He can’t though. He’s half-dressed, his legs are shaking, his lungs are burning and the second he stops he’ll come apart, he knows it, he knows it, he, he...
He cannot fucking stop.
“Chris,” and Sebastian can be quicker than Chris gives him credit for. Lighter on his feet naturally than all the training in the world will teach Chris how to be. His hands are on Chris’s wrist, pulling him back and Sebastian’s muscles are lean instead of bulked for this role but the strength is still there, partly physical. Partly born out of need.
All Chris can focus on is how Sebastian’s fingers feel on his skin and how Sebastian is too damnably attentive to detail, to obscenely focused to miss the frenzied battering of the pulse under his touch.
“Chris, what was that? In there?”
Chris could answer. The words are lodged at the base of his throat, always. The scene though, the way they’d lain and moved and watched and breathed, though, the scene had loosened them, had left the truths to ricochet against tongue and teeth and heart, tearing holes. He can chart the flood of feeling, of blood between his ribs and down to sour in his stomach. His breath is acid and crust milled sand. The take had only lasted minutes, but Chris has lost hours in the fantasy evoked. Sebastian beneath him. The long sprawl of milk-white skin. The rise and fall of that chest. So close and so perfect and so fragile because the world was harsh and if only one thing could survive it was this. It was him.
Even the words, the idea of it as farce, or as something less than soul-deep. Just the mention makes Chris feel sick.
“What was what?” Chris manages, though it’s more like a cry or a moan. Or a shiver underwater where life bubbles, and gurgles, and threatens to give out. “We reshot the scene,” he tries to brush it off. “It’s not, you know. Complicated.”
Chris knows he probably wasn’t fooling anyone, but Sebastian.
With Sebastian, he shouldn’t have even tried.
“I’ve let my share of men fake-rut against me for the cameras,” Sebastian says, plain as day, and Chris can’t read his tone, let alone his face.
Chris could, however, read the spear of hot jealousy that cuts through him. In theory, he could make sense of it, recognise the want that fuels it, and admit it to that face with the whole of his fever-quaking heart.
He can’t though. He can’t.
“But this?” Sebastian’s eyes don’t narrow exactly. But they do something, and it rips the bottom out from Chris’s chest, his gut, his world.
“Chris, this wasn’t that.”
The walls start to close in, just then. There’s no stopping it.
It’s starts in his lungs.
“I don’t,” Chris feels the caving in as he breathes, the way the process starts to narrow and his throat aches to close, a gradual inward death that’ll crush his chest in and break his ribs and remind him that the world is small, too small, too precious to hold someone like him alongside somehow like Sebastian, because the world’s too small, and he’s too small, and he wants beyond what the universe builds itself to hold and he’s shaking, he will start shaking before the pressure cracks his bones.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He manages to say it, but it’s more a gasp of a thing, a choke of a thing really, more than anything else.
“Don’t lie to me.” It’s not the pressure building up and seething forth, then, that accosts his fitful heart and squeezes without remorse. It’s those eyes, the way that Sebastian says those words that should be a warning, a veiled threat but are nothing close, and instead are a plea.
“After everything, after all that we’ve,” Sebastian shakes his head and lowers his voice. “Chris, don’t fucking lie to me. Please.” He tilts his head, and Chris can barely hear him speak for the way his blood is thrashing.
“Not to me.”
Chris feels nails in the soft flesh at the centre of him, drawing blood as his pulse races toward a reckless, soulless oblivion.
“I’m not,” Chris says, and it comes out clipped enough that if he looks away, if he doesn’t let Sebastian see the truth in his eyes and the heaving of his chest, it’ll pass for irritation. For a moment, at least. “Sebastian, I don’t know what you’re...”
“I’m not sure anyone likes sex scenes, Chris,” Sebastian cuts in, tone gentle but firm all at once: a paradox. Sebastian. “We tolerate them, because we have to, but they’re awkward. They’re choreographed for the look of it, not the comfort, right? And it’s only because we’re actors that we can simulate a look of intimacy while we’re contorted for lighting, with lenses focusing on our faces and just far enough from our dicks so it doesn’t count as porn. It’s a performance, it’s our job.”
