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Bad 4 Us

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On the day they met, Connor McKinley was late to the pre-shoot. It was an awful day to begin with, because first off, he woke up to an cold and empty bed. His boyfriend had been mysteriously absent for the past two months or so, probably due to the awkwardness circling them after Connor proposed, only for Nicky to decline politely with the excuse that they were too young. They were both twenty-six, old enough to tie the knot, but Connor kept up the mantra that Nicky still loved him just as much as he had when they’d met at a Victoria’s Secret show three years before to quell his fears that the other man was slipping away. They’d been together for so long, it was difficult to imagine life without him.

 

Second, Connor’s kitchen coffee machine broke, which meant that he had to skip half his morning routine to stop at Starbucks, or he would have been useless the entire day. Which meant no makeup, which meant Connor’s very large raccoon-like eyebags were on display for the world to see. He hadn’t been sleeping that well as of late. In fact, whenever Nicky had the heart to come back home to their apartment for the night, Connor would end up sleeping on the couch to give his boyfriend space. On the nights where all he knew was that Nicky was not in the apartment, and that hopefully he was still somewhere in New York City, he’d stay up in his studio crafting out the last few pieces for his up-and-coming fashion line.

 

Third, at Starbucks, he had been recognized by the woman at the cash register. She gushed about him and how he was a ‘fashion icon!’ for about five minutes before finally dashing to make his coffee. When he was finally granted his morning coffee, about fifteen minutes behind schedule, either there had been another Connor in the cafe, or she had given him the wrong drink because he ended up spitting out the pure black coffee onto the sidewalk outside of the Starbucks, to the audience of a mother and her daughter, as well as a couple of tourists who shot him a scared look before speeding up in their pace towards the Empire State Building. Clutching the coffee tightly, he then made his way towards the rather large building he worked in. After Debonair Drôle really took off, they had bought four floors on one of the highest buildings in New York City.

 

Fourth, and possibly the worst out of the events, a speeding taxi-in the wrong lane, Connor might add-turned roughly while Connor was crossing the street, and coated the fashion designer in a disgusting mud-like substance. Drenched in both rain water and pee, Connor had stood in the center for the road for a few minutes, utterly shocked, before the cars had begun to honk at him, and he had been forced to stiffly walk off the crosswalk to the other side of the block.

 

Passerby glanced at him sympathetically as they strolled past, Connor storming up towards his office. Shoving his way through the revolving doors, the receptionist for the bottom business, either a law firm or a bank, Connor couldn’t bother to remember, glanced at him worriedly. He ignored her, still steaming, and dripped mud onto the pretty red carpet of the first floor on his way to the elevator. Once finally in the elevator, about five seconds from his office, he glanced at his watch, and realized that he still had about ten minutes before the shoot. Breathing out tiredly, he stepped from the elevator onto the opening level of his business, and went to survey the room. Just as he did so, a dark-skinned, rather soft hand wrapped roughly around his drenched wrist, and dragged him down the nearest hallway towards where they were about to hold the shoot. Connor yelped, but allowed himself to be taken. Nabulungi, his assistant/best friend, was not a woman to be messed with.

 

“You’re thirty fucking minutes late, have you realized that? Or were you too busy spitting out coffee in front of a very popular Starbucks and showering with sewer water?” She snapped annoyedly, his feet scraping against the wooden flooring, a trail of pee mixed with gross swampy water following the two due to his soaked clothes. Distantly, he glanced down at his watch, which still read that he had now nine minutes left before the shoot. Adding to the flame that had been growing in the pit of his stomach, he realized it was broken.

 

“How’d you find out about that? Did you plant a camera on me, or something?” Connor questioned in confusion, yanking his arm out of her grasp once they had reached the close door to one of the many studios they had in that hallway. “I knew I shouldn’t have trusted those earrings you gave me last Christmas.”

 

“Stop being such a little bitch, Connor,” She rolled her eyes, before reaching into her back pocket to take out her phone. After a moment of scrolling, she presented a photo from popperazzi of both him getting sprayed by the car and spitting out the pure black coffee outside the Starbucks. “You’re way too paranoid for a native New Yorker.”

 

“My skirt is ruined,” Connor moaned dramatically, as he finally had the chance to take in the damage the rain water had done to his outfit. His usually brightly decorated yellow skirt swung when he spun, now it only stuck to his legs. Nabulungi had the heart to shoot him a slightly sorry look, before shoving open the large wooden door into the studio. The gathered photographers, Thomas and Poptarts, broke off their conversation, as Nabulungi stormed in normal fashion, Connor trailing behind her like a sad puppy.

 

“Christ, what happened to you, McKinley?” Thomas wolf-whistled at the end of his comment, glance dropping down directly to Connor’s legs. The fashion designer waved him off with a sneer appearing on his lips, and shoved up the splattered red fringe now sticking to his forehead. He strolled over to makeup, who slightly winced at his appearance, and shoved into the chair waiting for him.

 

“I didn’t get the chance to make myself pretty this morning,” He told the makeup girl, Cordelia, who fished through the open drawer beside her to grab a dry towel. Dabbing it across his face to get rid of the now drying muddy water, she surveyed what had occurred to his face.

 

“I’m glad you didn’t honestly,” She pursed her lips, before turning back to her large stand to get to work on his current state. “It would have been a pain if you had put on some. The model’s a little late, and I don’t know how long he’ll be delayed, so let’s do this quickly.” Leaning in, Connor relaxed his face, and waited for Cordelia to do her magic. After about two minutes of her drying his hair and sticking an uncountable amount of gel into it to get it’s original fluff, he cracked open one eye while a question shot through his brain.

 

“Who is the model, by the way? I missed last week’s meeting,” He asked her, Cordelia biting her lip as she went to work on grabbing a dry outfit from the rack they had at the back of the current room.

 

“Oh, you don’t know? I heard Kevin Price himself is coming in to shoot with us,” She replied distantly after a moment, scratching at her blond curls absentmindedly. Connor’s mouth dropped open, and he physically had to grip the handles on the seat tighter to stop himself from murdering everyone in that room, along with the entire population of New York City. Kevin Price. Just. Great.

 

Kevin Price had moved to the city about a year before, bringing along his small modeling career resume from out West. Due to his personality and looks, he was hired almost instantly by large corporations, spending him spinning to the top of the food chain. Booking him now would be a miracle, and while Connor was happy they were getting such a stellar model, he was also not too happy with the fact that it was Kevin, simply because the man was one of the most annoying people he had ever met. Actually, speaking honestly, he hadn’t really met him before, but word got around rather quickly in the fashion community that he was obnoxious and rude to employers. If it had been any other model, his career would have been ruined. But his talent was too hard to ignore, as was his self-obsession.

 

* * *

 

While the photographers struggled with figuring out how to tilt the camera just right, Kevin let out a dramatic, impatient sigh. Connor shot him a warning glare. His new outfit was similar to his previous one, save for the fact that that one was now unsalvageable. Oh well. It was out of season anyway.

 

He was smartly dressed in a pale skirt that reached his knees, along with a tucked in shirt with a multitude of peace signs spread across it. It was a larger size, since it had been used by one of the plus-sized models prior to his wearing it, so one shoulder was revealed to the public. The spread of freckles across his skin was even more obvious, though luckily, Cordelia had waved her magic wand, and his eyebags were hidden underneath pounds of makeup.

 

“We’re not really shooting any of the important things today,” Nabulungi informed Kevin. “Most of this will just be fitting you so that you can wear the line correctly.” Kevin smirked, and flipped his perfectly styled hair with one manicured tan hand. Connor was instantly envious of the lack of work that Kevin had put into his appearance and how he still looked gorgeous.

 

“I can wear anything correctly,” He replied snootily, glancing at the coffee cup in Naba’s hand. It had been Connor’s straight black coffee, and it was still drenched with the mud water, since they hadn’t gotten a chance to chuck it yet. Kevin grabbed it, making sure to gain the attention of Connor as he did so, and gulped down the entire thing without even blinking. Handing it back to Nabulungi, he smacked his lips loudly and grinned charmingly in the direction of the fashion designer, who was stood about five feet away. Connor folded his arms across his chest, attempting to hide his both amazement and shock at the stuck-up model, and whipped his head in the direction of the photographers. What a fifth grader thing to do.

 

“Hey, baby,” Kevin had either not noticed Connor’s heated attempts at ignoring him, or he chose not to care, as after about a minute of the redhead standing with his chest stuck out underneath his folded arms, Kevin had slid over like the snake he was. “I like your skirt. You make that yourself?” Connor rolled her eyes at the other’s sad attempt of flirt.

 

“Fuck off, Price,” Connor snapped angrily at him. “I’ve had a shitty day enough as it is, you don’t have to rub it in by insulting my outfit. I already know that it’s last season.” Kevin furrowed his eyebrows in slight confusion, visibly not understanding what was out of fashion and what was not. He glanced back towards Nabulungi, who was still holding the empty cup of coffee, though was now staring intensely at her phone, and she shrugged uncaringly in silent reply. Nothing Connor said ever made sense to someone not deeply involved in the fashion industry.

 

“Alright, let’s get you fitted!” A voice called from the doorway, the usual titter of the tall man’s voice knocking the stress out of Connor’s shoulders just slightly. Whizzer Brown presented his usual grin towards the gathered trio at the back of the room, eyes sparkling, though the growing laugh lines around his face represented his passing age. The poofy curls still stuck up at least four inches into the sky, making him even taller than he already was. He was decked in a usual outfit for him, black turtleneck, black skinny jeans, his measuring tools and pins stuck to a belt hanging around his waist, much like Cordelia. Kevin narrowed his eyes at the newcomer.

 

“Who are you?” Kevin bluntly put. Whizzer’s grin faded just slightly, as he recognized the model. It dropped completely when he noticed Connor’s outfit, his eyes widening at the pale skirt. Connor nodded silently, agreeing with whatever Whizzer was about to blurt out.

 

“Whizzer Cohen, at your service,” Whizzer stuck out his hand. Kevin didn’t take it, and Whizzer retracted his arm awkwardly, pursing his lips together in judgement at the younger model. Since he was about forty, and Connor twenty-six, along with the fact that Connor hadn’t spoken to his family in seven years, he usually acted as Connor’s dad in situations like meeting new boyfriends, or in this case, greeting one of the toughest clients he’d ever have. “Also, Connor, I don’t know who dressed you, but they should be taken out to the back of the figurative barn and shot in the head.”

 

“Cordelia dressed me, I’ll have you know,” Connor gritted through his teeth. “This was all she had left over. You must have seen the pictures of me getting covered in mud water, yes?” Whizzer winced, and then rubbed his forehead with the hand he had used to shake Kevin’s.

“Alright, well…” Whizzer pursed his lips. “I guess she is just a makeup artist, and not a fashion-lover like myself. She’s like Marvin, in that way.” He shrugged, and Connor cringed visibly at the memory of the sweater Marvin had wore to the big Holiday party the year before - too many menorahs on one article of clothing to be healthy.  

 

“Come on now, Pricey,” Whizzer placed one hand on his hip. “I’ll get you measured, we’ll find the outfit size for you, and then we’ll start the shoot.” He sauntered out, Kevin letting out a string of curses underneath his breath as he rolled his eyes. The model followed dutifully after Whizzer, though, and the door to the studio slammed shut after the two. There was muffled arguing coming from the hallway. Connor exchanged a glance with Cordelia, then sighed, and twisted around to discuss proper lighting with Thomas and Poptarts.

 

* * *

 

Connor fished his apartment keys out of his purse, sighing loudly in relief when he swung open the door to what appeared to be an empty home. Not that he didn’t love Nicky ( that’s debatable, one part of his brain sneered) but his day had been awful, and seeing his boyfriend, the one that had rejected his proposal, the one that had strange bruises lining his collarbone some nights that Connor hadn’t given him would have made it worse. Setting his purse on the granite island, he shucked off his coat, which had been washed in the middle the day. The rest of the outfit had been tossed.

 

Hanging up the coat in the nearby foyer closet, there was a thud from the bedroom. Instantly, Connor froze in his movements, heart leaping up into his throat. Another thud, this one louder this time, and a muffled voice. Slamming his back to the closet door, he took in a deep breath, and tried to calm himself down. Okay, so someone had broken into his apartment. Someone potentially armed and dangerous. Slinking into his kitchen, he managed to keep out of view from the master bedroom, so that the robber/murderer would not be able to see him if they opened the door.

 

Suddenly, the door swung open, and Connor sent himself skidding across the floor, scrambling into the coat closet speedily to hide from whoever had broken into his apartment. Shutting the closet door as stealthily as he could manage, he held it open slightly in order to watch as a short, skinny Mexican twink who looked to be no older than twenty-one strode proudly from the master bedroom door. Instantly, Connor was extremely confused. This boy couldn’t have broken a window or picked one open to get in, much less caused that much thudding in the bedroom. He looked like he weighed literally a pound.

 

His confusion was soon answered when right after the twink came his conventionally attractive boyfriend of three years, glancing around in an attempt to see who had opened and closed the front door. He slapped a hand over his mouth in an attempt to stop the scream that was erupting from it.

