Chapter 1: call me old-fashioned (rhett/link)
Rhett was a manipulator in the best worst way.
How had Rhett gotten Link to do some of the most ridiculous experiments on GMM? Let Link count the ways.
…Or actually, no, let him not, because that would, quite literally, take an entire day.
But let the record still stand.
No matter what it was (well, save for anything life-threatening, but Rhett would never endanger either of their lives anyways, so…), with the work of a smile and some quickly-spoken words, Link was putty in Rhett’s hands.
Link may have been prone to retching at the sight/smell of several select foods, and may have been scared shitless by spiders and snakes, and a bit prone to fainting, but he wasn’t weak.
Anyone would have a weak constitution when it came to Rhett McLaughlin. Rhett and his big pretty eyes and his coiffed hair and his stupidly perfect bearded smile and that damn baritone voice…
All that pretty wrapped up in a giant of a man.
Yeah, Link dared anyone to try and resist that.
After a particularly long filming of GMM that’d felt even more drawn out because of the palpable tension between him and Rhett, Rhett had crowded Link up against the wall and started making out with him. Link reciprocated eagerly. It was just another one of Rhett’s ideas. One that Rhett was telling explaining to him with the slow, sultry movement of his lips and the pleasant scratchy almost-burn of his beard against Link’s chin and cheeks.
Link thought it was a great idea.
Especially when Rhett’s tongue found its way into his mouth and tangled with his. Yeah, nice touch.
Rhett’s hands made their way down Link’s sides and stopped to rest at Link’s waist. His fingers dug into Link’s belt, tugging at it, and his mouth was moving against Link’s, not quite kissing anymore but not fully stopped, now murmuring praises and “I want” and “c’mon, let me see more” and “it’s gonna be so good” and Link is finding himself ready to just let this man take him right there up against the wall of their studio, because yes, he wants this, but more importantly, Rhett wants this, and who is he to deny fucking Rhett McLaughlin what he wants –
Somehow, something lights up in the back of his mind and says, “A sensible person” and Link finds it in himself to actually (reluctantly), gently but firmly, push Rhett back.
It was like they’d both been shocked.
Rhett especially. He, like Link, looked thoroughly debauched. A bit disoriented. But mostly confused and disappointed. Link felt a little pang in his chest. He quickly spoke before Rhett could jump to anything drastic.
“Man, you sure move fast,” Link said, breathless. “I mean, you ain’t even bought me dinner yet.”
Rhett stared at him. “You kiddin’ me right now?”
“No, I’m not –”
“Are you – is this not good?” Finding himself again, Rhett slowly moved back into Link’s space. “I thought…you were into this.” He tilted his head and started leaning down. “I thought you were really into this.”
“I was – I am,” Link said, pushing Rhett back again. At Rhett’s incredulous expression, he held up a hand. “No, hear me out, man. I am so into this.” Link laid his Southern accent on thick, trying to lighten the mood. “I am so into you it is not even funny, honey.”
Rhett snorted a little and shook his head. “So what’s the problem?”
Link looked him in the eyes and said, “I don’t put out on the first date. I’m not joking!” He added, when Rhett started to snicker. “I’m not gonna let you think that you can just stand there and sweet talk me into sleeping with you.”
“So what,” Rhett said, turning his own accent on full force, “you want me to wine and dine you proper?”
Link bit his lip and nodded.
“Call me old-fashioned,” he said softly. “You can kiss me, but that’s about all you’re gettin’ from me until then.”
Chapter 2: three's company
Grace has always gotten between Rhett and Link whenever she’s met up with them. It’s always in a totally good way, of course.
This time, however, takes the cake.
It starts with a hangout. Nothing work related, no fans or cameras or other content creators involved whatsoever. Just a normal get-together, because Grace had realized that they’d barely ever enjoyed one another’s company on that level.
Also, she needed someone to share that giant bottle of Grey Goose with.
“Grey Goose with Grace Goose,” Rhett had said over Skype. “I can dig it.”
“I’m down,” Link had agreed. He wiggled his way into the frame beside Rhett, gave her one of his sideways smiles. “What time d’you want us over there?”
