Paul warned him that it was coming.
His former agent gave him the heads up. There was going to be a television movie based on Will’s article about Paul, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.
The news came just as the dust was beginning to settle in their lives.
“I didn’t want you to be surprised if… if you’re in it. Or if you’re not.”
Sonny frowned, unsure of how to take that. He wasn’t sure how to take the news, period. A movie about Paul? About all the private things he’d only barely begun to acknowledge? A movie about the things that Sonny had been doing his best to distract Will from so they didn’t both lose their minds from obsessing about Paul?
Taking his reaction as a sign of distress, Paul immediately tried to reassure him. “Sonny, no matter what they put in the movie, just remember that it doesn’t matter.” Paul touched his hand. “We know the truth, right? The rest is just noise.”
Sonny stared at Paul’s hand on his. He and Paul shared a look before Paul pulled his hand back.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I know we agreed that I should stay away so you could work on your marriage. I still respect that. I just wanted to give you a heads up.” He sounded so reasonable, but Sonny could hear the faint trace of frustration in Paul’s voice. He was trying, but it wasn’t easy.
Pulling his own hands from the bar, Sonny’s fingers twisted anxiously in his apron strings. He smiled weakly. “It’s okay. That you came. Thank you for telling me.”
It touched him that Paul was worried about him when he was the one with an unauthorized movie coming out about him. It went without saying that the movie would probably include something about him if it was based on Will’s article, but Sonny wasn’t afraid of some made-for-TV movie. Paul was right: it didn’t matter.
He was, however, worried about Will. Things were finally starting to settle down around them. They were doing better and arguing less. Neither had thrown Paul in the other’s face in weeks. The last thing they needed was another scandal throwing everything into disarray.
Will did rage, at first.
The night Sonny told him, he had several angry phone conversations, all of which Sonny did his best to ignore as he went about getting their daughter ready for bed. Will wanted to sue someone to stop the movie from coming out— it was based on his own article, how did he not have any rights here— but he had to concede defeat after Sonny conferred with his father, and Justin confirmed that there was no legal recourse.
It was happening.
Will asked him, “What if they put Ari in there?”
His tortured expression moved Sonny, and he squeezed his hand. “We won’t watch. We can’t stop the movie, but they can’t make us watch either.”
Will gave him a searching look. Then, he nodded. “Okay. Promise me you won’t watch either.”
Time passed, and the movie crept closer and closer to becoming a reality.
Sonny didn’t watch much television, but even he had seen the commercial promos. There was a billboard in downtown that he had to pass on his way to work every day. Playing for Keeps: the Paul Narita Story.
Sonny and Will had agreed to ignore the existence of the movie, but no one else had made such promises. The unwanted attention wasn’t so much a factor leading up to the premiere, not for Sonny. Paul already had the press beating down his door, but that was to be expected. The movie was about him.
John told him about the harassment, and Sonny shook his head sympathetically, wishing he could reach out but knowing better.
However, Sonny’s own distance from the situation ended the night the movie premiered.
He didn’t know the actual release date, but he knew as soon as the movie had dropped, because suddenly his phone was flooded with notifications from people trying to get in touch with him on Facebook and through the club’s website. Both strangers and people he hadn’t spoken to in years wanted to know what he thought of the movie.
Sonny didn’t even bother with a “no comment” stance. He turned notifications off on his phone and went about his business. He knew scandals by now, and this one would blow over just as all the others had.
It was harder to ignore the effect the movie had on his actual life. At work, people came in just to stare at him. Wherever he went, he noticed people whispering and giggling.
There were a few reporters that called the club and tried to get a quote from him only to be promptly hung up on. One even had the gall to come in to Sonny’s club to ask him about his relationship with Paul. He let Ben handle that guy.
A couple days after the premiere, Paul came to check on him.
“I’m sorry, Sonny,” he said. “I hate that I brought all this on you.”
Sonny sighed. He didn’t blame Paul for any of it. How could he complain about being part of Paul’s story? They were in love once, and he wouldn’t change that for anything, no matter the tangles it had caused in his life more recently.
