hollywood romance

There were certain things that Kathy knew not to ask about and Cosmo was the big one. He was always there, faded into the background until Don needed him, always smiling, always laughing, even when Kathy was sure that all he wanted to do was cry. Sometimes he'd come out of Don's trailer with a look on his face--it only lasted for a second before he started smiling to beat the band again, but it was there--that made Kathy hurt in sympathy; she only had to remember that brief expression and she could cry rivers on cue. But she never asked Cosmo what made him hurt, because he would smile and joke with her and make her laugh so hard that she forgot all about the secret pain, and anyway this was between him and Don and she loved Don so desperately that she blinded herself to all of his faults.

She was kind to Cosmo instead, listening to him, talking to him, treating him like a person when everybody else seemed to think of him as nothing more than an extension of Donald Lockwood, Hollywood Star. Kathy thought that sometimes that was all Cosmo thought of himself as too.

She never asked why Cosmo pretended to not live with Don--Cos had a house, a dingy little thing near the studio that was filled with the clutter of his vaudeville past and the ragged scores of a symphony left unwritten. She'd gone over there once and, perched between a fiddle that had clearly seen better days and a teetering stack of scripts with notes scribbled in the margins, listened to him reminisce about the vaudeville days while he rummaged for some score that Don wanted for their latest picture. She had wanted to ask why Cosmo maintained this pretense when she'd seen his presence all over Don's house--a spare bedroom with drawers full of Cosmo's clothes, the piano that was kept in perfect tune and covered in musical scores that weren't from any of Don's movies, the wide-open spaces, the clutter that always lurked just below Don's neat-as-a-pin habits, the way Don would sometimes show up at the studio in shirts that were just a little bit too short for him and how Cos would roll up the sleeves of shirts that were too long.

Kathy also never asked about how Don and Cosmo would stand too close together, so comfortable in each other's personal space, how they always danced in sync, even when they were making it up on the fly--Don in his costume of the day, Cos in plain working clothes--how sometimes Don and Cosmo would look at each other and an understanding would pass between them. She never asked what they were doing those times that Cosmo and Don would enter a room, Don still neat but Cos flushed and slightly rumpled, his mobile face void of emotion.

Kathy never asked because she was in love and she also wasn't an idiot. She knew that she only had Don because Cosmo approved of her. She knew that if Cosmo said the word Don would leave her, quietly and politely, but finally and forever. And she didn't want that.

So she never asked, and she never questioned, and she never breathed a word even when she saw them kissing in an empty soundstage, Don leaning on the piano and bending down and Cosmo still playing and tilting his head up and if she hadn't come in through the side door it would have looked like they were just having an intense conversation. She'd just left quietly and come back in through the main stage doors, walking heavily and singing to herself and Don and Cosmo were far apart when she looked at them. Cosmo had a question in his eyes and Kathy cheerfully ignored it and she never asked why Don needed the two of them.

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