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"Sorry I'm late," Christophe says. He's been lurking around a corner by Victor's hotel room and he's been there lot longer than he'd expected, waiting for Victor to come back so he can nonchalantly stroll out and chat him up.

"Are you?" Victor smiles, but it's the practised smile from the podium, from the presser and the television coverage. That's not the smile Christophe wants to see.

Christophe feels a flutter in his gut, like pre-competition jitters, and he takes a deep breath so it won't show in his face. He's got this. "Drinks," he says, carefully omitting that they didn't actually make any plans.

"The bar?" Victor shakes his head and his hair shimmers over his shoulders, glossy and perfectly straight, not curling up at the ends like it was at this morning's practice.

Okay, Christophe. He saunters closer, slow and graceful, looking Victor in the eye. "Too many people in the bar." He holds up a bottle of Tanqueray.

Victor looks back at Christophe for one, two breaths, much too long. "All right," he says at last and swipes his key card in the door.

Christophe waits until Victor is through the door before he lets himself relax.

+

Christophe has been thinking about this moment for a long time and planning it for months: exactly how to get Victor Nikiforov into bed. And now with a silver medal finally shining in the safe in his hotel room, it's time to try. Not to try, to succeed.

This has worked before, on other men, fun practice men. A little too well on one at Nationals and Christophe is still fielding text messages that are more intense than he'd like. It's gratifying, of course, but not what he wants to focus on. He wants to focus on Victor.

Victor's room is larger than Christophe's: two beds pushed together, a sitting area, curtains drawn back from a real view, not the dingy side-street. Every flat surface – desk, bureau, bedside table – littered with toiletries and paper and charging cables, flowers and sleep masks and a framed photo of Victor's dog. And the air is filled with tension. Sexual tension, obviously; Christophe isn't nervous.

Christophe lets himself swagger, be confident, be sexy. He locates two clean glasses on the bureau behind a stack of magazines. He heads for the couch but stops when Victor drops his bag and bounces onto the bed.

"Where's my drink, Chris?" Victor says. He leans back on his hands, shaking his hair out behind him.

Christophe can't help taking a long look before he sets the glasses back down. Playing it cool worked so well in his rehearsals but now that he's here, it's hard to keep his pulse from bumping and the anticipation from showing in his face.

He opens the bottle and pours them each a few fingers of gin. Then he sits down beside Victor, swinging up his legs and leaning back against the headboard, slowly, smoothly.

"Santé! Victor says, raising his glass.

Christophe holds Victor's gaze as they clink, then sip. The eye contact feels right. He wants to slow the mood down, build the tension. "Victor," he says, pitching his voice low, leaning a touch closer, like he has a secret to share. He takes another drink and the gin warms his throat and chest.

"Chris!" Victor says, voice bright, face brighter. It makes Christophe's chest squeeze.

"I changed my exhibition skate a bit," Christophe says. "Since November. In Helsinki." He can hear the words coming out too fast and he tries to slow them down. "To make it sexier."

Victor tips up the glass. "Can you believe Costa's Ex costume? All those bright colours! He looks a clown."

"Josef made me take out one of the jumps but it's smoother now." I'm smoother now. Christophe looks at the side of Victor's face as he tips up the glass, at the blue veins showing at his temple and the sharp line of his jaw. He wants to lean in now, press his lips to Victor's cheek, breathe in the smell of him. "They loved it at Nationals."

"Maybe we should switch his music for circus music." Victor leans back too, his shoulders so close to Christophe's but not quite close enough. "Once time, when I was at a juniors training camp..."

Christophe sips his drink and listens to Victor's story. It's a good story, but he's also looking at Victor's long legs stretched out beside his own, at Victor's elegant hand gesturing in the air. At the cloud of hair that Victor pulls over one shoulder, the one next to Christophe, so it's brushing his arm.

He pulls out a story of his own, tells it pretty well, he thinks, and listens to Victor's criticism of yet another skater's costume. It's hard to believe he's really here, in Victor's room, on Victor's bed. Talking with him, laughing at his stories. Getting close, closer to the moment when he's going to reach out, draw the hair back from Victor's cheek with one finger, then lean in and kiss him. Slowly, smoothly.

