There are a lot of ways it didn’t happen.
It didn’t happen over beer pong
Or over golf
Or while Chris was really drunk
Or in a bar
Or because of a misunderstanding
Or first thing in the morning
Or because of Karl forgetting a day
Or at a charity luncheon
Or because of his parents
Or because of a holiday
Or over the phone
Or, really, because of anything at all.
Unless you count bacon sandwiches.
"This thing with Karl is getting pretty serious," Zach says, out of nowhere, while they're discussing Sartre.
"What? I don't—"
"I bet you've even used the L-word, haven't you?" He puts up a hand. "Regrettable lesbian associations aside."
"No, you nosy fucker, we have not. And why are we talking about this?"
"Other than that I am totally taken with the idea of His n His contact lens cases sitting on your bathroom counter."
"Are you shitting me right now?"
"His and his towels. Right next to your His and Hers towels. Right next to his His and Hers towels. And does she have Hers and Hers? Do you know if she swings that way?"
"I might kill you."
Zach taps ash towards him. It flits off into the wind. "You might, but then that would mean jail and no more sweaty mansex with Karl."
"I can handle that."
"No, you can't."
"…no, I can't. Damn it."
Two rings, then Karl's voice is warm in Chris's ear. "Hey, Urban. How's it going?"
"Box of fluffy ducks, mate!"
Chris laughs outright, slouching over in his chair with surprise. "I'm sorry?"
Karl laughs too. "Sorry. It's just something we say back home. Means, you know, 'Very well, thanks!'"
Chris shakes his head with a smile, even though Karl can't see. "Crazy sheepfuckers."
"So," he then says casually with absolutely no segue, "I have a thing up north next month."
"Yeah?" Karl replies. He's just gotten home and is shuffling through his mail. "What sort of thing?"
"The sort of thing where I want you to come with me."
There's a pause. Chris holds his breath.
That's not the sort of response Chris was interested in, but—
"I mean," Karl corrects, "what sort of thing is it, so I know what to pack?"
"I had a dream about you and Karl last night," Zach says.
Chris rolls his eyes skyward. "Why must you tell me these things?"
"Why must you pretend you don't want me to? Just listen."
"Any chance it's not going to be disturbing?"
"First of all, you were pregnant with Karl's baby—"
"I what now?"
"—and Karl was all, 'Nope. GTFO.' Which is, frankly, the least believable bit of this dream."
"You don't say."
"So then you moved in with me, because, you know, I'm generous like that. And apparently this did the trick because Karl was all, 'HEY, YOU TWO, COME TO AMSTERDAM.'"
"Don't ask questions."
Chris snorts. His smile is wide.
"So we did. We went to Amsterdam. And you guys made up, and Karl proposed—" Yup, here comes the laughter. "--and you started crying because you couldn't celebrate with a pot brownie."
At which point Chris is laughing so hard his sunglasses are sliding down his face.
"… and Karl goes, 'No but you can celebrate by dipping yourself in some ketchup.' And then I was like, no, that's too much high-fructose corn-syrup.'
"Stop, please," Chris gasps out, clutching at his heart.
"Yes, exactly, even in my dream I was like, 'Oh my God, Karl, stop.'"
"No, you, motherfucker. I'm dying over here."
"Bitch please. Nobody ever died from laughter." He points his cigarette at Chris. "Put that in your notebook."
"It's kind of a reunion, I guess. There was this group of us, and it's been fifteen years, and. Yeah."
"So I should bring layers?"
Chris shrugs, then remembers he's on the phone. "Yeah, I guess. Just in case. But mostly aspirin and no dietary restrictions."
"More English majors that forget they're not frat boys?"
"We're good for more than just absurd annotations."
"I'll take your word on that. Because the annotations in that Rilke book you lent me—"
"Oh God, don't bring those up. Burn that. Didn't I tell you to burn that?"
"I'm pretty sure it's sentient at this point. And will go for a lot of money on EBay once you die."
Chris chuckles. His heart is light. "Fair."
