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“Shit.  Oh, shit.  Ohhhhhh, shit.”

Zach looked up from his book.  “Stop that.”

“How are you not nervous?”

“Um, because I’ve done interviews before?”

Chris took a break from rocking back and forth on the couch to say “So have I!  But not, like, internationally televised interviews!  People are actually going to see these – people who are not 13-year-old Disney channel addicts.”  He resumed his upright fetal position and continued rocking.  The green room couch was suspiciously lumpy, but the rocking motion was soothing.  Well, as close to soothing as one could get before the aforementioned internationally televised interview.

“Chris, you’ve got to calm down,” Zach sighed, coming over to sit next to him.  “If you barf on camera, it’ll be on the internet within minutes.”

“Thank you so much for the inspiring words, Zachary,” Chris moaned into his hands, rocking faster.

“Okay, my fault, wrong thing to say.”  Zach rested a gentle but firm hand on Chris’ shoulder, using his surprising strength to still him.  “You’ve got to take a few deep breaths—”

“Fuck deep breathing!  Fuck it right to hell!” Chris shouted, probably loudly enough to be heard in the studio.

“Well, that’s one option.”  Zach marked his page and tucked the book away.  “At least uncurl for a second.” 

Chris did, slowly, setting his feet on the floor and trying to get his bearings.  “Now what?”

“Okay, I’ve got an idea, but you’ve got to promise not to freak out on me.”

Chris winced.  “Should you really be adding to the list of things that might make me freak out right now?”

“It’s not that bad, it’s just…” Zach seemed to be searching for the right words.  “First play I did in college, this Tennessee Williams thing called Vieux Carré, I had to go onstage in nothing but my underwear in one scene.  It’s opening night, I’m so nervous I’m about to faint, and one of the costume guys offers to give me a hand job.”

Chris blinked.  He waited for the punch line, but Zach had apparently finished speaking for the moment.  He blinked again.  “I’m sorry, did you just propose to jerk me off?”

“It worked, I’m telling you.  All the tension drained right out of me.”

“I’m sure it did, right along with your—”

“It was just a suggestion,” Zach said, holding his hands up defensively.  “I’m not into unsolicited groping, but I’ll do it if you want.  It doesn’t have to be a thing.  Just think of it like a kind of massage.”

“Yeah, a dick massage,” Chris groaned, burying his face in his hands.  Zach was silent, and Chris took a moment to weigh his options.  He was legitimately very close to puking, and he hated puking.  Well, no one liked puking, but Chris really, really hated it.  And this was just Zach, right?  No squishy emotional issues involved.  On a purely physical level it boiled down to digestive pyrotechnics versus a free hand job.  No contest, really.  Chris sat back up, looking Zach in the eye.  “Alright.”

“You want me to—”

“I don’t want you to talk about it.  Just do it.”

Zach rolled his eyes, but scooted over on the couch until they were side-by-side.  “Close your eyes,” he said as he unbuckled Chris’ belt.  “Pretend, I’m… I dunno, Angelina Jolie?  That plastic-looking girl from Transformers?”

Chris snorted, but he leaned his head back against the wall and closed his eyes.  And then popped them open again.  “Wait – does this door lock?”  He scampered over to check, and breathed a sigh of relief as he locked the door from the inside.  “Okay, we’re good.  And your grasp of straight male culture could use a little work.”

Laughing loudly as Chris settled back onto the couch, Zach quickly got to work on the younger man’s fly.  “I would say my grasp of the straight male is about to improve exponentially.”

Chris groaned and let his head knock back against the wall, shutting his eyes again.  “You need to stop talking or this is never gonna work.”

“Fair enough,” Zach chuckled, but went silent as he carefully withdrew Chris’ half-hard cock from his briefs.  Only the sound of their breathing filled the room, and Chris wondered for a moment whether he was too nervous to get completely hard.  His fears were banished with a few smooth strokes of Zach’s hand – motherfucker did not mess around.  He went for the good stuff right away, flicking his thumb against the sensitive spot under the head and twisting his wrist just so.  It wasn’t long before Chris had to consciously work to keep his hips from thrusting up off the couch.

Zach’s words were so quiet and calm that their suddenness didn’t startle Chris.  “Imagine all that nervousness, all that tension coiling tighter and tighter at the base of your spine.  Can you feel it?”

Chris could, and while it was a little weird to be hearing a guy’s voice while a (big, strong) hand worked his cock, it was not interfering with his enjoyment in the least.  He clamped down on a moan and nodded.

“Good.  It’s gonna keep getting smaller and smaller, tighter and tighter until it breaks into a thousand pieces.  And you’re going to let it.”

Chris nodded a little spastically, unable to stop the hitch in his breathing as Zach’s hand sped up, increased the pressure to just shy of perfect, and Chris felt that knot of tension compress into a singularity.  He felt Zach bring his other hand over to fondle his balls, rolling them firmly between his fingers.

“You’re almost there, aren’t you?” Zach murmured.  “Don’t fight it.  Let it break.”  With that, Zach pressed two fingers behind Chris’ sac, but the knot didn’t break – it fucking exploded and Chris went with it, coming breathlessly as Zach’s hands milked him dry.

When Chris could think again, his first thought was for his expensive, dry-clean-only shirt.  He was going to have to find a jacket somewhere or this long day of interviews was going to be really fucking awkward.  But when he glanced down, he saw he was clean – and Zach was already at the sink, washing his hands.  “’d you notice the sink… before you did… the thingy?” Chris managed.

“You’re welcome,” Zach said, drying his hands on a paper towel, not looking like a man who had just brought his platonic friend and co-worker to a rather impressive orgasm mere moments ago.  “And yes, I did.  We could hardly have you coming all over your clothes, now could we?”

He said it with the same casual inflection as some sane person might say “We can’t have you spilling spinach dip on the tablecloth, now can we?” but Chris couldn’t find it in him to call Zach on it.  As it was, Chris was considering defending his sexual prowess – he never came that quickly under normal circumstances, usually had the endurance of a stallion – but then he realized he didn’t have to.  This was just Zach, just an exercise in relaxation between friends.  It wasn’t a big thing.

“We need to unlock this door before the stage manager has a heart attack,” Zach said.  “You might want to, er, put yourself away there.”  Chris quickly tucked himself back into his pants and zipped up.  “Feeling better?”

He stopped to think about it.  Most noticeably, the urge to puke was gone, but his shoulders also felt looser, nicely relaxed, and he grinned.  “Much.  Thanks, man.”

“Don’t mention it,” Zach replied, just as a harried-looking woman wearing a headset and carrying a clipboard burst into the room.

“Mr. Pine and Mr. Quinto, we’re ready for you now.”

Zach offered a hand to help the younger man off the couch, and Chris took it.  He thought he did a pretty good job of hiding the slight tremor in his legs.

It wasn’t until later that night, when Chris was perusing the adult viewing materials offered on the hotel TV, that he wondered why he hadn’t even considered the possibility of jerking himself off.

&&&

The second time, Chris didn’t need any convincing.

“Fuck,” he muttered, trying to ignore the rising nausea.  “I thought this would get easier.”

