It had started off innocently enough.
"Damn it," Amy complained and twined her pen deeper into the strawberry-pink shock of her bangs. "Madame Butterfly must have sold out. It never even made it to student tickets."
Tony blinked at her dumbly. "Isn't that an opera?" he said distastefully. "And you can't get student tickets, anyway. You're not a student."
Amy fixed him with a disgusted expression. "Not only is it an opera, it is my favorite opera. And my student ID from film school is still good."
It was Tony's turn to make a face, then. "Who on earth has a favorite opera?" he demanded. "Aren't they all the same, anyway? Fat ladies screeching in Italian and dying all over the set."
"Look who's talking," she retorted. "You made Lee take you to see Rent how many times again?"
"That's different! That's a musical!"
"Oh, honey," Amy patted his arm in patronizing manner. "It's time someone told you the truth: Musicals and operas are all the same thing."
"No," Tony corrected her, "operas are old."
"Okay, I'm going to pretend you didn't say that, the same way you pretend it didn't happen when someone refuses to watch old movies."
"That's different. Movies are film, with direction, and there are plenty of classic techniques everyone can learn fr—"
"Hey, Lee," Amy waved over Tony's shoulder.
Tony looked, and his breath caught in his throat the same way it did every time he saw Lee and realized that, yes, he would have that naked and in his bed tonight.
Lee flashed Tony his winning smile, but there was a hint of something wicked underneath, something private and just for Tony. Tony tried not to be too conspicuous while he readjusted his jeans.
"Ready to go?" Lee asked curiously and offered Tony a quick peck on the cheek.
"Your boyfriend was just busy doth protesting too much," Amy retorted and returned to typing lightning-quick on her keyboard.
"Oh?" Lee gave Tony an amused look.
"Amy's actually sad she can't go see Madame Butterfly," Tony explained. "I say she's crazy."
"Oh." Lee paused pointedly. "Actually, I have extra tickets to that."
And that was when Tony's horror began.
"What?" Amy gasped in awe. "Okay, who do I have to blow…" Tony frowned. "Kill," Amy amended. "Who do I have to kill?"
Lee laughed. "Can I convince you to handle my fan mail?"
Amy bit her lip like she was seriously considering it. That alone proved she was insane.
"Just kidding," Lee assured her. "Sure, you can have one of my tickets. I've got four of them, anyway, for next Thursday."
Amy's face fell slightly at that. "Jack and I were supposed to go to the movies that night…"
"So?" Lee retorted. "Drag him along. Boyfriends know that's the price they have to pay for sex, believe me."
Amy grinned back at him wickedly. "You're sure it's no problem?"
"Nah," Lee shrugged. "I got them through some Vancouver artists' committee my agent belongs to. Frankly, I was beginning to worry they'd go to waste."
"Tony's not going with you?" Amy asked in surprise.
Tony got a deer-stuck-in-headlights look on his face.
"Tony hates the opera," Lee provided.
"But we should go on a double-date," Amy teased Tony.
Tony shook his head in horror at the idea.
"After all," Amy's smile turned several degrees eviler, "that's the price boyfriends have to pay for sex, right?"
Tony fought the urge to scream.
"Hmm, you've got a good point there," Lee agreed with her. "Come on." His hand slipped into Tony's. "It'll be fun."
There were some days Tony really wished supernatural monsters would invade earth and save him from his life. Today was definitely turning out to be one of them.
Tony had a set routine that he'd grown very fond of over the past year. He'd wake up to the sound of Lee futzing about in the bathroom. Then he'd roll over into the warm place on the bed Lee had left behind and lie there until he heard the sound of the shower running. At that point, he'd finally get up and slip into the shower behind Lee. Most days, they weren't even late for work.
