explain, wants to come clean like he should’ve on Sunday.
“No!” Michael cuts him off. “I know… what you said. That you don’t, uh, that you don’t love me,” he takes a ragged breath that tears through Colin’s heart, because he does, he does, and he’s such a fucking idiot “and if that’s true, tell me, and I’ll leave right now and I’ll never bother you about it again, I promise, but Kate…” again, breathing comes like sobs and seeing Michael like this hurts , Colin’s known him eight years and not once has he seen him cry. “She said that maybe you do, and if there’s any chance that you could love me, then just… don’t go. Don’t.”
And Colin’s back in Michael’s apartment, watching himself shatter Michael’s heart with his own two hands, hating himself, and he has a choice to make. Right now. Risk it all, jump into the deep end, choose Michael. Or, choose safety, choose cold apartments with no one to warm his bed and no one to break his heart. For all the words he couldn’t find then, he only needs three now, and it’s the easiest choice Colin’s ever made.
“I love you.” Colin breathes, and Michael sighs like falling apart, the wear on his face fading like Colin’s doubt. Colin doesn’t even have the time to stand before Michael’s across his office and standing in front of Colin and kissing Colin. Soft, loving, nothing like the hot and desperate kisses of Saturday.
When they do break apart, Colin says it again, and he finds himself wanting to shout it until his voice is long gone. “I love you.” he tells Michael, and they’re just far enough apart that Colin can see Michael smile.
“I love you too.”
And Colin knows, in an instant, that some risks are worth taking. This one, he should’ve taken long ago.