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He clutched the phone, pressing it to his ear, praying for Chris to answer, yet desperately hoping for voice mail.

Only two rings, then, “Tom.”

Simply hearing his name spoken by the one person who could turn him inside out did just that. Shaking, he closed his eyes and buried his face in his other hand. Why had he given in like this?

“Hi,” he managed to reply, barely.

“Are you ok?”

He shook his head. Thankfully, Chris could not see. So he cleared his throat, and began to offer reassurance that he was indeed ok. “I...” But his voice cracked, betraying his unease.


As if he could hide from Chris. He never could, and that was why this entire knotted, glorious mess had happened at all. “I should not have phoned. After finishing that shoot you deserve time relaxing with Elsa.” He meant it. Chris loved her, and Tom knew that from the start. “I will be fine.” He paused. Ridiculous, these lies. He hated not being honest with his emotions. Still, he offered only a partial truth. “I just needed to hear your voice.”

Silence. Then a prolonged sigh. “I can be in London by six tonight.”

Tom’s breath caught, then his stomach clenched. A rush of anticipation immediately strangled by guilt. Of course Chris would offer to come. They had forged a unique, yet enduring, connection while filming Thor. A friendship between two people who together stood at the edge of a career changing moment, knowing their professional lives might be forever altered. But it had been more. Much more. Mutual understanding evolved into admiration. Then attraction. Then attachment. Deep and meaningful, and beyond. But Chris also loved Elsa.

He exhaled. “This is wrong Chris.”


Arguing was pointless. He had known this would happen if he phoned. And that was why he had waited and waited, respecting the life he could never share. But need, or perhaps love, proved more powerful than denial.

Though torn, he needed Chris.

“Phone me from the taxi.”

The call came a mere five hours later. Chris had landed at Heathrow and was on the way.

Now he paced the hotel room. Not a suite. Nothing fancy. Just a deluxe room with a king sized bed, located near the airport and procured by a close friend whom he trusted with his life. After all, this was his life on the line. His, and Chris’s. And Elsa, and their families, friends, and good Lord what the hell was he doing?

What were THEY doing?

He dragged his fingers through his hair, ruffling the smoothed locks. Curls escaping control were far from his concern now. Why was this room so wretchedly small? Six of his long strides from the door to the curtain concealed window. Hardly enough to think before having to turn around. His heart raced. He swallowed hard, but his mouth had dried and he choked.


How could he risk everything like this?

They had sworn never again. Never. Again.

And here he was, pacing like an anxious boy awaiting his first date. All confidence and composure, gone.

Two faint taps on the door froze his steps. He took deep breath. Exhaled slowly, searching for some shred of calm. Pointless. He opened the door and backed away.

Chris walked over the threshold, locking the door behind him. As he strode into the room, he pulled off his sunglasses and baseball cap, then tossed them on the desk. He smoothed his long hair, now dyed dark, down with one hand. But even in dim light of the bedside lamp golden strands glimmered through the earthy brown. He looked up, met Tom’s gaze, and smiled. “Hi.”

How could one man be so beautiful?

Caught, Tom stared back. Weeks it had been. Yet it felt like mere minutes since they had last seen each other in New York during the final Avengers shoot. All that time and distance spent apart eroded into a fading memory.

“You look like hell,” Chris said, jarring him from the daze of disbelief that they were now in the same room together.

Despite the tangle of yearning and anxiety stealing away the simple joy of their reunion, he laughed. This was one of the few people who would never lie to him. And Chris was right. He did look like hell. “Walking on water for weeks. Appearances and interviews and photo shoots. Being up and on every waking moment.”

“We both know you thrive on all that,” Chris said, stepping closer.

Caught yet again by the easy honesty of this man who knew him so well, he smiled. “Yes.” He loved the spotlight and attention, and adored sharing with others his enthusiasm for his work.

“But that doesn’t mean you don’t need to come back down sometimes.” He took Tom’s hand into his. “Like now.”

How well Chris knew him. How best to ground him, return him to reality. Surround him in calm. Just their hands loosely clasped, the warmth of Chris’s touch, and the shared truth of their hearts nearly crushed him to the floor.

“Chris,” he whispered, then entwined his fingers tighter around Chris’s. “I’ve missed you.”

Chris pressed their foreheads together, and exhaled softly. But he did not speak.

This intimate contact, subtle, yet so longed for, so desperately needed, sent shivers through Tom. Wrapping one arm around Chris’s waist, he backed up a step, drawing them both to the wall.

Tom glanced down, and found himself entranced by the tremble upon those full lips that lingered always in his dreams, both through the darkness of night and the acute light while awake. He leaned into their shared embrace, melting against Chris. Nothing compared to the strength of Chris’s arms and the feel of this body taller and broader pressed against him.

Their breaths quickened. Chris bent his head and brought their mouths together.

Parting his lips, Tom returned the kiss. Soft at first, then rapidly spiraling into more. A battle between them, compelled by the fire of their mutual attraction left too long neglected. For Tom, an odd dance of the coiling tension of arousal contrasting with the total easing of every stress that had been winding tighter and tighter inside him for weeks. But through it all, desire. Raw and screaming. Wanting.

Breaking their kiss, Chris gasped for a breath. “Here?” he asked. Using the length of his body he shoved Tom hard into the wall.

Unable to slow himself down, Tom cupped Chris’s perfect ass with both hands, then thrust against him. As their erections met through too many layers of clothing, he knew they would never make it to the bed. Not yet. “Yes. God help me, yes... Here. Now!”

Chris kissed him again, then pulled away, gazing down with those vivid blue eyes. Knowing. He paused there, and waited. Ceding control.

This game they played so perfectly. No game, really. More a profound understanding of each other. Who they were. What they each thrived on, and needed most.

Tom rested both hands over those broad shoulders, caressing the soft cotton of Chris’s shirt while feeling firm muscle beneath. A perfect balance of the two. Much like Chris.

They shared a silent gaze for a moment.

Beneath Tom’s touch, Chris trembled. He averted his eyes, and dipped his head.


Tom closed his hands tight around Chris’s shoulders, dug his fingers in, then pushed down, hard.

“On your knees.”