Maybe that's now. Before he runs out of stories to tell. Before Victor turns and tells him thanks and good-bye. Christophe leans closer so his shoulder presses into Victor's. He laughs, even though he's lost track of what Victor is saying. And when Victor stops to take a drink, Christophe turns his head.

"We have some time before the exhibition," he says in his most suggestive voice. He's still got his drink in his hair-brushing-back hand and he reaches behind him without looking, feeling around for the table beside the bed so he can set it down without breaking contact.

Victor turns too, his face breath-close. "You're right." And he reaches up, while Christophe is still groping with the glass, and touches Christophe's cheek.

A shiver runs through Christophe. He lets go of the glass, only half-caring that he hears it click successfully on the table. And he leans in, slowly, smoothly.

Victor turns away.

Well, fuck. Christophe drops back against the headboard. Victor is fussing with something on his side of the bed and somehow Christophe doesn't think he's looking for a condom. Christophe grabs his glass again and takes a gulp. Too much and he chokes on the gin. Sputters, coughs. Sucks in air. He's still coughing, trying desperately not to, when Victor leans back in.

"Time for a face mask!" Victor holds up a selection of colourful packets, spreading them out in front of his face like a fan. "It's our responsibility to be pretty."

Christophe wheezes but he keeps himself from coughing again. Is he saved or fucked over now?

"Pick one," Victor says. He scrutinizes Christophe's face. "Honey will brighten your skin." He pushes a yellow packet up a little, like a terrible magician trying to force a card.

Christophe takes the honey mask and squeezes the packet between his fingers. At least he's not kicked out of Victor's hotel room. At least Victor is still looking at him. Thinking about him. Even if it's about how his skin needs to be brighter.

Victor plucks out a green packet and drops the rest over into a bag. He tosses a headband to Christophe and pushes another into his own hair, drawing it carefully back from his forehead.

"Thank you," Christophe says, finally. His voice is still rough from the gin and he hopes it's sexy-rough, not awkward-and-nearly-choked rough. He slides the band into his own hair, then looks for how to open the packet.

"I'll put it on for you." Victor takes the mask back from Christophe and peels away a tab. "Hold still."

And Christophe holds still, holds his breath, as Victor pats the cream onto his face. It's cool and wet and smells like honey, as advertised. Christophe leaves his eyes open so he can look at Victor's own honey-bright skin and maybe give him a little eye-fuck, try to get that sexy mood back, even if it's just the undercurrent to this spa date.

Victor taps Christophe's nose. "Now you do me!"

Christophe tries to keep eye contact, but he fumbles with the package and he's starting to look less like a sexy bed friend and more like a sexy idiot who can't even peel away a tab properly. Unless Victor likes sexy idiots. "Your skin already looks perfect," he says and manages to open the container.

"And this is why." Victor brushes back his hair again. "Don't get it on my hairline!"

The gel is bright green, infused with seaweed, apparently. It has an astringent smell, not like the warm honey fragrance of Christophe's mask. Christophe starts to smooth it on, over Victor's forehead, covering up the veins at his temples. He brushes it over Victor's cheeks, like he's stroking Victor's face before leaning in to kiss him.

"Put some extra around my nose," Victor says. "Sometimes I break out there."

Christophe puts extra around Victor's nose. He's all green now, like a cartoon witch, except for the pale rings around his eyes and mouth and the bright pink headband in his hair. Christophe gives up on the eye-fuck. He wipes his hands off on a tissue from the bedside table and pulls his phone out of his pocket.

Victor poses immediately, before Christophe has even lifted up the phone to frame the shot. He tips his head against Christophe's and Christophe can't see his face but he knows that smile, that same practised celebrity face. He almost doesn't want to press the button but he has his own media presence to think of.

After the flash, Victor leans back against the headboard. "Half an hour," he says and closes his eyes.

Christophe turns a little to the side so he can watch Victor's green face relax, his belly rise and fall, his long fingers lace together over his waist.

