Note: This is not Mann of My Dreams per se, but it gives us a bit of insight into Michael Shaw. Needless to say, the fraternities I've mentioned, Alpha Omega Chi and Gamma Gamma Gamma, were created by me. The song Wills was singing is The Sweetheart of Sigma Chi. Thanks To Tim Mead for looking this over, and, as always, to Gail.

I loved two men in my life. One of them was my father.

But he was too busy making a killing on Wall Street. Even after he bought a house for us in Cambridge, he was only with Mom and me on the weekends.

The other was William Matheson, my best friend. My only friend.

It was the fault of those jeans he wore, those lick me, suck me, fuck me jeans with the button fly and the straight leg. The denim material molded to his ass and thighs and cupped his dick and balls so lovingly that if I was the irrational type, I'd have been jealous.

And Wills, when I told him I loved him, hugged me and said, "I love you too, Michael!" My heart leaped, and my dick grew hard, and then he qualified it. "You're my best friend!"

So I played it cool.

But dropping hints, salacious remarks, flirtatious glances, lingering touches, everything went right over his head.

That was one of the things I loved about him. He was so charmingly clueless. He saw my father as a good man, because his own father was a good man.

He saw me as a decent person, because to him that was how I'd always been, from the time we met in sixth grade. Even the crap that went down at Newbury Comics, when I'd tried my hand at liberating a comic, didn't stop him from thinking that deep down inside I was basically good.

Him and Anne Frank both.

Others saw the real me, the manipulative, amoral, lying bastard that I was. But Willie Boy... god, how he hated when I called him that! And I kept doing it just to make him nuts.

Wills always saw me as his friend.

That didn't stop me from wanting him. And that night, when he wore those jeans for the first time, that was when I decided I was going to have him.

I took him to a keg party at the Gamma Gamma Gamma house across campus and got him drunk. Every time I noticed the plastic cup that held his beer was empty, or half-empty, or a quarter-empty, I'd hand him another.

At one point, he had a cup in each hand. The other frat boys thought it was a laugh riot that he would sip alternately from one, then the other. I didn't like that, but if I stopped Wills from drinking, I wouldn't succeed in my plan to have him. The judicious application of alcohol had always been an aid in getting whomever I wanted into my bed.

He was dancing with the stuffed monkey, singing a schmaltzy fraternity song. "'... The blue of her eyes and the gold of her hair are a blend of the western sky... '"

The only time he sang was in the shower or when he was hammered, and he wasn't in the shower now.

"C'mon, Willie Boy."

His eyes narrowed as he peered at me, trying to bring my face into focus. "Don't call me - "

"Yeah, I know. I think y've had a bit too mush. Le's get you home." I had to be sneaky about it, letting everyone think I was as drunk as he was. I gave the monkey to one of the Tri Gams and we left.

Only I'd been so intent on getting my friend drunk that I hadn't been paying attention to the amount of beer I'd consumed. I managed to get his button fly undone, but then I passed out myself.

It was just growing light when I was awakened by a body shifting under me and an erection that was growing under my cheek.

Before I could panic, I realized I was in my best friend's bed, and it was Wills under me.

He was still sleeping. There were marks on his cheek from the chenille bedspread, his lips were slightly parted, and he had a bad case of bed hair.

I could smell the musk of his arousal, though. I turned my face and ran my tongue over the material of his shorts, then lowered them, freeing his dick. He wasn't leaking pre come yet, but he would be soon.

Yeah, he was going to be mine, and while I didn't intend for this to be the only chance I'd get with him, I wasn't going to let the opportunity pass me by.

I licked and nibbled his dick, got my lips around the flared head of his cut cock, and sucked him off. I was going to give him a blowjob that he'd remember for the rest of his life.

He was noisy, though, too noisy. There was no time to tell him why he had to be quiet.

I'd screwed up the spring of our freshman year; I'd needed some cash, and my father was being a pain in the ass about giving me the money, so I appropriated the answers to all the semester finals and sold them to jocks who didn't have two brain cells to rub together.

One of them, who had failed in spite of the answers, ratted me out, but I'd managed to talk my way out of that mess, and I'd learned from it. I'd never been caught out in my schemes again, but it had taken hard work to be accepted back into the graces of my frat brothers.

If one of the guys on this floor heard him and came running to check... As much as I loved Wills, I wasn't going to be labeled queer for him, so I slapped my hand down over his mouth.

