As it happens, turning a guy straight for you sounds a lot more magical and aggrandizing than it actually is.
The sex is pretty great. Which isn't that surprising because barely bridled sensuality put to new applications is still barely bridled sensuality. And really, various mechanics require only a slight shift here or there to work themselves out properly. She tells him exactly once, gleefully, while her breathing is still uneven, that he has a talented tongue. He doesn't pause in nestling himself between her thighs, slowly pressing their hips together, but he still manages to roll his eyes and shake his head, slight and sharp, amusement and disapproval warring on his too-expressive face.
Overall, it makes those last strains of the international press tour a lot more fun.
They refrain from giving it a label. Partially, she's sure, due to the unorthodox nature of their beginning. Partially, she suspects, due to the unorthodox nature of everything else.
Back in L.A. with more parties and more celebration, she doesn't leave his house when the last revelers have shuffled off and he doesn't ask her to. They make out, giggly and drunk in his bed, and it is a miracle of quick hands and dumb luck that they get anything done before they're both out cold.
In the morning, she showers and doesn't hesitate before pulling on a pair of his boxers and one of his t-shirts. She plops down at the table and he turns and smiles over at her from where he's working in front of the stove, eyes only a little bleary and hair in utter disarray.
But she doesn't actually realize what they are, what he's proposing, until the buzz of the red carpet goes to her head just a shade too much. Unthinkingly giddy, she leans into him when they're not quite into the building yet; her lips are a hairsbreadth from his before he can pull away, shift and repurpose it into an enormously tight hug.
The cacophony of clicking shutters re-registers, puts her in mind of swarming locusts, and she feels the qualification slot into place.
There's an edge to her happiness that she doesn't want to examine.
Zach isn't actually a huge partier and neither is she. But he does know essentially everyfuckingbody, so he still goes out a lot for a guy who prefers quiet. Same friends, same places. Zoe has her own life to attend to of course--post-production and early press for Avatar among other things--but they make time by mutual silent agreement.
He calls her from set more than he should. She spends pretty much every night at his place. He clears out two drawers in his dresser when he can no longer stand her overnight bag's assault on his clean, empty space. It all slides past without comment.
And in all the quiet, it's a while before she pinpoints why a little knot has taken up residence in her chest. Or why she keeps feeling like there's something important that she should be saying but can't bring herself to voice.
In her mind, this is an After, but he acts mostly the same as Before.
In the early morning hours, they've only just begun to shift around under his brightly colored comforter. Her body is curved in the hollow of his, and she begins to wake to the sensation of his erection pressed against her. Half-asleep, he mutters her name into her hair, then reaches around her body, hand ghosting down past her stomach, grasping. She stiffens and rolls onto her back just as he registers that he's found no purchase. His eyelashes flutter against her cheek as he fights his way further towards wakefulness.
"Sorrysorrysorry," he mumbles, then presses soft lips against her neck. He doesn't hesitate before slipping his hand under the elastic of the boxers instead, fingers long and supple and strong.
She stops wearing his underwear to bed. Appropriating her boyfriend's boxers is something that she did long before him, but she's convinced herself that some value has to change somewhere in this equation.
No matter how many different brands and varieties she samples, little scraps of silk and satin and lace always feel wildly uncomfortable.
She has no idea what she's trying to prove.
He raises an eyebrow at her the first night, not pleased or displeased, just curious, but neither of them actually says anything.
"I'm gonna kick your boyfriend's ass this time," Chris declares as he leans against the kitchen counter, one earbud in, sneakered feet tapping out the beat of an unidentifiable song on the linoleum.
"Uh huh," Zoe mumbles into her coffee because this conversation has taken place too many times during the customary wait for Zach to decide on the right running shoes for her to take the bait. Somehow, and she doesn't know exactly how he does it, it always inevitably turns into Chris making jokes about hers and Zach's relationship being akin to a lesbian slumber party.
Zach kisses her forehead and whispers, "See you tonight," before they head out the front door.