They'd drive in to work in separate cars, even if neither of them was on location that day. If they were both in the studio, sometimes they still wouldn't really see each other. Tony would work his ass off in his strange not-quite-gopher but not-quite-director position, and eventually he'd escape to Amy's desk for lunch, since he was having a problem with his powers lately where, whenever he called take-out himself, the driver would get caught in a repetitive, temporal loop. Tony figured one of the protection spells he'd done on himself had gone wonky, but he still had no idea how to fix it.
Then, he'd work all afternoon, until he could finally call it quits without CB trying to squeeze one last ounce of productivity out of him. Lee, as costar, always got out before Tony. Not that Lee was less of a hard-worker, but Mason refused to pull in overtime, and Lee had a clause in his contract that they couldn't work him any more than they did Mason, so Lee always ended up getting all of Mason's prima-donna special treatment, too. Lucky bastard.
Tony would finally arrive at one of their prearranged homes long after it was dark (even in summer), and Lee would have already ordered take-out for him, just in case Tony forgot that he kept accidentally condemning poor delivery boys to eternal paradoxes.
Tony and Lee would eat take-out, turn on the TV, and sooner or later (inevitably sooner) someone would start feeling horny, and they'd make out on the couch before retreating to the bedroom, which they wouldn't leave for the rest of the night.
That was their daily routine.
Tony liked their daily routine.
He especially liked the part when he came home after a hard day's work to hot food and a sexy, willing boyfriend.
Thursday, Tony's happy routine was completely thwarted due to Amy's insane double-date plan.
"Don't sulk," Lee sighed as they pulled up to the valet parking.
"It's not that different from what we usually do," Lee insisted.
Tony raised questioning eyebrows.
"So, instead of staying at home and watching endless reruns of Law & Order, we go out and watch the Vancouver Opera."
Tony blinked at Lee in disbelief.
"And they have food here. I know it's not Nikki's Chinese, but – honestly – we eat too much Nikki's Chinese as it is."
Tony just shook his head.
Lee slid his arm through Tony's and waved to where Amy stood next to a thoroughly bundled-up and sullen-looking Jack. "Come on. I just want to spend a night out with my boyfriend."
Tony considered this. "Well…" he conceded.
"It'll make the sex when we get home that much more exciting," Lee whispered in his ear.
Tony almost smiled genuinely when they met Amy and Jack as a result.
"This is so exciting," Amy said happily. Her pink-and-orange-layered hair was done up in an elaborate bun, complete with ornate chopsticks holding it in place, and she wore a slinky dark-blue cocktail dress. "I feel so sophisticated!"
"Your type of sophisticated," Jack commented with an appreciative glance at Amy's legs in the dress, "is one of the few I can stomach."
Tony snorted in agreement with that. "Let's go inside. It's cold out here, and I'm hungry." He blew on his hands to heat them up.
Lee ushered him inside.
"You know what they say," Amy teased.
"Don't…" Tony begged.
"Cold hands, warm heart." Amy grinned at him.
"I hate you," Tony concluded. "Where's the food?" There were a number of men in fancy bartending outfits serving drinks, but the food was suspiciously absent.
"Probably in the back or down those stairs," Lee pointed. "You want me to get you something?"
"I want you to get me everything," Tony corrected.
"How much do you want to bet they don't have burgers?" Jack sighed.
"God, I could use a burger right now," Tony said wistfully.
"Our boyfriends," Amy said in annoyed tone, hands on hips, "have no class."
Lee snorted in agreement. "You two get booze, we'll get food, and we'll meet in the middle." He inclined his head toward one of the square columns that lined the lobby.
"If we're hungry, how come we don't get the food?" Tony asked and accepted a quick peck on the lips. At least a dozen people tried to pretend that they had not seen that. Only two or three gave Tony and Lee disgusted looks. The fact that that was a major improvement over just a few years ago, said something.
"Because I'm a VIP and can cut in line," Lee winked at him.
"My hero," Tony smiled longingly.
Lee and Amy took off. Tony and Jack stood in line for booze.
"So, you're an opera fan?" Jack asked awkwardly.
Tony snorted. "Are you kidding me? Lee and Amy had to blackmail me into coming."