I nearly lost it when he licked my palm and nipped the webbing between my fingers. That caused me to shudder and whimper around the mouthful between my lips, and my dick to harden to the point I thought it was going to break through the zipper of my Versace jeans.

When Wills came, I had enough warning to pull off. I didn't have to, but I did. I didn't swallow for anyone, not even my best friend. I let his dick slip from my mouth, and he shot his wad all over those jeans.

The next thing I knew, he flipped me over and squirmed down the length of my body, dragging my jeans down off my hips. He worked my dick with lips and tongue, and it felt good.

It felt too fucking good; had he sucked dick before? I couldn't decide if I should be jealous or not, but either way, it looked like I was going to be the one who remembered this blowjob for the rest of my life.

I didn't warn him. I came deep in his throat, my fingers tight in that hair of his, leaving him no choice but to swallow or choke. He swallowed, and then he wiped some stray drops of my come from the corner of his mouth and fell asleep.

I petted his hip, thinking he was mine, and fell back to sleep as well.

The sun rising higher woke me. That and the Boston Pops banging out The 1812 Overture in my head.

There was a weight on my arm, and I scowled. Why had I let Crystal sleep over? She was getting too damn possessive.

I was startled by a soft snore. Since when... And then I relaxed and smiled. Not Crystal, but Wills.

I'd finally had sex with my best friend.

With my best friend.

My smile vanished as I panicked. Okay, I wasn't thinking too clearly, but I'd never fucked anyone I really cared about. Suppose he thought I was gay and didn't want to be my friend any more? For a second I was utterly miserable, until I realized it shouldn't be too hard to make him believe I'd jumped his bones because I'd had too much to drink. We'd both overheard a couple of frat brothers talking about it in the shower, when they thought they were alone. I'd snickered, ready to spread the news, but Wills closed his fist around my upper arm and hustled me out of there.

'Keep quiet about this, Michael.'

'Why should I? They've given us nothing but grief all semester... '

'Doesn't mean we have to sink to their level. Besides, it's none of our business.'

'But - '

'You won't say anything, because it's the right thing to do.'

So to please him, I hadn't said anything, but I figured he owed me now, so I was going to use his weakness for doing what was right to get out of this situation.

"I was pretty fucking drunk last night," I told him in a slurred mumble, and when he agreed, I insisted, "And if my girlfriend was here, I would have boinked her brains out."

He didn't protest.

He was supposed to say, "Mine are the only brains you're gonna be boinking out from now on, Shaw!"

He didn't.

However, Machiavelli could have taken lessons from me in craftiness. I intended to play my hand perfectly. If Wills thought it was just a blowjob between buddies, that our friendship had expanded to include some sexual benefits, that was fine, that was a start.

I'd just make sure it would happen again, and more and more frequently.

I went back to my own bed. I would have liked to sleep off my hangover in his bed, with him in my arms, and I wouldn't have said no to a repeat of our early morning sex, but that wouldn't have fit the scheme of drunken sex.

So I'd wait, which wouldn't be a problem.

He was mine.

* * *

I accomplished what I set out to do; after all, I was a master of manipulation. I got him to go out drinking with me and then would pretend to be more blitzed or high than I was, fall into bed with him and jerk or suck him off and get him to reciprocate.

Some of those times, he'd been pretty lit too, but not every time, and especially not the time I'd gone down on him in a back alley outside some bar. I began to hope that one day I would actually get him to bend over for me. He was born to have his ass fucked, and I was just the man to do it.

* * *

The spring semester was over, finals were over, and we'd be going home soon.

Only home might not mean the house on George Street in Cambridge much longer. My father was talking about leaving the grind of Wall Street, although why the son of a bitch wanted to move down to Virginia was anyone's guess.

I didn't want to leave Wills. I was pretty certain the Mathesons wouldn't raise any objections if Wills asked for permission for me to move in with them. That house had a shitload of bedrooms. And they were such suckers for a sob story.

It would be sweet living with Wills, and I didn't see anything wrong in sneaking into his bedroom during the night. If anyone spotted me, I could use the excuse of going to the bathroom. And once we graduated, we could have our own apartment, and he'd be available to me all the time.

I found myself outside the window of a local jewelers, studying the plain, gold bands, wondering if he would wear one for me. Wondering if he'd like me to wear one for him.

That was when I realized I was in way over my head. I'd never been that emotionally involved with anyone I was having sex with.

I had to show him that he didn't have me wrapped around his little finger.