 

“Probably just the wind, daddy,” The twink spoke after a moment, a sultry smile slipping onto his lips. He turned, and flung his skinny arms around Nicky’s neck, tugging their faces close. Nicky, though, was not as quickly reassured that they were alone. “Come on, we’ve only got a bit until your boyfriend gets home.”

 

“I feel like I should have a look around, though,” Nicky replied, voice deep and hoarse. Connor’s heart just fluttered slightly at the sound, even if the rest of his body was freaking out about the fact that his three-year-long boyfriend was cheating on him. Had been cheating on him. “Just to make sure no one broke in. I wouldn't want you to get hurt.” He shot the twink a large, toothy, stupidly attractive grin. Connor resisted the urge to storm from the closet and wring both of their necks with Nicky’s own fucking tie.

 

“Isn’t that your boyfriend’s bag on the counter?” The twink narrowed his eyebrows in suspicious, and strutted over to the counter, making sure to shake his bare ass as he did so. Connor had to dig his newly manicured nails into his palm to stop himself from punching a hole in the wall beside him.

 

“He’s got so many purses, it’s nearly impossible that he was the one who opened and shut the door, baby boy,” Nicky shuffled his feet along the wooden flooring, and wrapped his arms around the twink’s waist, tugging him to his chest. “I’ve changed my mind. Let’s just go back to the bedroom.” The twink smirked, showing off his pearly whites, and reached up a hand to tangle into Nicky’s black curls.

 

“That’s the best idea you’ve had all day,” The twink teased, and turned his head towards Nicky’s own bent head to press their lips together. The scene was like a car accident. No matter how bloody, disgusting, painful it was to watch, Connor couldn’t tear his eyes away.

 

Finally, Connor decidedly burst from the closet, which was strange to do for a second time in the past ten years - yes, Connor’s allowed to make a gay joke against himself - and caused enough noise to get the two canoodling men in front of him to break apart from each other.

 

“Cee-Cee?” Nicky whispered, shoving away the twink rather forcefully. The boy squeaked, and crumbled dramatically to the floor. Connor almost kicked him for good measure with his foot, but decided not to.

 

“I got home early today,” Connor told him, voice less shakily than he had expected. He reached up with one hand to play around with the necklace clinging to the pale skin along his collarbone. Nicky had given him on their one year anniversary. “It was a pretty shit day. Somehow, we’ve hired one of the best models with the worst attitude in the history of the universe. He insulted Whizzer, so then Whizzer was pissed off the rest of the day. Nabulungi was too attached to her phone to talk to me. Cordelia gave me last season’s skirt, because... I’m guessing you didn’t see the photos of me getting covered in mud water because some asshole taxi driver.”

 

Nicky furrowed his eyebrows, confused as to why he was simply ignoring the current situation at hand. Connor strolled into the kitchen, and opened the cupboard filled with their mugs. One was Nicky’s, a precious mug he never even let Connor touch. It was glass-blown, something he had gotten on a trip with his family when he was ten. He loved that thing more than he could ever love his redheaded boyfriend. Connor took it off the shelf, and tilted his head towards Nicky pensively.

 

“Do you want a drink? We haven’t spent enough time together lately,” Connor clutched the mug tightly in his hands, carefully, though it was clear he was quivering. After a moment, Nicky swallowed, and nudged the curled up twink with the tips of his toes to stand. He did, though guiltily, as if he hadn’t understood exactly what he was getting into. Connor rolled his eyes.

 

“Yeah, thanks, babe,” Nicky started cautiously, not wanting to set Connor off by telling him to not touch that mug. “I guess I’ll just have some Bud Light.” Connor nodded, and smiled passively. He turned to appear as though he was moving to open the fridge to find the wanted beer, before spinning around on his feet. Winding up his arm and throwing the precious mug as hard as he could, Connor chucked the cup across the room. He, Nicky, and the still unnamed twink watched while it smashed against the peach colored walls of the apartment hallway, and splattered onto the floor, no more a beautiful mug. Not even gorilla glue could piece it back together. The baseball playing Connor had been forced into as a child finally paid off. Nicky’s mouth dropped open, and he whipped his head towards his boyfriend, offensive flooding into his facial features. The twink covered his own mouth with one hand, shocked. Connor, though, just eyed the destroyed object with a strange satisfaction, a devilish grin spreading across his lips. He watched for another moment, in order to get his breath to calm down, to relish in what he had done, and then he turned towards the two other people still standing there.

 

“I was going to tell you, after things had quieted down,” Nicky admitted in a quiet voice. “I didn’t want to distract you from your upcoming line.” Connor scowled at him deeply, hurt flickering across his face.

 

“Didn’t want to distract me from my line? Well, good FUCKING job!” He flung his hands up into the air, and stormed over to the door. Yanking it open, he gestured to the now open doorway. Nicky’s eyes widened.

 

“Get out, Nicky,” Connor growled, motioning more pointedly to the door. “I pay all of the fucking rent, anyway. Get your own damn apartment, if you want to throw away my proposal on some Mexican, twink-ass, whore gay boy who barely knows one penis from the next.” The twink gasped, as dramatic as his previously fall, and Connor wanted to rip out all of his probably fake hairs one by one.

 

“Just let me explain? Give me five minutes, please, Con,” Nicky pleaded with him. Connor turned his head towards the door stiffly, and then shrugged noncommittally. The twink scurried off back to the master bedroom, probably to grab his stuff to get out of the marital spat they were in currently. Marital spat. Connor wanted to laugh. Nicky didn’t even want to be engaged to him.

 

“Fine,” Connor mustered. “Explain yourself. And then you’re out. I don’t want to hear from you again.” Nicky nodded, and moved to stand beside his boyfriend, who was still refusing to look at him. His head was turned to the open doorway, eyes focused on a fake plant out in the main apartment building hallway.

 

“I met him on our cruise to Hawaii,” Connor whipped his head towards Nicky at the sound of his voice, hurt flashing across his features as he took in the information. “He was there with his sugar daddy, but then he dumped him so that we could start hooking up. You were really focused on your clothing line, and I was too insecure to feel wanted in the relationship anymore.” Connor huffed annoyedly, and rolled his eyes at that.

 

“You’ve never felt insecure a day in your life,” He shot back. “You just wanted someone younger and more submissive. I can’t believe you started cheating on me during our one-year anniversary.” Nicky widened his eyes.

 

“Conny, please,” He snapped. “Let me finish, alright?” Connor growled, and balled one of his hands into a fist, though didn’t respond. Nicky let out a heavy sigh.

 

“He moved to New York City on our money. It’s pretty obvious, I guess, that he’s a San Fran native,” Nicky bit his lip. “I spent about a year convincing myself that I still loved you, and that I could stay in a committed relationship with you. Remember that time you had a mental breakdown because you were sure someone had gotten my credit card information and I refused to call the bank about it, even if we were losing money? I didn’t want you to call the bank because I was just lying about not using our money to pay for his apartment.“ Connor let out a sharp intake of breath.

 

“You bitch,” Connor swore, “so you just watched me fall apart because you were too much of a pussy to admit you were cheating on me.” He wiped one sweating palm against his skirt. “Let me guess, when I proposed to you and you ran off with your tail between your legs, you went to his apartment for that week or so?” Nicky fiddled with his fingers.

 

“Why didn’t you just break up with me? We had only been dating for a year,” Connor moved to hold his arms across his chest, as if it was a move of defense. “You could have just run off with him in the first place, instead of leading me on.”

 

“I still loved you,” Nicky whispered, voice quiet. “I still love you, Conny.” Connor waved him off, and then once more gestured to the door loosely, chest heaving.

 

“Don’t call me that,” Connor murmured, eyes shining with unshed tears. “Don’t fucking call me that, you absolute bitch. Get out of my fucking apartment, out of my Netflix account, out of my credit card. I never want to see your face again.” The twink reappeared then, and Connor stormed over to his couch, burying his face into his hands so that he wouldn’t accidentally kill both of the men still standing in his apartment. There was the sound of rustling and quiet whispers, before the door slammed shut, and Connor was left to his own devices.

 

He got up finally, after about three hours or so, curled up in a ball on his couch, the sun fading out behind him through the living room’s wall to ceiling windows, until it disappeared completely and the moon came to shine instead. Trudging to the kitchen, he swung open the fridge, totally prepared to eat himself to death, when he realized that today he was supposed to go grocery shopping. Groaning, he slammed the fridge door shut, and instead headed down the hallway beside him to his office. If he couldn’t stress eat, he’d just throw himself into his work, like always. Stepping through the door, he took a deep breath of the smell of scribbled on paper and spilled ink, before slipping into the daydream-like mode he always ended up in when working.

 

By the time he could see the dawn through the large windows in the office, as they were in almost every room besides the bathroom and the bedroom, Connor had finished the last full outfit of his clothing line, which had been scheduled to come out to the public by the end of the week. He had really only needed to put the finishing touches on it, even if after being thoroughly inspired by his boyfriend’s infidelity, Connor had decided to remake the entire outfit. Now, as he stepped back to look at the final sketch, the list of fabric to be used, the predicted cost, he realized something with a sudden quicken of his heartbeat.

 

It would look great on Kevin. It would look perfect on him, actually. The shorts would hug his thighs in just the right way, the color of the tie would bring out his sparkling eyes and amazing white teeth. Connor felt the sudden urge to scream despite the fact that he had fucking neighbors and shook his head in disbelief at what he was thinking. He was vulnerable. He was broken. Kevin Price was certainly attractive, and could be funny when he stopped trying so hard, but the redhead had literally just gotten out of a three-year relationship less than twelve hours before and he WAS NOT attracted to Price. At all. Huffing as he rolled up the last outfit to shove into his messenger bag since he probably wouldn’t remember to do that after waking up from his six hour sleep for another tiring day at work, he resolved to get Kevin to wear the final outfit, yes, but not dream about pulling on the soft tuffs of his flawless hair or the same legs that would be perfect in those pants clenched against the sides of his face, or-

 

The phone rang. Connor blinked, and stumbled over to his phone, which had been set down before his long work session. Checking the caller id, he sighed once he realized it was Naba, and put it to his ear. Hopefully she wouldn’t be able to tell that he was flustered through the phone, though she always seemed to be able to sense those kinds of things.

 

“Hey, C,” She greeted, nonchalant, no sleepiness leaking into her voice though it was only dawn. Connor wondered whether or not she actually slept. “Just checking to make sure you’re bringing in the final outfit for your line today.”

 

“Yeah, I just finished it,” Connor told her. “Are you sure Kevin’s gonna model the entire line?” On the other end, his best friend was silent. A strange pang shot through Connor’s heart at that. What was she waiting to say?

 

“Well, that’s what we hired him for,” Naba spoke slowly. “Why? What’s up with you? Why are you up at dawn anyway? You usually only do that when...oh my god, you two didn’t.” Connor flushed, and immediately hung up. The breakup was still fresh, and if he spoke to her about it, he’d probably also end up confessing his growing sexual feelings for the most self-centered dickbag he’d ever met.

 

“Only a week,” Connor muttered to himself, storming into his bedroom to wring his underwear drawer for the unused ring. “Only a week, and then he’s out of your life forever. Then you can finally fucking move on.” Holding tightly onto it, he slid open his bedroom window, and chucked the ring out to the street below. Some homeless dude could probably sell it for a lot of money. Slamming it shut, he dropped his feelings by his feet, and flopped onto his bed, ready to lay there for six hours without any sleep. As the sun raised over the whole of New York, and the sleepless city prepared for another busy day, Connor drooled onto the pillow his now ex-boyfriend would always rest his head on, dreaming of both a Kevin with a better personality and murdering Nicky.

Chapter Text

 

Kevin Price started his morning to a frantic phone call from his usually nonexistent mother. In fact, he had left so long ago that he was shocked to find that she had figured out his phone number. Somehow, she had accessed it, and decided to call him right as he arrived at work. Connor seemed to be in a bad mood, which was obvious, judging by how loudly he was complaining about the weather and coffee that morning. Kevin didn’t really care about the other’s whining, though, and picked up the phone from his mother, frowning as he did so.

 

“Kevin? Is this Kevin Price? Have I gotten the right phone number?” An elderly woman’s voice broke through his subconscious, and his heart plummeted to his stomach.

 

“Yes, this is Kevin Price,” He replied cautiously, praying up to a God he no longer believed in that this wasn't the woman he thought it was. There was a sinking feeling, though, that it was. “Though if you’re from a modeling agency, you should probably contact my manager.” The woman let out a whimpering noise, both from joy and surprise.

 

“Kev, baby, oh sweetheart,” His mother cooed, and a cold, frozen feeling shot through Kevin’s heart like a poison arrow. “I haven’t heard your voice in so long, but when I went out shopping last weekend I saw your face on one of those big billboards. You remember me, don’t you?” Kevin shook his head, biting his lip as he did so. From across the room, Connor glanced over to him, before turning back to screaming at Nabulungi, who was nodding along to whatever he was moaning about.

