It wasn't like Igby even remembered what had happened, really.

Oliver hated thinking of it that way because it made the whole thing sound so...sordid, when it was hardly anything at all. So cliche, and if there was anything he despised it was the hoary old saw of privileged rich boys turning crazy and wild under the weight of all their privilege and riches.

Although igby had done a good job of that so far — Oliver stopped, shut his eyes, and mentally rewound. Igby. Capital "I", Igby Igby Igby. He couldn't refer to his brother with lowercase letters anymore, not when that brother was free and unfettered on grape-coloured Californian soil and sookie sapperstein was here with her twisted heavy ropes of hair and the disapproving set of her mouth. Now sookie, he could refer to with lowercase letters. sookie didn't expect anything else, and Oliver didn't like to volunteer more than he was asked for.

He sat back and looked out the window. A chubby Chinese girl in a white shirt and grey sweater was running up the sidewalk, a black purse dangling awkwardly from her hand. He watched her, the flat black silk of her hair and the stretch of fabric across her breasts, and imagined what her heels sounded like hitting the pavement. Painful, he'd assume. He hoped it was.


The first call had gone something like this:

Ollie? Hey, fuckhead, is that you?

You know it's me, Igby. This is my number. I gave it to you.

...but enough with the chit-chat, citizen. Haaaaah —

Where are you? Are you staying somewhere?

Hey, is Sookie there? I wouldn't mind talking to her.

She's not here, she doesn't live with me. Now is there someplace I can reach you, or do I have to send you money?

mmmmmmmoney's always good, dearest dumwit brother. Look, give me your e-mail and I'll let you know where I'm staying —

Why can't you just tell me?

-- where I'm staying, and, yeah, uh-huh, send me money.

Igby'd hung up first. Oliver had expected that he would, and he'd been only mildly surprised that Igby was stoned out of his head when he called. He was less surprised than he was annoyed, because Igby stoned was a lot like Mimi stoned and after all he still found it hard to be around when sookie ate strawberry yogurt.

Really, it was too bad that Mimi and Igby had gotten along so badly; because if they hadn't, they would've gotten along wonderfully.


Oliver liked whiskey. He liked it neat, in a short squared-off glass, sometimes with a couple of pieces of ice in it. Perfect little machine-generated ice cubes or jagged shards of ice, but nothing in-between. DH drank like that, and DH liked to have things just so; in fact, he insisted upon it. It was an admirable trait and one that Oliver wished to emulate. DH approved. DH approved of everything that Oliver did.

"A man couldn't ask for a finer, more upstanding protege," DH told him, standing in front of his chair and dropping one cold, presumptuous hand onto Oliver's shoulder. "Your mother...well, she would have been proud of you, young man. Ollie." The fingers squeezed, insistent and just so.

Oliver stared at DH's expensive navy blue suit and how it skimmed his body, so smug, so impeccable. "She'd understand exactly what I'm doing," he said, not looking up, and DH might have laughed.

Whiskey was good. So was cocaine, and Oliver had been raised to cultivate a healthy appreciation of both. DH, naturally, approved.


The first e-mail ran something like this:

HEY Ollie Ollie Oxen Free:

I decided to hold off a little on sending you my address. I want to be nomadic for a while before I put down taproots and I figure the best way to keep away from that is to break off ties with "the old ways."

Keep hold of that money for me, though. I might need it when I'm done weathering the wilds of Los Angeles.

-- kiss Sookie for me. Once for you and twice for me, that's more than fair, isn't it?

-Slow Cum--;)

Oliver read it three times slowly, then filed it away so it didn't clutter his inbox. Igby's e-mail address was boyslut_inc@hotmail.com; he told Oliver once that it was just to fuck with people whose places of employ monitored their online comings-and-goings. He'd delivered that statement in a most lugubrious manner, cummings and goings, smacking his lips with satisfaction. Igby's mouth had been sodden warm with beer and salty that one time he'd kissed Oliver. Igby himself had been flying on Mimi's anti-depressants. He'd been lowercase "i" igby back then, and he'd clung to Oliver's neck and sobbed all over his collar and snuffled against his shoulder.

He'd smelled like cigarette smoke, and Oliver had run his hands up and down igby's back in what he hoped to God was a comforting manner, and felt the bumps of his spine, all lined up. They'd felt like rows and rows of cigarettes, smooth and white and cancerous.

Oliver sat back in his chair. The windows next to him were big and old, and there were trees slanted in the view through the one furthest from him. The leaves were gold and apple-copper, strung on black branches, and they shivered and shuddered in the vents from the traffic. oliver felt shoots of pain in his heels, his lungs, and wondered where Igby was running, and if he liked ice at all.

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