(Scene: the back corner of a bar, because it's been a long day and everybody needed a drink.)
CP: Is that… allowed? I mean, I know we’re all happy in a more-than-just-sex-friends way, but falling in love? Is that allowed?
CP: I don’t get it.
KU: I'm in love with Katee. I was in love with my wife. And I… have been in love with others at the same time, yeah.
(slightly awkward pause)
CP: Yeah, I don’t get it.
KU: Well, how do you feel about these birds you see?
CP: (shaking his head) Not the same thing.
KU: How so?
ZQ: Here we go…
CP: They're like … they're like a Prada bag. You have it in your closet but that’s only good to you if you take it out every once in a while, so everybody knows you have it, right? Otherwise why do you have it?
ZQ: I can’t believe you a) know what a Prada bag is, b) just used it as a metaphor, and c) used it in conjunction with a closet metaphor.
ZQ: Karl, do you smell something?
ZQ: No, it’s more tangy. More piquant. More… like irony.
CP (defiantly): But it’s the fucking truth! It’s like, doing that, when you’d really rather be taking around, oh, I dunno, a Coach bag.
Karl: I’m a Coach bag?
Zach: You’ll have to forgive my largely heterosexual friend.
Zach: You only know the word Prada from hanging out with me too much. Wait, Karl, how do you even know what a Coach bag is?
Karl: I had a wife, she had Coach bags.
ZQ: Right. Well, my buddy Micah does have this theory about D&G.
CP: Oh my god Zach stop, you’ll make him do the eyebrow.
ZQ: …tooooo late. (beat) Can we get back on topic now?
CP (petulantly): No.
ZQ: Aw, I’m sorry, friend, have we run out of placating words about your bag habits?
CP: Or you could be tacky like Quinto and just wear whatever you happen to have on the floor at the time.
ZQ: Two words, Pine: Green shoes.
KU: Yeah, I’m with him on that one, Chris.
CP: Oh shut up, both of you.
The hotel room is ridiculous, even though Chris specifically asked his PA to keep it less than ostentatious. She apparently sucks at that, because the complimentary soap is a day's work at minimum wage alone.
But once Chris takes a look at the giant, undeniably sumptuous bed, he tells himself to send her a thank-you note. He doesn't get Karl + bed to himself for more than a couple hours at a time, usually. But this weekend he's got twenty-four whole hours. He feels like a kid in a candy store.
Um, if by kid he means thirty-something and by candy store he means giant drunken wasteland of sex and drinking. Which he does.
And it's going to be awesome.
Chris checks his watch, hesitates, then says fuck it, and presses #5 on his phone. Karl doesn't pick up, and Chris hums in disappointment.
"I heard," he says after the beep, "you have an excellent Lady Gaga impression that you're hiding from me. I am wounded, Karl. Wounded."
He gets a text back at a much more appropriate time for Karl's current location—Austria? Chris is so bad at that shit—It's true. Though whoever told you has broken their vow of silence.
Yeah. Anton lost his mind, I thought we were going to have to resuscitate him. Why, does that make you hot?
NO, GOD, IT MAKES ME LOVE YOU.
Cue the record screeching to a stop.
"Doesn't count," Zach says the next day over smoothies and cigarettes ('It's healthy!'). "It's texts. Doesn't count."
"What? Why not?" Chris says, then remembers he's not supposed to care about it counting or not counting. "I mean. What, he's my bro."
Zach grinds out his cigarette and points. Pointedly. "No, Christopher Robin. You don't fuck your bro. Nor do you hide your bro behind a Prada bag."
"You can go anywhere in LA with me because I am your bro, and no one will say anything. Well. Much of anything. Or if they do say something you're like LOL ZACH THEY SAID WE WERE SEEN 'TOGETHER' AT THE SPA AND HAD A 'MASSAGE' AND THEY INSINUATED A HAPPY ENDING and you're fine with it. You grimace. We laugh. It's chill."