“It will,” Zach said.  “Give it a little while.  You want me to…?”

Chris bit his lip.  He really, really wanted Zach to.  “Do you mind?”

“Well, it’s quite a hardship,” Zach sighed exaggeratedly.  “But you did get me that cinnamon raisin bagel this morning.”

“Did I mention it was the last one?” Chris said eagerly, playing along.  “Had to beat up two old ladies and a priest to get it.”

“I suppose that merits a reward,” Zach chuckled.  “Sit down.”

It was the same as before, with Chris closing his eyes and Zach talking him through it, although Zach had obviously been paying attention the last time, because he zeroed in on the perfect rhythm within seconds.  If anything, Chris came even faster this time, and he couldn’t stop the words “mmm, so good” from falling from his lips as he sagged back against the couch.  But, hey, Zach deserved some positive feedback.

When he looked over at Zach, though, he noticed the bulge in his trousers.  Made sense – Chris himself couldn’t overhear the couple next door in his old apartment without getting a little hard.  Gesturing awkwardly, he offered, “Hey, do you want me to, um…?”

“Nah, I’m good,” Zach replied, and Chris was quietly relieved.  He would’ve given it a shot if Zach had asked, but he wasn’t sure he’d be good enough to get Zach off before they were needed on set.  It probably wasn’t that different from wanking, but Chris had no desire to try and find out while somebody’s assistant’s assistant banged on the door and yelled, “CAN I GET EITHER OF YOU SOME MORE COFFEE?!”

Chris didn’t need their little ritual before interviews, but he sure as hell liked it.  After the fourth or fifth time, it became a sort of Pavlovian thing, to the point where he’d start to get hard as soon as Zach reached for his belt.  It wasn’t always easy to find the time and space to be alone; matter of fact, that first interview seemed to be a fluke, as most of the other green rooms had been host to a never-ending stream of overzealous production assistants and other interviewees.

Once they had to make do with – honest to god – a broom closet.

“Uh-oh,” Chris said, glancing around.  “There’s nothing to clean up with in here.”

Zach just grinned.  “Oh, I think we can make do.”  And sank to his knees.

Okay.  That could work, too.

And if Zach was good with his hands, he was a fucking genius with his mouth.  The closet was dark and Chris spent most of the time with his eyes shut anyway, but he was pretty sure Zach was watching his face the whole time, as if he couldn’t tell from the jerk of Chris’ hips or the choked sounds behind Chris’ closed mouth exactly what drove him insane.  It almost made Chris wonder what Zach would be like if it weren’t always a race to the finish line, if he had more time to work with.  Would he keep his hands on Chris’ hips, or let them wander down his thighs?  Would he use his tongue to tease the head of Chris’ cock until Chris begged for the heat of his mouth?  But then Chris was coming hard and fast and Zach was, god, he was swallowing and making it look elegant, almost satisfying in itself, and it took all of Chris’ concentration to remain standing on shaky legs as Zach stood, stretching himself and brushing off the knees of his trousers.

“Th-thanks,” Chris managed, carefully rearranging himself to look presentable again.

Zach just rolled his eyes.  “Quit thanking me.  It’s no big thing.”

It was about that time that the door – which didn’t lock from the inside – swung open and they came face-to-face with a very surprised janitor who didn’t make a sound, but did jump about a foot in the air when he saw them.  Zach swung easily into damage control mode, apologizing to the poor man in broken German.  Chris just stood there, smiling awkwardly until the others reached a language impasse and the janitor dismissed them with an annoyed wave and stepped into the closet for whatever he’d been looking for.

As they walked quickly away, Chris asked, “What did you tell him we were doing in there?”

“I know how to say three exactly things in German,” Zach said, “’thank you,’ ‘I’m sorry,’ and ‘help, the hairs in my nose have ignited.’”

“So you implied, what, that we were looking for a method to extinguish a nasal fire?”

“Chris, I have no idea what the fuck I just said,” Zach muttered.  “Just keep walking and pray we never run into him again.”

After that, Chris proposed relocating their ritual to the hotel room before they drove to whatever studio or theatre they were going to.  It was a bit of a risky move, as Chris was concerned that the anxiety might return before the interviews started, but they tried it and it worked.  Once or twice Zach excused himself to the bathroom right after for obvious reasons, and Chris, usually flat on his back on the hotel bed waiting for his heartbeat to slow, didn’t blame him.  Chris hadn’t repeated his offer to return the favor since that second time, but he was considering asking again.  After all, with their current plan, they had enough time for Zach to work him over a little better, to bring Chris to the edge and back a few times before letting him fall.  The difference in effect was remarkable – Chris felt loose and relaxed for hours after coming that hard, and despite Zach’s protests, Chris felt like he owed him a little.

So it did become a thing, but not like a thing thing.  Just a thing that they did before interviews and premieres.  Didn’t mean anything about Chris’ sexual preferences – or Zach’s for that matter.   Just a little stress relief when the pressure got to be too much.

&&&

“Fucking French people,” Zach groaned, yanking the tie from his collar.  “Wait, is that racist?”

“So it wasn’t just me then?”

“No, John said something, too.  They definitely weren’t impressed.”

Chris fell face first onto the bed without the intention of moving again for the rest of the night, not particularly caring that it was Zach’s bed in Zach’s room.  “Merde,” he groaned, showing off the extent of his French vocabulary as he burrowed into the bedding.

“There weren’t actually any boos, right?” Zach asked, pacing the length of the room.

“I don’t know.  How do French people boo?  By staying utterly silent the entire length of the movie?”

Zach dropped down to sit at the edge of the bed.  “Okay, let’s think this through logically.”

“Fuck your Vulcan logic,” Chris growled, but the effect was somewhat muted by the fact that his head was now hidden under two pillows.

“No, seriously, so the French don’t like it.  So what?  Fuck ‘em.  Fuck the French.”

Chris raised his head from beneath the pillows.  “All of them?”

“Yes!” cried Zach triumphantly.  “Fuck every last pretentious, wine-swilling, baguette-toting one of them!”  And then he collapsed backward on to the bed.  “Okay, that was racist.”

“Just xenophobic, I think,” said Chris, wrinkling his tux all to hell as he rolled over to face Zach.  “What if the movie tanks?”

“Then I resign myself to another five years of guest spots on network TV shows followed by total obscurity, and you…” Zach paused for less than a second, but Chris knew how to finish the sentence.

“And I get my Ph.D. and teach English comp to preppy business majors at a small New England college until I’m old and decrepit,” Chris sighed, propping his head in his hand.  “I told myself not to do this, y’know?  Not to let myself want the fame and the money and the fans.  But it’s so close now and I want it, and I hate that I want it.  I hate that I’ll be crushed if it never happens.  How do you stay above all that?”

Zach gave a self-deprecating sort of laugh, a sound that came out sadder than it was meant to be.  “Are you asking me personally?  Because I’m not above it.  I’d love to roll back into Pittsburgh as a movie star and wave my dick at every single son of a bitch that ever called me a fag in high school.”  Chris must have looked shocked, because Zach continued.  “The dick is metaphorical.  Mostly.”