Crystal McNamara was the girl I'd been seeing on and off during our junior year. It had been more 'off' than 'on' since the night I'd first blown Wills, and she was thrilled that I'd called and asked her to meet me.

I made sure Wills saw me kissing her, and I made a point of not being around when he left for Cambridge.

It was the worst summer of my life. First there was that scare that Crystal might be pregnant - she wasn't for long. Maybe it was mine, but maybe it wasn't, and I made her get rid of it. She cried a lot, which gave me the perfect excuse to break up with her.

Then there was that job my father had insisted I'd love if I just gave it a try - I'd loathed it, being just one more worker ant in the hive. Nest. Whatever.

But most of all I missed Wills. Fuck it, I didn't have to wear a ring. He was the most easy going of anyone I'd ever known. He'd even wear a collar if I asked him to. Hell, he'd be exclusive if I asked him to. He'd always gone along with everything I'd suggested. Well, except for that thing with Newbury Comics, but that had been a spur of the moment thing and I hadn't had time to work on him.

Thoughts of getting him in bed, getting him on his hands and knees while I shoved my dick so deep into him he'd feel me there for days, were what got me through that miserable summer.

* * *

What was that saying about best laid plans?

When he came back from summer break, things between us were different; he was different. I didn't realize it at first though.

"Hey, Willie Boy! How's it hangin'? Why don't you put on your 501s? We can... "

"I didn't bring them, Michael. They got too worn over the summer."

His suitcase was open on his bed. There were cargo pants and twill trousers, but no jeans at all. What he'd brought this semester would be okay, but they wouldn't hug his fine frame like those jeans that had driven me dry-mouthed with lust whenever he wore them.

"Well, uh... that's okay. Why don't you leave the rest of the unpacking for later. I'm about ready to kill for a beer, and I'll bet you could use one too."

"No, thanks, Michael. I'm cutting back on my partying."

"What?" Had that bitch of a stepmother of his cried all over him? Had his holier-than-thou father given him a lecture on partying too hearty while away at school? What had happened while he was home?

I cursed that pain in the ass father of mine, keeping me away from Cambridge when I should have been there, cementing my relationship with Wills.

Apparently Wills wasn't going to explain. "Why don't you give Crystal a call?"

"Nah. We broke up."

"I'm sorry."

"It's no big deal. She was getting too possessive anyway." He looked at me sharply, and I wondered if he'd heard about that aborted pregnancy. "Another time, then?"

"Sure, Michael."

Only there wasn't another time. It didn't take long for me to realize that as far as he was concerned, what we'd had was over.

I spent a long weekend determined to replace the memory of him in my bed with the memory of someone who was hot, who was professional, who would do more than use his mouth or hands. I went to a house in Boston that I'd heard of while I'd been working in New York, and fucked one of the boys.

I was only fooling myself, thinking this would help me get over him. I didn't realize until too late that the boy I chose looked enough like my best friend to be his twin.

I returned to the rooms we shared in the Alpha Omega Chi frat house, deliberately smelling of sex and alcohol and grass. I flaunted that smell in front of my friend.

There was such sadness in his eyes, such disappointment.

And for the first time in my life I realized I was up against something I couldn't shrug off.

"Fuck you, Willie Boy. We could have had a blast this weekend, but you had to hole up here and study. Don't you know we've got our degrees locked in the bag? This is the best time of our lives, and we've got the world by the tail!"

"Michael - "

"Fuck you!" I repeated. "I don't need your smug, self-righteous disapproval. Who made you the guardian of my morals? Just stay the fuck out of my face and leave me the fuck alone."

I stood there, waiting for... what? For him to give me a punch in the mouth, throw me the fuck out of his life?

Pull me down on the bed with him and let me fuck him stupid?

"What's wrong, Michael?" He was always too smart for his own good. "Did you run into Crystal?"

My eyes burned and my throat tightened. Here I was pining for him, and he thought...


"Did you have a quarrel with your father?"

"No." I sat heavily on my bed. "You know me, Willie Boy, bad to the bone. I felt like getting wasted, blitzed, hammered, and laid." He looked as if he was going to ask why I'd felt the need to do that to my body, but I continued quickly, before he could, "I fucked that little number through the mattress."

I held my breath, but all he said to that was, "I hope you practiced safe sex, my friend."

"Don't I always play it safe, Wills? So what did you do this weekend, besides study yourself into a stupor?"