 

“Mama?” He whispered, lowering his voice so that he wouldn’t attract so much attention. “Mama, what-why-” He sucked in a deep breath, eyes suddenly sparkling with tears. At least he hadn’t gotten the proper makeup on yet.

 

“My baby boy, you’ve grown up so much,” His mother continued. “I just…I wanted to talk to you again. I’ve rethought what I told you before, and-and your father and I regret what happened.” Kevin blinked.

 

“You-You regret it?” Kevin whispered, almost silently. “After seven fucking years, you finally tell me you regret it? Now? After my modeling career has finally taken off and people actually love me?” Finally, Connor glanced over for real this time, worry sinking into the back of his big blue eyes.

 

“Kevin,” His mother took in a breath, and using his full name, he understood with a hardened heart the reason she had called. “Your sister is having her engagement party on Sunday, and I was hoping you’d come back home. Maybe just to visit, to see your nieces and nephews.” Kevin furrowed his eyebrows.

 

“Why? She wouldn’t want me there,” Kevin countered, snorting. “She’d think I’d taint the family’s young ones, or some shit like that.” He could tell his frequent cursing was agitating her.

 

“I want her children to grow up without any prejudices,” She explained softly, Kevin growing more and more annoyed the longer this phone conversation went on. “They are the next generation, after all.”

 

“Okay, you want them to grow up accepting?” He spat. “Then get them the fuck out of that church, or I swear to God himself that they will become just as crooked and hateful as you pieces of shit.” The other line was silent. Growling, Kevin hung up angrily, and stuffed his phone back into his pocket.

 

“What’s got you all riled up?” Connor questioned from his side, having stepped away from Nabulungi to speak to him. “The yacht you wanted was actually lime green instead of bright green?” Kevin rolled his eyes.

 

“Fuck off, McKinley. It’s none of your business,” He replied with, Connor seemingly flushing at the usage of his last name. Kevin didn’t question it. The redhead was noticeably shorter, though menacing when upset. This wasn’t one of those times, but Kevin kept it in the back of his head that it was probably a better decision to not get him riled up like he had seen this morning.

 

“If it happened under my control, then it is my business,” Connor countered smoothly, reaching up a hand to push back some strands of stray red hair. “In fact, this whole thing is my business. So I’ve got a right to know.”

 

“I’m just having family troubles,” Kevin allowed, shoving his phone quickly into his back pocket. He had a sneaking suspicion that Connor had been five seconds away from grabbing at it with his clawed, perfectly manicured hands. The fashion designer seemed put out by the lack of information, but dismissed it with a flick of his fingers and a glance to his watch.

 

“We’ve got a meeting in five minutes,” He announced to the room, a small, excited grin spreading along his pretty features as he waited out a second or two. “I’ve have something to present.” With that, the workers along the entry room of the company disbursed into chatter, and the smile fell from Connor’s face as quickly as it had happened. Kevin felt an overwhelming urge to find out why, though he shoved it away. He wouldn’t tell him anyway.

 

“What’s up your ass?” Kevin began a conversation with him against his own will - Whizzer’s burning glare from across the room, eyes glancing back and forth between him and Connor dangerously led him to push the older man a bit further. Just to see how long it would take for Whizzer to give Nabulungi his earrings and tackle the model to the floor. Probably, not that much longer.

 

“Rough night,” Was all Connor told him. When Kevin frowned at the lack of more information given, Connor just shrugged coyly, and pursed his lips in the taller man direction. “So you’re allowed to not tell me anything, but I’m not?” With that, he flipped the tips of his hair, and stalked over towards Whizzer, who was watching him carefully.

 

They began an urgently whispered conversation, Kevin narrowing his eyes as Whizzer kept his steady gaze on Kevin. No longer a glare, though. Just, watching. Waiting. Like a predator with its prey. Kevin shivered uneasily. Though the man was practically a joke, with his turtlenecks and poofy hair and office coated in photos of his son and husband, he was also 6’1”. Also, if Kevin could go by anything that Nabulungi had told him before he had scored this job, Whizzer wasn’t afraid to cut a bitch who messed with him.

After another ten minutes or so of Kevin standing by himself, processing both the phone call and Connor’s sudden attitude change towards him, they were called into the conference room. Connor went scurrying in about five minutes before, most likely to prepare. Now, though, Kevin was sitting down at the long table, a crowd of women and men alike doing the same. He recognized at least five out of the nine. Naba was obvious. Whizzer, due to his hair, and the two cameramen from the day before. Also, Cordelia, who was the makeup specialist. Kevin kept that in the back of his mind. She seemed to be close with Whizzer as well.

 

The other five, though, weren’t familiar. There was a black woman, who was visibly shorter than the rest of the others, including Cordelia. The two women had matching rings. A beard-adorned man sat next to a plain looking brown haired woman, both wearing still faces, though there were hints of smiles cracking through. He had seen both Whizzer, Cordelia, and the black woman speaking fondly to them when he had entered.

 

“I’ve called you in here today, because I’ve finally finished the entirety of my line!” Connor flung his hands up into the air, and the group clapped goodnaturedly. Kevin, glancing around in confusion for a moment, joined in, though rather slowly. “There is a downside to that.”

 

“My boyfriend of three years, you know, Nicky? He’s been cheating on me for about two years, so I might be a little emotionally unavailable for a few days or so. He told me last night, so if I’m being a little strict, that’s why,” Connor shrugged it off, before laughing awkwardly. One of the cameramen snorted at that.

 

“You’re always emotionally unavailable,” He muttered under his breath, and the other cameraman chuckled at that. Connor shot the both a well-meaning scowl.

 

“Shut it, Poptarts,” He snapped, and then straightened his lapel, before turning to the empty stand behind him. “Anyway, I wanted to present to you the last outfit design - and tell you who’ll be modeling it.” Whizzer rolled his eyes behind Connor’s back, and nodded towards Kevin while staring at Cordelia.

 

“Bet it’ll be Mr. Pricey,” He whispered to Cordelia, who watched her best friend with a slow-spreading grin on her face. “C just wants someone to stare at longingly for another week or so.” Cordelia reached up with one hand to cover up her spout of giggles. Kevin resisted the urge to turn around and face the forty-something year olds acting like young schoolgirls. He just focused on the small of Connor’s back that was visible when he bent over, and tried to conceal the fact he was also just staring blankly at the fashion designer’s ass.

 

“This! This is the final outfit design!” Connor spread out his arms, and stepped aside to reveal the sketches. Kevin’s mouth dropped open. It seemed normal, at first. It was a maroon tuxedo, with a striped tie. The trousers were maroon as well, though they were, in actuality shorts. The socks that covered the rest of the legs were the same blue stripes as the tie, and the shoes were clunky, maroon fashioned ones. It was glorious. Connor’s inspiration had certainly done a number on it.

 

“We might need to add a choker, or earrings to it, but it’s amazing just like it is,” Cordelia gushed, Whizzer rolling his eyes at his best friends.

 

“Chokers are so 2005, Delia. Get on it,” He joked, the blond glaring at him before wapping him upside the head. “Ow! That was uncalled for.” Connor pursed his lips, and cleared his throat pointedly.

 

“Anyway,” Connor continued. “Kevin will be modeling it. That’s all I really wanted to say during this meeting. Everyone, let’s get to work!” He clapped his hands, and the table at once erupted into chatter. Cordelia rushed out with the plain looking brown haired woman and who Kevin assumed was her husband, all three muttering about what fabrics to use. Kevin must have looked confused, because somehow, Connor took pity on him, and strutted towards him.

 

“They’re all gonna make the suit you’ll wear with your measurements and shit, test it before producing it to the masses after this weekend. Well, not the line to the stores just yet, but we announce it,” He explained blandly. “You don’t have to be here right now, since we don’t need you to model yet.” Somehow, Kevin’s heart sped up at the implication that he wasn’t needed, and he stood up quickly. Connor took a step back, and flushed at the noticeable height difference between them.

 

“No, I…” Kevin drifted off, and licked his lips, suddenly taking note of how dry they were. Connor’s eyes followed the movement like a hawk, and the model attempted desperately to not take pride in that fact. “I want to stay. I want to work on this. With you. I mean, with everyone.” Connor, slowly, dragged his eyes from Kevin’s lips, and met his eyes with his big, blue irises shining in poorly masked joyful surprise.

 

“And I thought you, for sure, despised everyone in this office,” Connor murmured, abiet breathlessly. “Well then. I guess I should properly introduce you to everyone, and try not to be as big of as asshole as you were with Whizzer.” His eyes hardened then, and the moment was over.

 

The short redhead moved out the open conference room door, and Kevin turned to follow him, when he saw Nabulungi standing slightly out of the doorway, smirking knowingly at him. Ah. Connor had hardened because he had seen Nabulungi watching them. An uncharacteristically red blush spread across Kevin’s cheeks way too quickly, and he rushed out the door after the fashion designer, attempting to ignore Nabulungi as she cheerfully waved him off.

 

“I just got off on the wrong foot yesterday, and I apologize,” Kevin told Connor, who didn’t really seem to care. He was checking his nails as they walked down the hallway. “Sometimes I just get pissy like that.” Connor snorted to himself.

 

“First off, since you’ll be staying with us for a while, you should probably meet our creation team,” Connor started, ignoring him completely, and quickened his pace briskly. Though taller, Kevin struggled to keep up with him as he led him down a long hallway, reaching a door completely made out of glass. He pushed it open, and smiled at the trio in the room.

 

“Cordelia, our makeup productionist, you know her already,” Connor waved over at her, who smiled at Kevin brightly, as if she didn’t remember the douchebag he had been the day before. Cordelia was ditzy like that, Kevin was beginning to understand.

 

“That’s Trina, who creates the prototype for the clothes, like the outfit you’ll be modeling on Saturday,” He directed Kevin’s attention to the plain looking woman, who was bent over the table, scribbling madly on a piece of paper. Kevin caught the words illuminati and acapella before she whipped her head up rather crazily, and moved her arms to cover her paper.

 

“Hello, it’s a pleasure to be working with you,” Trina told Kevin distantly. “Though, we are trying to work, so if you could get the pleasantries over with soon, Connor, that would be great-” Connor rolled her eyes, and Trina replied in kind, before bending back over the sheet.

 

“And that’s Mendel. Trina’s hubby,” Connor explained their attachment to one another, then, and Mendel shot Kevin a nervous smile, fidgeting in his seat as he clutched a large calculator rather tightly. “He’s the one who figures out prices, fiances, everything of that nature. I just do the beginning for him. In fact…” Connor opened the messenger bag almost always beside him, kevin was sure, and handed Mendel a stack of papers with a bunch of numbers written on them. He took them thankfully, and silently. After a moment of standing there, Connor shrugged at the working three, and led Kevin out, back into the hallway. There were muffled voices coming from a door close to the edge of the winding hallway, and Connor stopped at it. The voices had grown louder, clearly two men voices. One was most definitely Whizzer’s, Kevin decided with a sigh as he watched Connor knock on the door politely. After a moment, he just swung the door open without warning, since no one had most likely heard the knock.

 

“-It just seems convenient for Jason’s girlfriend to be out of town the night we want to have dinner with them,” A chubby, shorter, more grumpy man was explaining to Whizzer intensely, waving his hands around wildly. Kevin furrowed his eyebrows as Connor grinned goofily at the two men, who turned to him with equal expressions.

 

“It’s wonderful for you to be dropping in as usual, Marvin,” Connor greeted the man with a hug, who, while appearing almost four feet tall next to Whizzer, still was taller than Connor. Kevin’s eyes widened noticeably. This was Marvin? Since he had only seen a few pictures, and they were from he and Whizzer’s wedding day, he didn’t really know what Whizzer’s husband looked like. He certainly wasn’t expecting a man with mismatched socks and a saggy red sweatshirt to be married to Whizzer.

 

“I wouldn’t miss out on a day, even if it does mean I have to meet the infamous Kevin Price,” Marvin’s voice was low, and his face was a cross between functioning alcoholic and dissatisfied housewife . He stepped out from beside Connor, and stuck out his calloused hand for Kevin to shake. After a moment, he did, though rather awkwardly. This guy radiated dad.

 

Connor was watching, a pleased little smile coming onto his face at the sight. Whizzer was wearing a more devilish version of the redhead’s expression, though he met Marvin’s eyes while his husband stepped back towards him, and his face softened goofily. He looked like a teenager in love.

 

“You take care of my son, now, alright?” Marvin jabbed a finger in Kevin’s face, and although Kevin understood in the back of his mind that this man was joking, his heart still stopped. Turns out the 5 foot something man could be actually fucking terrifying. His fear must have visible, because after a second or two, Marvin clapped him on the back, clackling. Whizzer snickered in return, as Kevin stumbled due to the strong hit against his spine. The man had arms.

 

“So, as you probably already know, that’s Marvin Cohen, Whizzer’s husband,” Connor explained unneededly, and Marvin smiled strangely at Kevin. It made the model squirm, like Marvin had just taken one look at him and already figured out all of his deepest, darkest secrets. He didn’t trust Whizzer or his short husband, Kevin nodding his head to himself decidedly. “And that’s Whizzer, both my temp dad and the dude who does all the measurements.”