"Yeah, but what's that got to do with—"
Zach is not finished. "Yet you actively hide from the press when you're around Karl, and I do believe you would pass the eff out if anything was posted about you two. Together. Doing things."
"Maybe, but that's because—"
"BECAUSE HE'S NOT YOUR BRO."
"He's your person."
Chris opens his mouth again, but absolutely nothing comes out. Eventually, Zach sighs. "Christopher, you're turning colors. Unflattering ones."
Chris gives him the finger.
He gets in the shower and leaves a note on the bed, hoping Karl is good enough at decoding his chickenscratch by now.
He doesn't need to leave a note. He's just a dork.
A dork with perfect timing, because he's nearly finished when he hears the bathroom door. He grins to himself, his face under the spray.
The shower door snicks open and Karl's visage appears in the steam. "Don't drop the soap," he says with a leer.
So they're both dorks.
Chris leans over and kisses him once, unable not to. And then, because he's an asshole, he gets carried away with it, wet hands on either side of Karl's face, Karl's shirt getting damp from the spray. But Karl's lips just feel so fucking good.
"How important is that shirt to you?" Chris asks against Karl's mouth.
Karl doesn't answer right away, just continues to kiss Chris, licking along his lips and nibbling at his chin. Chris has to remind himself to breathe.
Then Karl's breath is hot in his ear. "Turn around."
"Fuck," Chris replies hoarsely. "Yes." The tile is shockingly cool against his hands, so he holds himself apart from it, expecting Karl to shuck his clothes and step in behind him, line them up skin against skin.
Instead, he nearly faceplants into the wall when he feels Karl's hands spreading him wide, and then Karl's tongue swiping across his asshole with zero preamble. "Fuck!"
He closes his eyes to gather himself, then looks over his shoulder. He has to get his hand on his cock immediately at the picture presented: Karl Urban, fully (and increasingly wetly) clothed, kneeling, and eating him out like he's getting paid for it. It's possibly the hottest fucking thing he's ever seen.
Not to mention felt. Karl is wicked good at this, and Chris feels himself hurtling towards the edge surprisingly quickly. He pauses before really going to town on his cock, though. "Can I?" he manages.
Karl looks up at him, skin glistening and wet hair sticking to his forehead. "Yes. Please." He slides a finger into Chris, and smiles wickedly. "Come any time you like."
"Oh, fuck…" And Chris really should learn some new swear words, but he just can't be bothered at the moment, not while he's got his hand on his cock and Karl's tongue and finger inside of him. And the coolness of the tiles and the heat of the shower and Chris's body can't take it, he comes with a shout, shaking, barely managing to keep himself upright.
The last part, Karl's helping with, Chris realizes as he comes back down to earth. Shower be damned, Karl has pressed himself along Chris's side, fully clothed, and is probably the only reason he's still standing.
Chris blinks water out of his eyes. The shower door is wide open, so there's water everywhere. Karl's shirt—and pants—are going to need resuscitation. But Chris, warm from within and without, does not give a fuck for any of it. For anything besides the two of them.
Chris's college friends haven't changed a bit. Oh, there's some new grey hairs, some new stories about babies and spouses and mortgages, but really, it's just as if everyone has swelled, and Chris loves every single one of them.
They're at Sam's house, for this, because she's stayed in the area and is, in fact, teaching at their alma mater, something about which Chris razzes her while she pours the first round of Patron.
"To Noam Chomsky!" is what she says in response, holding up her glass.
There's a collective groan, but they all toss it back.
Karl coughs, and shakes his head. "Been a while since I did that," he admits.
Chris just grins. "Wanna meet everyone else?"
Karl lifts his glass, which now has a much more sedate whiskey sour in it. "Cheers."
Chris has the best fucking time watching everyone try to keep their cool meeting Karl Urban. He's a little sad when there's no swooning.
"This is Karl," he says needlessly every time, a grin on his face like he's introducing them to Santa Claus. Really hot Santa Claus.