The words blur in Chris’s mind. Maybe it’s for the wrenching, the agony in his chest. Maybe it’s for the inefficient flow of his blood, or the lack of oxygen to his brains, to his limbs, to his heart. Maybe it’s because they don’t matter, not really.
What matters is what comes out next.
“You were,” Sebastian swallows, but Chris catches the strength, the purpose his his posture in his peripheral vision: stately. Blinding. Beautiful.
“We,” Sebastian starts again, and Chris is in a car, Chris is in a plane, Chris is in the world and the world is going to crash. Death is imminent. His body knows it, and wants to leap from the cliff of breathing and being and feeling while the choice is still his.
“We were doing something else, just now.”
Chris is helpless, breathless. Chris is frozen to the spot.
Chris wishes, like the idiot he is, that for all the cold in him, Sebastian were just that little bit closer, enough to feel that warmth before he drowns.
“I need you to tell me,” Sebastian says, and finally turns around as he asks it, as he shatters the illusion because Chris is fairly damn certain that he knows, that Sebastian knows.
“What was it?”
Chris was right, though, when he said Sebastian would see right through him the moment he caught sight of Chris’s face. Those wading-pool eyes go wide, and with what’s left of Chris’s ability to focus (and it’s on Sebastian, always, even as it fades to black) he sees the breath catch in Seb’s throat. A tangible thing, arrested. Air wrapped up in a heart he can see at the neck.
He’d give his life for that heart. It’s not even a question. Pale on those sheets, dye-cum-blood on handkerchiefs that made Chris’s own heart twist. Those hands on him with friendly concern, with a different kind of love but with love nevertheless.
Yes, Chris would die for him. Chris would hollow out his own chest to keep that heart alive.
He wouldn’t even think twice.
“Oh god,” Sebastian gasps, and he closes the space between them, and it’s only when Chris wants to trip on his own inhale that he realises his inhales are caught, just wheeze half in and caught out and he’s getting dizzy, really.
Sebastian is so close.
“Chris,” Sebastian says his name like it matters, like it’s the only thing that matters, and Chris isn’t sure if he’s heard that before, or if he’s losing contact with conscious reality.
“Chris, look at me, please.” So Chris does, of course Chris does, and it doesn’t matter that the tunnel visions he’s blinking through shows him anything, really, because Chris knows Sebastian’s face intimately, can close his eyes and see it sketched like ink on silk.
“Chris, just, just come here, just here, lean on me just like this, yes, yes, just like that,” Chris is mostly aware of the way he’s being manhandled, which isn’t exactly a familiar sensation, and has only rarely, only beautifully occurred alongside that touch, that scent, that presence. His already wrecked pulse ratchets higher, and it hurts, now. His heart actually hurts with it, sore beneath the bones.
“Slow, slowly,” Sebastian’s whispering, plastered tight against Chris’s back, his arms wrapped full and firm around Chris’s chest, those long arms. That body.
“Now breathe,” Sebastian instructs him, and the tone leaves no room for failure. Chris doesn’t have to be fully aware of the world around him, outside of Sebastian’s heat, to know that.
“I’m going to breathe, and you just follow, okay? Just follow the feeling of it, let your body follow my body, okay?” Yes, Chris thinks, as Sebastian speaks. He’d follow him anywhere. Even here. Even into the hell of what he’s either lost or waits on the brink of losing. All for the fact that he can’t lie about this. All for the fact that he cannot lie about the flimsy heart Sebastian’s been given to hold, against Sebastian’s own godforsaken will.
“Breathe.” And it’s suddenly a thing within reach, because Sebastian’s breathing deeply enough that Chris can imagine the cut of his ribs. At the very apex of his inhale, Chris can feel the rapping of Sebastian’s heart against Chris’s spine. “Just breathe, slow and deep as you can, alright?”
He falls back, deflates, and he fights the urge to be boneless and malleable and weak between these arms. He fights the urge to shake until he breaks so badly he can’t be pieced together.