 

Kevin nodded again, wondering whether if he looked crazy or not with all of the head movements he was doing, and made no motion to shake Whizzer’s hand. Connor dramatically sighed, and took Whizzer’s hand roughly. His other hand took Kevin’s, the taller jolting slightly at the feeling of Connor’s surprisingly soft palm against his own. The shorter put both his and Whizzer’s hands together, forcing them to shake.

 

“There, see? We can all be friends, at least for one week,” Connor smiled fakely, resting his hands on his hips. Behind him, Marvin clapped his hands together happily. Whizzer let out a short burst of air through his nose, and dropped Kevin’s hand as though he had some sort of contractible disease, not that Kevin was complaining.

“Is there anyone else you want me to meet?” Kevin turned towards Connor, trying to make his face as neutral as he could while Connor’s face fell slightly at the fact that the magic of his and Whizzer’s handshake hadn’t instantly fixed their relationship.

 

“Yes, actually,” Connor flicked his hair upwards, the red locks bouncing while he scowled up at the taller man. “Hopefully, while we’re walking there, you can take whatever’s just come up your ass and made you such a prick before you embarrass yourself and me in front of my entire team.” He sashayed away then, making an exit.

 

“Burn,” Marvin dragged out the word in a funny little whisper, Whizzer bursting into snickers. Kevin glanced back towards them as he dismissed himself from Whizzer’s office, and somehow, a smile ended up on his face at the scene. Whizzer was smiling a shit-eating expression down at Marvin, years of age cut from his face due to one look at his husband. Marvin was wearing the same expression, both curled up beside each other. Kevin could swear Whizzer caught his eye for a moment, and shot him a soft smile as well. It could have been a trick of the light, though.

 

“The last really important person for you to meet is Charlotte, Cordelia’s fiancee,” Connor turned out, and led him through the lobby, back across the main hallway to where the studios were held. He knocked on one door, and there was a distant call from inside. He pushed the door open, quieter and less brash than the other two times. Charlotte, the black woman, was typing something furiously onto her computer, tongue sticking out between her teeth as she focused in on whatever work she was doing. “She’s our publicist.”

 

“Everything’s on track as it should be, Connor,” She confirmed to her boss, eyes not moving from the computer screen as she darted out one hand for Kevin to shake. He did so, shocked at how firm her handshake was. She removed her hand, and it went back to flying across the keyboard. “Good to finally meet you, Kevin Price. I hope you’ll be nicer to us than you were with your last gig.” At this, a small smirk slipped onto her face, almost as though she could sense Kevin’s face flushing.

 

“How-How’d you know about that?” Kevin tripped over his words as he attempted to think of something to use to defend himself against her, ignoring Connor’s pointed eyebrow raise. Charlotte let a small chuckle, eyes still not leaving the monitor.

 

“Word spreads fast in the underground fashion community,” Was all she replied with, and Kevin stole a glance at Connor, who of course now was wearing another one of his stupid little know-it-all smirks. “Now get the hell out of my office.” Connor nodded quickly, his taller companion tilting up the sides of his lips at the pale fear on Connor’s face. Everyone in this fucking office was menacing. Kevin strolled out behind Connor as he always did, dutifully following until they were stopped in the lobby by a rushing Nabulungi.

 

“Hey, not meaning to distract you two from your endless lust filled pining or anything, but you’re still coming over tonight, right?” She narrowed her eyes, ignoring Connor’s sputtering at the implaince of he and Kevin being attracted to one another.

 

“Which one of us?” Kevin questioned, gesturing between both he and Connor. See, Kevin was best friends with Nabulungi’s fiance, Arnold Cunningham. Connor was best friends with Nabulungi, Arnold Cunningham’s fiancee.

 

“Both of you,” Nabulungi answered as though they should know this already, eyebrows furrowing. Kevin and Connor exchanged shocked glances.

 

“I’m going to have to suffer three more hours with this dickbag?” Connor gasped, thumbing towards Kevin, who shot him an offended glance. Nabulungi pursed her lips at the duo.

 

“You don’t seem like you’re doing too much suffering right now,” She commented, Connor pinking all the way to the tips of his ears. Kevin thought, in the back of his mind, that he looked cute like that. “But yes, you will spend three hours with him at Arnold and I’s place. We’re going to be rewatching the entirety of the first season of the animated Dungeons and Dragons series. Be prepared to hear none of it due to Arnold’s excited ramblings.” With that, she turned on her heel, and stalked away. Kevin stole a look at Connor, but the shorter refused to lift up his head to look at him.

 

“Let’s just...go introduce you to the fucking camera dudes,” Connor mumbled, and stormed off, entire atmosphere thrown off by Nabulungi. A single, worried thought shot through Kevin’s mind - does he really hate me that much? The man snorted, and shrugged it off. He doesn’t care anyway. He doesn’t care.

 

He doesn’t.

 

* * *

 

Arnold and Nabulungi’s apartment was the definition of dream world for every nerd in existence. The only framed photos were old posters the two had dug up from garage sales over the years, there was a case filled with different miniatures from the years of playing Dungeons and Dragons, figurines as far as the eye could see.

 

“Thanks for coming, dudes! I know usually Kev’s only over for DnD every Saturday, but I’m glad you could make it on a weekday,” Arnold clapped his hands together excitedly, Nabulungi emerging from the kitchen with a plate of assorted crackers and cheeses, a grin spreading across her face lovingly as she glanced towards her fiance.

 

“Ew, Dungeons and Dragons,” Connor wrinkled his nose, the rest of the three making simultaneous “oh, god” faces. “What? Pathfinder is so much better than that piece of shit. Even if I did grow up playing DnD.” Kevin blinked in surprise.

 

“Wait, you like nerdy stuff?” He questioned, Connor raising an unamused eyebrow. “Woah, this is news.” Connor shrugged, and hung up his coat.

 

“Just because I’m a fashion designer doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good roleplaying game,” He had the nerve to shoot Kevin a wink at that, the taller turning a bright red. “I’m a mage in my group, and I kick ass. Whizzer’s the one who taught me how to play Pathfinder, actually. Being into fashion doesn’t mean I’m a total valley girl. Besides, you’re a model. I could say the same about you.” He swung his hips as he entered the kitchen, Nabulungi following him. Arnold was watching Kevin in confusion as to why he was blushing so much.

 

“He’s a mage,” Kevin whispered, and licked at his lips, his mouth dry. Arnold seemed to get it then, and grinned at his best friend from across the room.

 

“Pull yourself together, Kev,” Arnold joked, and went over to clap the taller on the back. Kevin let out a choking noise, and stumbled forwards. Second time that day.

 

“Ready to start watching one of the shittest animatied series ever, only second to the ever famous Street Sharks?” Nabulungi cheered as she exited the kitchen once more, now with a tray of wine glasses. Connor followed, doing nothing to help besides carry his own wine glass.

 

“Hey! Dungeons and Dragons is a classic,” Arnold snapped jokingly, Nabulungi rolling her eyes. He settled in the chair beside the couch, Nabulungi practically throwing herself into his lap. Kevin and Connor shared a look, before both sitting down on the rather small couch simultaneously. The television turned on, Arnold dimming the lights in the living room from a remote control to the light switch across the room. Connor shifted until he was basically hanging off the couch, primly trying to squeeze his entire body into a small space so that there’d be room between he and Kevin.

 

By the time they had gotten through ten episodes and everyone had at least five wine glasses, Connor was curled up into Kevin’s side, breath heavy on his neck, whispering comments about different scenes that had Kevin scrunching up his face in an attempt to stop himself from giggling aloud.

 

Their legs were tangled up together on the atamon in front of the couch, Kevin’s arm around Connor’s shoulders as the shorter folded more and more into him as the night wore on. If Connor wasn’t so tipsy, he probably would have bitched when Kevin’s fingers ended up playing with strands of his hair, but since he was pleasantly buzzed and snuggled up beside a warm body, something he had missed desperately, he didn’t voice any complaints.



After they were finished, and Connor waved off Nabulungi’s knowing/warning smirk (‘You’re vulnerable, Connor,’ she had told him earlier that night in the kitchen) she always seemed to be wearing, he invited Kevin back to his apartment to look at new designs for a few pieces he might get Kevin to model in the future. The cold New York City air sobered them up noticeably, but Connor still didn’t want to push off Kevin’s protective arm around his waist, and Kevin didn’t seem to mind the proximity of their bodies either.

 

“This is my apartment,” Connor waved his arms around as he flicked on the light, and then let out a sharp gasp. Kevin followed his line of vision to see a tall, attractive, muscular man halfway through the doorway of the leading hallway from the kitchen, holding a box of stuff marked “dick’s stuff or whatever.”

 

“Nicky? What the fuck? What are you doing in my apartment at midnight?” Connor furrowed his eyebrows angrily, folding his arms across his chest. Kevin almost dropped his arm from Connor’s waist, but one sharp tug of Connor’s hand to pull them closer together made him think twice. Nicky winced.

 

“Well, I thought you’d be out late working, so I could just sneak over and grab the rest of my stuff,” He explained weakly. “Also, I just wanted to see you again…” Connor blinked once, twice, and then shoved away Kevin rather roughly.

 

“You wanted to see my sleeping body, you fucking crazy bastard? Get the fuck out of my apartment, before I call the cops,” Connor stormed over to his ex-boyfriend, steam practically coming out of his ears. “What part of ‘I never want to see you again’ don’t you understand?”

 

“You just don’t want to see me because you’ve got your new boy toy over,” Nicky snarled. “We broke up less than a day ago, Conny, and you’re already fucking some other guy who looks like a downgraded version of me.” Connor slapped Nicky straight across the face, jumping slightly to reach his face, and Kevin snorted behind the two.

 

“Kevin is not my boyfriend, first off,” Connor corrected him, Nicky shifting the weight of the box over to one arm to cradle his stinging cheek in his other hand. “Second off, why the fuck should you be the deciding factor on whether I have sex with someone else or not? You cheated on me for two years. Third off, Kevin is a hundred times more attractive that you will ever be.” With that, Connor spit onto Nicky’s tank top, smiling in satisfaction as his ex-boyfriend groaned aloud at that.

 

“Hand over your keys,” Connor stuck out his hand, and motioned with his fingers. Nicky stayed put. “Can you not take a hint? Hand. Over. Your. Fucking. Keys. This isn’t your apartment anymore, buddy boy.” Nicky fished them out his pocket, and handed them over to Connor, who smiled tightly at him and stuck them into his pocket.

 

“Thank you!” Connor told him sarcastically. “Now get the hell out of my apartment.” He jabbed a thumb towards the door, and Nicky lumbered out. Kevin didn’t resist shooting him a glare as he did so, before slamming the door against Connor’s dick ex-boyfriend’s back.

 

“Wow, you know, I thought you had a cruddy taste in men, but I didn’t think it would be that bad…” Kevin drifted off once he noticed that Connor was sniffling slightly at the edge of the kitchen island, the adrenaline rush he had been feeling before wearing off. He rushed over to the fashion designer, peeling the soft hands away from his face slowly. “Connor? Are you alright?” The shorter nodded fiercely, and yanked away one of his hands to rub at his eyes.

 

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Connor told him pointedly. “I’m just so fucking sick of him controlling all my moves. He’s ruined my life for three fucking years, I shouldn’t be forced to deal with him anymore, and yet I am. I just want to live my life.” Kevin dropped his other wrist, and cleared his throat, mentally preparing himself for what he was about to say.

 

“Well, maybe you should,” He suggested awkwardly. “Just live. You know. Do whatever you want to do, without worrying about what other people might do. You’re in control of your own life, you know.” Connor looked up at him with his big blue eyes, mimcing the expression he had held earlier that day, and Kevin’s heart fell hard in that singular moment.

 

“Are you suggesting what I think you’re suggesting?” Connor spoke barely aloud, eyes flickering back and forth between Kevin’s own pair and his lips.

 

“...Maybe?” Kevin drifted off, afraid of ruining the moment with his own uncomfortable manner. Connor reached up, and grabbed at his collar, yanking him down so that their lips crashed together. Kevin’s eyes widened as Connor’s lips moved against his frozen ones, his hand tightening around Kevin’s collar to pull him down farther, so that he was bending, so that their faces would meet halfway.

 

“Connor, just, take a breather for a second,” Kevin hushed out, stepping backwards from the other man, who dropped his hand on his collar, chest heaving, though he didn’t seem too out of breath from the kiss itself.

 

“I-I should not have done that,” Connor chuckled humorlessly, Kevin winding one hand around to hold onto the back of Connor’s neck, stopping him from stepping back and destroying the moment. “That was not what you were motioning for-”

 

“No, it’s okay,” Kevin let out a small giggle at the ludicrousy of the moment in front of him. “Really. It’s cool.” Slowly, Connor, without removing his eyes from Kevin’s gaze, slid his hands up so that they were resting on Kevin’s pecs, holding onto his loose tee shirt tightly.

 

“You sure?” Connor tilted his head, and Kevin smiled goofily down at him, unable to resist both his adorableness, and the fact that they were both still slightly tipsy.