I thought he wasn't going to let me get away with the change of subject; it was a measure of how far apart we'd grown over that summer when he did.

"Hardly a stupor, Michael. A couple of headhunters from Huntingdon Corporation came by. It sounds like something I might want to pursue."

"Oh, yeah? I've spoken to one of their recruiters too." A lie. "Guess I'll join their firm as well."

I had to do some pretty fancy footwork to get Huntingdon to hire me - my grades were good, although nothing like Willie Boy's, who spent hours in the labs and had a permanent place on the Dean's list - but then I'd always been good at tap dancing; they saw that, and they took me on.

* * *

After graduation, we didn't see as much of each other as I'd expected, even though we worked in the same building.

I convinced myself that was fine. I was so over him. I stuck with women and was even seeing one on a steady basis. She was tall for a woman, with brown hair and velvety brown eyes, and as long as I went down on her before hand, she didn't mind taking it up the ass.

I was working in Public Relations, and Wills... well, the department he worked for seemed to be a combination of computers and security, and he was either going someplace, or coming back from there.

I ran into him in the cafeteria one Friday. "Hi there, Willie Boy."

He gave me a patient smile. "Hi, Michael. It's been a while."

My heart gave a lurch. Had he missed me? "Yeah. How are things going?"

"Good, thanks. I've been offered a position in DC. Say, why don't you come over to the house for dinner on Saturday? Alice will cook a roast for you. You always loved Alice's cooking."

Go to that big house in Cambridge, surrounded by his loving family? "Nah, thanks, but I've got other plans."

"Sure, Michael. I... uh... I hear you're on the fast track to a corner office."

"You know what they say. 'If you can't dazzle 'em with your brilliance, baffle 'em with your bullshit.'" I shrugged. It didn't matter what I did, as long as it wasn't selling stocks on Wall Street. "So you're going to DC?"

"Yeah. I've already had three interviews, which is more than any of the other candidates. I'm pretty sure it's in the bag." He grinned. I didn't get the joke, but I pretended I did.

Clichés start life as truisms. Boston was a cold and lonely town, but without the knowledge that Wills was at least in the same city, it would be unbearable.

I had known vaguely that Huntingdon had some sort of corporate holdings in the Capital, and I remembered seeing that a position was opening up there.

I'd finagled my way into the Boston office. It would be no problem doing the same and making the transfer to Washington.

And it wasn't.

Only... DC turned out to be as cold and lonely as Boston. Wills was wrapped up in his job, which he seemed to love.

Well, that was him. He could fall into a pile of dog shit and come out smelling of roses.

I found myself stuck in an office with no windows, in a job I hated more and more with each passing day.

As for my friends...

Who was I trying to kid? They were acquaintances, nothing more, willing to hang with me as long as I provided the dope or the booze or the tail.

So when Robert Sperling called me into his office and laid a proposition out before me, I didn't see any reason not to go along with it. I had nothing to lose, and a corner office - Mark Vincent's corner office - to gain.

That was before I realized that leaking intel to the CIA wasn't all Sperling wanted me to do.

I threw up after the first time he'd forced me to blow him, and I hadn't been able to sit for almost a week when he'd sodomized me.

I fixed his little red wagon, though. I'd found a file Vincent kept on Quinton Mann of the CIA, hinted to Sperling that it was more than it actually was, then let him swing in the breeze, claiming I hadn't been able to hack into Vincent's home computer.

"But why is he interested in Mann?" Sperling demanded as he worried his lip. "Is he planning on going over to the CIA?"

I shrugged. I neither knew nor cared.

By that point I'd started doing more drugs than maybe I should have.

* * *

I stared across the desk at the man sitting there. "So that's it?" I asked in a voice I didn't recognize as mine. I wanted to ask if taking a dick up my ass had had something to do with it, but I wasn't gay, and I wasn't going to have this supercilious son of a bitch think I was.

"I'm afraid so, Mr. Shaw. Of course you can always seek a second opinion."

"Damn straight I will!" Fucking quack.

But the diagnosis was the same each time, and I had to accept that they all couldn't be fucking quacks.

Finally, I went home and turned on my camcorder.

"Hello, Willie Boy." I laughed, because if I didn't laugh, I'd cry. "I know, I know, you hate being called that. Well, indulge me, okay? If you're seeing this, I'm dead. Well, I'm a dead man, anyway.