She waits long enough to be sure the circling paparazzi are distracted before she goes out the back.
The most upsetting thing, Zoe finds, is that it's not like one has much rational room to be insecure when a man isn't even into pussy in the first place, but keeps coming back for yours.
Zach is in the shower, so Zoe answers his phone when his ex-boyfriend calls.
He doesn't pause or hesitate, not even for second, when he hears her voice. He immediately assumes that she's Zach's stylist and leaves a message.
Zoe ends the call and for hours afterwards is sure that she has never felt stupider in her entire life.
Zach is genuinely just a private guy. It's never had anything to do with the gay "rumors" or actually-mostly-true speculation. He builds a wall between his public self and his actual self, which Zoe respects. It can be such a hard line to walk, and a difficult border to maintain when you've spent half your life trying to make the world look at you and they've finally agreed.
He doesn't believe in living in a fishbowl, so he rarely mixes the different parts of his life. Zoe was his friend for years before, through innumerable after-parties and after-after-parties, and she's pretty sure that she still doesn't know a single one of his exes' last names.
It's ridiculous to resent being part of the private now. Even if sometimes she finds herself wondering if she qualifies as a Closeted Celebrity's Secret Boyfriend. No one sane actually wants an endless library of pap shots of them caught canoodling or strolling to the store or whatever the fuck. It's obscene to have every little, mundane, wonderful bit of their lives, their selves, on display. Of course, no one sane bottles up their petty anxieties and lets them gnaw at their insides until they start feeling like they need the peering eyes of outsiders to validate their reality.
No one sane.
She starts a giant, screaming fight about nothing at all. Zach is mostly confused until she basically accuses him of cheating on her. It's ridiculous and she knows it, but she needs some excuse to be this distressed. He is very righteously pissed the fuck off, and when she can't repair her brain/mouth connection quickly enough to stop herself from calling them a novelty, he storms out.
She yells an enthusiastic 'fuck' at the walls of the empty house and stands there feeling useless and silly. She curls up in the corner of his couch and lets his TV watch her for hours and hours as she tries not to cry over the mess she made herself, because she apparently decided to take ten years of backed-up neuroses and dump them all over her relationship.
She stares at her camisole and stupid fucking panties before depositing them violently in the trash and rifling through Zach's bureau.
When he finally comes home she pretends to be asleep as he pads around the bedroom, and he doesn't try to wake her.
She's been sipping her coffee silently for eight minutes before he walks over. He leans against the kitchen table right in her line of sight and stares down at her. She tries for proud and angry, like she's completely dedicated to holding her make-believe ground in this make-believe conflict, but in this moment she's just not that good an actor.
He reaches for her and cradles her face in his hands as he presses kisses to her hair and to her forehead. His stubble is scratchy on her cheek, and then he brings his parted lips to her waiting mouth firmly, ardent and devout.
"You're my favorite person," he says, a rough edge to his voice as he leans his forehead against hers.
"It's weird for me," she finally, finally confesses, voice breaking, and breathes out slowly, letting the tension flow from her body.
"No." He grins around mock surprise. She jabs him gently in the stomach. "Kinda weird for me too if you can imagine."
He pulls away, but not before taking one of her hands in his own. He toys idly with her fingers as he stares out at their sparsely decorated surroundings. He is still for a long moment, his hand large, warm, and dry as it envelops hers. She feels calm and a little spent, like she's just finished a months-long crying jag.
When he does move, he tugs her along with him.
"What are you doing?" she asks as she properly arranges her arms in the green hoodie he tosses unceremoniously over her head.
"Adapting," he responds as he finishes fastening Noah's leash to his collar.
He grabs keys, phones, and his wallet from the bowl by the front door and Zoe blinks rapidly at the morning sun as they step outside.
He asks: "You feel like ice cream?"
In the end, they agree on snocones.
To the best of Zoe's knowledge, very few of the sundry rags and blogs that publish the pictures of them propose that they're anything more than friends.
As it turns out, she doesn't really mind.