When Chris was finally able to shut his mouth, he started to chuckle.  Then laugh.  Then laugh hysterically until he was turning blue and Zach was staring at him as if he had grown an extra head.  “Oh, oh god.  Oh sweet baby Jesus.  Wave your dick at every son of a bitch…”

“Are you okay?  Should I, uh, call someone?”

“No!  No, I just…” Chris wiped at his watering eyes.  “I guess I’d just kind of put you on a pedestal, you know?  You always seem so… together and collected, but really, you’re just— I’m not trying to insult you at all, I’m just saying…  It’s surprisingly comforting to hear you be a little bit petty and vindictive.”

Much to Chris’ surprise, Zach didn’t seem at all put off by his little speech.  Rather, he smiled his biggest, shark-like grin and said, “I’ll show you vindictive.”  With that, he dove for Chris, grabbing the younger man’s arms and trying to flip him over. 

They wrestled for a few moments, but the element of surprise had given Zach the clear advantage.  Chris tried to squirm out of the hold, but Zach quickly had him on his stomach with his arms pinned behind him.  Finally Chris yelled “Stop!  STOP!” loudly enough to get Zach’s attention, and the older man froze, his hands loosening on Chris’ arms.  “Zach,” Chris said with as serious a tone as he could muster, “Stop.  This is childish.”  He waited until Zach had taken the majority of his weight off of him to roll over and hook a leg behind Zach’s knee, tumbling him to the bed.

It was absolutely juvenile, what with Chris mashing Zach’s face into the pillow while Zach tried to get his knee to connect with Chris’ groin, but it was also fun.  In fact, it felt a little bit like filming, since Chris had so much fight choreography to learn, back when Chris was doing the part of the job he loved: the acting.  All this other shit – the press tours, the premieres – was just an annoying obstacle field to get through, and here was Zach again, providing another avenue of stress relief.  Chris thanked him for it by pinning his shoulders to the bed and messing up his immaculately coiffed hair with a good, hard noogie.

Zach managed to grab hold of one of Chris’ hands and yank it upward, throwing him off balance enough that he fell forward on to Zach.  For a moment, their bodies lay flush from shoulders to knees.  On reflex, Zach bucked his hips up into Chris’, and oh, Zach was hard.

“Shit, Chris, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to—”

“No,” gasped Chris.  He ground his hips back down, rubbing their hips together through layers of fabric.  The friction made his own cock leap to attention.  “It’s good.  Too stressed.  Need this.”

Zach only took a second to read Chris’ face before he was moving again.  “Then let me.”  He gracefully flipped them both over so that he was pressing Chris into the mattress, then dropped his head to the younger man’s shoulder and rutted wildly against him.  Chris just tried to keep up.  It was too hot, both of them still fully clothed, and the bed was starting to creak ominously and the TV remote dug into Chris’ back, but the delicious friction of Zach’s hardness against his was too good to even think about slowing down, let alone stopping.  All the stress of traveling, the fiasco of tonight’s premiere, all of it boiled down to the weight of Zach’s body, the sound of their panting breath, his hands clutching at Zach’s ass, pulling him closer, trying to drown in the sensation of heat and pressure surrounding him. 

Zach came first, his hips stilling momentarily as he shouted his release into Chris still-clothed shoulder, and Chris had the momentary regret that he didn’t get to see Zach’s face.  After all, Zach had seen him so many times, it was only fair.  But then Zach was moving again, his words in Chris’ ear so different from his usual soothing cadence.  “C’mon Chris, give it up.  You’re close – fuck, I know you’re close, c’mon, do it.”

With a final thrust, Chris was coming, white-hot bliss rushing through his body like cleansing fire, taking all his tension with it.  As always, he lay boneless after his little ritual with Zach, but this time, Zach was right there with him.  On top of him, even.

All too soon, Zach groaned and rolled to the side.  “I hope you own that tux.”

Chris started giggling helplessly again.  “Oh my god, Zach, don’t you get it?  This is such a movie star thing to do – totally ruin our suits.”

“The wardrobe people are going to kill us, not to mention ask some seriously awkward questions,” Zach moaned, throwing an arm over his eyes.

“Not if we have the hotel do our dry cleaning.  They have to – we’re movie stars!”

“And we’ll tip them with hundred-Euro bills to assuage our guilt!”

“And because we can,” Chris added sagely.

Zach smiled.  “And because we can.”

&&&

“So what’s the deal, Chris?” Zach asked, kicking off his shoes and draping his blazer over the back of the chair.  “Why am I up in your hotel room when I could still be at the bar with the rest of our illustrious colleagues, pursuing some uptight Brit just begging for a good, rough fuck?”

“Ugh, no.  I’m a straight man and even I could see that your prospects were… dire.”

“Okay, fair enough.  So what’s the big surprise?”

Chris took a deep breath, rolling up his sleeves to give his hands something to do.  It had been a good day, their interviews becoming almost fun, and Chris thought now was as good a time as any.  “Um, alright.  You know our… thing?”

Zach paled a little, obviously understanding what Chris was talking about.  “Look, we don’t have to—”

“No, I like it.  It’s good,” Chris added hastily.  “I think it’s the only thing keeping me sane in this freak show.  I’m just saying – and hear me out now – it’s not fair that I’m getting without giving anything back.”

With an eye roll, Zach said, “Chris, we’ve been over this.  It’s just something I do for you, no reciprocation required.  I mean, you’re the one who’s always figuring out how to get my razor to work with all these freaky electric sockets.”

“Not the same thing and you know it.”

“Well, dude, I hate to bring up known facts at a time like this, but you’re straight.”

“First of all, never ever say ‘dude’ again, and second, this isn’t about me being straight.  This is about me getting off on a regular basis without returning the favor.”

“Well, you could always, I don’t know, let me go back to the bar and find someone to fuck,” Zach groaned.

For some reason that thought turned Chris’ stomach.  “Seriously?  You’d choose some dental-hygiene-impaired Eurotrash stranger over your handsome, charming friend here?”

Zach sighed heavily.  “Well, you have a point with the here part.  Are you going to let this go?”

“Nope.”

“Well, let’s get on with it, then.”

“Oh, that’s inspiring.”

“What do you want from me?”

“Well, lose the pants to start.”

“You want in them so bad, you take them off,” Zach snorted.

Oh my god,” groaned Chris, grabbing Zach by the belt and yanking him forward, setting about unfastening his pants with a vengeance.  “I have never had to argue someone into getting an orgasm.  Just let me jerk you off, you stubborn bastard.”

“I’m just not sure why you want this so badly,” Zach sighed, the bulge in his jeans suspiciously large for someone so dead-set against sex.  “I already told you that you don’t owe me.”

“Well, I think I do,” Chris said cheerfully, choosing to believe Zach’s dick rather than his mouth.  “Remember Paris?  That was good, right?”

Obviously Chris had hit paydirt, because Zach’s cock twitched visibly as Chris carefully pulled the other man’s boxer briefs out and down over his erection.  And there it was – Zach’s junk, all right in front of him.  Somehow, Chris hadn’t really conceptualized this in concrete terms until it was staring him quite graphically in the face.  He took another deep breath.  He could do this – he had one of these, knew how it worked.  Had logged quite a few hours flying solo, in fact.