"And no, I didn't screw with Vincent. Well, not much, anyway." I scowled as I thought of what I'd done. It hadn't all been under Sperling's incitement. I remembered how Wills had looked at Vincent the day Vincent had come in from an operation that had netted the WBIS Bruchner's cyclotron, dripping water all over the floor, a Kevlar vest hanging open over his chest. He should have looked ridiculous with some water plant draped over his shoulder, but somehow he didn't. Vincent never did, and maybe that was one of the reasons why I wanted to take him down.

"Vincent's a prick, Willie Boy. I'm going to take his office, and I'm gonna have you on your knees, under my desk, blowing me. You always gave the best... " I stopped short as a wave of pain washed over me.

It took longer than I liked before it eased up, and I swallowed, remembering how I'd gone into some church and tried to bargain with god.

It hadn't worked.

"I'm not going to do that to you, Wills. I'm not going to take Vincent's office, either."

Of course he'd put two and two together and get a totally erroneous answer. For someone as smart as he...

"No, it's not AIDS, you asshole." Because of course that was where his mind would go, and no matter how well he knew me, or thought he knew me, I wasn't so stupid as to share a needle with anyone. "You are just so predictable, Willie Boy," I mocked. "No matter how it may have seemed to you, I don't... I didn't have a death wish."

He'd probably yell at the screen. He was my friend, after all, but he was always inclined to take things so seriously. And I just didn't have the energy...

"Don't be mad at me, Wills. This is hard enough as it is." I swallowed again and licked my lips. "For a few weeks - okay, okay, it was more like a few months - " It was actually much longer than that, but he'd kick my ass if he... I blinked back stupid tears. "I hadn't been feeling that well, so finally I went to see a urologist. I've got prostate cancer, Wills. I'm dying.

"Don't tell me I'm too young. I said the same thing to that fucking quack who diagnosed me. Did you think I'd take his word for it? I've been to every specialist on the East Coast, and they all told me the same thing. It's a fast-growing motherfucker.

"I asked about my options, and there are none." No surgery, no radiation, no chemo. I ran my hand through my hair. I was really going to die. "At that point it had already spread to my lungs and liver, and now there are lesions in my brain. According to that son-of-a-bitch-of-a-doctor, I don't have much time. The pain is... " I'd never had a high pain threshold, but this... "I'm on Percocet right now, and it isn't too bad." Would he realize I was lying to him? Wills always could tell when I was lying. I thought briefly about Crystal. Except when he couldn't. "But it will get worse. I'll have to start on morphine soon, but the dosage I'll need to keep me from feeling the pain is also going to leave me completely out of it, if it does anything at all. I'll be better off dead." I grinned suddenly. "What do you think, Willie Boy? Suicide by Vincent?

"I know, not funny." My eyes started to burn, and I dug my fingers into them. "That's not the reason I'm making this tape. My parents don't need to know what I'm about to tell you; that's between me and you. I'm going to mark this tape as if I'd borrowed it from you. They won't play it; they always bend over backwards not to invade my privacy. Shit. Maybe if they had poked around in my room, I wouldn't... Never mind. You were always my best friend, Willie Boy." I had to end this soon, or I'd be crying like a baby. "I know I treated you pretty shitty our junior year. I'm sorry for that. I was so in love with you, but I couldn't live with the thought of being a fag, so I went back with Crystal. Remember her?"

Well, maybe he didn't. I barely could myself.

"By the time I realized it didn't matter, that I wanted you even if it meant I got called names, you'd moved on, and I couldn't compete. Not against your work, Wills. You were on the fast track to becoming the WBIS' white knight. Black knight. Whatever. You were so wrapped up in it. Maybe if I were a redhead... "

He'd always had a weakness for redheads. Every one of his girlfriends, from Cindy in high school to Rissa in college, had had red hair.

"Well, it doesn't matter. I just wanted to apologize for being such a prick. I'm not sorry I loved you, but I am sorry about the way I let things get between us. I hope you came to my funeral. Did you cry for me, Willie Boy? Nah, nothing ever got to you enough to make you cry." I smiled again, fighting to keep my lips from quivering, and raised my hand in a last goodbye. "You were a good friend, better than I ever deserved. Do me a favor, Wills. Put some flowers on my grave?"

I switched off the camcorder. After I copied this onto a VHS tape, I'd snap off the little tab so it couldn't be overwritten, then label it as if it had belonged to my friend.

You see, I'd loved two men in my life. One of them was my father.

And the other...