Grace giggled and told them 7:30.
They’ve now been dined & wined (and vodka-ed), courtesy of Grace and her phenomenal cooking. Now, the three of them are feeling lazy and loose and pliant. They’ve migrated from the kitchen table over to the living room sofa. On the way, Grace decides to dim the lights a little. She offers Rhett the remote, and Rhett flips channels before settling on some old black and white movie. He sits down on the left. Link settles in on the right, crossing his legs. Grace plops down in the middle of them, and the three of them begin to talk about nothing & everything.
It’s cozy, Grace thinks, a small smile on her lips. It’s really cozy.
"Hey, Grace," says Link from beside her.
Grace turns to look at him. The lights from the tv are playing off his face, reflecting off his glasses. He’s got this soft, open expression.
Link captures her lips in a kiss.
It is amazing how gentle he is. His lips move against hers chastely, the pressure feather-light. He's not even touching her - his right arm is still draped across the top of the couch behind her, and his left is still resting on his lap. She'd call it a friendly kiss, but there's this undeniable undercurrent of heat to it. Something hinting at more.
As if on cue, Grace feels hands on her knees. Hands too big to be Link's. She starts, breaking the kiss to look down.
It's Rhett. He's sitting on the floor in front of her, legs curled to one side. She hadn't even noticed him move.
He smiles at her. "Hey, Grace," he echoes, rubbing slow circles on her skin. One of his hands shifts up her knee a bit, toys with the hem of her skirt. Asking.
Grace's lips part. She suddenly feels out of breath. She turns back to Link. He cocks his head to one side. He's still looking all innocently infatuated, but she sees the intent written clearly in his eyes. She faces Rhett again, and sees he's wearing a similar expression. Deceptively easy. He raises an eyebrow. Well?
Grace smirks, her eyes lidded. "Well, at least give me a kiss, first.”
Rhett laughs, his eyes crinkling (in the most adorable way, Grace thinks).
Grace leans forward. Rhett meets her halfway in a kiss that is hungrier than the ones Link’s been giving her. He works his jaw more, adds a little tongue. Grace moans a little, starting to get into it.
The kiss is a promise.
They’re in the heat of things not too long after that. Link is making out with her again, except Grace hardly thinks it can be called a makeout because he is still doing that pseudo-innocent barely-open-mouthed middle school bs. Every now and then Grace tries to lean into him, tries biting at his lips and sneaking her tongue into his mouth – but Link will brace a hand on her shoulder and pull back, murmuring ‘Ah ah ah’s and ‘uh uh’s in a sing-song tone against her lips. She glares at him and groans in frustration. He simply smirks and chuckles at her, then moves back in to kiss her again. This cycle goes on and on. He hasn’t made any move to touch her more.
Rhett is touching her, though.
Grace’s skirt is hiked up above her hips. Her panties have been flung in some far corner of the room, long forgotten. Her legs are spread wide, and Rhett is sitting in between them, with hands on her knees and his face buried in her crotch. He licks her slow, gliding his tongue along every little notch and crevice. His beard scratches her inner thighs with his every movement, leaving a pleasant little burn against her skin. She feels herself getting wetter and wetter. She groans and pants into Link’s mouth. She wants to wrap her legs around Rhett, but Rhett’s hands on her knees are anchoring her down.
Between the two of them, Grace is going mad.
Chapter 3: loveline
i used to be really into the radio show 'loveline' w/dr drew pinnsky when it was broadcast in my area. the format was dr drew (who y'all probably know from 'celebrity rehab') and his co-host (he's had several over the years, but the two most notable ones are adam carolla and 'psycho mike' catherwood) dispensing advice about life, love and sexual health to callers. it was super entertaining because you had the contrast between dr drew's formality/medical professionalism, and his co-host's silliness/layperson perspective. so, a couple years back i decided to start writing a crossover where one of the guys phones into the show for relationship advice.
“Who do we let through?” Dr. Drew asks. “The next callers we have lined up are: 17-year-old Trina, who believes she may have a yeast infection and/or UTI, 14-year-old Daniel, who wants to know how to win back his ex-girlfriend, and 37-year-old Charles, who is in love with his wife but is also harboring feelings for someone else.”