 

“Yes, I’m sure,” Kevin rolled his eyes playfully, and pressed their lips together. Connor entangled one hand with his companion’s shirt, and let his shoulders relax. A tiny, nagging voice in the back of his head started to scream when Kevin pushed him up against his bedroom door, about how this was too soon, and that it was all a terrible idea. But then Kevin smiled at him like he had done before again, Connor feeling the effects of the alcohol again, and the voice disappeared in an instant.

Chapter Text

When Connor McKinley briskly moved into the first level of his fashion business the next morning, he noticed the air had changed considerably. While there was a stirring in his chest from Kevin’s rush to leave his apartment despite the connection he felt they had made, the soft red carpeting presented itself nicely for once, and Whizzer was smiling as he chatted on the phone with who Connor assumed was Marvin while leaning up against the reception desk. He directed the smile in Connor’s direction, who replied with one, his heart fluttering from the events that had occured the night before.

The twisting, whispering fears from the night before, ones that had gathered together and decided to join forces in the attack on Connor’s mind after Kevin had dashed away like Cinderella at the ball were still alive and thriving. The funny thing was, it had been three in the morning already, and even if he left with the flimsy excuse that Connor could get a better sleep without him there, the redhead ended up wasting the next four hours or so before work staring up at his apartment ceiling and listing everything he had done wrong in his entire life one by one, starting with the time he had jumped off the top of his elementary school playground and subsequently broken his leg. A dark hand tapped his shoulder, ripping him from his thoughts officially, and Connor twisted in his spot to see Nabulungi stood there. There was a funny little smile hanging off her lips, her hands twisted in a holding spot in front of her miniskirt..

“Have fun last night?” She implored, wiggling her eyebrows against her dark skin. Connor let out an inward sigh, having prepared himself for her enviable interrogation.

“We didn’t do anything, Naba,” He promised her, shaking his head to move along with his response. Though he usually never lied to her, Nabulungi loved to gossip, especially with their co-workers. Connor would be humiliated if he had to endure teasing from any of his friends about Kevin. Kevin. “I just walked him home, said goodbye, and then went back to my apartment. Though, guess who I found when I got there?” He rolled his eyes as he directed the conversation topic to something else, desperately pushing it away from the fact that he hooked up with Kevin Price.

“Who was there?” Nabulungi looked at him with interest sparkling in her dark brown eyes. “Oo, oo, lemme guess. Tom Cruise. Daniel Radcliffe. Both of the twins from the Property Brothers!” Connor snorted at the petty poke towards his numerous celebrity crushes.

“Nicky was there, actually, grabbing some of his stuff,” Connor corrected, clutching his bag close to his chest as Naba’s eyes widened noticeably. “Being the fucking creep that he is.” She bit her lip, and tugged against the stack of paper she was holding tightly in her hands.

“Did he…” She drifted off, glancing around the rather empty lobby before leaning forwards to whisper. “You know, do anything? To your apartment?” Connor shook his head, though in reality, he had been too distracted by Kevin to care enough to check.

“Nah, he was just looking for me, I guess,” Connor shrugged, attempting to appear like he didn’t care. Still, he hadn’t slept a wink after Kevin had left his apartment, too fearful of his ex to even go to turn off his bedroom lights. “So I took his apartment keys and kicked ‘em out. Simple as that.”

“I’m gonna fuckin’ kill that crazy bastard,” Naba shook her head, a stormy expression coming onto her face. Connor sighed at his best friend, though a small smile appeared on his face. Her will to protect him was, while slightly annoying, also very calming.

The elevator doors opened wide then, and Kevin strolled in. Naba waved towards him gleefully, a playful smile back onto her face. Kevin ignored her with a flush to his cheeks, and directed his hundred-watt smile in Connor’s direction, wiggling his fingers towards the shorter fashion designer before heading down one of the rooms to, presumably, bother Trina, Mendel, and Cordelia. Naba watched him leave, before twisting back to her best friend. She smirked at the quite obvious lovesick expression on his face, cheeks flushed and eyelashes lowered down slightly.

“Did nothing, my ass,” Naba muttered, Connor sputtering in surprise as he was kicked from Cloud Nine rather rudely, his hand halting quickly in his returning wave. “You totally fucked.” Reaching down, her companion picked at a loose strand of weaving from his baggy sweater. She smirked triumphantly.

“So what if we did?” Connor hissed in returned after a moment, lowering his voice that Whizzer wouldn’t catch on. “It’s none of your business anyway.” With that, he flipped his red hair backwards, and stormed down the hallway. Nabulungi, always the one to not know when to quit, chased after him, heels clacking against the hardwood flooring.

“How was it? Was it good?” She pressed on, Connor speeding up his pace. For some reason, the hallway seemed endless. “Spill the tea, Connor. That’s the least you can do in return for forcing me to watch you and Kevin flail all over each other last night.” Connor halted in his pace, and turned around in his loafers, sighing silently.

“It was fine, okay? I really like him, but I don’t think he likes me. He left really quickly,” Connor snapped angrily, and rolled his eyes at her pushiness. She winced, understanding she might have pushed him too far. He snapped it off quickly, though. “Now shut up and let me do my job!” He pushed open the door he was right beside to act like he was actually doing something important. Nabulungi huffed, but turned on her heel, and marched away to discuss lighting with Thomas and ‘Poptarts’, the cameramen. That was another part of her rather difficult job. She mainly organized everything. Connor just had to drink coffee and look good in front of the cameras.

The camera guys, Poptarts and Thomas, as Connor had previously addressed them, were alright. Sometimes they stayed around for after work drinks, or helped Naba with some of her overwhelming duties as assistant to Connor. They were everything Connor and Nicky hadn’t been, which would be in love, happy, and content with each other. So he was still a little bitter. Or a lot bitter.

He entered the small lunchroom they usually ate in at random times of the day, not having realized that was the door he had turned towards. Since they were all too busy attempting to get this magazine out to the public on time, it was difficult to have a scheduled lunch break. He let out a exhale of relief at the fact that Nabulungi was no longer breathing down his neck, and flung onto one of the chairs in the center of the room, setting his purse down on the table in front of him. The door opened, and closed, feet hitting the ground.

“Hey,” Kevin’s voice sent visible chills down Connor’s spine, the shorter shivering as he stood to greet the other man. “Haven’t gotten to say good morning to you properly yet.” Connor glanced up from the slightly chipped table he had been focused on with his eyes to see that Kevin was directly in his personal bubble, something Connor wasn’t used to.

“Good morning,” Connor murmured, voice cracking as Kevin smirked at him, eyes darkening in the small lunchroom. The rational part of him regretted entering this almost empty room. The irrational part of him, well, wasn’t as regretful.

“Good morning, indeed,” Kevin agreed, and snaked his arms around Connor’s waist. The shorter slumped into his embrace as their lips met tenderly, moving together in the early morning sun. A flame sparked in Connor’s heart. Nicky hadn’t kissed him like that for a long time. Coming back to reality, Connor shook his head as one of Kevin’s hands held onto the back of his head steadily.

“Kev, no,” Connor breathily protested, pulling away just slightly so that his lips dragged across Kevin’s cheek. “We can’t do this.” Kevin’s lips trailed down his chin and found his neck, pecking softly the marks he had left there the night before.

“Why can’t we, baby?” Kevin’s voice was guttural, Connor’s eyelashes fluttering as he fell deeper into the other’s embrace. “You want to. I want to.” Connor barely closed his eyes, before he firmly shook his head and wiggled out of Kevin’s grip, chest shaking.

“It’s so unprofessional,” Connor told him, running a hand through his hair to make it seem more appearable. “You and me - if this gets out it’ll be everywhere in the fashion industry.” Kevin shrugged, and jammed his hands into his pocket.

“Also, I’m not so sure you want to,” Connor whispered to himself, shifting his feet. “You left so quickly it was like you thought I was gonna murder you or something. You know I would have been okay with you staying.” The rest of the sentence hung in the air. I would have been okay with you staying because I’ve been alone for so long.

“I do,” Kevin protested, and then cut himself off as the door swung open. Trina shot the two of them a look as she walked in to place two tupperware containers labeled ‘The Wisenbachfelds’ in the fridge to the side of them. She continued to watch them suspiciously, before disappearing out of the lounge, and shutting the door behind her.

“Is this just because I left this morning that you don’t think I like you? Or is it something else?” Kevin asked him once the door had closed. Connor bit his lip, turning his gaze to the floor. The tips of their shoes were almost pressed together.

“It’s because of a lot of things,” Connor admitted, folding his arms over his chest as though it were some form of protection. Protection against what? He wanted to curl up into a ball and cry. “I don’t want to… I don’t know. I just got out of a relationship. A really long relationship.”

“With a guy who was a complete asshole to you,” Kevin’s face fogged over, and Connor’s heart stirred slightly in the place it had fallen against the bottom of his stomach. He was already protective over him.

“He was alright,” Connor mumbled to himself, not really understanding why he was defending his cheating ex-boyfriend. He was an asshole. “And we haven’t known each other for that long.” He almost bit his nail, something he hadn’t done in a long time, and then stopped himself. The manicure he had gotten five days before would have been for nothing.

“Just...come with me, after work,” Kevin told him, glancing around fervently, as though he suspected someone was listening in on their conversation. “I want to...do something. Will you?” Connor smiled down at the floor, and looked up, letting a giggle emerge.

“What, are you gonna kill me?” He joked, and Kevin split into one of his wide, bright grins. The expression almost literally stole Connor’s breath out of his lungs. The serious air around them disappeared quickly after that short burst of laughter, and Connor’s shoulders relaxed just slightly.

Connor stole one more look at Kevin, who was waiting for his reply like a hopeful teenager asking his high school crush out to dinner. Connor grabbed his bag, and rushed off. He had better things to do than to fool around with Kevin Price, whether or not it was outside of work or in the supply closet. Which is not what he was thinking about. At all. But as his shoes smacked against the flooring, he began to wonder if he really did or not.



Connor snapped his fingers impatiently, and Cordelia’s face appeared in between the satin curtains of their studio one dressing room. On the third floor, her partner in crime, Whizzer, was dressing the female model for her shoot later that day.

“Now presenting, Kevin Price, in Connor McKinley’s ‘Formal Floral’ wear,” She made a drum noise with her mouth, before disappearing back into the curtain. After a moment, Kevin stepped through the curtains, and everyone in the room simultaneously dropped their mouths in shock. His hair was curled up to perfection, the tux clenching his shoulders in the most perfect way. The maroon complimented his tan skin, brown eyes alight with playfulness as he reached up to fiddle with the flower covered, baby blue tie around his neck. He rolled back on his heels, his shorts barely reaching his knees as the same baby blue color curled up to the start of his thighs. Connor shut his mouth, and smiled wanly at Cordelia, who was practically bouncing with excitement.

“Perfect,” Connor swallowed, his mouth drier than it had been before. Kevin tugged on the sides of his suit jacket, smiling at Connor in such a way that it made the redhead a puddle on the floor. Connor stood up from his chair, stepping closer to admire the work of art. He peered at the buttons lying the sides of the suit jacket, Kevin turning slowly in place so that Connor could get a roundview.

“Isn’t it great?” Kevin puffed out his chest with pride, the rest of the crew marveling at the fact that Connor was so willingly accepting the first draft of the piece. Usually it would take him days to decide on a final product.

“Yes,” Connor whispered through his clenched teeth, hand reaching out to check the designs on the tie. Kevin took a small step forward as Connor did so, the fashion designer staring intensely at the flowers to check if they were as they should be. Kevin’s eyes shimmered with an unidentable emotion as he stared at Connor, a soft smile creeping onto his lips

“Alright, let’s get shooting!” Thomas clapped his hands together, directing both Connor and Kevin’s attention onto him. He stepped over to the cameras, his boyfriend following.

“God, stop eye-fucking,” Nabulungi muttered to Connor as Kevin stepped away from him with a small ‘excuse me’ and went to start the shoot. “It’s gross.” Connor flushed bright red, and ignored her pointedly, holding one of his hands in his other as he watched Kevin model. Despite the man’s negative personality, he had to admit - Kevin was an amazing model. Though he didn’t have much experience, having not worked with many people before, he knew exactly what to do when in front of the camera. The day went quick with such a well-accompanied model. It was like he shut off his douchebag persona when the camera flicked on, and he was a different person. A different person that had Connor leaving the room multiple times to splash water on his face in the men’s bathroom and calm his quickly beating heart. He hadn’t felt this way since he and Nicky locked eyes across the fashion show’s main room years before. It was exciting, and also terrifying. Needless to say, Connor was slightly relieved when the sun began to set behind the skyscrapers, and they decided to pack it up for the day. Of course, the happiness of that wore off when Kevin stepped away from his chat with Cordelia to catch his eye.

“You’re coming with me, right?” He asked in a low whisper, Connor shuddering slightly. Despite his want to avoid the man in front of him entirely, it was slightly pointless now that they had had sex - and did it matter? He was allowed to have fun sometimes.

“Yeah,” Connor breathed out, eyes searching Kevin’s face as it lit up. He was so much like a small child sometimes. “Just let me get my bag.” Kevin nodded excitedly.

