For the umpteenth time that evening, Zach straightened out his tie and rolled his shoulders so that the suit would at least feel as though it fit him.
He hated these big shindigs that Shaun always dragged him to, partially because it meant he had to wear clothes that made him feel uncomfortable and also because it meant that he had to watch his boyfriend charm every living thing in the room.
It wasn't as if he was jealous or anything; it was kind of condescending to think it but he knew that Shaun loved him and wouldn't cheat on him- that wasn't the problem, the problem was that Shaun was charming, totally head-over-heels loveable, and whenever he saw Shaun interacting with other people, he waited for the other shoe to drop, for Shaun to stop and realize that there was nothing special about Zach and why was he still with him?
Even after six months, he didn't believe that this was his life- everything that he didn't know he needed- and was afraid it'd get snatched from him the moment he looked away.
He went to stand awkwardly at the food table, picking at the fancy cheese the caterers had set out with a white lacy doily framing the edges of the silver plate. The closest he had come to any sort of thing that resembled the events he was now privy to was his senior prom in high school, and even then they hadn't had anything fancy like this.
Nibbling on the cheese, his eyes scanned the room for Shaun. He found him standing near the doorway, talking to a group of distinguished people. One particular person, who was standing way too close to Shaun and touching him constantly, caught his eye and he had to consciously school his features into neutrality. What he was itching to do was march straight over there and show those people how much he and Shaun loved each other. But something kept his feet glued to the floor.
So, he stayed where he was and surreptitiously glanced at the big grandfather clock tucked away in the corner. An hour and a half to go…
"Hey babe, enjoying yourself?" Shaun finally sidled up to him a few minutes later.
Zach forced a smile and nodded, though the clothes didn't stop making him feel itchy and as though everyone around them could tell he didn't belong there, and this was the first time his boyfriend talked to him since they got there a half hour ago.
Shaun narrowed his eyes and Zach could tell he needed to act better at pretending to enjoy himself.
He threw another smile Shaun's way, this one a little nervous but less forced than his first one, hopefully to throw Shaun off his trail. (He might not have wanted to be here, but it had meant so much to Shaun to bring him along that he didn't want to put a damper on his significant other's satisfaction.)
"Come on, I want to introduce you to some people," and Shaun took his hand while Zach barely had time to stuff his last cheese puff into his mouth.
They came to a halt at the doorway, and were greeted by the same group of people Zach saw with Shaun last. Feeling extremely dorky with his clip-on bow-tie, and like a little kid getting tagged along forcefully behind their parent, Zack smiled anxiously in their general direction. He knew that he should relax more, especially since they were more than likely scrutinizing him at the moment, but all he could focus on was how over-dressed he felt and how he didn't feel like he belonged with all of these rich, sophisticated people.
Honestly, what did Shaun see in him?
"I want you all to meet my boyfriend, Zach," and Shaun looked so relaxed and beaming widely at him, his knees wanted to buckle underneath him. Zach couldn't stop the goofy grin from adoring his own face, and the introductions of Shaun's other friends went by in a blur, everything felt surreal.
Shaun and his friends got into a discussion then, the same guy that made Zach see red before still standing way too close to Shaun, and smiling at him, with Zach right there. Michael was apparently a writer himself, new to the craft, and yada-yada, Zach tuned him out for the most part, scowling inside to make up for the fact that he couldn't stick a fork into the man's dimpled chin.
They got home, finally, and Zach wanted to escape into the bathroom and strip off his painful clothes one by one and maybe throw them out the window. (Though it was highly unlikely he would go through with it, after all he'd have to come up with an excuse for why his new clothing ended up outside.)
But before he could make it to the foot of the stairs, he felt a tug. Shaun had grabbed a fistful of his suit jacket and was giving him a weird, calculating, look.
"Hi," Zach said a little bit shyly, bringing himself closer to Shaun, and wrapping his arms around the older man's waist.
"Hi," Shaun replied, looking down briefly before tugging at Zach's bow-tie, getting it off and flinging it in the general direction of the hallway.
Zach's eyes widened, usually Shaun wasn't so careless.
"Aren't you going to pick that up?"
"Hoo-okay." Zach was starting to get confused by the minute.
"You were jealous." Shaun stated matter-of-factly, his hands roamed Zach's chest, unbuttoning each button slowly and looking at it intensely.
Zach snorted, and rolled his eyes. "You are so dead…wrong, dude."
And beneath Shaun's mirth and obvious joy at making fun of him, there was a serious tone to the question.
Zach turned his gaze away from Shaun, shrugging, trying to be nonchalant and failing miserably. Cool fingertips came up to his face and turned them towards Shaun, a questioning look in his eyes.
"I just wonder sometimes…why you're even with me. I mean I'm not rich, and I'm sure as hell not Michael."
Shaun scratched at his chin, in that cute adorable way of his when he was confused about something. "What's Michael got to do with this?"
"Michael's got a lot to do with this. He's the perfect guy for you; he's the perfect golden boy."
Abruptly, Shaun's fingers dropped away and he stepped back, eyes narrowing in anger and mouth setting into a determined line.
"Don't I get a say in who I think is perfect for me?"
Zach swallowed; his bad mood was slowly deteriorating into depressed territory. He hadn't meant to make Shaun angry, but he still thought of himself as that awkward, shy poor boy whose self-esteem was so low he had needed a ladder to reach other people's low self-esteem.
He had to make Shaun realize that this was more about his insecurities than him not really wanting to be with Shaun. But Shaun was moving away from him, into the kitchen, shoulders tense.
"You're being ridiculous you know. Michael might be a golden boy in your eyes, but he's nothing compared to you."
He wanted to reach out and touch his boyfriend, and he did. He placed his hand lightly on one shoulder and massaged it.
"I know. You're right, I am being ridiculous. It's just hard to understand sometimes how someone as wonderful as you would ever want to be with me."
Shaun turned around, pulling Zach's hand off his shoulder and using it to propel the other man into his personal space.
Shaun's gaze softened into something warmer. "Well, I still think you're beautiful and I don't want to be with anyone but you."
By now, Zach had learned to take a compliment- with the constant compliments Shaun kept giving him, he either had to learn to take a compliment, or combust from blushing so much. He tried to do a smoldering come-hither look but all it accomplished was making Shaun laugh real loudly.
But his hands were back on Zach's body, so he thought mission accomplished.
"So, you wanna go upstairs and I'll count all the ways you're beautiful?"
And, really, the only response to that was to kiss Shaun senseless.
"I'll start with your toes," Shaun said breathless, leading him to their bedroom, and finishing his earlier task of undressing Zach.
As his scratchy suit dropped to the floor, the doubt fell too and he was just one guy in love with another.