Sonny kept those thoughts to himself though, because he had finally come to understand that it did neither of them any good for him to say such things aloud to Paul. Instead, he told him that it wasn’t his fault. Because it wasn’t.
Paul asked him if he had seen the movie. He hadn’t. Before Sonny could tell him that he had no intention of ever watching it, Paul said, “Don’t.”
“Sonny, don’t watch it. I haven’t seen it either, but I’ve heard… Look, I’m not going to watch it. You probably shouldn’t either. I don’t know what they included, but I don’t want you to get hurt.”
He seemed genuinely upset at the prospect, and so Sonny assured him, “I won’t.”
Paul needn’t have worried because Sonny had no intention of watching the movie. In fact, he was considering getting rid of the television altogether.
Later, when he brought up the idea to Will, his husband surprisingly agreed.
Chad was the one to say, “Sonny, I really think you should watch it.”
So far, no one else had the gall to actually bring up the movie to his face. Chad was never like anyone else.
“Will and I decided we wouldn’t—”
Chad put his hand on Sonny’s shoulder and gave him a serious look so Sonny would know he wasn’t messing around. “You should know what they’re saying about you. Hiding your head in the sand isn’t going to help anything. The damage has been done, and you need to know how to protect yourself.”
For the first time, Sonny started to feel worried. But he still shook his head. “I don’t see the point. I know what really happened. I don’t need to watch the movie version.”
Chad saw right through him. “Are you afraid of what you’ll see? About Will and Paul?”
Sonny turned away from him, suddenly needing to clean a certain spot on the counter.
“It’s not that bad. I promise. Will is only in, like, two scenes.”
Sonny’s heart dropped. Will was in it. Of course he was. He knew, but he didn’t want to think about it. He gave Chad a betrayed look. “You’ve seen it?”
“Yes,” he said honestly. “Look, if you won’t do it for yourself, then do it for Will. Do it for Ari. That movie isn’t going anywhere. How can you protect them if you don’t know what you’re protecting them from?”
He had a point.
Sonny came home the next day to find that Chad had somehow obtained a DVD copy of the movie, and that it was sitting in his apartment mailbox.
He couldn’t stand there forever, staring the disc down, as reluctant to touch it as if it were a viper sitting in his mailbox. Making a split second decision, he brought the movie inside with him.
Just having it in their home felt wrong.
He seriously considered just throwing it away. He and Will had agreed. Sonny knew he didn’t want Will watching the movie, so it wouldn’t be fair for him to watch it.
Still, Chad had a point. The whole world had apparently already seen it. What good did it do to pretend otherwise?
Then again, he felt certain that watching it wouldn’t be good for him. Chad had the gist of it. There were certain events in his life that he never wanted to see reenacted for the whole world.
He wasn’t sure what to do.
Ultimately, Sonny didn’t want it in the apartment and he couldn’t bring himself to throw it away either. So, he hid the copy in his sock drawer. When Will came home, he didn’t mention it.
Unwilling to ask anyone else who might have seen it, Sonny asked Abigail. He trusted her to be honest, probably more so than anyone else.
She hesitated to call it a “sex scene” in front of him, instead saying, “There isn’t a scene like that. Not between Will and Paul.”
Sonny felt a psychic weight lift from him. Relieved, he said, “Oh. Good.”
But Abigail still looked torn, and she said, “Sonny, there is some stuff. I mean, the way Will got the article… But it’s only a quick scene. Some… well… kissing before…”
“A fade to black?” He looked away from her, instantly ashamed of the bitterness he heard in his own voice.
Abigail smiled sadly. “Yeah. Something like that.” When she seemed to hesitate again, he asked her, “What is it?”
“There is a love scene. It’s just not between Will and Paul.”
She gave him a significant look until he finally understood.
What ultimately decided him was his mother’s reaction.
He should have known she would watch the movie. How could she help herself? Afterward, he caught her, more than once, watching him with a strangely wistful expression on her face. She sighed a lot and kept asking him in different ways if he was happy.