He had a sudden flash of inspiration.  “Hey, Zach, turn around.”  Zach obstinately shuffled in a complete circle before Chris flicked his ear  “No, you dick, stand in front of me but face away from me.”  Zach finally did as he was told, but then Chris was stuck staring at the back of Zach’s head, and while his hair was quite impressive, it made for dull scenery from the back.  “Let’s move this over here,” Chris said, dragging Zach by the hand until they were both standing in front of the full length mirror by the bathroom.  “Much better.  Now I can see your adorable face.”

“Okay, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m just standing around with my dick hanging out.  Either shut up and do something about it or let me go.”

“God, so bossy,” Chris chuckled.  “Is it hard to find guys who are into that?”

Zach cocked an eyebrow in the mirror.  “When it’s me doing the bossing?  Throw a rock.”

Chris ignored the little shiver down his spine in favor of positioning himself behind Zach, wrapping his arm around the other man’s waist.  Zach’s shirttails hung irritatingly over his crotch, so Chris made quick work of the buttons, spreading the shirt so he had a clear view from neck to knees.  To his surprise, Zach didn’t make a single snide comment, just watched Chris’ hands in the mirror.

Mimicking Zach’s usual actions, Chris didn’t waste any time wrapping his fingers around the other man’s cock.  He couldn’t help but notice it was slightly shorter than his own, but thicker, had a little bit of an upward bend to it.  The heat of it felt strange in his hand, but not unpleasant.  He stroked once, from root to tip and back again, making Zach huff out a breath and widen his stance a little.  “Good?” Chris asked.

“Good,” Zach agreed.  “But not enough.  Not even close.”

Chris nodded, his head craned down to look over Zach’s shoulder.  He started moving his hand in a slow, firm rhythm, squeezing a little harder as he neared the head.  Zach seemed to like that, his hips jutting forward when Chris tightened his grip.  As he began to speed up, he caught a slight grimace from Zach in the mirror and stopped.  “Too dry,” Zach gasped.

“Lotion,” Chris said, darting around Zach into the bathroom and returning with the complimentary bottle as fast as he could.  Chris liked a lot of friction, but it was evident from the look on Zach’s face and the quickening of his breath when Chris returned his slick hand that the other man liked things a little smoother.  He quickly established a good rhythm, firmly rubbing his thumb over the head on every other stroke, drawing a breathy gasp from Zach each time.  So far, so good. 

Remembering what Zach had done, Chris let his other hand wrap around Zach and reach down to play with his balls.  That made Zach’s head fall back, seemingly of its own accord, and Chris remembered his earlier desire to watch Zach’s face the way Zach was always able to watch his.

And, no mistake, Zach was into this.  His head was tipped back and his lower lip caught painfully in his teeth, like he was holding something back.  Maybe this was why he had objected so strongly before – maybe he liked to make a lot of noise and was embarrassed about it.  Chris made it a new goal to get Zach to let loose with some good, wanton sounds.  He didn’t have to wait long; when Chris molded himself up against Zach’s backside, the feel of his own erection against Zach’s ass made the older man groan and grind back against Chris.

“Yeah,” Chris murmured, his lips brushing Zach’s ear.  “Now we’re talkin’.  What else do you like, Zach?”

“Twist, ah— Twist just a little on the upstroke, right under the head.”

When Chris did just that and Zach’s knees started to buckle, Chris nearly did a silent fist pump in victory.  Fuck, this was hot, watching Zach’s mouth go slack as the mounting tension made his eyes slam shut and his eyebrows furrow.  Chris couldn’t help himself, rocking his hips harder and harder against Zach’s firm ass as soft, helpless little sounds of need poured from his lips.  Zach had to be getting close now, and Chris focused all his concentration on making him come.  Suddenly, Zach lurched forward and put one hand flat on the mirror for support, pumping into Chris’ grip once, twice, then coming with a wall-rattling shout.

In the moment after, Chris felt totally bereft, standing awkwardly behind a thoroughly spent Zach with a leaking erection tenting his pants.  But then Zach reached his other hand back to grab Chris by the hip, forcing their bodies together and Chris took it as permission to grind against him fast and hard.   Chris shut his eyes, replaying the moment before in his mind’s eye – all that tension in Zach’s face breaking at once, his head thrown back, gasping for breath – and that was all it took.  He came hard, probably better than a dry hump warranted, crying out, his hips still pressed tight against Zach’s ass. 

There was a moment, after Chris came back to his senses and stumbled backward to rest against the wall behind him, when the younger man had no idea what to do.  Precedent dictated that he keep his distance, that this was just another thing, no big deal.  But part of his brain was trying to tell him that somehow their thing had crossed over into a sex thing, and that made his body crave closeness, possibly in the form of some not entirely manly cuddling. 

Zach’s face was buried in the crook of his elbow where it still leaned against the mirror, so Chris couldn’t see his expression.  Then Chris opened his mouth to say something – he didn’t know quite what – and Zach’s head snapped up, his face unreadable, their eyes meeting in the mirror.  They stayed frozen that way for a beat.  Then two. 

Then Zach was muttering a stream of obscenities under his breath, yanking his pants back up and refusing to look Chris in the eye.  “Oh, goddamn it, Chris.  Can’t believe I let you fucking talk me into—  Holy Christ, what a huge fucking mistake.”  Zach slipped his shoes on and, without even bothering to button his shirt, walked out the door.

Chris was still standing in front of the mirror, his mouth gaping open, when he realized – as he came, he had said Zach’s name.

Chapter Text

Chris had his pride.  Not much of it, but he did.  Enough to completely stonewall Zach on the way to the airport and through their flight back to LA, which would have been much more effective if Zach hadn’t been doing the same thing.  Fortunately, most of their cast mates seemed too hung over to notice, and they had all been together long enough for little tensions to crop up anyway.

This didn’t feel like a little thing, though, not when Zach grabbed his bags and left, saying goodbye to everyone but giving Chris naught but a silent, curt handshake.  Chris was still in a bit of a daze when he stumbled into his apartment, dropping his bags on the floor and falling straight into bed.  He slept uneasily, his eyes popping wide open at precisely 4:03 am.  He floated for a while in the twilight zone between tired enough to sleep and alert enough to actually get up.

He replayed the events of the past few weeks in his head, trying to pinpoint the exact moment he had fucked up.  Sure, okay, he supposed saying another man’s name in the heat of passion was some kind of boundary-crossing event, but then again, Zach had been so casual about his initial offer in the first place.  Chris hardly knew why that particular detail would bother him, not after sucking Chris off in most of the major European countries.  Their thing had been working, too, until Chris had (apparently) so rudely insisted upon returning the favor.  What kind of twisted logic was that?

They had another five days before they had to get back on a plane and do it all over again in Tokyo, and Chris spent most of that time trying very hard not to think about Zach.  He was actually succeeding by the time he had to re-pack his bag.  He planned a strategy on the way to the airport – quietly take Zach aside and apologize, ask if things could go back to how they had been, and promise he would never offer to touch Zach again.  That seemed to address all major points of contention.