Karl is no academic but he is well-versed in Geek, so he has them all charmed in about ten minutes. They spend the next couple hours doing shots with increasingly ridiculous toasts ("To a well-written YA novel series that doesn't involve mass murder!") and generally just being assholes. It's the best.
Then Karl gets into a passionate discussion about the virtues of the Star Wars prequels, so Chris nopes out and sits by what he thought was a potted plant but is actually a zen garden.
His old roommate Tim is there, and beyond small-talk is thoroughly occupied by the wee rake and rocks, so Chris lets himself watch Karl. Slightly drunk, red-cheeked, geeky-as-fuck Karl discussing something incomprehensible with Travis, a bartender with a bowtie and an honest-to-God handlebar mustache.
Turns out Tim was not actually all that occupied, because he speaks up, and nearly knocks Chris out of his chair with what he says.
"So how long have you been sleeping with him?"
Chris turns to him, and just fucking gapes. Then he realizes it, and tries to think. "Would it sound ridiculous if I said that was none of your business?"
"Yes, considering. But I understand if you don't want to talk about it."
Chris waves that off. "Nah. I trust you, Timberly." The old nickname slips off his tongue easily, bringing a wave of nostalgia and affection with it.
Because he does trust Tim not to run to the paps. Or to anyone, really. After enough drinking binges and all-nighters and cigarettes on the porch, he trusts Tim with his life. (Not that Tim would be at all useful in a fight. Unless it was a war of words. That, he'd win without breaking a sweat. Maybe Chris should introduce him to Zach.)
"Yeah," he finally elucidates, after seeing the expectant look on Tim's face. "It's been... A couple years now."
"And it's good?"
Chris doesn't bother to stop the stupid fucking smile that spreads across his face. His lips tingle from the alcohol. "Really good. We're… He's…" He finally just shrugs. He's pretty drunk, that's his excuse. "I want to keep him," he finishes lamely.
Tim regards him. "That there is Bible," he finally says, his face impassive. That's how Chris knows he means it, both the face and the reference. Recovering Catholics don't take that shit lightly. "And you should tell him."
Chris groans. He runs his hands over his face, then leans with elbows on his knees and tries not to think. "Why does everyone keep saying that?"
"Because we're smarter than you."
He feels Tim put a solid hand on his shoulder. "And besides, you know what the Monty Python boys always said."
He peers up with one eye. "Always look on the bright side of life?"
Tim smiles. "No. YOLO."
Chris laughs and sits up, his hand coming up to mirror Tim's with a thump. "I've heard they did say that, yes. You're insane."
"And I'm right."
Chris is suddenly very interested in his drink. "And you're… not wrong."
Chris stands abruptly. "Whatever, I'm drunk."
Tim goes back to the zen garden. "Sure, Chris. Take care, okay?"
Chris raises his glass. "Thanks, bro."
He'd probably stay there forever, drinking cider and discussing allegory in children's movies, but at about 1am Karl corners him outside. They've just all had a cigarette, and everyone else has headed back indoors, but he and Karl linger. Chris would worry about being a little ~obvious, but he's thoroughly drunk by now, pissing caution into the wind.
He's wrinkling his eyebrow at the mixed metaphors when he notices Karl's in his space, backed up to him as if they're spies trading assassination instructions.
"Please tell me that's going to be your last drink," he says, his voice low.
"Why? Don't wanna have to hold my hair back for me again?"
Karl turns until the rough words are pouring directly into Chris's ear. "Because I want to fuck you into the sheets of that gigantic hotel bed in about forty-five minutes."
Chris swallows. Drunk Karl is swear-y Karl, and it threatens to go straight to Chris's cock. "Roger. Can do. Already done." He thinks for a second, then reaches down for Karl's wrist, pulling it up so he can note the time. Then he meets Karl's eyes. "Forty-five minutes?"
Karl nods, a quiet grin on his face. "And counting."
"Fuck yeah." Chris grins back at him, and he's pretty sure even his mostly blind Great-Aunt Bernice would see the waves of pure horniness coming across between them. Well. Fuck it.