"Really?" Jack looked pleasantly surprised at this. "I just assumed."
"No, apparently operas are the purview of straight women and bi men," Tony concluded.
"Either that, or just plain crazy people," Jack countered.
"Did you know that the whole thing is going to be in Italian? There will be subtitles," Tony shuddered.
"All I wanted," Jack said longingly, "was to stay home tonight with a great, big pizza."
"Man, I would kill for a Lorenzo's Meat Lovers' Special right about now…"
Jack nodded blissfully.
"Hey," Tony suggested with a furtive glance around him. "Think we can make a run for it?"
Jack grinned back at him. "Not if we ever want to get laid again."
"Damn it," Tony laughed.
Thankfully, the booze line moved quickly. It was the only saving grace.
Lee and Amy returned with food, but it wasn't good food. It was precious food. They had a whole platter of little sandwiches, and Tony was pretty sure they were sold individually, which was ridiculous, because it took about six precious sandwiches to make up one real sandwich. There were also chips, but they weren't any kind of chips Tony had ever heard of. He was too frightened to check, but he suspected they had whole grain in them.
He and Jack wolfed it all down, anyway, because they were just that hungry.
"No class whatsoever," Lee teased Tony.
Tony threw a chip at him.
Lee caught in on the fall down from his cheek, placed the chip in his mouth, and licked his fingers pointedly as he pulled them back out.
"Aww!" Amy cooed. "You two are so cute!" She reached over Jack to pinch Tony's cheek.
"Hey," Tony swatted her away, "knock it off!" He turned to Jack for support. "Help me out here, man."
Jack had a blissful look on his face where Amy's chest was pressed into his lap. "You're on your own for this one," he breathed.
Tony sulked and ate another microscopic sandwich. Next to him, Lee now has his nose buried in his program.
"So how long is this?" Jack tried to ask casually.
Amy glared at him anyway.
"Four hours," Lee answered.
Tony gaped at him. "Four hours?"
"With intermissions," Lee assured him. "Intermissions where we can get more food."
Tony was only somewhat placated at that. However, then the lights dimmed and music began to swell, and Tony and Jack turned their full attention to distributing sandwiches between themselves in the dark. The opera began.
The opera, Tony was reluctantly forced to admit, wasn't that bad. The directing was even quite good, and Tony had always thought it was a damned shame that classical music had been pushed out of TV and movies, because sometimes the old stuff provided the best atmosphere. Tony, against his better judgment, was plotting out camera angles and set changes and all the other details that made for great cinema.
There were, of course, still a lot of fat chicks singing in Italian. Tony felt he was still totally justified in demanding extra blowjobs for the next month.
None of that stopped him from yawning pointedly when the curtain rose once more. Jack gave him a knuckle-bump of solidarity.
"What do you think so far?" Lee asked when they'd escaped the theater into the lobby once more.
"More booze?" Jack asked Tony.
"More booze," Tony agreed.
Amy had anticipated this need well in advance and had raced through the crowds, maimed at least one woman in a ridiculously low-cut dress, and made it to the front of the line. She arrived now with four glasses of wine.
"No beer, though," Jack said wistfully.
"You two both fail Opera 101, I hope you know," Amy retorted. "So, Lee, since you actually have some culture…"
"All the lead male roles are solid so far," Lee commented. "I'm still not sold on the female lead."
"I'm still not sold on that dress." Amy goggled a bit at the woman she'd mowed down to get to the wine.
"Someone needs to tell her that, just because it's a dress, doesn't make it formalwear," Tony agreed.
"I like breasts." Jack shook his head. "But sometimes too much is really too much."
Lee nodded his agreement and didn't even seem to notice the very prominent chest a few feet away. "Not so bad so far?" he asked and looked Tony up and down with molten eyes.
Tony nodded. Lee checking him out also wasn't so bad, and Tony was somewhat fortified by the fact that he'd made it through one act alive. He could feel Amy's eyes on him, though, and when he turned to look, she was grinning at him.