Except that Zach was waiting for him at the airport with a smile and a hug, which confused Chris so completely that he nearly left his luggage alone on the curb.

“Chris, are those your bags?” Zach asked, looking genuinely concerned.  “Because if you leave them alone, you won’t have any clean underwear in Japan.  Oh, and they’ll probably put the whole airport into lockdown.”

But everyone else seemed to be acting normally.  Anton was hopping around like a puppy, asking Karl if they really sold tentacle porn in every convenience store over there.  Eric and John were both on the phone with their wives, assuring they’d call as soon as they touched down in Tokyo.  Zoe and Zach were chattering on like old girlfriends, and if Zoe noticed something odd, she sure wasn’t showing it.

Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately), he was sitting next to John, not Zach, on the plane.  He risked asking whether John had talked to Zach at all since Europe.

“Nope,” said John.  “Something up?”

“I don’t know.  Did he seem… weird to you on the flight back?”

“Chris, the only reason I made it through the flight without my head exploding was all the little bottles of vodka I swiped from the flight attendant’s cart.  I couldn’t even tell you who sat next to me.”

Then John got out his phone and showed Chris the obligatory kid pictures, which was actually a tolerable experience since it was John and he had a hilarious story to go with nearly every picture.  After that, they passed John’s Nintendo DS back and forth, playing alternate levels of the original Super Mario Bros.  Chris wouldn’t have admitted it except under torture, but he kind of wanted to be John when he grew up.  If he grew up.

After dinner had been cleared away and Princess Peach had been saved, Chris saw a hand come to rest on John’s shoulder and when he looked up, sure enough, it was Zach.

“Hey, can I switch with you for a bit?”

“Depends,” said John, looking deadly serious.  “Who are you sitting with?”

“Zoe.”

John appeared to think it over.  “Acceptable.”  He popped up and Zach sat down, and Chris braced himself.

“Hey, Chris, look, I’m sorry for freaking out on you.”

Chris eyed him suspiciously.  “Is that what that was?”

“Yeah.  It’s my fault – I shouldn’t have let it get that far.”  He looked truly repentant, and Chris wasn’t sure how to take that.  He was glad Zach had apologized for storming out, but he wasn’t about to accept an apology for… what, letting Zach let him give him a hand job?

But Zach was talking to him again, looking like he wanted to forget that night and continue on like they had been, so Chris let it slide.  “Hey, don’t worry about it.  I think we just spent too much time together, got on each other’s nerves.”

“Yeah,” said Zach, a little too quickly.  “Let’s just forget about it.”

“Sounds good to me,” Chris said.  And then, without thinking, he asked, “So… our thing?  We’re still on for that tomorrow morning.  Or night.  Or whatever time it is before our next interview, right?”

He couldn’t miss the way Zach’s jaw tightened as he said, “Um… no.”

“No?”

“Look, Chris,” Zach said, leaning in and folding his legs up under him in the seat.  “I can’t… I can’t be your crutch, alright?  You’ve done tons of these interviews, and you know you’ll do tons more in your career, and I’m obviously not going to be there for all of them.  You need to know you can do this on your own.  I know you can – you’re so good in front of the camera, even with the whackjob interviewers.  You don’t need my help anymore.”

It sounded the slightest bit rehearsed, and Zach’s accompanying smile looked like it had been practiced in a mirror.  Chris’ heart started to sink before he caught himself.  The nervousness – that’s what this had been about.  So he wasn’t getting pre-interview hand and/or blowjobs anymore.   So what?  If he wanted to, he could go out and find any number of women willing to provide that service.  Sure, they might not be quite as good at it as Zach, but a blowjob was like pizza, right?  Even when it’s not great, it’s still not bad.  But Zach was right – he shouldn’t become dependent on sex as a way of banishing jitters.  It probably wasn’t healthy.

“Okay,” Chris said cheerfully.  “I guess that makes sense.”

Zach looked immeasurably relieved, and Chris didn’t take it personally.  No reason to.  “Good,” Zach said.  “Oh, and I’ve got Bananagrams in my carry-on.”

Chris smiled, genuinely this time.  “Bring it, Quinto.”

&&&

The interviews went fine – better than fine, actually – and no one was more surprised than Chris.  The nausea was there at the beginning, but he got through it without Zach laying a hand on him.  The only problem was that his body’s conditioned response to an interview situation was an extremely inconvenient erection.  He managed to keep it in check, but that didn’t stop his abs from clenching reflexively whenever Zach’s hands moved or he pursed his lips or… did much of anything, really.  But it had the surprising upshot of keeping Chris from overthinking what he said.  Damned if he wasn’t still relying on Zach to get him through the interview.

He expected the problem to go away once he got away from Zach, but it didn’t.  He finally got some relief when they all scattered to their various hotel rooms to get ready for a night out.  His belt was unbuckled before the door slammed shut, his pants and boxers shoved to his knees by the time he got to the bed.  It was no use pretending he was thinking about that hot interviewer or the concierge with the cleavage – his brain refused to compromise, shooting straight to the image of Zach, on his knees, his tongue teasing Chris’ cock mercilessly.  He came with Zach’s name on his lips again and laid there in the aftermath, trying to figure out just what the hell was going on.

It was the pounding on his door that shocked him out of his revelry, and he yanked his pants back up so fast he nearly maimed himself.  “WHAT?!” he shouted at the door.

“We’re leaving in, like, twenty minutes,” Anton shouted right back.

“I still need to shower,” Chris said, a little quieter now that he was standing right next to the door.

“Make it fast.”

He showered in record time, then spent nearly ten minutes staring at his suitcase deciding what to wear.  Then mentally kicked his own ass for spending so much time on it, then changed twice until he settled on jeans and a soft grey shirt.  The thought of facing Zach again so soon made him irrationally nervous, but they’d been planning karaoke night since they found out Tokyo was on the list of tour stops.  He was just going to have to tough it out.

&&&

Turned out that the hardest part of “toughing it out” was not interacting with Zach, but trying to retain his dignity while his cast mates and former friends forced him to sing a Disney princess medley and videotaped him while doing so.  He ended on “Part of Your World,” dropping to his knees as he belted out that last note.  Everyone sat stunned for a second (What, they didn’t think he could sing?  He was a classically trained actor, he could fucking sing) before bursting out into whoops and applause, none louder than Zach. 

By the time he returned to his seat, Simon had already started in on a particularly loud Spice Girls song accompanied by Anton and John on the tambourines, so Zach had to pull him close to tell him, “That was fucking inspired, man!”  And he couldn’t know what he was doing to Chris’ insides – could he? – as his lips brushed Chris’ ears when he said, “You have got to do musical theater.”  Because that wasn’t their thing.

Fuck their thing.  It was good – had been good – but it was over now, and it wouldn’t have been enough anyway.  They needed a new thing.  Now.  Right now, before Zach got any drunker and Chris got any soberer.

“Those goddamn tambourines are gonna give me a migraine,” he all but shouted into Zach’s ear.  It was actually the truth.  “I’m gonna go back to the hotel.  Come with?”

