His mama told him that faith, hope and love were the most important things in life.
Love he had from the moment he’d set eyes on the man with sun bleached hair and blue eyes as changeable as the ocean. They were quite the match. Their love of music and performing melded them together like the dime store trinket with two pieces that fit together to make a whole heart.
He convinced himself to be satisfied with their brotherly relationship until they toured Europe the first time. Their entourage was small, the two of them always together. His sun loving California boy complained incessantly about the cold, constantly leaning into him to get warm.
On a train rolling south to London they tried to relax enough to sleep. Too many one night stands, too many cigarettes, too much liquor and too little sleep was wearing down even their iron constitutions. Turning to make a comment, he smiled softly at Steve. The singer had dozed off, guitar and notebook in his lap head back, mouth open, snoring softly.
Carefully moving the guitar, he’d covered him with a blanket and settled back to watch the night turn into another day.
Commotion outside their compartment jerked him awake. Finding no danger, his body was already drifting back to sleep when his exhausted brain caught up.
They had shifted during night as Steve had burrowed into him, his body turning to cradle the blond. Several things occurred to his sleep deprived brain at the same time ... That sheltering Steve with his body and his heart felt like something he’d done and wanted to continue to do forever, and that he would never tell Steve how he felt. He didn’t want to lose what he did have with the singer.
Thankfully Steve slept the sleep of the exhausted allowing him to move them until he was upright with Steve leaning against his shoulder. Finally his bladder demanded he move. He dropped a kiss on the tousled head and with a soft ‘Love ya’, laid Steve’s head to rest on their folded jackets. He never saw the confused blue eyes blink open.
Noise and movement woke him from a deep sleep. The last thing he remembered was working on a song while Christian stared out the window.
He loved England and their fans, but he was cold from the time they touched down until they stepped off the plane at LAX. The only time he was warm was leaning against Christian. The man gave off heat like the sun.
His last thought was *at least half of him was warm* until the heat disappeared and he thought he felt someone kiss the top of his head and say ‘Love ya’.
It rattled around his exhausted brain until Christian returned with coffee and his brain fixated on caffeine, nicotine, and heat.
When they got back to the States, he found he’d been moved to part-time status on Angel. Getting the part and working with David had been great in the beginning. Lindsey had started out as a promising protagonist, but as the show progressed the character had become more whipping boy than protagonist.
Being part-time meant taking more roles, more out of town work ... Time away from the band ... Time away from Steve.
Steve’s career was taking off as well. More gigs, his record label, a CD every year. Then Jensen got Steve and Jason booked onto the convention circuit and the separations became longer, though they talked…a lot. A couple trips to Nashville during the year for the publishing company brought them back to their center.
Steve had come to Santa Fe with him while he filmed Into The West. Once again living in each pockets, the feelings he’d kept so carefully controlled started to slip their leashes as he relaxed.
When he found out Christian was moved to part-time on Angel his heart gave a jump. They could spend more time with the music until he remembered acting paid Christian’s bills.
They did spend their free time together, but movie roles and recording his CD ate up weeks at a time. Then Jensen got him booked into the Supernatural convention schedule and his free time shrank even more.
Their trips to Nashville at the publisher’s behest got them back in sync and made him realize what a rare thing was their professional and personal relationship.
He had worried over Christian when they met at the airport. He was tense and aloof ... Not his usual affectionate self. He made an extra effort to invade the brunette’s space and run interference when the growls would start. It took him a week, but by the time they wrote and recorded Seven Days he was himself again.
He was filming his last scenes when it happened. One minute he was standing on the hillside when the rocks above gave way sending him tumbling down the mountain. He’d come to face down unable to move. He could hear people shouting around him. Panic started to set in when after several tries he still couldn’t move.
Cursing enough to turn the air blue, he started fighting to get his arms and legs under himself to push up. An hour later, they pulled him out and rushed him to the hospital. A frantic Steve tried to get to him only to be moved gently out of the way by the nurses. Then someone jostled his ribs and aching head sending him into oblivion.
Standing on the balcony of their hotel room, he enjoyed a cigarette and cup of coffee. Looking out over Santa Fe sent a wave of calm over him. When Christian called with the invite it was right on time. He was burnt out from the final push to finish his CD and couldn’t wait to replace those songs with something new in his brain. He’d picked up his guitar to work on a song they’d started the night before when the phone rang.
The world stopped when someone said, “There’s been an accident”.
The next time he woke, the lights were dim and his head and ribs pounded in the same painful rhythm. Steve sat in the chair by his bed, head resting by his elbow ... Hand on top of his. Relieved he was there and working purely on instinct, he’d twined their fingers together and placing a kiss on the tan knuckles, murmured his customary, ‘Love ya’, before drifting back to sleep.
The blond head lifted off the bed, blue eyes wide. It sounded like his partner in everything wanted to be his partner in EVERYTHING. He laid his head back down. He was too strung out from almost losing Christian to think about that now.
When they determined his concussion was minor, and his ribs were cracked instead of broken, they released him into Steve’s care. Back at the hotel he found out they had all the scenes they needed and released him to go home.
The flight back to Los Angeles seemed surreal. Sensitive to the emotions around him, he let Steve ramble about nothing until the tension became too much.
“Something wrong?” He watched the singer’s body language carefully.
“Naw, man. Everything’s cool.” Sunglasses hid the anxiety in his eyes, but not the tenseness of his body.