"Rousseau and Zhao are banging, don't you think?" Victor says. His eyes are still closed but he makes Christophe feel like he's been caught peering around the corner or through a window.

Christophe lies back instead and looks at the wall across, at the faded Van Gogh print and the silent television. "I saw Zhao with Kerry and it looked like something was going on there."

"Also likely," Victor says. "And I've heard a few things about you."

What things? Christophe barely stops from asking. All the practice, all the fun, and he never thought about how it might look to Victor. "There's nothing," he says just as his phone starts vibrating on the bedside table, clinking against his gin glass.

Victor opens his eyes and looks over at Christophe, turning his head and leaving a green smudge on the pillow. "Is that your mother, then?" He smiles and the seaweed gel wrinkles on his cheeks.

Christophe grabs the phone and turns it off, glancing at the sender. Of course. "Some people can't take a hint." And as soon as the words are out of his mouth, he wonders if he is one of them. If he made too many assumptions. He looks over, as nonchalantly as he can manage.

Victor is watching him, a look on his face that could be faint amusement, but Christophe doesn't know him well enough to say for sure. Christophe still doesn't know much about Victor that he couldn't read in a magazine or on a blog. Even who – or if – he's banging. There are always whispers, but if anybody knows for sure, they're not saying.

And now Christophe just feels weird. To have talked his way into Victor's room, using the same lines and tactics as he would on anyone, any random skater. He must seem so ridiculous. He feels ridiculous, embarrassment crawling down his spine and settling in the pit of his stomach.

"I should probably go," he says at the same time as Victor sits up and leans over.

"Do you want to make out for a while?" Victor says.

Christophe stares, he can't help it. It's so far from what he was expecting, like taking a bite of of cake and finding it's filled with pâté. He was going to move closer, coax Victor into one kiss, then another. Not get asked to "make out" like they're fifteen years old and killing time.

"Or we could just nap." Victor stretches his arms above his head. "That's what I usually do."

"No," Christophe says, before the moment flies away. "I want to. Should I get a—" cloth he starts to say, but Victor just slides over and tips his head to one side, bright green seaweed mask and all.

So Christophe tips his head the other way and leans in for Victor's kiss. Just softly to start, like Victor is trying him out, trying him on like a new outfit in a three way mirror.

A few clinging kisses, very nice. They both move the same way to get closer and they bump. When Christophe pulls back to make another approach, he can see a smear of creamy yellow honey mask on Victor's green nose.

He puts a hand on Victor's shoulder and tries again. Victor moves in as well, too fast, and they spend another awkward moment repositioning, like they're meeting in a corridor and keep moving in the same direction until they have to stop and decide how to pass each other.

They finally make it fit and get down to it, kissing deeper and twisting closer to each other. Victor's a good kisser, good depth, excellent tongue contact. His hand on Christophe's neck, stroking up into his hair, is light and teasing.

It's good, it's all good, and Christophe is enjoying himself. But it's not the slow fire he planned to light. They're not going to be late for the gala because they can't keep their hands off each other, because they won't let each other out of the bed.

They're killing time, the masks drying on their faces, and even while Christophe is straddling Victor's lap, sliding his hands over that beautiful sheet of hair, sucking on that beautiful lower lip, there's a pin of disappointment pushing into his heart, a sharp tiny pain, because even won't-stop-texting-guy got Christophe more fired up than this.

He presses against Victor, moves his hands over Victor's back, under his shirt. He runs his tongue along Victor's ear, over every curve. But there's a distance between them Christophe can't seem to close.

When Christophe kisses the corner of Victor's mouth, he catches some of the mask on his tongue. It's bitter and he pulls back with a grimace.

"Oops!" Victor says. He leans back on his hands.

Christophe grabs his glass and takes a sip of gin, but that only makes it worse. He rubs his mouth. "Shouldn't we wash the masks off now?" He turns back to Victor.

The green gel on Victor's face is smeared right up one side, along Victor's hairline and over his headband, streaked down his hair. Generously.

"Oops," Christophe says.

+

"The hotel salon is closed." Victor puts down his phone. "And there isn't time to go anywhere else."