Zach spared a moment to look around the room, coinciding nicely with the exact moment Simon hit a high note and Anton took the tambourining into overdrive.  “Yes.  Please.”

They slipped out, making for the subway.  Once on the train, Chris started up a bit where he pretended not to hear Zach over the ringing of his ears, but they quickly got the evil eye from so many commuting businessmen that they quieted down.

“We are those people that everyone complains about,” Zach moaned once they were back on street level, walking towards the hotel.  “We’re the obnoxious Americans.”

“To be fair, the standard of complete and utter silence in a subway car is tough to maintain,” Chris posited.

“That what you’re going with?”

“Yup.”

They lapsed into companionable silence through the hotel lobby and up the elevator.  “My room or yours?” Chris asked.

“Mine,” Zach said without hesitation.

“That was quick.  Got something against my room?”

“No.  But I have shitloads of Pocky and those Koala Yummies and about three gallons of C.C. Lemon.”

“Your room it is, then,” Chris said cheerfully.

Half an hour later, they were both sprawled on the bed, surrounded by candy wrappers.  “Remind me never to move to Japan,” Zach groaned.  “I’ll get fat and they won’t let me be Spock anymore.”

“How do they do it?” Chris wondered aloud, licking the Japanese version of peanut butter off his fingers.  It was more like peanut-flavored marshmallow cream than peanut butter.  “Have all this around and not turn into bloated heifers like Americans do?”

“Hmmm.  I could say something intelligent about our Puritanical roots fucking us up by insisting on abstinence instead of moderation, the unrealistic expectations leading to total gluttony… orrrrrrrrr I could continue staring at the ceiling.”

“Ceiling’s nice,” mused Chris, letting his arm fall back to the bed.  By accident, his hand landed against Zach’s and the older man silently flinched away.  Chris couldn’t take it anymore.  “Zach?”

“Mmm?”

“Why’d you run out on me?”

“Huh?”

“In London.  You know what I’m talking about.”

“I already apologized for that.”

“I know.  And I forgive you; I just want to know why.”

“Chris…”  Zach trailed off, and Chris let the silence drag on until Zach had to speak up again.  “I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Tough shit,” said Chris, wrappers crinkling under him as he rolled on his side to face the other man.  “Was I that bad?”

Zach didn’t take his eyes off the ceiling.  “No, it was…  It’s not about that.”

“Then what’s it about?  I thought we had a good thing going on.”

“We did.  Fuck,” Zach groaned, a hand coming up to rub harshly at his eyes.  “And it’s my fault for starting it in the first place.  Look, I thought I could just, I don’t know, give you something.  And that would be enough.  But it wasn’t.”

“See, that’s why I was trying to even things up, why I insisted on—”

“I’m not talking orgasms, you daft bastard.”

“Well then, what the fuck are you talking about?” Chris asked, stumped.  “Because I’m sure as hell not getting it.”

“Are you really going to make me say it?”

“Say what?”

“I couldn’t do it, alright!” Zach all but shouted, sitting up abruptly, his eyes boring holes into Chris still down on the bed.  “I couldn’t touch you and hear the sounds you made and watch you come without wanting more!  And you can’t give me more, so I just had to end it.  For my own sanity, Chris.  Do you get that?”

It felt like old, rusty gears were cranking to life in Chris’ head.  “So, you… wanted me?  Want me?  And were trying to settle for, what, Diet Chris?”

“Jesus tapdancing Christ,” Zach moaned.  “I don’t want to fucking talk about this.”

Chris understood Zach’s frustration, he really did, but the lights were starting to turn on and Chris wasn’t about to let it drop.  “So what was it that freaked you out?  Help me understand!”

“You touched me!  Goddamn it, Chris, you’re straight.  You don’t do that.  You can’t jerk me off and hump my ass and say my fucking name when you come and not expect me to have a nervous breakdown!”

It all fell into place, and Chris felt like a particularly slow child.  “So… the problem is… that I’m straight?”

Zach fisted his hands in his hair, looking like he was ready to tear it out.  “No, the problem is that you have the most inconsistent fucking stage fright in the history of acting and I, like the utter jackass that I am, offered to give you a hand job.  Now if you will please leave and leave me to my own self-loathing—”

Just then Chris’ hand shot out and grabbed Zach by the front of the shirt, yanking him down until his lips were planted squarely on the younger man’s.  Quite frankly, it surprised even Chris, but Zach had been saying something and Chris couldn’t hear the words, could only see the movements of Zach’s lips and wanted suddenly to kiss him.  It was a terrible kiss, their faces mashed together and Zach flailing on top of Chris, but it was Zach and he tasted like strawberry Pocky.

“—the fuck?” gasped Zach when Chris finally let go of him.

“Let’s try this again,” Chris said determinedly, rolling and maneuvering until he and Zach lay side by side.  “I’m going to kiss you now,” he said, plucking an errant candy wrapper from Zach’s hair.  The older man just nodded, utterly bewildered, and Chris tugged him by the back of the neck – gently this time – until their lips met.

Much, much better.  Zach’s lips were softer than Chris expected and unyielding at first, until Chris ran his tongue across Zach’s lower lip and hummed inquiringly into the kiss.  Then Zach opened to him – slow, tentative, oddly sweet.  God, it was good.  Why the hell hadn’t they been doing this all along?  Chris shifted in even closer, wrapping a hand under Zach’s arm to pull their chests together.  Zach tightened his fingers in Chris’ hair then, holding him as if Chris would pull away at any moment.  Finally, Chris did have to come up for air and had to struggle briefly in Zach’s grip, push back against his chest before the older man would let him go.

Chris propped himself up on his elbow to look down at Zach, whose eyes were squeezed tightly shut.  “Chris,” he whispered, as pleading as Chris had ever heard him.  “Don’t fuck with me.  Please.  I can’t take it.”

“I’m not,” Chris said, biting down hard on his lower lip.  “I’ve been an idiot, but not a malicious idiot.  Look at me, please.”

Zach opened his eyes and he looked so lost, his lips so temptingly wet and swollen that Chris couldn’t help but kiss him again.  “What do you want from me?” Zach murmured against his mouth.

“Our thing.  What we had before.  But maybe with… additions.”

“Like what?”

“This.  Kissing.  This is good,” Chris whispered, letting his lips ghost over Zach’s cheek, his jaw, up to the tender patch of skin beneath his ear.  “And I want to be able to touch you, too.  And watch you.”

“But you’re…” Zach trailed off, squirming a little as Chris’ lips made their way down his neck.  “God, this sounds facile, but you’re straight.”

“Well, yeah.” Chris grinned against Zach’s skin.  “But I’ve been considering… heteroflexibility.”

Zach stiffened beneath him and Chris pulled back to look the other man in the eye.  “I can’t— I wish I could say I won’t be your experiment,” Zach said, his voice strained.  “But if you ask me, I won’t say no.  You need to know that if this doesn’t work out, if we try and you decide you can’t do this, I won’t be able to just shrug that off.  So just… think first.  Please.”

“Whatever happened to ‘it’s no big deal’?”