Sonny couldn’t take it anymore. He hated the idea of his mother watching him in a love scene with Paul. He hated the idea of anyone watching that. He was tired of the whole world knowing something he didn’t. He didn’t like feeling as if he were at a disadvantage with everyone he interacted with.
He waited until he knew Will would be gone for the evening because he still didn’t want Will to see it (whatever it was).
He put Ari to bed, and then he settled in on the couch to watch what he assumed would be the last movie before he and Will threw the whole set into the garbage.
No one has to know, he told himself as the movie began.
Sonny knew immediately that this was going to be a sap fest. A worthy rival to any Lifetime movie he had ever seen with his mother back in the day.
Right at the start, setting the tone, the movie opened with an adorable young Asian boy with big, tragic eyes— young Paul— staring soulfully at other boys playing catch with their dads.
Young Paul wandered around the streets, dragging a bicycle alongside him. He looked pitifully lost without a paternal figure in his life. He got into some fights with other kids who mocked him for his dead dad.
(He couldn't help but notice that, so far, none of the locations resembled the nice, San Francisco suburb that he knew Paul grew up in. Maybe that wouldn’t be dramatic enough. Not quite a true rags-to-riches story.)
Young Paul was just so obviously in need of some personal attention, an adorable latchkey kid brimming with unrealized potential. You just wanted to reach through the screen, give him a hug, and tell him that it was going to be all right.
Sonny wanted to roll his eyes. He really did, because he didn’t want to find any of this touching. Not when he was still set on hating everything the movie attempted.
But he couldn’t help feeling a little moved when Paul’s grandfather finally showed up. Demonstrating compassion and wisdom, Mr. Narita patiently taught a young, frustrated Paul how to play baseball. And, okay, yeah. It was sweet.
(Sonny’s fingers itched to text Paul so he could ask what he thought of this sentimental portrait of his childhood. Paul could be very sentimental when he wanted to be.)
Despite the over-the-top dramatics, Sonny was actually sad to see Young Paul go when the movie did a sudden time skip.
The high school years were pretty cliché. Paul, depicted as already standing out as something special: talented captain of the baseball team, good student, beloved by all. Already handsome and charming. Followed by some telling shots of Paul shooting longing glances at other boys in the locker room. His private shame.
Sonny sighed and went to make popcorn.
Thankfully, the adolescent angst was kept to a minimum, and the movie soon did another short time skip of a few years to after Paul had already started showing promise in the minor leagues.
Sonny had to smirk at the beefy pin-up that had been cast to play now-adult Paul.
(Because the fantasy version wasn’t much different from the reality. Paul probably could have played himself.)
Sonny shook his head. The movie was just so bad. Stiff, unrealistically attractive actors and unbelievable dialogue. Paul even had a rival, another baseball player who was strangely competitive with him and kept making vaguely concealed threats every time Paul showed him up at something.
In truth, Sonny couldn’t hate it. It was a relief, actually, because something this dumb couldn’t hurt him. He felt minutes away from calling Will and telling him that they had worried for nothing. He couldn’t wait to track Paul down tomorrow to tease him about “his life.”
In fact, the first act of the movie had done such a good job of lulling Sonny into a false sense of security— everything was so delightfully saccharine and clichéd— that he forgot to look out for a key player coming up.
It took Sonny off guard when the movie took an unexpected turn toward romantic comedy.
He felt the smile slip from his face as he watched Paul have a “meet cute” with some guy while he was out for a jog. Paul tried to get around the man, who was walking his dog, but he accidentally got caught in the dog’s leash. They both tried to get him untangled only for Paul to end up more tangled.
The music trilled playfully as their eyes finally met and everything kind of stopped, their faces gone slack with recognition. It was too much.
Sonny wondered though. Who was this? This meeting was obviously going to matter because, well, it was happening. But Paul had never said…
It actually took him till the end of the scene, when they exchanged names, to realize that the guy was supposed to be him.
The movie got it wrong.
Sonny and Paul did not meet on a street in San Francisco.
They met at a party. A party they swiftly ditched in favor of a rooftop with privacy and an amazing view. Maybe no one knew that but them. Sonny had certainly never told anyone the particulars. That story was theirs.