“Shhh,” Sebastian is breathing in his ear. Sebastian is drawing circles on his chest through his shirt at either side of his pummelling heart like he can contain it, like he can talk it down from the ledge.
“Shhh, I’m right here, I’m right here with you,” Sebastian’s murmuring slow, soft. Featherlight. “We’re here, and we’re going to be fine, okay?” He dips his head and inhales deep and full but sharp at the crook of Chris’s neck. “Everything is going to be fine, I will make sure of it. Whatever’s wrong, whatever doesn’t fit I will fix, okay? I will make it fit and I will keep you safe and you’re so strong, Chris, you’re so strong and you’re so brave. You’re so perfect, and I will be whatever you need, you know that, you know that.”
It’s begging now, almost. It’s begging, and Chris can’t tell who it comes from. Where it bleeds from. It’s too much of an echo of his own mind for him to be sure.
“I’ll be here,” Sebastian mouths against the skin at Chris’s collarbone. “I’m not going anywhere, just breathe, deep and even.” He flattens palms against the pump of Chris’s blood from its berth and they’re floating. Capsizing. Dying at sea and watching the sky. Sebastian is whispering the promises, vowing the whole of the world into Chris’s flesh. A backbeat to the pulse that’s slow, now. Rippling from the waves.
“Breathe for me, Chris.”
Chris latches onto that, onto the touch of warm, steady hands to cup his weary heart as it gives. Recedes.
They’re cast adrift for long moments, lungs burning as the gasping dies but the tearing remains.
Chris has to blink at the ceiling, blank above them. Chris has to remember what brought him here.
“Are you alright?” Sebastian asks him, voice flayed wide, and Chris remembers.
Chris could never forget, not really.
“I,” he starts, and he can’t even recognise his voice for how it rasps. “I’m…”
“I didn’t mean to upset you,” Sebastian gathers Chris’s hands to holds them to Chris’s heart, too. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t apologise,” Chris says, shaking his head. “Fuck, just,” he swallows hard, and his heart kicks harder. Sebastian feels it, and Chris doesn’t know if he means to flinch, to make a tiny noise of protest. To hold to him all the tighter.
Chris doesn’t know if he means it, but it probably doesn’t matter. Chris has only just remembered how to breathe, and that sound, that touch is calling him toward forgetfulness once more. He hones in on the rise and fall around him, the breath and the heart at his back. In. Out.
“Don’t apologise, Sebastian,” Chris begins, and he sounds so very tired. Can’t bring himself to cover how he sounds so lost. “I…”
“Look at me.”
Delicate, powerful fingertips are grasping his jaw, then easing his face to turn.
It takes everything Chris has inside of him, all his heartbreak, all his fear, all his failure and his love not to fall into that gaze. To not just get lost and give in and never surface again.
“I’m going to say something,” Sebastian says slowly, never breaking the eye contact. “And if it offends you, or if it isn’t true, you can ignore it. I hope you’ll ignore it, if it’s not true.” Sebastian bites his lip for an instant, and then narrows his eyes to consider Chris closely. “Are you okay enough to hear it?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” Chris nods. Probably more times than strictly necessary.
“Chris.” Sebastian’s voice is sceptical, and Chris is both ashamed at the way he’s been read, and the attempt to mislead, and jolted through with electricity at the proof of being known.
“I’m fine enough,” he meets in the middle, and Sebastian watches him for an extended moment more before nodding once. Approval.
“Good,” Sebastian breathes out slowly. “Good.”
Chris’s heart is a mallet, now. Heavy and deep and trembling. It waits for the death blow. The end of all things.
“Chris,” Sebastian finally says, raising the proverbial blade. “You weren’t filming a sex scene in there.”
Chris doesn’t have it in him to protest, anymore. Chris doesn’t think he even wants to deny it.
He just needs this to be done. He’s not sure he’s going to last much longer with the pressure as it mounts again.
“I think,” Sebastian tilts his head. “I think you might have been trying to make love.”
The frank declaration of it catches in Chris’s heartbeat. It makes him feel faint with terror. Anguish.