He pulls out his phone, and twenty minutes later they're saying goodbyes and fumbling into a cab. The hotel is close, and Chris reminds himself to send his PA more than just a card. A cabana boy, maybe.
Then he gets lost on an island of imagination where Karl is wearing a grass skirt and serving him pina coladas and Karl actually has to tap him on the shoulder when they're back at the hotel.
"Where were you?" he asks Chris as they crowd into the elevator, shoulder the shoulder because it's the least they can fucking do. "Just now, in the cab."
Karl nods. "Of course."
Chris shoots him one of his charming, shit-eating grins. "Imagining you as a pool boy."
Karl laughs, and there are dimples. "I'd be terrible at that job."
The elevator doors open, and they spill out into the hallway. "No, you wouldn't," Chris protests. The stupid key card takes three tries. He swears he's more sober than that. He fucking hopes he's more sober than that. "At least not the job as I'd describe it."
He ushers Karl in the door, then shuts all the locks behind them; they click satisfactorily as he starts shucking clothing, putting his wallet somewhere safe, probably, before trying to get Karl to do the same. "Oh, really?" Karl says, and Chris isn't sure if it's due to the thread of conversation—onto which Chris is just barely holding on because why do they have so many clothes on—or getting pushed ungracefully towards the bed, but Chris doesn't really care as long as everything is still happening.
"Yes, really. You'd just have to—shirt," he grunts, and they're mostly out of said items of clothing before they fall completely ungracefully onto the mattress. Chris eats Karl's laugh out of his mouth. "You'd just have to make me decent pina coladas and wear nothing but board shorts."
Karl pulls back and regards him, but his hands are busy pushing down Chris's pants. "Board shorts? No grass skirts?"
Chris blushes, actually blushes, but he blames it on Karl's hand sneaking into his boxers. "I wouldn't want you to do anything against your personal-- Ah, good, that's--"
And Chris isn't too drunk to get it up, but he's definitely too drunk to be very useful. He touches what he can, because that's always a good idea, but in the end when he slides into a languid orgasm he's not sure Karl has had any fun whatsoever.
"Sorry," he says muzzily, reaching down, trying to make up for it, but Karl's chuckle rumbles against his shoulder.
"It's all right, I took care of it myself."
And fuck but Chris is sad he missed that. And a little guilty. "I'll make it up to you tomorrow," he mumbles as Karl cleans them up and tucks them into sleeping positions.
"I'll hold you to that," Karl murmurs from somewhere near his forehead. He feels lips on his skin. He's stupidly happy, emphasis on the stupid. Then, because he's also an asshole, he passes the fuck out.
When Chris wakes up, there's no Karl next to him, and he about freaks out until he sees the note: Gone to get proper food for you.
He flops back on the bed and grins. Then groans and flings an arm over his eyes. He falls into a vaguely pleasant hungover doze, unwilling to get up but unable to get back to sleep.
Karl comes in quietly (Mad GraceTM) and Chris peers out at him. When he sees how many bags Karl has, he pulls his arm off his face and props himself up on his elbows. "Jesus, Karl. Did you buy out the store?"
"I needed all these things," Karl protests. "This is a day off and we're going to enjoy it, all right?"
He puts the bags down near the minifridge and steps to the bed shortly, leaning down to press a close-mouthed kiss on Chris's lips. "You are going to eat my food and like it, Mr Pine."
He moves away again, and Chris flops back. "Uuugh, I've told you not to call me that."
Karl just hums tunelessly as he takes things out of bags and does Lord knows what else with them. Chris is ignoring the sounds in favor of trying to gather up his strength for the long trip to the bathroom. "Your daddy issues are not my problem."
"Jesus, you sound like Zach." Karl just raises an eyebrow at him, and it's so comical, so unlike Zach's judgy eyebrow raise, that Chris can't help but laugh.
He finally makes it out of bed and starts across the room, but gets waylaid by the idea of wrapping his arms around Karl from behind. Because he can, motherfucker. So he does. Karl leans into him, and it's like everything's on pause for a moment. The best pause Chris has ever been in. "I need a fucking shower."
