If Tito was being honest, he hated going to these sorts of events where he dressed up and had to smile and socialize. It wasn't that he was bad at it; it was a necessary part of his job anyways and he understood it, it just wasn't fun for him. Besides, he wasn't accustomed to being the center of attention, at least not like this. At gallery openings it was always easier, even though he was the center of attention, they always talked about his art, his photographs, here though, there was no place to hide.
He fiddled with his tux, one that his publicist had made him have on hand for events like this, and headed to the open bar. His publicist had asked if he'd be okay going alone and he was okay, but in no means was this fun. It was an exchange of pleasantries and humble brags that made Tito uncomfortable and would end with swapping business cards of which Tito had very little interest in following up on. Still, throwing out well-known names and large contracts was impressive, and Tito knew that a large number of his new assignments were because of events like this.
There were several familiar faces as Tito panned the crowd. It was an odd gaggle of photographers, models, fashion designers, publicists, and celebrities and even if Tito hadn't personally worked with most of them, he knew them or at least knew of them. There were a few who Tito had photographed as rising stars, some veterans like Henrik Lundquist who he could only dream of working with, and there were a few who he even considered personal friends. Most of the ones that fell into the last category were fellow photographers, friends that Tito had made before he was more established and had gotten his name out. Chabby was one of them, but when Tito went to look for him he was eagerly in a conversation with one of the editors of Vogue so Tito had left him alone.
It was starting to get towards that time when people started drinking more, Tito had already had two glasses of wine but the buzz was starting to fade away. Besides, he'd already talked to everyone his publicist had told him to. All of the formal introductions were made and now the evening had started to turn more into a social event.
Tito flagged down the bartender after he'd served a couple of older women vodka tonics and waited patiently. "Could I have a rum and coke, please?" Tito asked. The bartender nodded and turned to the different bottles to make Tito his drink.
"Hey, I was wondering if I'd see you here," A friendly voice said from over Tito's shoulder. He turned around and smiled when he saw it was Brock Boeser. They'd worked together only once or twice, when they were both in the earlier parts of their career and had gotten along well. Brock was easy to instruct and took criticism better than most, word has spread through the grapevine that he was one of the better models for a myriad of reasons and Tito couldn't help but think that his easygoing demeanor was part of the reason why.
"How are you?" Tito asked as he took the drink from the bartender with a grateful smile and gave Brock his full attention.
"I'm good, a little tired to be honest, I was on a plane from Paris last night and, you know, jet lag," Brock shrugged, "But otherwise I'm good. How are you doing?"
"Good, I'm in New York for right now, but we'll see what happens," Tito said and shrugged.
"Not right now," Tito said, "But I have a little show in Chelsea during October."
"Yeah? That's awesome, send me an invitation," Brock said. Tito smiled and promised he would. That was another part of Brock's success. Sure he was gorgeous and easy to work with but he was also a genuinely nice guy, the type of guy that even after just one meeting you wanted to succeed.
It was a small exhibit, not like some of his other ones, but it was good to get back into things slowly and the gallery was owned by a friend of a friend who had liked Tito's earlier work. He didn't mind, it was only for a few weeks and he wouldn't have to be there the whole time, just a couple of days a week, but it'd be good for him.
They continued to talk for a bit, talking about the Vikings upcoming season, and Tito was in mid-thought when he saw that distinctive dark-hair that he would recognize in a heartbeat. Of course Mat was here, since Brock was here, it was almost a given that Mat would have been made to come as well. Given their rivalry, Mat wouldn't have wanted Brock to get a leg up on any jobs. It didn't matter anyways, because Tito was going to leave pretty shortly. But then, before he could stop him, Tito saw Brock wave over at Mat trying to get his attention. It worked because Mat changed his trajectory to where they were standing. His stomach filled with dread as it became clear that he would have to talk with Mat and see him again after all these years.
Had Mat seen him, he probably wouldn't have come over to talk, but Tito knew the exact moment when Mat recognized him standing there next to Brock. His face fell before he replaced that disappointment with his professional smile.
"Hello, Brock," Mat greeted coolly.
"Hey, I wanted to actually introduce you to someone I wasn't sure if you knew. Have you two met?" Brock asked.
Tito glanced over at Mat hesitantly, but when it became clear that Mat wasn't going to answer, Tito cleared his throat, "We actually went to the same university."
"Oh, that's right," Brock said. "I didn't realize you two were friends."
"We're not," Mat corrected sharply and Tito could see Brock's surprise on his face, "All I meant is that we were in different programs, we didn't have any classes together."
Brock seemed to accept the explanation even though it was a flimsy excuse. "You should look at some of his work, he's still one of my favorites to work with."
"I'll be sure to do that," Mat said, even though Tito knew that it would never happen. "Well, my agent is getting impatient so I better go. It was nice to see you again, Brock. Anthony."
Tito nodded his goodbye and Brock seemed unfazed by the interaction. Then again, he and Mat could barely be considered acquaintances, so how could he know.
Tito shouldn't have been surprised and yet he still felt saddened by the meeting. How far they'd drifted from who they used to be. But it was all in the past, Mat was doing his thing and Tito was doing his own thing as well. They were happy. Or at least that's what Tito kept telling himself.