"What?" he demanded and accepted a chip from the bag Lee offered him.
"You two are just made of adorable," she teased.
Tony blushed and smacked her shoulder. Unfortunately, he'd never been known for his big, burly slapping ability. Amy just laughed and brushed him off, and before too long they were being ushered back inside.
"Once more unto the breach," Tony teased.
Jack snorted his agreement.
The first act had kept Tony entertained enough. There were brightly colored costumes and singing, and Tony could almost see Amy's point about operas being like musicals. That all fell apart in the second act, unfortunately.
One thing Tony knew for a fact was that operas were even worse than Shakespeare when it came to pointless death. And there was only one thing that could cause that much pointless death: people acting stupidly.
Everyone began behaving like superb idiots right on cue in the second act, and Tony began to grow impatient with the plot. Plus, there were a lot more arias, or at least Tony thought they were arias. Tony never claimed to be an expert on what arias were, but he'd always gotten the impression that they involved female solos about being depressed, and that seemed to be the whole point of the second act. Soon, everyone would be dead. Awesome.
A side effect of all this was that Tony was bored, so naturally Tony did what he always did when whatever he was watching bored him: he started to notice that Lee smelled really, really nice.
Tony began by leaning in to one side, which made sense anyway because the guy in front of him was too tall and blocking the center of the stage from Tony's view. Lee didn't react, so Tony slid his hand slowly over the armrest between them and into Lee's lap.
Lee started and looked at him in surprise before turning his attention back to the stage. That was no good.
Tony's hand moved from Lee's thigh up until he heard Lee's breath catch in his throat, and then he went in for the kill. As he'd thought, Lee was hard.
Lee glared at him, grabbed Tony's hand, and put in back in Tony's own lap.
Tony pouted for a few seconds and then began his attack anew. This time, Lee didn't let Tony get even half as far before he forcibly removed Tony's hand from his person and actually hushed him.
Tony held on to Lee's hand in response and twined their fingers together. Lee considered this for a moment and then allowed it, turning to watch the opera once more.
Tony satisfied himself for a moment, feeling the strength of Lee's fingers and the smoothness of his skin. There was something to be said for dating an actor; they moisturized like nobody's business, and it made for very soft hands.
However, handholding hadn't been enough to satisfy Tony even back when he'd first realized it existed. He let his thumb trace up and down the sensitive skin on the inside of Lee's wrist and then carefully guided Lee's hand up to his lips. Lee still didn't resist.
So Tony then guided Lee's hand back down into Tony's lap, where Tony had no objection whatsoever to getting a handjob right in the middle of the opera house.
Lee glared at him anew and snatched his hand back. "Knock it off," he whispered.
"Come on," Tony pleaded. "I'm bored."
Tony opened his mouth to push his suit, but he was simultaneously hushed by three different people, one of them Amy. Tony sat back in his seat in a huff.
Jack gave him a sympathetic look and offered him the last bag of chips. Tony munched on hoity-toity, upper-class, whole-wheat crisps until finally the curtain rose once more.
"Okay," Amy informed him, "you two are now crossing the line between cute and public spectacle."
"Yes," Lee agreed in betrayal of all horny male solidarity everywhere, "we are."
Tony sighed. "All right, I'm sorry, but even you have to admit the plot's inane."
"I work on 'Darkest Night,'" Lee reminded him. "Inane is a step up."
"He's got you there," Jack was happily munching on sandwiches once more.
"Okay, point," Tony conceded. "And, hey, we've almost made it out alive. Which is more than the entire cast of this is going to manage."
"It's actually not everyone in this," Amy felt the need to point out.
"But Madame Butterfly's toast," Tony was unswayed.
"You'll have to watch it to find out," Lee retorted and slid a comforting arm around Tony's waist. Tony fidgeted at the looks they were getting.
"Actually, no, we don't," Jack pointed out. "The program has a picture of her with a knife sticking out of her stomach on the cover."