“Right,” He agreed. “Okay. Let’s meet downstairs.” He winked, and wandered out of the studio. Connor watched him leave, as Cordelia strolled up beside him.

“He’s not much as much of an asshole as he’s been before,” She commented, and Connor smiled sweetly at the older woman. He grabbed his bag, and threw it over his shoulder, attempting to hide the fact that his heart was attempting to beat out of his chest.

“Just got off on the wrong foot,” He suggested, and then rushed out the door. He didn’t notice Cordelia share a look with Whizzer behind his back.


When he got down to the small parking garage beside their building, he was greeted with a revving motorcycle. Connor rolled his eyes, despite the impressed look otherwise on his face. Of course Kevin had a fucking motorcycle.

“So you’ve been the dick roaring at six in the morning, then?” Connor joked, admiring the slickness of the black beauty. Kevin was sat at the front, the same grin still on his face. He tossed Connor his helmet.

“Put it on,” Kevin instructed him. “I’ve got precious cargo.” Connor blushed, and then scowled almost instantly afterwards. He put on the helmet, though, and tightened his bag strap around his shoulder. Hopping onto the back, Connor hesitantly wrapped his arms around Kevin’s waist. The taller relaxed slightly into his grip, and so the redhead did as well, dismissing the worrying thoughts about popperazzi or anyone from work seeing them. Naba kept her car in the garage, as did Whizzer. The two most important people in his life.

“You’re such a loser,” Connor mumbled into Kevin’s jacket, who just revved the engine, like a tiny child with a toy car, and then they started. Instantly, his grip tightened around Kevin’s waist, as they went speeding out of the garage and onto the busy New York City streets. Almost instantly they were caught in traffic, but soon enough, they were going again.

Since arriving in the city, Connor had rarely used public transportation or cars to get anywhere. It was just easier to walk to wherever he needed, and buses were always too grimy. He also refrained from using taxis, unless he was super drunk, because he always felt too awkward in them. That’s why he had forgotten what the world looked like when you were whizzing past it. The smile on his face spread as they passed Central Park without a second thought, and began to head towards what Connor assumed was Kevin’s apartment.

They rode for what must have been about thirty minutes, Kevin just twisting around corners sharply and by-passing traffic like it was no one’s business. Connor would have to ask him how long he had been riding for. The duo ended up close to the edge of the city, at a large, almost completely glass building. Kevin parked the motorcycle in a small parking garage below the apartment building, and then gestured for Connor to follow him through the lobby.

“Is this your apartment building?” Connor asked cautiously as he admired the swakiness of the room around him. Kevin nodded, waving at the doorman. He pressed the elevator button, and rolled back on his heels.

“Yep,” Kevin replied. “But we aren’t going to my apartment.” Connor shot him a confused glance, but there was no chance to question him. The elevator doors opened, and Kevin stepped on. Hestitanting, Connor looked around, before hopping onto the elevator beside the model. Kevin pressed what looked to be the top floor.

“Are you gonna like… murder me, or some shit?” Connor chuckled nervously as they began to go upwards. Kevin giggled.

“You’ve already asked me that,” He winked, and Connor flushed. “Someone’s blushing!”

“I’m not a twentieth-century maid, Kevin. Winking at me isn’t going to make me swoon,” At swoon, Connor pressed a hand to his forehead, and one to his chest. Kevin snickered.

“But there is a hint of red in those cheeks,” Kevin reached out a hand, and poked Connor’s right cheek, who squeaked. “It matches your hair. It’s cute.”

“My hair isn’t that red,” Connor argued. “It’s more of a light orange-red.” Kevin chuckled, and leaned against the wall of the elevator as they continued to ascend.

“Maybe you should theme an entire line around the color of your hair, if you’re so sure about it,” He chuckled, and the doors opened. Kevin strolled out, Connor following annoyedly.

“I have already!” Connor sputtered, both abandoning the elevator as it closed behind them. Kevin just smirked in his direction, and then waved for him to follow down the corridor. They passed by about two doors for what Connor assumed were million-dollar penthouses, and then Kevin pressed on a lone steel door at the end of the hallway.

“Okay, now I’m almost a hundred percent sure you’re gonna kill me,” Connor muttered to himself, but followed Kevin through the door anyway. They began up a flight of stairs or so, leading to another door. The sounds of the city were more audible now. Kevin wiggled his eyebrows down at Connor, barely visible in the darkness of the stairwell, and then opened the door. He held it open for Connor, as his companion emerged to realize Kevin had led them to the roof of the apartment building. His mouth dropped open at the beautiful view spread out around them.

“Oh my god, Kevin,” Connor gushed. “It’s...I can’t even describe it.” Kevin snickered, as Connor spun in a circle, trying to ingest everything around him.

“What, hasn’t a guy trying desperately to impress you taken you on a motorcycle ride before leading you up onto the roof of his apartment building before?” He cocked an eyebrow, and Connor spun around. Kevin’s eyebrow dropped, a dazed smile appearing on his face at Connor’s expression. The shorter rushed up to him, and threw his arms around his neck, pulling him down suddenly into a kiss. Kevin sputtered for a moment, before sinking into the kiss, moving his lips against Connor’s as he sunk his arms around the other’s waist. Connor tugged at his bottom lip, hands moving quickly against Kevin’s almost perfect hair from when they had been modeling, messing it up completely. His partner couldn’t bring himself to care.

“Thank you,” Connor mumbled against his lips. “I’ve never felt more inspired in my entire life.” He gripped Kevin’s shirt as he pulled back slightly to watch the other man, who was smiling dopily at him, still bent slightly due to their height difference.

“Does that mean I’m your muse?” Kevin suggested slyly, his breath hitting Connor’s freckle splattered nose. Connor smiled shyly up at him, and bumped their noses together.

“I don’t know,” He whispered. “I mean, I’ve never felt this way about anyone before. It’s like I’m falling down a black hole, or something, but it doesn’t feel…” He drifted off, distracted by Kevin’s serious expression.

“It doesn’t feel wrong,” Kevin finished for him, and Connor surged towards him again, kissing him like it was the last time they’d get to do so. His lips were slightly dry due to the wind around them, but they were soft, and they felt like a home Connor had been searching for. He was struck by the craziness of the moment suddenly.

“You wanna go get dinner, or something?” Kevin asked against his lips. “It’s pretty up here, but it’s also really cold and I wanna take you out.” Connor knelt their foreheads together, and nodded, biting his lip.

“Sure, just gimme a second,” Connor let go of his shirt, and patted out the creases. Kevin started for the door, as Connor tilted on his feet to look out at the scene spread out in front of him. The skyscrapers towered above the rest of the small, older buildings. He could see their building about ten blocks down, in the distance. The sun reflected off of the glass windows beautifully. His breath was stolen. He was about to go on a date with the most beautiful man he had ever met - even if he was an asshole sometimes. Even if Whizzer didn’t like him. The nagging voice in his head winced at that.

“You coming?” Kevin rapped his knuckles against the steel door leading back down towards the two penthouses. “It’s just gonna get colder.” Connor shivered slightly as an example of the fact, and shoved his hands into his pant pockets.

“Right, okay,” Connor agreed, and trudged over the rocky surface of the glass apartment building. Kevin grinned at him, his teeth shining, and Connor couldn’t resist pecking his cheek. The two bumbled down the dark stairs, laughing as they did so, and Connor allowed himself to forget the many consequences of affiliating with Kevin Price.

Chapter Text

Connor had kissed Kevin goodbye in his apartment hallway, before unlocking his door and stumbling through. He had only had about two glasses of wine, but he was drunk on happiness. Having a fun time with a guy who paid attention to him did wonders for his broken self-esteem. Setting his keys on his granite counter, he slipped off his shoes. Connor wandered through his kitchen, to the side of his apartment hallway, searching for the answering machine in the dark. His fumbling hands pressed accidentally on one of the buttons, and the monotone female voice rang out through his apartment.

 

“You have three new messages,” She announced loudly, Connor smacking his head into one of the nearby cabinets in an attempt to find the button to turn it off. He had only really wanted to call Naba and tell her about the date, but now he had a pounding forehead, and an annoying answering machine. Maybe it would be better just to get a glass of water, and put on a record. God knows he wasn’t going to sleep for a while. His mind was running too quickly for him to.

 

“Son of a bitch!” He swore as his hand flew up to feel his forehead. Hopefully there wouldn’t be a bruise there. It would take way too much makeup to cover it up. A blemish like that would certainly get the magazines going, and he was already way too filled with gossip about his recent breakup.

 

“One new message from Marvin Cohen,” She began, Connor muttering to himself as he started to open cabinets in search of some bruise cream. Even though he was stood in his kitchen, and not his bathroom. Due to his absent-mindedness, he would usually end up placing things in very strange areas. “Hey, Connor! Just wanted to call and see how you were doing. Whizzer said you’ve been pretty busy with your upcoming magazine and line and all… but Jason wants you to meet his new girlfriend! Surprisingly, this one isn’t fake. She’s really sweet. Her name is Heather Levin, and when he introduced us to her, she was wearing a Lord of the Rings tee, so Whizzer adored her instantly. I think you’ll like her too. She does magic!” He squealed the last sentence excitedly, Connor rolling his eyes at the old man on his answering machine in the darkness.

 

“Anyway. I want you to come over for dinner this week. I think that’ll be good. It’s been a while since you’ve seen Jason. Besides, Whizzer tells me you’ve got a thing for Kevin, and that’s probably something we should talk about. See you later, alligator!” The answering machine cut off, and Connor slumped against the counter.

 

“One new message from Cordelia Baker,” The female spoke again after a pregnant pause. “Hello, Con! It’s Delia. I’m wondering if you could help me with some of the wedding stuff. You know that Charlotte and I are hoping that it’ll end up happening towards the winter so we can go to a ski lodge for our honeymoon, but there’s still a ton of stuff to do. I know you’re good with this stuff since you’ve got like ten brothers and sisters and you’ve helped with all their weddings. I’m very confused about most of it. Anyway, call me back when you get this message. We’ll set a date! Toodles.” The message ended with a shout coming from the background, and the sound of pans dropping. Most likely Charlotte attempting to make dinner. She was never really good at that, and Connor smiled while he sighed in sympathy for her. There was a smile on his face, though. Oh, Cordelia. She never understood that the answering machine already had her name in there. She always had to introduce herself whenever she left a message.

 

“One new message from Nicky Stevens,” Connor’s shut eyes flew open wide as the message began to play. “Hey, C. Nicky here. I know you probably don’t want to hear from me, but I really...I really miss you. I miss sleeping beside you. It’s kinda dangerous where I’ve been staying now, since you made all the money in this relationship. I was wondering if you might want to meet up for coffee, or something, and we could talk. I still have the ring you gave me.” Connor scoffed to himself. What a lier. His hand instinctively reached up to fiddle with the necklace that would have usually been around his neck. His fingers met cold, pale skin, and his heart cracked slightly.

 

“I’m sorry for breaking into your apartment. I really didn’t want to break in, I just wanted to see you again. It’s been rough. I’m so used to seeing your face. I’m not sure I can go on without you,” Nicky on the phone continued. “I swear, baby, I can change. I’ll get better. I’ll be the man you deserve….anyway. Call me when you get this message. I’m really hoping you’ll be the bigger person, and will. This is for the good of both of us.” Connor flicked on his kitchen lights, ignoring the burning since his eyes had only just adjusted to the darkness, and slammed the stop button on the answering machine so hard he must have broken it. Watching it for a moment, Connor began to sob uncontrollably, the words floating around in his head. He slunk down against the cabinet, and curled up on his kitchen floor, tears soaking the tiles as he continued to cry. Suddenly the fun that had come out of that night was washed away by reality. He fell asleep there, on the floor, about two hours later, head pounding and eyes dry.

 

T MINUS THREE DAYS UNTIL THE MAGAZINE GOES LIVE

 

It wasn’t the first time Nabulungi had arrived at work hungover. After she had gotten engaged to Arnold, she hadn’t come in for two days due to her pounding headache from the drinking they had done to celebrate. Since it was such a Naba thing for her to do, he didn’t really question it much. Connor could tell, though, that this time her tiredness and annoyance wasn’t just from too much booze - she was hiding something from him.

 

At the start of the morning, it hadn’t bothered him so much. He had waved hello to Kevin, blushing wildly while the model smiled charmingly back at him, and then gotten pulled away by Cordelia, who began to describe she and Charlotte’s date night about twelve hours before in great detail. Usually, Naba would be the one yanking him back to practically talk his ear off. But she was nowhere to be found. Which was also a normal occurrence. She was either one extreme or the other, there was never any in between. When he finally wrestled out of Cordelia’s grip and explored their four floors of workspace, he spotted Nabulungi whispering urgently with Whizzer behind his office door. Normally, his two best friends hiding secrets from him would not bother him, since he was hiding a rather large secret as well. A 6’2 one with perfect hair. Yet, this one set him the wrong way. He could swear he had heard his name used behind that goddamn door. It worried him. It worried him a lot.