Christophe has already apologized three times and he can feel the fourth "I'm sorry" trying to bubble its way out of his stupid mouth but he can tell he's getting annoying. Maybe he should just go, call out the last apology just before the door swings closed.

Victor looks into the bathroom mirror, dabbing the gel out of his hair. There are still traces of green on his face: around his nose, a line on his forehead where it was caught by a frown. His hair is stringy and green all along one side. "I'll have to wash it myself."

"I'll do it," Christophe says. He's not sure what goes into maintaining so much hair; he's picky about his own but that just means regular cut and colour and an extra five minutes with the styling paste, tousling just so. "I'll wash it for you."

"The sink isn't big enough," Victor says.

And maybe there's a way to salvage this whole situation after all, a sexy do-over. Christophe leans against the bathroom doorway and pulls out his sultry voice again. "We can use the shower."

"We?" Victor says.

"It's my mistake, let me fix it." Christophe looks intently at Victor. Come on eye-fuck, do your magic.

Victor doesn't answer, just goes back into the room to look through one case, then another. He comes back with four bottles, two more than Christophe was expecting. Clearly, this is next-level hair care. But at least Victor doesn't tell Christophe to leave and shut the door behind him.

And when Christophe starts taking his clothes off, Victor doesn't stop him.

Whatever Christophe is hoping, though, getting undressed isn't a sexy business. It's more like those times in the changing room when everyone is struggling into their costumes and swearing because their sleeve tore or they have to peel the whole thing off again to use the toilet.

But Victor is nice to look at. Of course Christophe already knew that, but up close Victor is tantalizing. Christophe still wants to run his hands over all that bare skin, squeeze those lovely buttocks.

Christophe stretches, showing off his own body. But Victor is still looking in the mirror, his hair falling down his bare back. Christophe turns on the water in the shower. "Come on," he says, before Victor can decide this is a stupid idea, and takes his hand to pull him into the shower.

This isn't the first time Christophe has stood under the water with another man but it's the first time he's had to do more than some cursory soap work and then on to deep kissing, hard groping, maybe a hummer if there's room.

There's definitely no room for a hummer. He's stuck under the spray, face to face with Victor who is still mostly dry. And maybe still pissed off. Christophe is having a hard time telling.

"Maybe I'll just skate in a hat," Victor says.

"No, just..." Christophe takes Victor's shoulders and they jockey around until Victor is under the water, ducking down enough so it soaks the top of his head, wet and sleek, the last traces of the mask on his face washing away.

"Don't use too much shampoo," Victor says. "It's drying." He turns around and tips his head back, hands up on the tile.

Christophe pours shampoo into his hand. He has no idea how much he needs for this volume of hair. But the green stain is all on one side, so he starts there, smoothing in the shampoo and sudsing it up. Not quite how he expected the first time touching Victor's hair to go. He adds shampoo to the crown and starts to work it in. He's damn well going to make this a sensual experience, get the mood back, maybe a few deep kisses and some hard groping before they're done.

He bangs his elbow on the tile. Painful tingles shoot down his arm, not the sexy tingles he was hoping this shower would bring. "Just...can you..." He tries to shift into a better position but it's like a puzzle where there's hardly any room to move the pieces around and he can't find the configuration to solve it.

"There's shampoo on my face," Victor says. He leans into the water, trapping Christophe's already tingly arm against the tile.

Christophe gets his hands free and back onto Victor's head. He tries to get the sexy scalp massage going, digging in with his thumbs.

"It takes a long time to rinse out." Victor tips his head forward under the water again, away from Christophe's hands. "Where's the conditioner?"

Christophe reaches past Victor and finds the bottle. He has to squint to be sure it's not the serum or whatever step three is supposed to be.

"Okay." Victor moves again, backing Christophe against the door. "Squeeze the water out of my hair. Don't twist it!"

Christophe squeezes. Victor's hair is surprisingly heavy and he wonders what it feels like to carry that around all the time; even dry it must pull at Victor's head. He's never thought about how that might affect Victor's skating. Does it change his balance when he rotates through a jump? "Just rub the conditioner in?"