Initially, he thought the writers had either invented a love interest for Paul or maybe even discovered one from his past. But no. Fake Sonny introduced himself to Fake Paul, and Real Sonny could already see the movie shifting into Act 2: When Paul Met Sonny.
He felt his calm swiftly draining away.
(He didn’t even own a dog.)
For Sonny, they had cast a disconcertingly pretty, soft-voiced actor who looked as if he had just come from the set of a soap opera.
In other words, nothing like him.
He played Sonny as a dreamy idealist, mainly there to motivate Paul’s character to be “true to himself.”
Two-dimensional and too good to be true. There was no resemblance. They could have just changed his name and done him a big favor. Then again, a romance with a complete nobody probably wasn’t as enticing as one with the scion from a famous family.
(God, he hoped none of his family members were going to show up in this.)
Sonny wasn’t surprised to see himself reduced to the love interest in someone else’s story, but he was surprised to see how much of the movie focused on his and Paul’s relationship. They were only together a year; yet, their relationship seemed to take up the lion’s share of the film.
(He blamed Will’s article for this, since Paul’s sacrifice of love for career had been the angle he went with.)
They had taken bits and pieces from Will's article and Paul's other subsequent interviews and pieced together a surreal representation of Sonny and Paul’s past.
It made him feel incredibly uncomfortable.
Lies masquerading as truth. His truth. His time with Paul had been so intensely private. Even though that hadn’t been his choice, it still felt wrong to see their memories hung out for the whole world to see. Even the fake versions.
Paul would absolutely hate this, he thought.
He squirmed through a saccharine montage of their time spent in Italy, with Sonny and Paul running around popular landmarks in Rome, grinning sappy smiles at each other and being crazy obvious for anyone to see that they were in love.
God, they were.
Of course, the happy times couldn’t last.
Sonny had a good idea of where the movie was going next. Italy only meant one thing.
(Why did Paul have to tell Will about Italy? If it weren’t for that, Sonny might have been able to write the whole thing off as being about someone else.)
Sure enough, there came a time when his doppelganger got too swept up in the whirlwind and spontaneously tried to kiss his version of Paul right out in public. Sonny couldn’t blame him. He was so in love, and hiding it didn’t come naturally at all.
Hitting very close to the truth, maybe closer than ever before, Movie Paul pushed him away, clearly panicked by the idea of someone seeing.
Sonny closed his eyes, pained. Yeah, he knew exactly where the movie was going next.
It was with a knot in his stomach that he watched himself propose to Paul.
Paul and Sonny smiled at each other.
They stood on the balcony of a luxurious hotel suite with a vibrant sunset behind them. A romantic song began as Sonny, with his heart in his eyes, knelt in front of Paul, the man he loved, holding out the ring.
Two beautiful men, a beautiful location, and a beautiful pretend proposal.
It was all wrong.
In reality, Sonny proposed in a small, inconspicuous bed & breakfast on the outskirts of Florence. They were in bed, having spent the whole day lazing about and making love, taking advantage of Paul’s hard-earned vacation.
There was no ring. There would have been, but the idea of proposing had only come to him in the moment. As it turned out, his doppelganger wasn’t the only one prone to getting swept up.
Sonny cringed to see how oblivious his character was to the clear signs of oncoming rejection coming from Paul. It was so obvious, especially following the scene where Paul pushed him away.
(Was it always so obvious?)
The movie spared him nothing.
Looking horrified by the very prospect, Paul swiftly and firmly rejected him. It was maybe even a little crueler than the reality had been. Maybe.
(“You’re kidding, right?”)
Sinking lower into the couch, Sonny watched himself become crushed by the realization that Paul was serious, that it was never going to happen. Paul, the man he loved, would never choose him because he was committed to living their lives in the closet.
They fought, and Fake Sonny accused Fake Paul of being a tragic closet case. They called each other selfish.
(In reality, there was no fight. There was only horrible silence as Sonny packed up his stuff, and Paul stood by the window, arms crossed and looking anywhere but at him.