Tony couldn't help it at that; he started laughing. That set Amy off laughing, too, as well as Jack. Lee just looked confused.
"Okay, fine," Amy finally agreed. "It's hopelessly melodramatic. But everyone needs a good melodrama now and then, right?"
Tony shrugged. Jack sighed. The curtain call went out.
"Only one left to go," Jack told Tony for support.
Madame Butterfly died, wasting away for her lover, who'd married someone else in the meantime. Jack and Tony were supremely not shocked. A lot of people shouted "bravo" and "brava" at the end, and there was a standing ovation, which Amy said was highly dubious. Tony didn't have the experience to critique whether it had been a good opera performance or a bad one. Jack clapped as mechanically as was humanely possible beside him.
"You couldn't have used magic to transport us away or speed up time or something to save us?" he teased Tony.
"Oh, hush," Amy swatted him half-heartedly. "It wasn't that bad, and we actually got to do something that wasn't work for one evening."
"Contrary to public opinion, sitting on a couch and eating burgers does not count as 'work' for cops," Jack grumbled.
"No," Tony agreed, "it has to be donuts."
Lee groaned, Amy shook her head, and Jack just glared at him.
"What?" Tony insisted. "It was funny!"
"Baby," Lee teased him and pulled him in close when they stepped out into the cold to get their cars from the valet, "you're funny in your head, and that's all that matters."
Tony squirmed in his arms a little, while Jack and Amy snickered at him.
"Come on," Lee said softly, and his eyes were deep, soulful pools that Tony could drown in, and Tony suddenly lost all ability to struggle.
"It wasn't so bad," Tony said breathlessly. "I suppose."
"Ahem?" Amy nudged Jack pointedly.
"It was all right," Jack agreed, "but I reserve the right to have a Bruce Willis film festival this Saturday."
Amy made a face, but she didn't protest.
Just then, the valet pulled up with Lee's car. Having a VIP for a boyfriend had more perks than Tony had anticipated. It also had disadvantages like the half dozen or so not-so-carefully concealed camera phones that were currently pointing at them.
Lee gave Amy a kiss on the cheek, and he and Jack exchanged a nod. Tony got an enthusiastic hug from Amy, and a sympathetic eye-roll from Jack. And then Tony and Lee were in the car, and Lee was driving them home. It was late, almost so late that sex was impractical.
"Don't worry," Lee assured him. "We're still having sex."
Tony breathed a sigh of relief and smiled at him.
"About time you relaxed," Lee smiled back and pulled onto the highway. "You really weren't kidding when you said you didn't like the opera, were you?"
Tony shrugged and looked out the window. "I'd actually never been to one before," he confessed. "It wasn't as bad as I thought."
"You just like complaining more?" Lee guessed with a grin.
"I just don't like…those people," Tony confessed.
Lee quirked an eyebrow at that.
"I'd see people like that, back when I was on the streets," Tony said morosely and stared out into the night. "Dressed up and fancy. They'd look at me like I didn't have any right to exist."
Lee's lips tightened.
"They still look at me that way," Tony concluded, "like I have no right to be anywhere near you."
"They do not," Lee insisted. "You look perfectly handsome in that suit."
Tony shrugged. "I can't shake the feeling. They know I don't belong. Maybe it's because I'm gay, or maybe it's because I used to live on the streets. Who knows?"
"You belong," Lee insisted a bit more vehemently.
Tony turned to look at him.
"You belong with me," Lee said more softly.
Tony smiled slowly at that, and Lee smiled back, and suddenly it seemed like the one of the best dates they'd ever been on.
"And I'll make it up to you for not giving you that handjob in the theater," Lee teased with the slightest flush to his cheeks. "Twice over."
Scratch that: it was the best date ever.
Tony grinned at him goofily, and Lee pulled into the driveway of his home. Their home. Because Lee's home was where Tony really did belong now, and that was worth all the operas in the world.