"Just on the ends. And don't rub, you might damage the shaft." Victor looks back over his shoulder. "I already had a deep condition today so this is fine."

Christophe isn't sure just how far up the "ends" go but he slathers conditioner about a third of the way up. "While it's working," he says and leans over Victor's shoulder, catching Victor's wet cheek with his mouth and tongue.

Victor turns a bit so they're half-kissing, they can't quite make their mouths reach all the way. Victor twists further and bumps against Christophe's arm. Christophe drops the conditioner bottle.

"Shit!" Victor turns away. "That hit my foot!"

"Sorry!" Christophe says. "Sorry." He reaches out his leg and manages to scramble the conditioner bottle back over. But in the process, the cap comes loose and the conditioner squirts out over the shower floor.

"My limited edition Shu Uemura Silky Rich Shimmering conditioner!" Victor scoops up the bottle and Christophe catches an elbow to the gut.

He figures he probably deserves it at this point. But. "How can a conditioner be limited edition? Does it have diamond dust in it?"

"It smells like blueberries," Victor says. He twists the cap on the bottle.

"If you want your hair to smell like blueberries," Christophe says, and maybe there is a faint blueberry smell in the air but not much. "I will buy some blueberries and I will rub them in your hair." Because maybe this is all his fault, but seriously, limited edition shimmering conditioner?

Victor stares at Christophe, eyes narrowing, and this is the moment where Christophe feels like he should maybe just back out of the shower, head out into the hallway, wet and dripping, and start searching eBay for limited edition blueberry diamond dust conditioner.

"You would do that, wouldn't you?" Victor says.

"I would. But strawberries would smell better," Christophe says and feels for the shower door handle.

Then Victor grins. His eyes crinkle up and he grabs Christophe's arms and lets out a snorting gurgling laugh that Christophe has definitely never heard him use in public. And there's the smile. The smile Christophe wanted to see this whole time. The real one.

Christophe laughs too, because what the hell else can he do. Seducing Victor with cheap gin. Making out in facial masks. Cramming into this tiny shower together. Pouring sparkling blueberry conditioner down the drain. Everything down the drain. His whole plan, the whole afternoon. Down the fucking drain.

"Your sexy green face," he says, clutching Victor's arms. "Should have had a blueberry mask."

"Ooh, let me wash your hair like I know what I'm doing!" Victor says, his shoulders heaving as he laughs. "You probably use the hotel shampoo!"

"You probably have to sell your medals to pay for conditioner!" Christophe says. He presses his forehead against Victor's, and laughs, they both laugh, grabbing at each other's wet limbs and leaning on each other.

And then it happens. The air changes around them and Christophe takes Victor's wet face in his hands and kisses him. Victor pushes him back against the tile, pressing close, and kissing with that for-real feeling, like they're going be here together all day, all night, touching each other over and over.

"Fuck, my hair!" Victor says, after a minute.

"Fuck your hair." Christophe kisses Victor's throat, slides his hands down to grab Victor's ass. "I don't care about your hair."

"I'm not skating in a hat!"

"Okay, okay." Christophe lets go, raises his hands above his head and bumps his elbow, the other one this time, against the shower head.

But Victor doesn't let go. He just kisses Christophe's throat, sucking with a scrape of his teeth.

"Hey," Christophe says. "I'm not skating with a suck mark on my neck."

"I've seen you skate with one before," Victor says. But he stops and moves as far back as there's room, which is a few centimetres. "I wondered who was giving you those."

Christophe's breath catches. Because he had no idea Victor was watching him closely enough to notice a few tiny bruises. And because he can barely keep from pushing close again, from crashing out the shower door with Victor in his arms and throwing him down onto the bed soaking wet.

"Come on," Christophe says. He kisses Victor along his jaw, down his throat. "Come on." He reaches past Victor and turns off the water, bumps the door open with his hip. He stumbles out onto the bath mat, pulling Victor after him.

"Give me a towel," Victor says. He leans back and squeezes water from his hair, most of it dripping onto the floor.

"Fuck the towel." Christophe grabs Victor around his chest and bends down to take his knees and hoist him up. Fuck everything but this.