He would remember that long, lonely taxi ride back into the city and to the nearest airport for as long as he lived.)
It was at this point in the movie that Sonny decided he had seen enough.
He turned off the television and went to bed.
It took Sonny a moment to realize that Chad was waving his hand in front his face. He pushed Chad’s hand back before it could hit him in the nose. “What are you doing?”
“Well, there he is. You okay?”
Chad raised an eyebrow at him. “Try again. What’s up? More problems with Will?”
“No,” he said quickly. “We’re doing fine.”
“Fine, huh? Not great or awesome. Just fine.”
“Chad,” he warned.
“Okay, okay. So, if you’re not feeling down about Will, then what is it? Profits are up. Employees are good. So, it’s not work. Ari okay?”
Sonny rubbed at his eyes, annoyed. “She’s great, Chad.”
“In that case… Oh, I know. You watched the movie. Didn’t you?”
Sonny shook his head, but he didn’t deny it.
Chad snorted a laugh. “Finally! So? What did you think? I thought the guy playing you was dreamy. The love story? It got me. Right here.” He patted his heart, ignoring Sonny’s glare. “I gotta say, no offense man, but that sex scene between you and Narita was awkward to watch. You know, no offense. But what did you think of it? Did it live up to the reality?”
Sonny stared at him in mortified horror. He covered his face with his hands. “I cannot believe you right now. Someone could have heard you.” He gestured to the customers, though they were on the far side of the club.
Chad waved that off. “Seriously, Sonny.”
“Seriously, I hate you.”
Chad grabbed his arm when he tried to walk away. “All right. Okay. I’m sorry. Come on. Talk to me.”
“I didn’t see any sex scene!” Sonny hissed quietly.
Chad’s eyes suddenly widened. “I thought… So, you didn’t watch it?”
Sonny looked away, uncomfortable. “I watched some of it,” he admitted.
“It was long. I got tired,” he said, knowing his excuse was weak.
“How far did you get?”
Sonny didn’t answer.
Chad sighed, his demeanor instantly softening. “Sonny, you really need to finish the movie.”
“Because it’s about you!”
“It’s not. That wasn’t about me. That guy doesn’t even look like me. They obviously just wanted some eye candy for the movie. Most of it didn’t even happen. It’s barely even about Paul.”
“Did Paul say that? What did he think of the movie?”
“He said he wasn’t going to watch it either.”
Chad threw up his hands in frustration. “Oh, sweet Jesus.”
“Why should we watch it?” Sonny asked defensively. “That’s not us. It’s definitely not me. It’s a bunch of salacious lies to entertain people with nothing better to do. Chad, you should know where I’m coming from. What about all the things people say about you? About your family? Do you want to give every one of them a platform?”
Sonny immediately felt bad about going there, but Chad just shook his head. “Do you remember when I had Will write that article about me?”
“Of course I do.”
“I wanted him to write the article, with all the good and the bad, because I wanted to control the narrative. But I couldn’t do that unless I knew what people already thought of me and my family. People were already going to say whatever they were going to say whether I liked it or not. This time, I told them what they were going to say about me. The guy Will wrote about? That wasn’t me. Not entirely. But some of it was. The stuff I’m not proud of? It’s still who I am.”
It hurt him to hear Chad talk about himself that way. “You’re not a bad guy, Chad. No matter what anyone says.”
Chad affectionately chucked him under the chin. “I am though. But that guy in the movie? The gorgeous one who always knows the right thing to say? Who makes people want to be better just so they can measure up? That’s you. That’s all you, Sonny.”
His throat tightened with emotion at his friend’s words, but he still couldn’t accept them. He shook his head. “See? That’s just another lie from the movie." He hadn't seen Paul's coming out in the movie, but he could assume. "Paul didn’t come out for me. He wouldn’t come out for me. He only came out because his baseball career was already over.”
“Yeah, I wasn’t actually just talking about Paul, but okay.”
