Alan felt himself unwind the moment he stepped over the threshold, so strong is anticipatory conditioning. He'd researched studies of I.V. drug addicts where many reported the same high from the just squeeze of the tourniquet and the pinch of the needle. As he approached his chair, he thought that this must be much the same.

Denny passed over one of two generous pours of Chivas and settled deeper into his seat. His cigar was burned halfway through, but both glasses were at the same level. "Shirley gave me a love contract today," he said twirling the closer glass.

"Yes, she presented me with one as well." Alan sniffed before he sipped.

"Apparently she knows about our sleepovers."

"Well then, perhaps we should invite her. It wouldn't do for the lady to feel left out."

"How do you think that happened?" As always, Denny sounded genuinely nescient, as he did even when it was a carefully prepared ruse.

"Your announcing it in reception probably had something to do with it."

Denny nodded in acquiescence and took his first sip. "Probably. What did you do with yours?"

"I signed it immediately and handed it back."

Denny glanced sideways in surprise.

"I had hoped that the gesture would enable me to slip further into Shirley's good graces…as well as other certain parts. Besides, it was meaningless to me. I hold no one but myself to task for my own maladroitness with relationships."

"It's different for me," said Denny with a grunt. Or was it a fart? "I'm strictly heterosexual."

"Well then, have them put in a rider."

"But she thinks we're having an affair!"

"Aren't we?" Alan looked at him with feigned genuine surprise.

"I'm not having sex with you." Denny pronounced the words as if that settled that.

Alan made an ambiguous face. "All the same, I've had far fewer loving moments with many a person with whom I was. Where would you say the difference lies, Denny?"

"Orgasm. If you haven't had an orgasm with someone, it's not an affair."

"Heh." Alan laughed into the Boston night. "That should put the minds of many a cuckolded husband to rest."

"And it leaves us in the clear."

"Speak for yourself, Mister."

Denny shot him an odd glance over the rim of his glass, then let it go. "We could just tell her we're not having sex, and she'd have to drop it."

"That would be a lot less fun, don't you think? You'd lose all the curious glances, all the prurient stares behind your back, all the misinformed judgmental coffee pot gossip. You'd be less interesting. Lose attention. As a societal collective, our concern in matters not affecting our own lives is primarily fueled by the salacious."

"She said if I don't sign it, she'll have me involuntarily retired. Take my office." Denny waved his cigar toward the sliding glass doors behind them.

"You've got plenty of money. You can buy this balcony if she does."

"Don't need to. I own this building personally."

"Well then. So we're safe regardless."

"We're safe."

They toasted glasses and sipped in unison.

Denny set his glass down on the table. "You know, gay is the new black these days. All the women are crazy for gays. Those Queer Eyed Guys, Rupert Everett, even that funny haired fellow from In Stink--"

Alan winced.

"They all give interviews saying how they have to beat women off with a dildo…a stick. I could get mileage off of this." Denny's eyes widened. "Shirley might even try to win me back to her team."

"And who wouldn't."

"Works even better than a wedding ring, I hear. I'm sold." With some effort, Denny twisted his ring off and popped it into his pocket. "What's the gay signal these days? Is it still an earring? Ooh, that would be good for blood flow!" Denny fingered one earlobe. "Which side is gay now? I can't keep track."

"I think there's a website."

"I'm signing." Denny declared himself with a giant pull on his cigar.

Alan chuckled "You're signing the contract that promises not to hold the firm liable if our flaming intra-office homosexual love affair goes south?"

"But I'm still not having sex with you."

"Would you like a contract on that too?"

"Don't need it: we're flamingos. That trumps any contract."

Alan turned and looked at him with affection. "Indeed it does. Sleepover tonight?"

Denny groaned and made a horrible face. "Now why do you have to go and--"

"I've got the new issue of Black Tail."

"Cheep beer and flashlights under the covers?" Denny asked with considerably more interest.

"If you insist."

Denny stood up and drained his glass. "Let me get my keys."