He turned away. For the first time in their long partnership, Steve lied.
His injuries didn’t slow his schedule. There were promos for films and TV, conventions for Angel. When the doctor released him, he invited Steve for dinner to celebrate.
Pleasantly full, the pair settled on the couch with the remnants of their second bottle of wine. He watched Steve all evening, and the singer seemed to have something weighing on his mind. He hoped Steve would share, but when he did ... His heart plummeted.
“Christian ...” the blond head raised, blue eyes locked. “Do you love me?”
His mouth went dry. He pretended to misunderstand. He pasted on his best ‘aw shucks’ grin.
“Ya know I do, Son. We’ve been friends a long time.” He looked into his glass.
He looked up.
“I heard you.”
He closed his eyes.
“Look at me, Christian.”
The voice was closer.
When he did Steve was right there. Fingers roughened by a lifetime of sliding over guitar strings slid along his jaw until they pulled him into a kiss.
It wasn’t fierce or fiery or rough, but like gears too long out of sync, everything clicked. The click melded the two pieces of that dime store heart and filled his chest with an intensity that caused him to grab the beloved face while his tongue had its wicked way with Steve’s ... Pushing ... He toppled the singer backwards.
He came awake slowly, the dark head resting on his chest sparking memories of the night past. That Christian had given him something he had given to no other cut deeply into his very essence.
Becoming lovers seemed a natural progression of what had begun the moment they met. This new aspect seemed to ease the restlessness that kept them constantly on the move. After their sound check, they sprawled around the lounge at The Garage catching up, telling stories from their solo tour of England, and going over schedules for the States.
“So guys,” Teddy chirped up, “y’all pick out rings while you were travelin’?”
Expectant faces turned to their front men. Christian blushed deeply, then paled as he felt the blood drain from his face.
“We’re doin' the honeymoon first.” He choked out before downing a pull from the bottle of Jack to hide his reaction.
He felt a pang of regret at the bewildered expression on Christian’s face, but remained turned away from those beguiling eyes.
When they got home, Christian started to settle ... Nesting in whatever place they called home. He loved waking next to Christian ... The man put the same high energy into sex that he did everything else. They still enjoyed looking at beautiful women, but Christian never strayed. The first night they’d made love, Christian considered himself committed to them, and that terrified him.
That terror was the only explanation he had for what he did next.
It was their last show at The Viper Room until Christian got back from filming in Argentina. They were flying to Tulsa for a visit with the Kanes, and for Christian to film a bit part for a friend. The petite blonde had been at every KANE show for the past month. She stood under his mike making sure her attributes were on display for anyone that looked down. She was still there when they were packing. The band was filing out, when Eric cornered Christian, leaving him on stage alone.
One minute he was coiling cords for his amp, the next he was in the shadows, the blonde going down on him like a pro. He felt the stare and when he opened his eyes it was to see a devastated Christian. Then Jensen came around the corner. Ashamed he pushed the girl away and started after Christian only to be intercepted by an enraged Jensen.
“You’ve done enough for one night, Carlson.” He turned and followed the fast moving Christian.
He funneled his hurt ... His rage into Billy. The insane serial killer was a perfect fit. He became a man of few words and solitude. The words on his body rattling around his head. Forsaken.
Jensen had taken him home after they found Steve, and stayed with him as he lay in bed, mute with shock. Shock gave way to anger, which ended with Jensen sporting a bruised jaw, straddling his thighs and pinning his wrists. He took him to the airport the next morning then called his mama and told her he’d broken up with Steve. By the time he got to Tulsa she was prepared when he crumbled at her feet.
Steve didn’t try to call, but he did text and send emails. They remained in his inbox, his pain too great to even read the words.
They were almost finished. He was exhausted. The intensity of the role, and the unresolved situation with Steve were wearing him down. He was relieved when Jensen flew down. The younger man gave his strength without complaint. Jensen told him he’d seen Steve. They were repairing their friendship, but he would always be there for him. Then the darkness rose, but green eyes stared unafraid into the heart of the storm. When the blackness cleared, there were marks and bruises, but the green eyes were still unafraid. Shame at his actions he unclenched his fists as strong arms pulled him into the shelter of their friendship.
“Jen?” He choked out the words.
“Read what he sent ya. Talk to him. You’re dying without each other.”
In a quaint house in an older section of Nashville sat a man physically and emotionally exhausted after reading six months of emails. He stared at his phone, thumb hovering over #1. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes and pushed the number.
His jaw clenched as pain and love warred in his chest.
“Help me. Help me understand what you did.”
They were meeting on neutral ground, a place that held only good memories for them. Steve’s truck sat at the curb, he stood at the door waiting patiently for him to decide.
RUN! His broken bleeding heart screamed.
Stay. His soul knowing he would never love another, whispered softly.
Warmth encircled him, giving him strength, settling his mind, chasing fear back into the darkness. Them … They were his focus.
He opened his eyes.
It was finally finished. Everyone sat around the screening room at Bigger Picture Group waiting on Bob and Tim. Christian fidgeted to the point where he was practically sitting in the man’s lap to keep him in his seat.
The screen came to life.
They sat spellbound as the video for House Rules played. He held tight to the Christian’s hand as it stopped on the final scene. Seeing those pale eyes searching him out told him and the rest of the world what was most important.
Their music, their life, them.
~ Fini ~