The amusement on Chad’s face made Sonny’s face burn. He felt as if he’d been caught in something. But he didn’t want to leave it at that. He looked Chad in the eye and said, “I am not a saintly runway model any more than you are a villain. That’s just low self-esteem talking, which is exactly why we shouldn’t listen to what ignorant people say.”
Chad laughed, not seeming particularly down about his own self-deprecation. “Take that well-meaning token and turn it around on yourself, brother. Because my Sonny is beautiful.” He leaned over and placed an obnoxious kiss on Sonny’s head. “Isn’t that right, Paul?”
Sonny sprang around to see that Paul had just entered the bar. He gave Chad a quizzical look. “Sorry?”
Sonny smiled for Paul’s benefit, but he muttered to Chad, “How can you be so wonderful and so horrible in the same breath?”
“It’s a gift. By the way, you and Narita are doing a stellar job of keeping away from each other.”
Sonny glared at Chad’s back as he headed for the door.
Paul took a seat at the bar. “Everything all right?”
Looking at Paul, Sonny found himself suddenly overcome by all the feelings the movie had churned up. And he hated it because here was exactly the reason he didn’t want to watch the movie in the first place.
He could have asked Paul what he was doing there, but he was afraid of the answer.
Paul provided an explanation anyway. “I was thinking that it’s going to be hard to avoid each other forever. Especially in this town. I was wondering if we could compromise.”
Sonny withheld his sigh. He was in no place to discuss this now. Not when his head felt as if it had somehow been screwed on wrong. He gave Paul a plaintive look. “You know I can’t…”
“I’m not asking to be friends or… anything more. I just mean that maybe when we run into each other on the street, you say ‘hi’ and I say ‘hi,’ and that’s it. I don’t like having to pretend to ignore you.”
Sonny didn’t know what to say. As Chad had pointed out, they were already struggling with the mutual avoidance thing. Giving each other more leeway seemed a little too convenient.
He was supposed to keep his distance from Paul. He had promised Will (and himself). But the idea of actively shunning him had never sat well with Sonny either.
He searched Paul’s face for signs of an ulterior motive, but, of course, there were none. Paul just sat there, looking at Sonny in that way he always did—the way that made him feel guilty even though he hadn’t done anything wrong— as he patiently waited for an answer.
Sonny thought again of Italy, as well as proposals and arguments that had never happened.
“I’ll think about it.”
Sonny had to wait for another night alone.
He didn’t like the idea of hiding it from Will, but he hated the idea of Will watching this movie even more.
(What good could come from it?)
He fast-forwarded through the stuff he had already seen and then kept fast-forwarding through what appeared to be the parts with Will.
He had limits. Watching his husband get seduced by his ex-boyfriend counted as a limit.
Sonny didn’t understand. Chad and Abigail had both mentioned a love scene between him and Paul.
But the movie was almost over, and it hadn’t happened. He would have thought it would have occurred earlier in the film, maybe during the romantic getaway montage, but no. He didn’t think Chad and Abigail had been referring to the borderline-chaste kissing and rolling around in bed between cut-aways.
He wanted to feel relieved— the idea of such a scene being there made his stomach churn with anxiety— but it had to be there. He knew it was.
Yet, the movie had already caught up with real life.
Paul was already back in Salem, the affair and his paternity already exposed. There had been some touching scenes between Paul and John— with a hilariously miscast actor who had no idea what John Black was actually like— and thankfully none of the initial hostility between them caused in real life by Will’s manipulations.
(Sonny was so relieved they didn’t know about that either.)
Paul knew Sonny was married, and that it was over. Seeing their reunion in Salem didn’t hurt as much as Sonny thought it would, because it was another scene written from someone’s imagination rather than from reality. It had to be, because no one except he and Paul knew the truth about what had happened between them in the hospital room that day.
(Sonny would take that to the grave with him.)
The movie was definitely wrapping up.
Paul had suffered another heartbreak, but the second time felt like closure. He might have lost Sonny, but that was a small thing in the bigger picture of a new beginning. He was finally out and proud, and living better for it.
It was the movie’s message signed, sealed, and delivered. Living your truth was better than living a lie. A reductive, simplistic view of a complex situation, but still a good, solid message. In other words: Hollywood.