 

Pittering around the four floors of his business didn’t really qualify as work, but his job had already been done. He had forked over his designs, and now wasn’t needed. Kevin was modeling all day, and Nabulungi and Whizzer were being strangely secretive, so he was alone. He also didn’t really want to get on the internet, for the fear that someone had seen he and Kevin exploring the city. Around lunchtime, Naba stopped her silence, and sat down to eat with him. Whizzer still was ignoring him.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me?” She asked him as she sat down, opening her small salad, the same one she had everyday. It was like she was allergic to any other food besides petite salads and takeout. Connor furrowed his red eyebrows.

 

“What do you mean?” He replied in confusion, pausing in the eating of his avocado toast. Naba looked up from her struggle to pop off the top of the salad case, and rolled her eyes at her best friend tiredly.

 

“About you and Kevin,” She elaborated slowly, as though she were speaking to a toddler. “You guys went motorcycling. Out to dinner.” Connor’s face went slack with shock. Naba popped off the top, and picked up her fork. She didn’t start eating, though. She just twirled it around in her dark fingers, as if enjoying watching Connor crumble in on himself.

 

“How-what-why-” He cut himself off, shaking his head, as he slumped forwards in his seat and buried his hands in his hair. Of course. He should have realized that they would have been found. They were right in the open, and they had stopped at such a public place for dinner. The waiter had recognized Connor. But he had been so distracted by both Kevin, and the phone call he had gotten from Nicky when he checked his answering machine after coming home, he hadn’t bothered to worry about it until the next day.

 

“The paparazzi is everywhere, Connor,” Naba patted his shoulder comfortingly, and jabbed her fork into her salad. “Which is why you shouldn’t be sleeping with our new douchebag model.” Connor whipped his head up, and rubbed the side of his face anxiously, a bad habit that he had acquired within the first year of meeting Nicky. He had also gone through a bad stint where he bit his nails when he got nervous, but then his fingers always looked like they belonged to a dead person’s, so he went cold turkey. At least rubbing your face would never end up ruining your manicure.

 

“He’s not as much as a douchebag as I originally thought,” Connor admitted, biting his nail ( god DAMNIT) , before scrunching up his nose and pausing. “He’s actually a sweetheart. To me, at least.” Naba rolled her eyes again.

 

“You only think that because you just got out of a relationship and you’re vulnerable,” She told him roughly. “Kevin’s not a great dude.” Connor grimaced at the usage of ‘dude.’ Arnold was clearly rubbing off on his best friend. Next thing he knew she’d be coming to work in a baggy Star Wars t-shirt covered in Cheeto stains. He shuddered at the thought.

 

“You don’t know him, Naba,” Connor snapped, and then sighed. “I’m sorry. I got this really creepy message from Nicky last night, and I didn’t get much sleep because of it. I want you to give Kevin a chance, though.” She pondered that for a moment, and then put the bite of her salad into her mouth out of contemplation.

 

“Alright,” She agreed through a mouthful of food. “But you should read the articles they’re writing about you. And talk to Whizzer. He’s pretty upset.” Connor chuckled to himself, and got up to put his lunch back into the community fridge.

 

“Of course he’s angry,” He scoffed to himself, Naba watching him with her owl-like eyes as he wandered out of the lounge. “He’s like my fuckin’ dad.”



He eventually made his way to Whizzer’s office at around two, about three hours before most left work. Kevin hadn’t emerged from the studio, where he was relentlessly underneath the lights and the cameras with the few other models. This was routine, though. They usually never got the magazine out on time. It was one of the things that was unique about them, save for the wacky fashion trends and the strange layout of the actual magazine itself.

 

He felt himself missing Kevin, even if they were in the same building. Maybe we could go out again tonight. Yeah, in Alaska. Popperazzi was already on his tail for getting a new boyfriend so quick after his last relationship. Connor knocked those thoughts away, leaving them for future Connor to deal with, and turned toward his other best friend’s office door. Knocking on the door, there was a pause, and then Whizzer’s shouted ‘Door’s open, shithead!’ gave him masked permission to swing through.

 

“Oh, it’s you,” Whizzer was spun around in his chair, not facing the door in the slightest. His legs were propped against the wall, as he bounced a bouncy ball against the wall and back into his waiting hands - aka not doing any semblance of work.

 

“How’d you know it was me?” Connor asked in confusion, slipping through the doorway and shutting it quietly behind him. Whizzer paused in his ball throwing, rolling it around in his hands.

 

“I didn’t,” Whizzer replied, a hint of smugness in his voice. He began to throw the ball again, though much harder this time. “Come in to tell me about your boyfriend?” Connor sighed, and rolled his eyes. Such a dad.

 

“He’s not my boyfriend, Whizzer,” Connor corrected, strolling over and slumping down in the chair across from the taller man’s desk. “He’s not much of my anything, really.” Whizzer continued to bounce the ball off the wall, but he slowed considerably. .

 

“The magazines seem to disagree,” Whizzer protested calmly. The noise the ball made against the wall caused Connor to flinch, like he was a teenager coming home past curfew. He had done that many times before, so he recognized the situation.

 

“I haven’t had the time to read them yet,” Connor swiftly replied, masking his worry with his usual flair. He desperately needed Whizzer to approve of Kevin. “Look, do you want to know the truth?”

 

“That’s all I’m asking, Cee-Cee,” Whizzer turned in his chair, pushing off the wall with his legs slightly so that he reached his desk again. His face was soft, as it was whenever he looked at Jason or his husband.

 

“We had sex,” Connor blurted out, sticking his hands underneath his thighs so that he didn’t have the urge to run out of the office. The courage he had built up over the past two hours was quickly disappearing. Whizzer threw his hands up in the air, letting out a knowing scoff.

 

“I knew it!” He cried out, Connor letting out a long sigh. “I knew you two had sex. You couldn’t keep your hands off of him. Or your eyes. Jesus Christ, Connor! Is there never a guy you can’t wait to have sex with after the first fucking three days of meeting him, or do you just go into heat whenever a person who even remotely looks like a man glances at you?” Connor watched his eyes with a flickering expression on his face, watching as Whizzer continued to explode. It was his routine. He’d bottle up all his feelings until they came out in a rush of emotion and anger. He had been around when Whizzer had done that to Marvin before, and it wasn’t pretty. But Whizzer was professional, and Connor was used to it. The most important thing was to just wait out the storm.

 

“Only once, though,” Connor added quickly. “Though we did go to dinner last night.” A small, giddy, lovesick smile appeared on his face, Whizzer watching in vapid horror as Connor fell apart in front of him.

 

“He took me to the roof of his apartment building. Oh, Whizzer, it was beautiful,” Connor sighed, and then his face hardened. “But I’m not gonna apologize for liking him. I want you to accept him, I really do, but seriously! I’m almost thirty. I should be allowed to choose my own boyfriends.” Whizzer hummed in the back of his throat, and leaned back in his chair.

 

“I don’t want you to get hurt, Connor,” He warned in a twinkling voice, Connor grumbling something under his breath, his redhead bouncing as he did so.

 

“You sound just like Naba,” Connor muttered to himself, tapping his shoes on the ground, before meeting Whizzer’s eyes once more. “Seriously, though. He’s a nice guy. He’s much nicer than Nicky, and I like him a lot more than Nicky! I don’t know what I’m feeling in here,”-he gestured to his chest-”but it’s something.” Whizzer tilted his head up to the ceiling, not looking at Connor.

 

“I’m worried he’s not who you think he is,” Whizzer breathed out through his nose. “He was such an asshole when he first came here. What makes you think him being nice to you isn’t just an act?” Connor’s rebuttal was whipped away in the wind. He felt like he had gotten punched in the stomach. He hadn’t even bothered to think of that. Kevin was climbing the modeling ladder quickly due to his good looks, but who’s to say he wasn’t just using Connor for a chance to get up to the top even faster? The fashion designer’s face fell.

 

“I don’t know,” He whispered softly, torn between the two different versions of Kevin he was now picturing in his mind, Whizzer nodding as he returned his cold stare in Connor’s direction. “I don’t know.” Whizzer watched him for a moment, then gestured to the door of his office.

 

“You should come over for dinner this week,” Whizzer suggested as Connor got up, shaking slightly, his mind reeling. “Seriously. Jason misses you.” Connor nodded slowly, and then left Whizzer’s office, his heart pounding. What if Whizzer was right, and that Kevin wasn’t who Connor thought he was? As he left, Connor wondered whether or not that was what Whizzer and Naba had been conspiring about that morning.



Unfortunately, Connor found the answer to that question when he went to go find Kevin to confront him about his annoying attitude to everyone besides Connor at the end of the day. Tiptoeing down the hallway on the third floor, since usually Charlotte slept there due to her overworking and he didn’t want to walk her up, his ears picked up soft conversation along the west hallway of the fork in the road he was coming to. One of the voices seemed oddly familiar.

 

“...I thought you told me you liked him,” One of the other models, Alexa, was speaking to Kevin down the hallway. Connor peeked around the edge, careful to keep himself in the dark lighting of the hallway he was stood in. She was stood beside him, blond hair illuminated by the setting sun. Her face was calm, while Kevin’s was noncommittal. He let out a small laugh at her seeming rebuke to whatever he had said prior to Connor’s listening-in.

 

“No! Of course not,” Kevin sneered, upper lip wrinkling. His eyes were still sparkling, though. The sparkling they had showed on the rooftop. “But he’s a good stepping stool. I’ll be done with him soon enough, and then I can forget about him.” Connor’s mouth dropped open, a squeak coming out. He slapped a hand over his own mouth so that he wouldn’t accidentally let the two know about his presence.

 

“You already spent money on ‘em, though,” Alexa frowned, though their faces were slightly dark due to the shadows casting on them from the large window at the end of the hallway. “Why?” Kevin shrugged, tucking one of his hands into his pocket, the other clutching his bag.

 

“It’s all part of the game, Alexa,” Kevin replied snootily. “I’ll call you later.” Alexa waved goodbye as he turned to walk down the hallway. Letting out a yelp, Connor sped down the hallway where he had just come from, nevermind the noises he was making while running. Kevin was following, lumbering as he usually did, though Connor was already out and on the elevator before either model noticed he had been there. Slumping against the side of the elevator, Connor attempted to recollect both his breath and his thoughts. The elevator dinged, and began to move back down to the first level of his business. Thinking hard, a sudden fire washed over his heart. Whizzer had been right, of course, he always was, but that didn’t mean Kevin deserved Connor’s tears. Sniffling, he hiccuped once, and then blew his nose into his shirt, before instantly regretting it. It was designer. Stepping out into the main lobby, he saw Nabulungi talking on the phone with who he assumed was Arnold. She shot him a worried look. The elevator instantly closed behind him, and went back up, probably to grab Kevin.

 

“What happened, Connor?” She asked him, covering the receiver with one hand. Connor blinked, and wiped his eyes, a scowl coming over his face.

 

“Your fiance’s best friend is a dick,” He hissed, aware of how hoarse his voice was getting. He sucked the tears back up into his eyes. Kevin did not deserve his tears. Nobody did. The elevator dinged, and out stepped Kevin. The look on his face was smug for a moment, the stupid bastard, and then it crumpled when he saw Connor fuming beside Nabulungi, who was still watching in scared confusion. Usually she had a hold on every situation.

 

“Connor? What happened? Why are you angry?” He asked, dropping his bag onto the hardwood flooring. He rushed towards Connor, who held out a hand. Kevin shot him such a heartbroken look Connor almost decided to not confront him about this.

 

“You… you prick,” Connor hissed, stepping forwards angrily. Kevin took a step back, face contorting. Naba glanced between them worriedly, hands itching to call security. Though Connor had control of his temper most of the time, it was clear he was deeply, and utterly pissed off.

 

“What do you mean? What did I do?” Kevin asked, voice heightening as he spoke. “What’s going on?” Connor let out a bitter laugh, wiping at his eyes again, despite the lack of tears falling on his face.

 

“Nice try, Kevin,” He snapped. “I know what you’re doing. I heard you talking with Alexa a few minutes ago. How long were you gonna keep this up?” Kevin’s face twisted in even deeper confusion.

 

“What the hell does that mean? Why are you angry?” He threw his hands up in the air. Cordelia peeked out of the hallway, wincing at the situation before disappearing. No one was leaving work anytime soon, since the two fighting men were covering the entrance into the only elevator in the building (besides the work elevator, but that had been broken for years.)

 

“You’re using me! You just want to have sex with me so that I’ll fall in love with you and you can climb the ladder more easily,” Connor screeched, Naba dropping her phone in shock, before bending over and scrambling to save it. “Well guess what, douchebag! It’s not gonna work.” He rubbed furiously at his eyes for what must have been the third time.

 

“I don’t-” Kevin was cut off by Connor’s frantic waving of his hands. Naba, watching behind him, understood by his motions that whatever he was about to say was final. He usually bounced around like a red ball of fury before announcing something important.