Anderson, the engineer, snorts so loudly from outside the sound booth that Drew and Mike swear they can almost hear him through the glass as well as through the speaker. “He says he loves his wife. He sounds kinda sleazy.”
“Hey, now, he sounded sincere on the voicemail,” Mike says, putting a hand over his heart. “He seems like an honest dude with an honest problem.”
“So Trina and Daniel aren’t dealing with serious issues?” Drew inquires jokingly. “A yeast infection and/or urinary tract infection aren’t anything to sneeze at. Nor are the relationship follies of a freshman.”
“Oh, certainly not,” Mike says, chuckling. “But I’d rather close out the show with a heart-wrenching love triangle story than with vaginal infections and teenage drama.” He bursts into full-out laughter, Anderson and Drew joining in. Sometimes it’s hard for Mike to believe that this is his life, talking to strangers about life and love and sexual problems. But he loves dispensing wisdom. He loves that he’s done a complete 180 on the dark road he was heading down, and is able to use that to help others.
Drew shrugs, his cheeks gone a little red from laughing. “Whatever you want,” he says, composing himself. “Either way, I’m still getting some help to Trina. She shouldn’t have to be waiting around to get treated for something like that.”
“Alright, sounds like a plan!” Mike says cheerfully. “Anderson, put Charles on the line.”
Mike and Drew slip their headphones back on as the transition music plays. As it fades back out, they introduce the last caller.
“Our final caller tonight is Charles,” Drew says into his mic. “He’s 37, and he says he’s torn between two romantic interests.”
“Hey, Charles!” Mike greets.
A pause, then a slightly staticky, “Hello, guys.”
“Evening,” Drew says.
“Hi, Dr. Drew. Thanks for taking my call, I’m a big fan of both of y’all.”
“Thanks, we appreciate it,” Drew replies.
“Yeah, man, thank you,” Mike adds. “Where’re you calling from, Charles?”
“I’m in the LA area, same as you.”
“I can’t help but notice you’ve got a bit of a twang to your voice, are you from the South?”
A few chuckles from the phone line. “Yeah, I’m originally from North Carolina.”
“Born and raised. I ended up moving out here a few years ago for work.”
“Nice, nice. Big move, huh?”
“Yes, it was.” More chuckling. “But in my line of work, you don’t get very far in my home state.”
“Oh yeah? What kind of work you doing?”
“Uh, normally I’d be happy to tell you, but I’m trying to be anonymous, you see…”
Mike nods. “I feel you, man.” He raises an eyebrow. “So ‘Charles’ is probably a pseudonym, right?”
“…No, it’s my name, just not the one I go by.”
“Fair enough.” Mike claps his hands, rubs his palms together. “Let’s cut the small talk and get to business. You’ve got a problem. You’re in a love triangle.”
“…Of sorts. It’s not as one-sided as your traditional love triangle. Not entirely.”
“Well, set the scene for us,” Drew says.
“I’m married. I’ve been happily married for 15 years to my wife. She’s an angel. She’s absolutely beautiful inside and out. She’s incredibly strong and sweet, and every day I’m amazed at how lucky I am to have her.” Charles speaks with a reverent tone to his voice that is almost tangible. Mike raises an eyebrow and mouths “Damn,” at Drew who nods, a small smile on his lips. Mike turns and catches Anderson’s gaze through the booth window and gives him a ‘get a load of our ‘sleazy’ caller, wanna eat your words, now?’ look, which Anderson counters by rolling his eyes like, ‘calm down, he hasn’t even given us the full story yet.’
“We have 3 beautiful children that we love to death,” Charles continues. “We’ve got a happy little family.”
“So where does the other person factor in, Charles?” asks Drew.
There’s a long pause. Then, a deep sigh.
