It started with a pair of pale blue eyes which followed him on set with a look that was very familiar. It didn't surprise Lee that Tony wouldn't be able to focus on his work; that he might not answer when called; nor even that time when he dropped something and then had to scramble all of his wits to keep the job. Set PAs weren't supposed to break expensive equipment. Expensive equipment wasn't supposed to get broken, period. Especially not early in the season.
But the agile young man manged to squeeze through the trouble he had created for himself.
He managed to get past the initial, almost-paralyzing crush, too.
And for all that Tony might have wished otherwise, Lee Nicholas did see.
He also saw the change, when the first, breathless crush changed into something else. Something less blind (as much as something caused by, well, blinding good looks could be technically blind) and more... well. Attention-riveting.
Tinged with respect. Not just gasping, dazzled by the brilliant front, the bright smiles.
Something that saw a little deeper, and liked what it saw. (It was special.)
Lee was, unlike many of the stars in the business, far from turning a blind eye to what was happening around him - the supporting, recurring, and episodic cast, the crew. He'd make sure he was aware if somebody was unwell or happy and humor them appropriately; he'd banter with the office manager assistant; he'd be seeing people, even if he made sure his attention wasn't embarrassing them. He knew who wanted whom and how.
He also very carefully was, at least for now, keeping any kind of sex life he had outside of the CB productions studio.
However, there was something about the way Tony was looking at him that placed him apart. Something which captivated the green eyes in turn, if less obviously. It was still a crush; Lee's friendliness tended to result in a flustered and tongue-tied and distracted PA. On the other hand, his wits seemed to be pretty impressive, when he wasn't aware of being in Lee's immediate attention, and, despite the usual high turnout for the position - the office PAs tended to stay somewhere between two and ten days, and the ways they quit were getting progressively more spectacular - Tony had stuck around the show from the very beginning.
It was impressive.
Besides, he was reasonably nice looking. Dark hair and pale skin and blue eyes - not a face that turned heads on the streets, yet handsome enough. Casual, wiry more than muscular, but good at whatever tasks he was assigned, and learning very quickly. When Tony was at work, and Lee happened not to be, he watched him get busy with that quiet concentration, competence, even intensity which he had. Somebody working on ... what he wanted to be doing, somehow.
... and then there was that accursed gas leak accident and all the fucking things about it that Lee couldn't quite recall. Things nagging at his awareness, but completely gone when he tried to grasp at them. He didn't even know what was gone; most of the time, he could even ignore anything that was.
And yet. There were little things, like a slip of paper with Tony's address on it in his leather jacket's pocket. He couldn't ever recall going there or asking about it, and yet it was there.
Like knowing that the pale, shorter man who sometimes showed up around the set on night location shoots was a friend of Tony's, and not anybody else of the cast or crew or just randomly hanging around.
Worse, that something special in the way Tony had been looking at him was gone. Like Lee had done something during that time, something he couldn't recall, and had lost that little bit of respect-tinged adoration which made him, them, it, special - and he found he missed it way more than he expected.
Not like he could just go and ask. It went too close to what he was missing, and he didn't want to go there. Never mind the whole complicated issue that, well, by that time, Tony was dating Zev, and asking him would be awkward--
... and so would be trying to explain the whole thing with, well, liking things both ways. More in the area of not minding them both ways than actively seeking it, but it was enough to be attracted to the PA. Who was keeping a handle on his crush and dating somebody and moving on with his life, and Lee should do the same, not that he had somebody else he was particularly more interested in...
Blondes were easier. Three out of four times, he didn't have to explain anything at all.
And Tony still riveted his attention, despite half-formed resolutions. He wanted to impress him again, to make it good, to be... to be somebody special to him.
Did he really like him that much?
The answer came in the jumble after he and Brenda did... what they did. Tony was single again and ... well, he wasn't exactly staying distant, but, while Lee tried to show him his own interest, the younger man didn't seem to read the signs.
It was frustrating. To say the least.
By the time they were shooting in that damned house, he was through trying to be subtly encouraging. He did know he liked Tony very much, the flickers of attention, of approval, that he saw in the pale blue eyes able to make a difference between a miserable day and a good one. And by not-subtle... well, he didn't come out and really say it or claim anything. But he was apologizing, explaining that he'd made a mistake with Brenda. That... uninterested people didn't do that kind of thing, did they?