“Goddamn it, Chris—”

“Sorry, sorry!  Shit, I was trying to be funny and it wasn’t…” On impulse, Chris grabbed Zach’s hand, watching intently as his thumb rubbed the other man’s palm.  “I can’t promise you anything, but I can tell you – what happened in London, before you left, I liked that.  I liked it a lot.  I loved watching your face and it just felt right, all of it.  That means something, right?”

“Yeah,” Zach said slowly, sitting up and drawing Chris’ gaze.  “You’re comfortable with… what we did in London?  And you want more?”

“Well, I don’t know that I’m ready to, like, be tied down and take it up the ass or anything—”

Zach smacked him on the arm, but the corner of his lip was threatening to twitch up into a grin.  “It’s not all ass-ramming and bondage, you freak.”

“I know, I know!  And I’m not saying never, just… not yet?  So maybe let’s just pick up where we left off and go from there?”

Zach searched Chris’ eyes for a long moment, and Chris tried to project all the sincerity and desire he could.  “Okay,” Zach finally said, “but you need to learn how to say it.  I think we both do.  No more of this ‘thing’ bullshit.”

“Fine,” said Chris, taking a deep breath.  “I want to see your body.  I only got a glimpse before and I want to see all of you.  And then I want to touch you, to… to wrap my hand around your cock and watch your face as I stroke you.”

Zach was clutching Chris’ hand with considerable force now, his eyes closed and his breath rising in his chest like Chris was whispering the filthiest words right in his ear.  “I want the same, to touch you the same way,” he said, his eyes opening, pupils so wide that Chris could hardly see the brown iris around them.  “No more pretending it doesn’t make me crazy when you jerk and writhe under my hands.”

Chris nodded, words deserting him completely at the prospect of Zach no longer holding back on him.  His fingers went to the hem of his own shirt, but Zach got their first.  “Here, let me,” he said, tugging Chris’ shirt up and off.

Zach practically growled at the sight of Chris’ naked chest.  “God, you look good,” he murmured, so softly that Chris wasn’t sure he was meant to hear it.  Zach ran his hands down Chris’ sides, then let one hand drift across Chris’ belly so lightly that the touch made his abs clench with ticklishness.

“Careful,” Chris gasped as Zach brushed his thumb over the line of hair leading from Chris’ belly button down to the waistband of his jeans.  To Chris’ surprise, Zach’s hand stopped there, sliding back up to rub his palm deliberately over Chris’ nipple, making the younger man gasp.  Zach had never touched him like this before, a slow, calculated exploration of his body, forcing Chris to relish the anticipation of more.

He let it go on as long as he could stand.  Finally, when Zach’s fingers closed over a nipple, pinching the tightened bud, Chris whined deep in his throat and firmly pushed Zach away.  “Your turn now,” he said, crawling over the bed and pulling Zach up to a standing position.  He untucked Zach’s shirt and started on the buttons, face flushed, not quite able to meet Zach’s eyes.  It felt intimate, this slow unveiling of skin.  He pushed the shirt carefully over Zach’s shoulders and down his arms, pressing a kiss to the other man’s collarbone.

Chris let his fingers brush through the hair on Zach’s chest, a hand drifting down to feel the solidness of Zach’s ribs, the lean curve of his waist.  He froze there for a moment, suddenly unsure of what to do next now that the rules were gone.  Luckily, Zach was feeling impatient enough to lean in and kiss him again, pulling their bodies flush.  Chris gasped at the sudden closeness and Zach seized the opportunity to plunder Chris’ mouth, stealing the air from his lungs.

Zach wrapped an arm around the small of Chris’ back to steady them, and Chris suddenly became aware of the other man’s growing erection pressing into his hip.  He resisted his urge to grind against Zach – only partially because he didn’t want to ruin another pair of pants.  With great difficulty, he managed to stop kissing Zach long enough to gasp, “Pants off!”  Zach grinned and nodded, stealing one more kiss before concentrating on unbuckling his belt.

With shaking hands, Chris pushed his pants and boxers to his knees, picking them up to fold them instead of kicking them away like he normally would.  He couldn’t remember seeing Zach completely naked before and he was nervous.  Not that he wouldn’t find Zach attractive, but…  “Hey, Zach, if I laugh, please know it’s just nerves.”

Zach chuckled.  “Thanks for the warning, man.”

When Chris turned around, Zach was sitting comfortably on the side of the bed.  Not hiding, but not exactly displaying himself either.  “Take your time,” he said softly, and Chris looked.  And looked.  Zach’s legs were skinny (and hairy, of course) and his skin looked almost unnaturally pale compared to the flushed red of his cock, but he was gazing at Chris with such admiration and heat that the urge to laugh never bubbled up.

“Wh-what now?” Chris stammered, inwardly kicking himself for his smooth transition.

Zach bit his lip.  “I was thinking…”  He trailed off and got on his knees on the bed, sweeping the rest of the candy wrappers onto the floor before sitting back against his heels and motioning for Chris to do the same.  He shifted so they were facing each other and spread his knees just a little to slide one thigh between Chris’.  “We can see each other.”

Chris nodded, lost for words at the moment, and kissed Zach again before reaching for him as Zach did the same.  He held his palm out for Zach for a slow, wet lick and then took hold of Zach’s cock with a confidence he was trying desperately to feel.  Zach let him get a few good strokes in before palming Chris’ erection, pressing it up flat against his belly with a teasing caress before getting down to business.

It was so hard to focus with Zach’s expert hand on him – Chris had never been a multitasker, and his rhythm faltered whenever Zach twisted his wrist.  But he kept at it, drinking in the hunger in Zach’s eyes as he watched Chris’ face.  God, this was what had been missing, these lustful looks, the sounds they made, the way Zach’s hand sped up just a little when Chris thumbed the ridge of his cock.

Chris tried to hold on, but it was becoming too much.  He tilted forward, his forehead coming to rest against Zach’s.  “I can’t–” he gasped.  “I’m gonna—”

“’s okay,” Zach slurred, his own breath coming in pants hot against Chris’ lips.  “Do it.”

His grip slackened on Zach’s erection as the pressure building in his own body neared the breaking point.  For once, he didn’t try to hold back the soft ah, ah, ah that left his mouth at the apex of every perfect stroke of Zach’s hand.  “C’mon, beautiful,” Zach whispered.  “Come for me.”  And Chris did, moaning and spilling himself over Zach’s fist, clutching Zach’s shoulder tight with his free hand to anchor himself.  When Zach swallowed the last of Chris’ moans in a soul-deep kiss, a full-body shiver ran down the younger man’s spine.

“Good?” Zach whispered against Chris’ lips.

“Yeah,” Chris replied, willing the nerves in his arms back to order so he could grip Zach again properly.

As Chris gathered momentum, Zach’s hips jerked up and he gasped, “Chris, please.”

“Say it again,” Chris demanded softly, tightening his hand but slowing the pace.  “My name.”

“Chris,” Zach groaned.  “Wanted this for so long.  Feels so fucking good.  More, faster, please, Chris.”

Chris kissed him once, hard, then pulled back to see Zach’s face as he came.  He looked so sweetly vulnerable that Chris felt a hot surge of emotion hit him in the solar plexus.  Zach’s eyes were still closed, so he allowed himself a smile and a silent laugh – shit, he was in this so deep.