"What are you doing?" Victor moves back before Christophe can get a grip on him.

Christophe stops, face stinging. "I was going to throw you onto the bed," he says.

"If you drop me, I'm going to think this was all a plot to sabotage me before Worlds," Victor says. "Let's walk to the bed and then you can throw me."

Christophe walks to the bed, faster than Victor, who takes his time sauntering over and Christophe wishes he could just remember not to look so eager. But he is eager and, naked, there's not much he can do to hide that.

"Okay," Victor says and holds his arms out to his sides, chin in the air and wet hair straggling down his back. "Throw me!"

Christophe can't help laughing again but he scoops Victor into his arms and throws him onto the bed. Even wet and grinning, bouncing on the bed, Victor is beautiful. Christophe takes a moment, a very brief moment, to admire the whole graceful length of him before he crawls on after, on his hands and knees, straddling Victor's body.

"We'll have to be fast," Victor says. He reaches up, circling Christophe with his arms and legs. "I'm not skating in a hat."

"I can be fast," Christophe says. He lets Victor pull him down and buries his face in Victor's neck, Victor's sodden hair against the side of his face.

"That's not exactly encouraging," Victor says, but he arches up against Christophe, pressing his hips tight so both their cocks are trapped between them.

Christophe rolls over onto his side so he can get hand down between them, but Victor rolls too, half on top of Christophe and pressing his cock into Christophe's thigh.

"I just want to–" Victor says and moves against Christophe, rubbing his cock up against Christophe's hipbone.

"Let me too." Christophe slides his hips, trying to get inside that squeeze, but Victor reaches down and wraps his hand around Christophe's cock.

"Gold medallists come first," Victor says and before Christophe can retort, he kisses Christophe. A drop of water falls from Victor's hair onto Christophe's cheek.

Christophe gives up and kisses back, lets Victor rock against him while he touches Victor everywhere he can, the damp skin of his back and buttocks and thighs. It's not enough for Christophe, not enough time, not enough contact.

Victor holds Christophe's cock, not jacking him, almost too tightly, and when Christophe tries to thrust, because he just can't help it, Victor squeezes harder.

So Christophe just rocks along with Victor, takes what he's given, even though he wants more, so very much more.

He can feel the change in Victor just before it happens, his body tensing and his hips jamming hard, then Victor groans into Christophe's mouth and comes against him, fingers squeezing Christophe's cock a bit too tightly.

Then Victor collapses, fingers slipping away, and wet head falling next to Christophe's. Victor takes a long breath. "Your skin does look brighter," he says.

"Can I come now?" Christophe says. "Or do you need a ceremony and a bouquet first?" He wipes them both off with the sheet, then gives Victor a shake. There's not much time and he doesn't want to wait. "Do I need to take care of it myself?" And he would, he'd put on a show for Victor if he wanted one. Jack it slowly for him, while Victor watched, entranced and aroused. Except that Victor would probably give him notes instead.

Victor stretches against Christophe, like he's waking up and Christophe wants that now too, so much, a night and a morning in Victor's bed. "I'll suck you off," Victor says, "if you want."

"I want," Christophe says and runs his thumb over Victor's mouth before Victor slides down the bed.

But Victor doesn't slide down. He gets off the bed entirely and goes to open yet another case. "Edge of the bed," he says and catches his hair back in a loose tie. "And don't you dare come without warning me." He pulls out a white silk scarf and covers his hair, throwing the ends back around his neck so he only needs sunglasses to look like a fifties Hollywood starlet in a convertible.

"Are you serious with that?" Christophe says. He scoots to the edge of the bed and sits up, thighs splayed and cock far past ready.

"I'm not taking any chances with you." Victor pulls Christophe's trousers off the desk chair and wads them on up the floor. "Hair-wrecker." And he kneels down in front of Christophe.

Victor looks ridiculous, but his hands sliding up the inside of Christophe's thighs, his tongue flickering on the tip of Christophe's cock, that doesn't feel ridiculous. It's the spark, the building fire. The shock of blood pulling into Christophe's cock. The tension rising in the air.