So much wanting his skin wants to rip apart to make enough room for something so big. So strong.
“And I need to know,” Sebastian goes on, and it takes Chris a minute to notice that Sebastian’s hands are on him, and Sebastian’s throat is bared, and there’s a trembling in his touch. There’s a quickfire jackhammering beneath the skin in his neck.
Sebastian is pale. Pale, like before. Pale on the sheets, Sebastian is…
“I need to ask, and I hope you’ll tell me the truth,” Sebastian huffs out, and Chris can see his chest heaving, now. Chris’s own start to follow suit.
“Was it just the characters?” Sebastian finally breathes. “Was it Stephen’s heart they just caught on film?”
Chris’s heart trips, because that’s the kicker, isn’t it? That’s the only question that needs an answer. That’s the window to the soul.
“Seb,” Chris pleads, but he doesn’t know what for.
“Please,” Sebastian rasps, and his eyes are red-rimmed but they have no tears. Somehow, that’s more heartbreaking than anything.
“Please, Chris, I...”
Chris cuts Sebastian off mid-word. Sebastian’s mouth stays open as Chris’s voice, Chris’s confession hangs between them.
Chris’s heart bangs swift, sheer momentum. It lifts up his chest and bursts from his mouth.
“No,” Chris says again, and it’s steadier now. Stronger. “I don’t,” he gasps in a breath, and chews his lower lip until it bleeds.
“I don’t know if there was anything in that scene that belonged to Stephen.”
His heart’s not a hammer anymore. It’s a flutter. It’s the shiver of lashes before those last moments, maybe. The last of all breaths. This is it. This is it, he’s ruined everything, he’ll never see that smile again. He’ll never hear that voice, he’ll never feel his chest fail to hold everything Sebastian does to him, everything he causes to be felt inside, he’ll never...
Chris snaps back when his name is spoke. Chris comes back when Sebastian’s hands are suddenly on his cheeks.
“Chris, I…” Sebastian breaks off, stares at Chris with something undefinable. Chris kids himself, just for an instant, that he can taste something closer to hope than hate on Sebastian’s breath.
“Chris,” Sebastian speaks close enough to Chris’s face that their lips brush, and Chris’s heart can’t handle it, he can’t, he…
For the strength, for the intractable clamour of Chris’s pulse for long enough to ache in the muscle, the lack of it, the way his heart fucking stops.
“It was me, it was all me,” Sebastian’s lips are wingbeats. Angels’ breath on Chris’ skin. Chris thinks that’s the only thing that starts his heart back to beating, and his self back to living, this awe like a meteor in the night. Sebastian’s touch.
“And you, and, fuck, fuck,” Sebastian’s tracing his bones with something like reverence. “Thank god, it was you.”
Chris’s eyes are clear. His pulse is strong, too strong, but it’s not skipping as often, or as violently, or as fast.
Chris is a fool. He always has been. Chris is already on the ledge of something, on the brink. His feet are poised.
Chris doesn’t know yet whether he’s dumb enough to leap, or just drained enough to stop holding back.
“Seb?” He dares. Good god, but he dares.
And it is a leap. It is very much a leap. He is sure of it.
“I love you.”
He doesn’t get the chance. He doesn’t have to leap.
His world narrows, but this time, it’s framed in light.
“I love you, Chris.” Sebastian is staring at him with the sincerity Chris had admired from the very first moment, on the very first day. The open shine of some unmatchable soul in those eyes. “I’d chart the globe for you, and I’d map the stars and you have to know that, you have to…”
“Sebastian,” Chris reaches, and no, he doesn’t have to leap, but he wants to. He will leap.
“Seb, I,” he traces the full pout of Sebastian’s lips, disbelieving. “I love you. I love you with, with…”
It’s the easiest thing he’s ever said. The most natural words he’s ever formed. The way his heart relaxes feels like rebirth, new life. The secret is out.
There’s nothing to fear.