“I gotta admit it, now,” he says lowly, nervously. “My wife… is a love of my life, but she isn’t the only romantic love of my life.” Another deep, shaky exhale. “I love Rhe – uh, my best friend.” He lets out a bit of a drawn-out groan. “Oh, crap, man,” he says, starting to laugh a little, a note of hysteria in it. “Oh, god. I just said that. I just said that on national radio.”
Drew quickly scrawls a note on a scrap of paper and slides it across the table to Mike. Boy, this guy’s got a lot to unpack, it reads. Mike shakes his head in somber agreement.
“Don’t worry, man,” Mike says comfortingly. “You’re anonymous, like you said. And you’re in great hands. You’ve got me, I’m around the same age as you, same generation. And you’ve got Dr. Drew, who’s been through it all and more ‘cause he’s a doctor. But you knew all that…! So keep going.”
“Yes, please,” Drew adds. “We’ll do our best to get you through this, and if we can’t, we’ll get you to someone who can. Tell us when you began to develop feelings for your friend.”
“I can’t really pinpoint it, with my fri – with him. We’ve been friends quite literally our entire lives. That’s a little over 30 years now, fellas,” Charles says shakily, but proudly.
“30 years?” Mike and Drew echo in unison, eyes widening a little.
“Him?” Anderson chimes in through the speaker, raising an eyebrow.
“Dude,” Mike says, with an open-mouthed grin, “that’s insane…! This really is your best bud. You guys must have an incredible bond.” It’s the kind of thing you see in coming-of-age movies. You don’t find cases of lifelong friends quite like this too often. It’s kind of blowing Mike’s mind. And it’s also making him a little wistful; he wishes he had a friendship like that. “Just, wow, man. Your best buddy. And you’ve had the hots for him for this long?” Damn.
“And this is your male friend?” Dr. Drew, getting back to the important questions. He bridges his fingers and rests his chin on top of them. “Charles, did you ever consider that…you might be gay?”
“And a greedy sleaze-ball!” Anderson mouths. Mike ignores him.
“Labels, Dr. Drew?” Mike asks wryly.
“It’s a perfectly valid question. It’ll yield some insightful answers.”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Charles says quickly. “I signed up to do this. It’s something I’ve thought about, trust. I’ve thought about it long and hard. No pun intended. Growing up in the rural south, in the bible belt, they don’t go for people like that at all. I was scared thinking about it. But I did. I’d secretly look at men in magazines and on the TV, and I’d, like, scrutinize the boys in my town, trying to see if I liked any of ‘em in that way. And it just…was weird. Nothing. None of ‘em made me feel the way that Rhe – my friend did. And I still liked girls – totally honest. Still do. Case in point: my wife, and the other two biggest crushes of my life, Becky Lucinda from the 4th grade, and Posh Spice.” He tapers off into a giggle.
Drew chuckles a little. This man was a character.
“So you’re fluid in your sexuality. You’re attracted to who you’re attracted to. And you’re deeply attracted to the two closest people in your life,” Drew says, ticking his fingers. “I know it seems as though we’re talking in circles, here, but I’m just trying to get a proper handle on what you’re all about, what you’re truly feeling.”
“I mean, just think about it, y’all. Think back to your first crush. Not the silly grade-school puppy love, but your first actual one. Probably happened when you were a teenage. But it felt so real. You were totally convinced it was. Now think of your best friend, the one who’s so close that you might as well be siblings. Nothing could tear you apart. How special that is. Think about when you met your wives and you just knew, she was the one. Now tell me how one guy is supposed to deal with all those thoughts. Because it’s a battle in my head. I’m stuck between my best friend, my first love, and my second love, and I don’t know how to give any of them up.”
Mike’s heart went out to this guy.
Then, Drew says, “Then don’t.”
“Don’t wha – oh, Drew,” Mike says, breaking into a grin. “You’re going there!”
“Charles, you don’t have to give anything up. Not your wife, not your family, not your friend. And you can have everything that you want.”
“You mean –”
Drew pauses for a second, gives him a chance to piece it together.
And then it clicks.
“That – that seems awfully greedy, don’t it?” Charles says breathlessly.
“I disagree,” Drew says gently, firmly. “Giving your love and affection to multiple people is the very opposite of selfish, to me.”