And he was also not exactly clinging to the chance to get away from her company with Tony, but... close enough.
And then in the space of very little time, he got to touch the PA... twice. Catching him as he fell, both times, as it were. First time on purpose, Christ, how sappy could he get? And how much could he pay attention... Lee got the impression that Tony didn't expect anybody to have been watching him enough to get to him on time. Least of all himself.
The second time, well, that was different. Feeling the lithe body against him, warm and soft and kind of relaxed against him just like that... that was way too good for Lee to want to break it. Didn't want to even talk about it, or it might get away. Tony might get away.
Well, he would. He had to, didn't he.
All the more, it was Tony's ex who showed up, and Tony scrambled up embarrassed, they both did and...
He didn't want to get in the way if these two had things to talk about. And not by making Tony touch him even more, even if the idea was... Yeah.
Lee made himself stop and rethink that reaction. What with the whole ex thing and that little stab of not-quite jealousy that made him want more of Tony's attention...
Maybe getting him a little jealous would help?
It was a mean thing to do; meaner than most things that Lee got up to, and yet when Brenda was there and so close and he could hear Tony's light steps approaching, he thought, what the hell. It couldn't get any worse, at least, any more closer to concealed or miscommunicated, could it?
Was he ever wrong.
If he hadn't done that, maybe Brenda would have managed to get back out to her trailer. Maybe she would have lived through that cursed night.
But she died. Because of him. And Tony was... however everybody else might be doubting him, the same competence that got things around the set done and few noticed was budding out to take charge, and so attractive, in Lee's eyes, turned to hot.
Turned to somebody he wanted to be very, very close to.
And if they didn't make it through the night, and never had another chance?
So they had that moment. When Lee pressed Tony against the counter, and kissed him, as hard as he could. As hard as he let him. As hard as, he believed in that moment, they both wanted it.
The one highlight in a night from nightmares.
He even let Tony know, after. That it had been him that he kissed, not ... not anybody or anything else. That it had been what he meant to do.
Wasn't in any shape to tell him that it was what he had wanted to do, though, even if it had been true, too. For a while. But he had first to get himself into human mindset again. Before he could think of anything else.
He figured, he'd made a move. If Tony wanted... still? He'd make a move back, eventually. When he was well enough, when he was ready.
And yet months rolled by, and Lee came closer to coming to grips with having been, among other shit, a vessel of a thing of such infinite hatred that the actor hadn't even imagined he would contain. And Tony... didn't step closer.
That ... hurt. But they... they could still be friends, couldn't they? Talk about things. Maybe. Not that Lee was very good at moving past the casual acquaintance part, hadn't been for a while, the perfect smile and perfect appearance and as-expected behavior and brilliant flirting forming a sturdy wall to hide behind.
Now, apparently, he couldn't bring in behind it the one he wanted there. In the safe, pretty place, dashing, interesting. Welcoming.
For a bit before it worked out, it got... Maybe he did deserve that snapping? He did ask Tony to tell him if he didn't want his help, didn't he?
And then, later, he was touching... way too close. Closer than he should have been, when the recently promoted TAD was so ground down that he could barely walk on his own. That wasn't fair. That wasn't the time to press, was it.
So maybe he chickened out when Tony challenged him about it. But Tony couldn't see himself from the side. No, Lee couldn't quite keep his hands to himself; and maybe he hoped Tony would like waking up like that.But it really didn't look like Tony could juggle one more thing just then.
And maybe Lee was an idiot. Besotted, stupid...
Weak and helpless. Apparently.
But he'd still stand up by the hero of the day, of both days, of the set... yeah, their hero, his hero, yap yap sap sap. He just couldn't do anything less. Both because Tony was standing up for all of them. And because... there was no other place he cared to be, in truth.
Although he really liked the bit where it worked out... in the end, much, much better.
That kiss was even better than the previous one. Might have been because they were both enthusiastic and relaxed. There were things to be said about afraid-for-your-life kind of kisses. And even better things to be said about the snogging that suggested that a bright and improving future was going to follow up.