"I figured. This lot'll be ready when you get back."
The shower raises him from the dead, both metaphorically and... and otherwise metaphorically. He pays extra attention to his cock as he towels off, but gives it a little speech about being patient.
When he sidles out of the bathroom, clean damp and in fresh boxers, scrubbing a towel through his hair, Karl is putting delicious looking sandwiches on plates. Chris has zero compunction about throwing the towel to the side--to somewhere--and reaching out for the food immediately.
"Ah, ah," Karl tsks, grabbing Chris's wrist gently, and shoving him towards one of the hotel chairs.
"What? These look awesome."
Karl smiles. "They ~are awesome, but those are for me." He slides a new sandwich off the hotplate--And where did a fucking hotplate come from?--plates it, and hands it to Chris.
Chris... Chris stares at it.
"You just gave me... The fresher one?"
"Yeah, and you should eat it before it gets cold. "
Chris automatically takes a bite, and nearly groans. "What the hell is this? It's like sex in my mouth. Without the stray pubic hairs."
Karl swats at him with the hand towel he'd had over his shoulder while cooking, then he sits down with his own plate. "Gross. I'd like to eat, too, thanks."
"Sorry," Chris mumbles around another huge bite, because Jesus fucking Christ. "But seriously."
Karl shrugs, chewing. "It's just a bacon sandwich. Only I, er, stuffed sausage patties with prosciutto and wrapped them in bacon."
Chris stops mid-chew.
"Oh, and there's garlic aoli, but it's store bought."
He forces himself to swallow. "You made me bacon wrapped in bacon sandwiches? "
"I made them for myself, too," Karl protests, but a dimple peeks out before he takes another bite.
"And you bought a hotplate to do so," Chris continues.
"They're no good unless they're grilled, come on."
"I love you," Chris says suddenly.
"Yes, I make awesome bacon wrapped in bacon sandwiches, you dirty frat-boy." Karl sets the remainder of his sandwich down and clutches at his chest. "Guh. I can feel my arteries clogging and my maturity is regressing at a rapid pace. The first part is new."
"No, seriously," Chris insists. Then it's like the words just vomit out if him. "Like, I'm in love with you--love you for ever and ever--want to write bad poetry about you that rhapsodizes about your love handles until the end of time. I want to Walt Whitman your ass with leaves of grass Pine-style."
Karl has gone very still. "...What?"
"Holy shit," Chris whispers.
He's just staring at Karl, his skin hot and his heart thumping and his perfect sandwich of perfection still halfway to his mouth.
Karl's voice seems very loud. "Put down the sandwich."
"Put down the sandwich and get over here."
And it's the fucking daddy voice and Chris is so stupid for this guy he can't think to do anything but acquiesce. When he's finally standing in front of a still-seated Karl, Karl's looking at him with an expression of affection mixed with exasperation.
Then he reaches out and tumbles Chris across to the bed. It's a combination rugby/sex move and it knocks the breath out of Chris, before making him laugh so hard he feels tears leaking out the corners of his eyes, as Karl peppers his face with messy kisses.
Then there's a hand in his boxers, and they're switching gears pretty fast but Chris is totally on board. As is his cock.
Karl kisses him thoroughly as he divests him of his one item of clothing, slick slide burning through Chris's blood. "Finally, you admit it," Karl says roughly in between kisses. "I thought you'd never have the balls."
Chris huffs out a laugh into his mouth. "Asshole."
And then there's a cool lubricated finger between his cheeks. Startled, he clutches at Karl's shoulders. "Karl."
Karl searches his face. "Okay?"
Chris feels it like an ache in his chest, how much he loves this geek. "Such an asshole. Of course it's okay. Just get to it before I take the whole 'love' thing back."
Karl grins, and a finger slides in, followed quickly by a second. Chris shifts his hips and pulls his knees up. Karl's breath hitches visibly at the sight of Chris there, ready for him.