Christophe doesn't want to be sucked off by a Hollywood starlet and, right now, not even by James Dean. It's Victor he wants, just Victor, so Christophe closes his eyes and thinks about Victor on the ice, every move of the exhibition program he'll skate tonight.

He thinks about Victor in the shower, laughing, kissing, flaring together with Christophe like they were always meant to. About Victor moving against him, coming against him. Then he puts his hand on top of Victor's on his thigh and links their fingers together. Opens his eyes and smiles at Victor's silk-swathed head moving as he gives Christophe one of the best blowjobs he's ever had. Eye-fucks Victor when he looks up.

Embarrassingly soon, Christophe feels the catch, just in time to gasp out, "Careful, I'm going to–" And then he comes over his own bare belly, biting his lip and gasping with each wave of it, while Victor watches, looking pleased and pretty, pulling the scarf free.

Christophe flops back onto the bed, tension gone, no more tension ever, his arm over his eyes and scrubbing again with the sheet. "You do deserve a medal for that."

"I blew you," Victor says, "now you blow me."

"Already?" Christophe's blowjobs are also medal-worthy and he doesn't feel like Victor's given him enough opportunity to show off yet. "Get over here," he says and sits up.

Victor is holding a blow dryer.

"It's going to take a long time to do my hair and I'm not doing all the work myself," Victor says. He sits down in the desk chair and shakes his wet hair out behind him. "We'll have to skip step three. Two pumps of serum, work it through from the ends, then finger dry on setting two until it's just damp."

It takes a long time to do Victor's hair. Christophe works through the serum, wields the dryer, plies the paddle brush. Listens to Victor's constant admonitions to "point the dryer straight down" and "be gentle" and "think about going a shade darker, that blond is too light for your complexion". Wonders if the brush is too expensive to use for spanking and if he'll get the chance to find out.

And as the soft hair slips through Christophe's fingers and falls down Victor's back, Christophe is glad he got the chance to do this for Victor, even if they could have been playing on the bed some more instead. Even if this is more tiring for his arms than giving two handies in a row. He leans down and kisses the top of Victor's head, then is immediately glad there's no mirror here for Victor to watch that in. "Done!" he says.

Victor goes into the bathroom to check the mirror. "It's okay," he calls. "But–" He comes back out and Christophe sees it: the faint green streak where the gel was thickest.

"Sorry," Christophe says, apology number four.

"If anyone asks," Victor says, "I'll tell them you threw ink at me because you're jealous."

Christophe crosses over and strokes the green strands with his hair-pushing-back finger. "I am," he says and leans in for a kiss, fuck being on time for the gala. They might not wait for him but they'll wait for Victor.

Victor kisses him for a few moments, then pushes him away. "Chris," he says. He looks across the room and Christophe follows his glance to the clock. Time is nearly up.

Christophe regretfully pulls his clothes back on. His own hair has dried funny and he's going to need yet another shower back in his room.

Victor hands him the bottle of gin. "Something better next time, okay?"

Next time makes Christophe glow. He hooks his arm around Victor's neck and kisses him one last time, then one more last time.

Then he lets Victor push him out and shut the door behind him. He only barely keeps from texting everyone he knows.

+

Victor smiles at Christophe from across the dressing room, but he doesn't come over. The green streak in his hair exactly matches the shimmery green of his costume. Of course.

Bastard, Christophe thinks and gives Victor the eye-fuck before heading to the mirror to do his make-up.

When he comes back after the gala, sweaty and exhilarated from the cheers of the crowd, the white scarf is tucked through the handle of his bag and Victor is leaning against the wall, giving him the eye-fuck.

"There's a suck mark on your neck," Victor says.

Christophe takes the scarf and loops it around his throat. He can barely keep from stepping up and touching Victor, barely stop from kissing him right here. "Should I go buy some blueberries?"

"Make it strawberries," Victor says. "Your room, my bed is probably still wet." And he gives Christophe the smile, the real smile, before he turns and walks away, shimmery green buttocks and a glance back over his shoulder.

Strawberries and champagne, Christophe decides, and wonders how much of it will end up in his hair.