Onscreen, they've kissed over a dozen times. They've shared a bed, been up in each other's personal space, been shirtless while they made out. Scott knows what flavor of gum Brett chews before they do a scene together, the way the wintergreen tastes on his lips. He's memorized the way he smells, subtly sweet and masculine like wildflowers and rain. He knows the callus on the pad of Brett's thumb from playing the guitar, what it feels like against his jaw. He knows things, things that individually aren't any kind of deal, but together feel like something huge and overwhelming, to know Brett the way he does.
The love scene between Kyle and Fish has been leaked to the press, hyped up as a big deal, and Scott's feeling this tension in his shoulders at the prospect of filming it with Brett.
"So, do you want to talk it out?" Scott asks, the way he does before they film anything together. He's always hyper aware of Brett and the fact he's a straight guy portraying a gay guy head over heels in love with a character Scott plays. So he uses kid gloves with Brett, always has, coaching and coaxing until Brett gets the performance he wants out of himself. And that's what it always boils down to, Brett's satisfaction with his own work, whether or not he's doing justice to his character, to the gay community, to Scott.
Scott finds it so endearing and sweet it's just another slip slide down the slope, another breath of wind threatening to throw him over the edge and headlong into love.
Brett's bouncing on the balls of his feet, sleeves pushed up to his elbows, full of nervous energy. "Okay," he agrees.
It's like choreographing a dance, figuring out where to put his hands, which way to tilt his head. They always fit better than he worries they're going to, the difference in height between them not so much a barrier but something to work around.
"Okay," Brett says again, tongue coming out to touch the corner of his lip, a tic Scott hasn't seen since they filmed their first kiss together, when they were trying to figure out if this was going to work. Scott takes some of the credit for the level of comfort between them, the fact that they've had three scenes in which their characters make out and they've all gone off smoothly.
"So, maybe," Brett says slowly, taking a step forward and cupping Scott's jaw, "just go with me for a second," he mumbles. He kisses Scott's cheek, just a brush of lips against his skin but even here in the middle of a dressing room under flourescent lights it feels like the most intimate kiss he's ever received.
Scott breathes out, startled, fingers curling into Brett's shoulders to steady himself because that was most definitely not what he was expecting. And that's the kicker. Brett's always so fucking unexpectedly sweet in the way he portrays Kyle, details Scott couldn't have anticipated, making it all the more difficult to remember he's playing a character.
"What do you think about something like that?" And he's using his sexy Kyle voice, the one that completely throws Scott, sends heat rushing up his spine, makes his fucking toes curl.
"Yeah," Scott says, then clears his throat because his voice is gone, wrecked. He takes a step back to keep some sort of control. "That's a good idea," he says like Brett just suggested they go for subs instead of sending his world spinning wildly off its axis.
There's a knock on the door, a PA yelling "five minutes, guys," through the door and Scott has never felt less prepared for a scene. All the talking they've done over the last week, the scenes they've filmed leading up to it all, none of it feels like it's done anything to make him ready.
It shouldn't be a big deal, it's a love scene on a soap opera. As generic and routine as a morning cup of coffee or walking the dog. Except he's lying to himself so completely because it's so much more than that on a hundred different levels, the least of which is the fact that he's about to go film a love scene with a guy he's been half in love with for close to half a year.
Brett takes a step back. "Okay," he says like he's psyching himself up. Scott smiles brightly, all encouragement and understanding and follows Brett out to the studio when what he wants to do is turn and flee in the opposite direction.
It's a mirror of the scene they filmed close to a month ago, that sweet as hell date night scene that threw Scott so completely off his game it took an unheard of four takes to get a kiss right.
There are candles lit in the darkness of the set, Kyle's room at the hotel. The director asks them if they're ready. Scott gets on his mark and makes the mistake of turning to look at Brett. Instead of grounding him the way it usually does, it throws him for a loop, the look in Brett's eyes something heavy and intense. Scott's freaking out and trying to hide it.
The cameras start to roll and Scott blows out a breath and tries to put it all into his character.
Leap without fear is what their director told them this morning and Scott feels like he's doing the opposite, retreating into himself and holding back and that is not at all what he wants this to be.
Brett steps forward and he's dressed as Kyle but Scott just sees Brett, this adorable, sexy as hell guy who's been the best friend he's ever had when what he wants is so much more than that.
Brett kisses his cheek the same way he did not that long ago in the dressing room, kisses Scott's forehead and Scott feels like he might cry. He clutches Brett's shoulder and they lean into it together, mouths brushing once and it's like a dam breaking and live wires connecting all at once, Brett pushing up into Scott's space, Scott opening his mouth against Brett's.