Zach rested his head on Chris’ shoulder as they both caught their breath, but soon Chris became aware of the sticky mess drying on his hand.  He was still pretty new to this whole thing, so he wasn’t sure what the proper procedure was here.  When Zach started to sit up, Chris reached over and grabbed the tissue box off the bedside table.

When Zach saw what Chris was doing, he laughed.  “At least you didn’t wipe it on the hotel comforter.  That would’ve been a dealbreaker.”  Then, still looking Chris straight in the eye, he brought his hand up to his face and stuck one long finger in his mouth, hollowing his cheeks as he sucked it clean.

“Fuck,” Chris groaned.  “Give a guy some recovery time.”

“Straight guys are so easy to mess with,” Zach chuckled, and Chris was glad to see the glint of mischief in his eyes.  “Okay, I’m sweaty and probably covered in Pocky crumbs – I’m gonna shower.”

“Wait, um, could we…?” Chris gestured awkwardly toward the bed as he stretched out, resting his head on a pillow.

“Never would’ve pegged you for a cuddler, Pine,” Zach said with a roll of his eyes, but he lay down next to Chris anyway, throwing an arm around his waist.

“Never really got the chance before,” Chris said, then suffered a sudden bout of nerves.  “That okay?”

“It’s fine.  Truth be told, I kind of missed it.”

“You romantic son of a bitch,” Chris said around a wide yawn.

“I can be when I feel like it.  Just don’t fall asleep on me before I get that shower.”

“Okay.”

Spent and happy, Chris promptly fell asleep.

&&&

They were walking up to the rest of the group for breakfast at the hotel restaurant when Zach froze and turned to Chris.  “We didn’t decide…  Are you comfortable telling people?  Do you want to keep it private?  Shit, we should’ve—”

“It’s okay,” Chris chuckled, surprised at his own calmness.  “We’ll just play it as we go.”  They got to the table, and as their friends looked up to greet them, Chris grabbed Zach’s collar and pulled him in for a hard, wet kiss.

Zoe cheered and John wolf-whistled.

“Goddamn it!” Karl said, yanking out his wallet and counting out bills.

“I’m so glad you ladies made it official,” said Simon, a greedy sparkle in his eye as he held out his hand to Karl.  “So very, very – two hundred, Karl, we went double or nothing after London – very glad.”

“Don’t embarrass them!” Zoe hissed and patted Anton gently on the back as he tried to dislodge the melon slice he’d just inhaled from his throat.

“Play it as we go, hmm?” Zach murmured accusingly at Chris, his threat mostly negated by the adorable blush creeping into his cheeks.

“I felt… inspired?” Chris hazarded as he plopped down in his chair.

Across the table, Zoe looked like she was bursting with questions, but fortunately she held back.  For now.  Chris was sure she’d get all the details out of Zach before noon.  Anton still looked a little startled, but everyone else seemed to have turned their attention back to breakfast and the conversations they’d been having before.

Chris only pouted a little.  “Thought we’d make more of a splash than that.  Cause a small riot, at least.”

“Sorry, sweetie, we’ll take out a full-page ad when we get home,” Zach groaned.

As he unfolded his napkin and laid it in his lap, Chris remembered something.  “Hey, Zach, you never told me what happened with that guy.”

“What guy?”

“The guy you told me about when we started all this.  The costume tech that, uh, gave you a hand before your show.”

“Oh, him,” Zach said lightly, eyes focused on the menu.  “We dated for two years.”

“Uh-huh.  And you didn’t mention it because…”

“Didn’t seem relevant at the time?”

“That what you’re gonna go with?”

“Yup.”

Chapter Text

“Zach, what time zone am I in? I’m not even sure anymore.”

“Hopefully, you’re back in LA, in which case it is… 7:32 pm. You might want to double check – does the air smell more pretentious there?”

“Who even came up with time zones? Fucking ri—” Chris had to stop speaking to yawn, long and loud. “—ridiculous, is what it is.”

“Have you gotten your bag yet?”

“Nope. Still waiting at the conveyor belt thingy. I swear I’ve seen this one avocado green suitcase go around fifty times. Maybe the owner’s embarrassed to claim it.”

“Yet another reason why you should—”

“Take carry-on luggage only. Thanks, mom.”

“Forgive me for trying to save you twenty minutes of your life.”

“And have the TSA guys open up my bag and inspect my vibrating cock ring? No, thank you.”

“You didn’t have to bring that with you.”

“If you had one, I wouldn’t have to.”

Zach was silent for a moment, and if Chris had had the energy, he would’ve engaged in a celebratory fist pump for his superior logic. When Zach spoke again, he sounded tired, too. “This is so much harder than I thought it would be.”

Chris bit back on a that’s what she said retort – Zach didn’t sound like he was in the mood for it. “Shakes up the routine, though,” Chris said, trying to keep his tone light. “Keeps things fresh. That hotel room was a good idea. Felt like old times, didn’t it?”

Zach laughed softly. “Yeah, it did. Well, except you begging me to stick my cock in you. I don’t remember that from the tour.”

“What can I say? My tastes have grown much more… sophisticated? Yes, sophisticated.” They both chuckled a little, then the line went silent again. Eventually, Chris said, “It’s not forever. I mean, even if you stay out there, you’ll have to come back sometimes. It’s not the worst thing in the world.”

“When did you turn into an optimist on me?”

“Oh, please. I’ve always been the optimistic one. Compared to you, at least.”

“What am I, Oscar the Grouch?”

Chris burst out laughing, startling the elderly couple next to him. “The day you sit in an old trash can is the day I chug a wheatgrass smoothie and do the Congress of the Cow or whatever.”

“That’s the Kama Sutra, not yoga, and we’ve done that at least twice a week since we started fucking.”

“Oh. What is it?”

“Doggy-style.”

“Ah. Redacted, then. Consider my cow enthusiastically in Congress. Or something.”

Zach laughed for a long time. “Goddamnit, Chris, I miss you. And fuck it all, I swore I wasn’t going to say that for at least another two weeks.”

Chris smiled. “Well, you know you’re going to have to visit me soon.”

“Why?”

“Unstoppable. Probably going to be doing loads of interviews before the premiere. Unless, of course, you’d rather me ask Denzel if—”

“Do not ask Denzel anything.”

“Well then, you’ll just have to get your skinny little ass back to LA.”

“Guess I will,” Zach said, and Chris could practically hear his smile. “Shit, I’ve got to go. Gotta get ready for this thing tonight. Get some sleep tonight, okay?”

“I will.”

“Love you.”

“Love you, too,” Chris said quietly, unable to wipe the grin from his face.

He’d just stowed his phone back in his pocket when a baggage attendant came up to him. “Excuse me, are you Chris Pine?”

Chris tried hard not to roll his eyes. “Yes, I am, but I’m really not—”

“Sir, your checked luggage seems to have suffered some… damage on your flight from New York.”

“Damage?”

“Yes, sir. Apparently it was left beside the tire of one of our motorized baggage carts, and when the operator started it up…”

Dammit, he was not telling Zach about this.