“It wasn’t character bleed,” Chris finally says, because the way the thought of losing this one man, this one piece of the world that meant Chris could be whole…
The thought of losing him. If there’s any proof, any weighing of the depth of what this is, and how it feels, and what it does, it is that.
“The scene,” Chris clarifies when Sebastian quirks an eye. “The scene where you, where I…”
“Oh,” Sebastian barely breathes out the sound before his face crumbles, and he reaches. Holds. “Oh, Chris.”
“That was me,” Chris carries on. “That was all me and I,” he voice breaks, and he has to shake his head to force out the ghosts. He has to anchor on Sebastian’s touch.
“All I could see was you, and all I could think was,” Chris means to say it, but it is unspeakable. “And I just. I couldn’t.”
Chris looks up, and it’s not a surprise to find that Sebastian’s eyes are home.
But to be welcome there. To be welcomed home...
“I couldn’t breathe.”
Sebastian draws him in, clings to Chris all the tighter, and that’s what he does. That’s what they do. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Chris feels like lungs lift with Sebastian’s. Chris’s heart leaps at the sensation.
“Come on,” Sebastian finally murmurs at the point of Chris’s jaw. “I think we’re done for the day.”
“Are you sure?” Chris asks, the spell broken as he backtracks. “I think we’re supposed to…”
They’d filmed the scene, but there were more things, more little details, and fuck but Chris is a mess, Chris is a moron, Chris is so selfish and he’s fucked it up and kept everyone waiting god knows how long and his makeup is destroyed, and his eyes are rubbed raw and fuck, fuck…
“Chris?” Sebastian cuts in, a life raft. The preserver of all the Chris is, and strives to be. All the bits of him that get lost when he falls. “We’re done for the day.”
Sebastian says it with such intensity in his eyes, such firmness in his voice, and the things it does to Chris’s pulse, to Chris’s head, his body, are unspeakable.
“Oh.” The word drops from Chris’s lips like water. Prayer. “Okay. Right.”
Sebastian smiles, and Chris’s throat goes dry.
“We’re,” Chris swallows, but it doesn’t help. “We’re done for the day.”
Sebastian reaches out a hand. Chris does have to think to take it.
Sebastian leads. Chris doesn’t have to ask to where.
“I wrote you letters. Poems.”
Chris doesn’t expect the words to come out, but the curl of Sebastian’s lips makes them worth it.
“I know,” Sebastian nods. “After Will recovered, he asked to see them. We added the scene and everything, remember?”
“No,” Chris says, overcome by a wave of anticipation that’s neither wholly good, or wholly bad. Just is. Just simmers and sparks at the fingertips laced inside Sebastian’s own.
“No, I wrote you letters.” Sebastian stills and turns toward Chris. He turns, but he doesn’t let go.
Chris almost basks in the flush that he can feel rising up his face. So warm.
“That’s how I managed to make those ones almost appropriate,” Chris says, just a little shy. “Got out everything I really wanted to say before I got on set.”
The quirk of Sebastian’s lips boils over, and he’s beaming. It is blinding. Sun against the snow so that it sparkles. So that it makes you grateful to never see another thing, because another thing could never be so right.
“You’re perfect,” Sebastian reaches and cups Chris’s face. “I always thought so, always knew it, but fuck, Chris, you are magnificent. You are every impossible dream. Somehow.”
Chris’s heart flies on those wings for a good long time before he comes back down.
“Fuck,” Chris breathes out. “You already saw ‘em.”
Sebastian looks askance.
“My letters,” he grins, teasing but not at the heart of it. “I think the next line I wrote was about you being laced in tandem with the cords of my heart or something like that, so,” Chris shrugs. “You know. There was that. After I talked about how you were an impossible dream and all.”
And Sebastian laughs, and Chris taste what that music knows, but Sebastian’s hand is tight, and he’s pulling him. It’s maybe toward their trailers, maybe farther still, but they stumble. They tremble. They giggle. They run.
They run, until they’re breathless. Like this, though, it’s a sensation Chris welcomes with all his threadbare, overflowing, wearing-wild heart. With Sebastian’s lips upon him, Chris will never need to breathe again. Like this.