They've memorized the blocking and directions, where they're supposed to go and how to get there. Scott is counting like hell on Brett to get them there because he's finding it impossible to think, his pulse beating wildly in his ears like a roar.
He's addicted to the feel of Brett's lips on his. And yet, he can't help feeling like he's being cheated. His whole body aches with the need to know what it's like to kiss Brett, not this character he portrays. Scott admittedly has a bit of a thing for Kyle Lewis, but really, who doesn't. It's not so simple, his feelings for Brett, lust and attraction, sure, but something more, like a buzzing beneath his skin whispering he could be the one.
And Scott's not even sure he believes in "the one" but he gets closer every day, every minute he's around Brett, every smile, every time Brett laughs.
"And...cut," the director, Jane, yells and it's like a bucket of water on Scott's head.
He breaks the kiss, finds his fingers twisted in the neck of the sweater Brett's wearing. It's like coming awake after a dream that was too good to be real.
He can't look at Brett as he takes a step back, untangles their legs, feels Brett's hand drop from where it was tucked into one of his belt loops.
The air is heavy, like ninety-seven percent humidity in the dead of summer, and Scott's finding it hard to breathe.
"Okay, I just want to run it again from the top," the director says. It helps bring Scott back down to reality and he looks over to find her looking at the dailies, this look on her face like maybe she wants to cry.
"That was really beautiful, guys. I just want you to slow it down a little. The intensity was great, keep that up, just maybe hold it back a little, we don't want to scare the housewives." The last bit's a joke and the crew laughs but Scott has never felt less like laughing. He feels naked, like his dirty laundry was just aired with a hundred crew members looking on.
Looking over at Brett pulls him out of his head enough to make him feel like an asshole. Because Brett's an illustration for what Scott's feeling, this poleaxed look about him like he has no idea what just happened, like the floor is the ceiling.
"Jane," Scott calls, "can we have a minute, please?" He doesn't know what good a minute will do, Scott feels like he could take a year and it wouldn't be enough. But he can't just pretend that he's fine, not when Brett so clearly isn't either.
Jane looks at her watch. "That sounds good. Take ten, everybody." She flashes him a warm smile and disappears with a PA.
They're left, just the two of them in an empty set, candles flickering around them, a bed like a flashing neon sign standing between them.
"So, should we. Uh, let's talk about the next take," Scott says because ignoring what happened seems like a better idea than poking at it. Especially if Brett wants to ignore it.
It's not likely. Brett's more the type to face things head-on, has for the time that Scott has known him. Brett is fearless. It's the most truthful thing he can say about him, that nothing stands in his way. It's fascinating, Scott has always admired that quality in other people. It's sexy as hell in Brett.
From the get-go, from the very start of this storyline and the relationship between their characters, Brett was like a bull, head ducked and going full speed ahead, determined and single minded about it.
Scott's had to work to get Brett to talk about what it's like, apparently to Brett it's some kind of weakness to have nerves about the work they do together, as if Scott would be offended if Brett was a little uncomfortable. Scott has never met a straight guy who would throw himself so fearlessly into portraying an adult, sexual relationship with another man. It's what makes the story work and Scott knows most of the credit for the critical reaction has to go to Brett and the work he's done.
Now, though, Brett's wearing everything on his face, so clearly out of his comfort zone. His lips are wet, parted, red from kissing. He's breathing like he ran to work, and he keeps clenching and unclenching his hands, like he's grasping for something to steady him.
Scott sits down at the edge of the bed, palms flat on his thighs, head bent. He's focusing on his breathing, on steadying the stream of thoughts crowding his head.
"Brett," Scott says quietly. He doesn't know what to say and he doesn't know what's going on in Brett's head but he feels like he should say something, offer some sort of support or encouragement. Only it's kind of difficult given he has no idea what's going on here.
Brett turns in Scott's direction and gives him this quirked up tilt of his mouth like he's thinking of maybe smiling.
"I don't want to talk about this," Brett says. It's just this open, honest admission. "I just want to do it, to jump without fear. If we talk about it, if we have to plan every little thing, it won't come across as real. I want it to be real."
Scott doesn't know what to say to that. Because what's scariest about what just happened between them is how real it felt.
"Okay," he says with a dry mouth and hands that itch. So Scott sits there on the bed, across from Brett, and tries to find some headspace that will allow him to get through this in one piece.
They try it again a little later when the crew's returned and Scott's convinced himself he's fine. They start from the beginning, slowing it down the way Jane suggested. Scott's in a daze, every touch of Brett's fingers on his skin overwhelming, his senses heightened to a place beyond his control.
Oh my god, oh my god, is racing through his head like a chorus, Brett's mouth against his back, fingers curved around the shape of his neck. Scott's head falls back, lips parted on a breath before he catches himself, tries to school his expressions and reactions to something appropriate for Oliver Fish.