He lunges a kiss onto Chris's lips. "Nuh-uh," he says hotly. "No take-backsies." Three fingers are inside of a Chris, and Chris finds himself circling his hips and licking at Karl's mouth, even as Karl keeps talking. "You said forever and ever."
Chris groans. "You motherfucker. You gonna hold me to that?"
Karl's face is so full of affection, and deviousness, and deviance, that Chris feels it in his bones. "Fuck yes, I am," he answers.
He pulls his fingers out, makes quick work of the condom, and lines himself up. They're tightly together this time, legs wrapped up and around and arms cradling, mouths sharing air and heat fucking everywhere.
"Do it, Karl," Chris whispers against his lips. And Karl does.
This will never get old for Chris, this feeling of being so close to somebody. Unexpected, yet fucking awesome.
Karl's lips find his neck and scrape scrape scrape just the way he likes it, and his body responds, surging up into Karl's. Karl groans, low and deep, and they move together, solidly, for long moments. Chris feels, just feels so much it threatens to choke him.
Instead, he pulls Karl's head back, and looks steadily into his eyes. His voice is wrecked when he finally speaks. "'How does it feel to be in love?'"
Karl's face—Well, it looks like Chris just hung the moon. Then his lips are back at Chris's jaw, breath hot on his skin. "Feels fucking perfect."
And Chris is fucking gone.
Chris grabs at Karl when he tries to escape, afterwards. "Nggh. Stay."
"I have to pee."
"I don't care."
Karl chuckles, and Chris feels his lips on his cheek, then on his mouth. He opens easily, fucked out and blissful.
Karl sits back and smacks his lips. Chris cracks one eye open.
"You still somehow taste like bacon and mayonnaise."
"You mean I taste amazing."
"Of course that's what I mean."
Karl folds himself back into bed without prompting.
"So," Chris starts, some time later, after they've had limbs fall asleep from aggressive cuddling.
"I'm not pregnant."
"Despite all the practicing."
"And I'm not expecting you to propose."
"It's a lot of paperwork. Where is this coming from?"
"Zach had a dream."
Chris shakes his head, although it doesn't quite work out from his position against Karl's side. "Never mind. Not important. I just." He thinks for a moment, his eyebrows furrowed. “Did you ever, as a kid, say the same word, over and over and over again, until it lost all meaning? Until it became a brand new word, totally different sounding?”
Karl cups his neck and urges him back, searching his face. His eyes soften. “I don’t think that’s the case here. I can tell you from experience that's not the case here.”
"And you think—with me—" But he stops.
Karl's lips are soft on his, but they linger. "Yes. I love you. I've known you for a few years now, been with you literally all over the world, at your best and, arguably, your worst."
"And I still love you."
Chris waits. He's totally not holding his breath.
"I'm in love with you. Of course I am. Are you an idiot? Have been since…" Karl has the grace to look a little embarrassed. "Since a while ago."
"'Course. Since Nat. She thought you were good for me. And Katee teases me like there's no tomorrow." He cups Chris's cheek, and it's a cheesy gesture but warmth spreads through Chris so he doesn't care. "I love you, you asshole."
Chris has to blink; there's something in his eye. So he smirks. “Are we going to sing the Magic Penny song?”
“Never mind.” But Chris knows it’s true, in his gut, at least when it comes to this man: The more Karl loves, the more love he has to give. He’s is Chris’s magic penny.
Chris lays his body back down, smothering Karl with heat and sleepiness. “I love you,” he mumbles into the skin just below the corner of Karl's left eye. He mouths the words into a trail of spit and affection all around Karl’s face, tasting Karl’s smile.
Then he pulls back, propped up with his hands on either side of Karl's head. "Now, I believe you owe me a re-match."
"A what now? Rematch of what?"
Chris grins down at him. "Beer pong, bitch."
Karl rolls his eyes, direct Bones channeling. "Oh my god. No." He reaches over and puts the extra pillow over Chris's face. Laughter bubbles up between them, until they're a mess of limbs and hiccups.
And Chris thinks: Yes. This.