What else was there to say?
In the second to last scene of the movie, Sonny showed up a final time.
It was a surprise, because that arc was clearly over. Paul had made peace with his past and was poised to move forward.
The writers weren’t ready to let him.
Sonny appeared on Paul’s doorstep, drenched from the rain. They stared at each other, shock and a million other things passing between them. The tension was tight enough to snap. Then, Sonny launched himself into Paul’s arms and they were kissing. Kissing desperately.
Sonny’s breath stopped, his fingers frozen over the remote. What were they doing?
This was the love scene.
Paul and Sonny tore at each other’s clothes as if they couldn’t bear another second apart. The years and the hurdles between them didn’t even matter. They had to touch each other, be together. Sonny’s hands desperately reached for any part of Paul he could touch, and Paul dragged him to the bed where they tossed and pulled and pushed and ate of each other. The music ramped the emotion up and up until you could practically feel the passion and desperation coursing through their bodies. They were in love. So incredibly in love that this scene suddenly felt completely inevitable. The writers were right. There was no way the movie could have ended before this scene.
By the time Will got home that night, Sonny had dinner ready, Ari was in bed, and the movie was safely in the garbage.
When Chad asked him about it again, Sonny dismissed it all as typical Hollywood trash. He had seen it, yes, but it had no effect on his real life, it was fake, it didn’t matter, and everyone else’s opinions be damned.
Neither surprised nor offended, Chad merely shrugged. “At least you know now.”
Sonny and Paul were supposed to stay away from each other, but he wasn’t surprised when Paul eventually came to find him.
It was another violation of their agreement, but Sonny didn’t call him on it. Seeing him, the real him, was strangely comforting. He felt more grounded to reality.
They got coffee and sat in the park.
After enough small talk had passed, Sonny gave up on pretense and asked him, “Did you ever watch it?” The movie felt like a giant albatross around his neck, and they couldn’t keep pretending it wasn’t there between them.
Sonny looked at him until Paul crumbled and admitted, “Yes.” He smiled sheepishly, and Sonny felt a little tension go out of his shoulders.
Paul looked closer at Sonny. “Did you?” He saw the answer on Sonny’s face and laughed softly. “So, we’re both liars?”
“I guess so.” He bit his lip, considering, before he asked, “What did you think? Did you like it?”
Paul made a face. “Um, no. It was horrible. Like, embarrassingly bad. It made my skin crawl because it was about me. I cannot stress enough how weird that was.”
“I know how you feel.”
“Yeah, I guess you do.” They shared an understanding smile. “Is it weird that it made me mad that they gave me a happy ending? One that they just made up? As if the truth wasn’t good enough?”
Sonny thought back to the final scene of the movie. Without any words spoken, it was heavily implied that Paul and Sonny were going to stay together and be happy. Lovers reunited, and all was well with the world. No mention of the obvious road blocks to this “happy” ending. Will hadn’t even appeared in the last twenty minutes of the film.
“Hollywood loves a happy ending,” he said with a dejected shrug.
Paul eyed Sonny, smirking slightly. “I bet you loved all those sappy love songs.”
Sonny grinned down at his coffee, neither confirming nor denying. “Okay, so you thought it was weird because it was about you. Besides that, did you like anything about it?” He was thinking of the adorable young version of Paul and his grandfather.
Paul gave him a teasing look. “I liked the actor who played you.”
Sonny snorted. “So does everyone apparently.”
“I really liked our meet cute.”
Blushing, Sonny dropped his gaze. “You never would have hit on me like that. Not right there in the middle of the street.” In public, he didn’t say.
“Maybe I would have.”
Sonny started to shake his head, but then Paul gave him the kind of wistful look that reminded him of why they weren’t supposed to meet alone anymore.
“Sonny, when we met, I hit on you in a room full of people. I risked everything to kiss you on that rooftop, and we’d only just met. Was the door to the roof even locked? I don’t know, and neither do you. I don’t think it would have mattered where we met. I would have hit on you anywhere.”