Every step they take together is mapped out for them but Scott's in the moment in a way he never has been before, present and in it and it's beautiful and terrifying. They lie down together, facing each other on the bed and Scott hunches in as Oliver, all nerves. Brett reaches out, hand palming his cheek and Scott grabs onto it like a lifeline, squeezing.
He moves then, rolling towards Brett, hovering over him. This time, when their mouths brush, there's the earth-shaking touch of Brett's tongue against Scott's lips, just a there-and-gone taste. It shocks the hell out of him, shakes him up. Vaguely, he realizes he's shivering as he holds himself on an unsteady arm above Brett.
Jane yells cut before he's ready, before the teenager in his head has lived out his fantasy. There's clapping and calls of congratulations and Scott can't hear any of it. He rolls away quickly, jumps to his feet breathing hard and tries to look nonchalant and casual, something he's never pulled off well. He can't look at Brett, who's sitting up against the headboard, legs bent.
Scott licks his bottom lip out of nerves and a need for a drink and falters, going beet red. He can taste wintergreen, the faintest hint of it on his mouth. He knows what Brett's mouth tastes like, tasting it on his own makes him feel like he's free falling, spiraling into an unknown oblivion.
One of the makeup ladies approaches him with a sweatshirt and when he takes it with thanks, he realizes his hands are shaking. He pulls it on over his head, pulls the sleeves down around his hands and tries to find steady ground.
Brett's gone when Scott turns around.
Scott gets waylaid by castmates who stuck around to watch, wanting to talk to him and shower him with compliments. It all feels hollow. His fingers are cold, he realizes, as he pushes open the door of his dressing room.
He figured Brett would be gone by now, but there he is, sitting against the wall with his head in the palms of his hands.
Scott feels the panic rising and he has no idea what to do about this.
He closes the door quietly behind him. "Hey," he says quietly. He's an honest person and he doesn't play games so he's not going to ignore whatever's going on with Brett.
"How do you think it went?" he asks. It's a strange thing to ask after finding Brett in his dressing room, looking as shaken as Scott feels. But he's genuinely curious.
Brett lifts his head. His eyes are dark, his face flushed. He gets to his feet. "I think it wasn't anything like I thought." When Brett's stressed, or exhausted, the faintest traces of his Southern roots start to show, and it's there now, a slow drawl in the way he speaks, like catnaps on lazy afternoons.
Scott's not sure what to say to that.
There's this heavy silence between them. Scott stays leaning against the door, looking for a cue from Brett, trying to decide if there's something he should say or do.
Brett gets to his feet. He's changed into his own clothes, jeans and a t-shirt that looks like he's had it since high school, frayed and thin and a size too small. Scott can't help himself, he knows better but he can't keep his eyes from tracing the lines of Brett's body, compact and lean.
Brett's still moving and Scott would take a step back but there's nowhere to go and then Brett's got him pinned against the door, not touching, but standing in his space like this is something they do.
Brett curls his fingers in the neck of Scott's sweatshirt. "Okay," he says, looking up at Scott, the height difference more obvious like this. "Okay, let me, I just want to," Brett mumbles, a trail of words that make no sense strung together. He moves quickly, before Scott has a chance to decide if he should interfere.
He surges up, rolling up onto the balls of his feet, reaching for Scott with the assurance and grace of someone who knows what they want.
Scott's frozen for the briefest of seconds, unmoving as Brett slides his mouth into place, their lips fitting together. And then he's responding, couldn't stop himself even if it was what he wanted, reacting to Brett like magnetic force.
Brett is determined, not so much aggressive as single minded, taking what he wants. Scott just curves his hands around Brett's hips and holds on, kisses back like he's Scott Evans and not Oliver Fish. He knows how to take what he wants, too, and if Brett is offering then Scott is taking.
Brett's mouth tastes different now, traces of wintergreen hidden by something sweeter, like raspberry tea. When he kisses Scott it's with an open mouth and fingers curled around the back of his neck where the hair is short. He pushes his free hand up under Scott's sweatshirt, palm flat against his belly, and traces the shape of Scott's mouth with his tongue.
Scott can't breathe. He clutches at Brett, moves his mouth a millimeter, nose mashed against Brett's cheek so he can pull air into his lungs.
"I don't know," Brett says, an answer to a question Scott hasn't asked. He's warm where he's pressed against Scott, thighs lined up, bellies touching, intimacy that has less to do with sex and more to do with everything else. Scott doesn't know anything beyond the way Brett feels against him, beyond the race of his heart and the buzzing beneath his skin.
It's a beginning.
[ the end ]