 

“You’re fired!” Connor shrieked hysterically, Kevin’s mouth dropping open in shock. “Get the fuck out of my office building. I never wanna see your face again!” Nabulungi stepped close to Connor, and rested a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Connor, how about you just calm down, and take a breather-” She was cut off by Connor shrugging her away, not even turning to look in her direction. His gaze was locked with Kevin’s, who was stumbling in place, eyes glazed over.

 

“I am completely fine, and in the correct mind, Naba, I don’t need to calm down,” He snapped. “I just need him out of here! Get him out.” Kevin held up his hands in a mock “I’m Innocent” way, and stepped backwards. He grabbed his bag off the ground, turned around in a robotic form, and walked onto the elevator. Connor crumbled to the ground at Naba’s feet, and let himself cry.

 

When he arrived back in his apartment, he unplugged the answering machine.

Chapter Text

Hey, it’s Kevin again. Just calling to see if you’d pick up this time. I’d really like to know why you fired me. I wish...I wish I could fix whatever I did. I miss seeing you. I miss your face. Please call me when you get this message,” The answering machine rang out through Connor’s apartment at six in the morning. The redhead was tucked underneath his covers, refusing to leave his bedroom. His mattress was stained with tears, and the room was hot with all the blankets piled on top of him, but he couldn’t bring himself to care.

At about two in the morning the previous night he had woken up, filled with guilt, and plugged the answering machine back in. He told himself it was because maybe some of his fashion friends on the other side of the country would call him in an emergency during the night, or Marvin asking about dinner. Again. He didn’t really feel like going to another one of their ‘Family Potluck Dinners.’ It was too warm in the Cohen apartment, and Jason, though sweet, would endlessly question him about things he didn’t really want to respond to. Also, it would be the fifth time he had gone without Nicky, but the first time he’d gone after they had broken up. The mood would be stranger somehow. It had become stranger even in the Debonair headquarters.

So, after he had eventually plugged it back in and sat at his kitchen table, nursing a beer he never opened, the answering machine began to play by itself. It was an old thing, anyway, but Connor was now lying in his bed, sleeplessly tossing around as the automated voice repeated the same messages over and over again, taunting him, tugging at his brain. His fingers itched to call Kevin. It wouldn’t help, though. Kevin probably wouldn’t want to speak with him after what had happened. You probably don’t want to talk to him anyway. Still, there was this need to know what Kevin was really talking about. Had he reacted too strongly?

Connor! It’s Kevin. I know this is like the fifth message I’ve left, but seriously. Knowing you hate me for some unknown reason, it hurts. My heart feels like it’s about to explode, and not in a good way. Please call me back,” Another one. His wavery voice, filled with static but still so perfect, washed over Connor, waking him up whether he wanted to or not. He shoved his face into his pillow and attempted to block out the noise again. Connor didn’t want to have to get up and trudge through the cold apartment again just to turn off the answering machine for what must have been the fourth time that night when he knew he’d just turn it back on in the morning.

Kevin here. It’s about eleven, so you’re probably asleep...oh well. Does it matter? I’m gonna go to sleep. Call. Me. Back.” Connor groaned muffledly into his sheets as a slight response to the answering machine, and fell off his bed, tugging the comforter with him. His heart was still beating out of his chest.

Cee, uh, Kevin. Another time. Listen,” Kevin took a long breath, as did Connor, who was struggling to wiggle free of his comforter. The bed didn’t seem to want to let him go. In any other situation, Connor wouldn’t have disagreed with the comforting mattress. But Kevin was still speaking to him (indirectly, of course) and he felt like he was drowning. “I know you don’t want to hear from me. I really do. But I’m gonna keep calling you until you answer me. I want answers. I don’t think I did anything wrong! Did I hurt you in anyway? I don’t know what to do. Bye.

Connor stumbled down his hallway, his answering machine finally having shut off since the last message had been put in about twenty minutes before. Wrestling it out of its position beside his kitchen, he took one look at the old thing and dumped it into the nearby trash can. Thank god the old thing was finally dead. Sighing, Connor turned to the coffee machine and brushed his fingers past a hickey Kevin had left just nights before. It made him even sadder than he was before. Fumbling with the buttons, he turned it on, resisting the urge to scoop the answering machine back out and listen to the messages Kevin had left him over and over again, just to hear his voice. Just to listen to him.

It was about two days until they went live with the line, and Connor was struggling to find a model that matched Kevin’s body weight and height since all of the prototypes were built for him. Even if he did, Connor would eventually send the chosen model away. He moped around the office for about half of the morning, checking over the resumes of the models auditioning to fill in for Kevin last minute, but his heart wasn't into it. It was a strange feeling. Usually, he poured his heart and soul into anything with fashion. The audition process wasn’t even his main job on a regular day. That’s why he hadn’t known Kevin would be taking part. Since everyone was too busy working on the upcoming magazine, though, it was his duty. Meaning he would have to pull himself together enough to pay attention and keep his reputation in check. Even if it meant pushing himself through the seven stages of grief in abandoning what could have been his first really loving relationship over the course of one day.

“You can’t keep moping around forever,” Whizzer nudged his shoulder at around ten o’clock, Connor groaning into his desk in response. His head was pounding due to the fact that he had slammed it against is workspace prior to his co-worker walking into his office unannounced. Whizzer did that a lot, both outside of work and inside of work. The smell of fresh coffee wafted to his nose, and, despite his state,

“Yes, I can,” Connor replied after a moment, lifting up his head to send his best pout in the direction of the older man. “I can’t find another model.” Whizzer pursed his lips, and Connor could tell he didn’t believe him. Whizzer had a tendency to see through anyone he met. That’s why when he had first introduced himself to Connor he had pulled him into a tight, fatherly hug. It was like he could tell that had been just what Connor needed.

“You should have returned my calls,” He responded coldly, Connor letting out a sigh as he picked the edge of the stack of papers in front of him with one chipped nail. He didn’t want to look at Whizzer, and admit defeat. For some reason, he felt an attachment to the fact that it was a similar situation he had with his dad years before. Although this time there was much less homophobia and much more stereotypical father. He could practically sense Whizzer raising a trying eyebrow in his direction.

“I threw out my answering machine this morning,” He admitted, not looking up from his intent focus on the pages. “Kevin was calling too much. He left me like fifteen messages.”

“Do you think that maybe you heard him wrong?” Whizzer asked him, slipping into the seat across from Connor. The redhead furrowed his eyebrows, as Whizzer folded his legs and tilted his head up to the ceiling. “I don’t know. He sounds really destroyed if he’s called you that much.”

“You were the one warning me like...three days ago that he was bad news,” Connor told him in confusion, leaning onto his hands to watch the older man sitting before him. “And then about three hours later you were right. Why are you backtracking now?” Whizzer stretched his arms out behind him, and faced Connor with a vacant expression on his face, shrugging. After a moment, he let out a sigh and flickered his eyes about Connor’s rather large office.

“Marvin and I were talking yesterday,” Whizzer began, sinking deeper into the chair. “He got me thinking.” Connor rolled his eyes, gesturing loosely with one hand as if to express his thoughts without really stating them.

“He’s the only one who gets you to think,” Connor muttered to himself, picking up one of his pens lying around on his desk to twist around in his nimble fingers. Whizzer didn’t seem to have heard him, and if he had, he didn’t seem to care too much about Connor’s comments on his current lecture.

“Maybe Kevin was talking about something else,” Whizzer explained, motioning lazily with his hands. “You shouldn’t have exploded on him like that.” He turned back to Connor, who was watching him with an unreadable expression. His fingers had stopped twirling around the pen in his fingers and was waiting for Whizzer to continue his spiel like a bored teenage son.

“I hate the little dude, right? But still, there’s this sinking feeling in my gut that he didn’t do anything wrong,” Whizzer tapped the pages on Connor’s desk, and stood, stretching out his legs as well. “See you later.” He waved from behind himself, and strolled out his boss’ door, not bothering to close the door after he had retreated into the hallway to begin screaming about something to Cordelia, who was waiting outside of Connor’s office with a worried expression on her face. Connor watched him, before turning back to his paperwork and slamming his head on his desk.

Connor was restless that night. The answering machine seemed to call to him through the garbage shoot, echoes of Kevin’s incoming calls ringing through his brain. Surely it wouldn’t hurt his stand to call him back once, to hear his low, sleepy voice, to fall back into the trap that was Kevin Price. Shaking his head against his pillow, red hair sprawled around his skin like a halo, he pursed his dry lips and attempted to fall back into the web of uneasy sleep.

He recalled the nights were there was a body next to his, either Nicky or Kevin, warming up the bed like a heated blanket, giving Connor comfort in the darkness of the night. His eyes drifted shut, Kevin beside him, watching him with those eyes he had given him after they’d returned from Naba and Arnold’s apartment.

“Having trouble sleeping, Con?” His lips upturned in a quirky little smile, teeth shining in the incoming moonlight, as he bent over his now fully awake lover, whose heart was pounding. The question of how Kevin had gotten in, how he had crept so silently in beside Connor, was thrown out the door when Kevin kissed him with those lips. Connor scrambled to a seated position, winding his arms around Kevin’s neck, hands clinging to the back of his loose shirt, nails scratching against the thin fabric. His partner responded to the touch positively, completely swinging himself onto Connor, the redhead forgoing the idea of ever falling asleep.

“Not anymore,” Connor coyly replied, snaking one of his hands down the lines of Kevin’s jeans to press his fingers against the clothed erection the model on top of him had. Kevin let out a slight whimper at the touch, lips stuttering against Connor’s. He grinded down onto Connor, who let out a soft moan of slight surprise, arousal stirring in his chest despite there being fabric between them.

“Glad to see I can help,” Kevin grinned, and arched his back so that their lips were close to brushing, his hands sliding along the pillow close to the sides of Connor’s face. The redhead let out a shortened gasp and found one of his hands along Kevin’s brown hair, which was falling onto his face, framing his brown eyes in the darkness. He rocked their hips together once more, and then Kevin was collapsing on top of him, their mouths meeting with so much heat it scared Connor.

Scared him enough to wake up.

He stared at the emptiness of his bedroom, listening only to the hum of his rattling air conditioner and the sounds of the city while he caught his breath. His bedroom door was still closed, though he was tenting the sheets. No Kevin in sight. Letting out a long and dramatic sigh through his nose, he flopped back onto his bed and stared up at the ceiling for at least an hour trying to make sense of what was going on in his head.

Of course, the night was not done with him yet. It was like the universe didn’t believe that no sleep for about three days was enough for him.

His phone started ringing on his nightstand when his clock blared in its bright red numbers ‘3:00’ am. In Connor’s sleep-deprived brain he worried for a moment there would be some sort of demon on the other line since it was the witching hour. Still, the tune was annoying enough, and the caller didn’t seem to want to stop. Grimacing as he rolled over on his side, having pulled his shoulder a few days back, his fingers scrambled to find the phone in the darkness and press it close to his ear. The caller ID was blocked. Something stirred in his stomach.

“Kevin?” He whispered into the phone cautiously, hearing breathing on the other line. The person sputtered for a moment, and Connor let one finger hover over the end call button.

“No, it’s Nicky,” The deep, firm voice of his ex called something back in him. Connor’s face slackened considerably.

“Why are you calling me at three in the morning?” Connor asked him irritatedly. There was a tiny voice in his brain telling him to hang up the phone and try to get some sleep. The other part of his brain, the part that hadn’t slept in three days, told the tinier one to shut up.

“I remember this was always the time of night when you were inspired the most,” Nicky reminisced, and Connor could picture him, stood in a dumpy little kitchen with a hand over his heart. “You’d sit in that office and just draw for hours, before coming out when the sun was shining and showing me your works like a small child. You were always so excited about that kind of stuff. I was always running to catch up with you.” Connor smiled despite himself. They had been happy, once. Back when they had first started. Connor remembered calling Nicky up, late at night, nearly bursting with the excitement over his latest creation. It was back when he was first starting out. Debonair had only been a distant dream.

“You always knew just what to say,” Connor whispered into the phone, fingers playing with his nightshirt. The smile dropped when he was reminded of reality. Nicky wasn’t about to get into bed and lie next to him.

“I miss you,” Nicky replied after a moment of silence. Connor could hear the sounds of the city behind his familiar voice. Connor took a deep intake of breath and stole a glance at his bedroom door. For some reason, he felt guilty, like he was cheating on Kevin somehow. But Kevin was gone.

“Nicky, don’t,” Connor told him sharply still. A rebound for his rebound with his ex, which he needed a rebound with in the first place was a bad idea. It also made his head kinda hurt. “I don’t want to talk to you about this. I don’t want to talk to you at all.”

“I know you miss me too,” Nicky’s voice smoothed over like dripping honey, and Connor’s hand froze in its movement against his baggy shirt.

“I don’t,” Connor choked out, and he found himself telling the truth. He didn’t miss his ex, although it might have been more normal for him to. “I don’t. I’m over you.”

“Doesn’t sound like it,” Nicky countered him, and Connor could distantly hear his footsteps as he paced around the apartment. It brought back memories of the few weeks before they had broken up - tense and unhappy. Suddenly the memories of them spending their honeymoon stage bliss didn’t seem too appealing, especially if that was the end to all of it. “Look, Conny, I’ll gloss over the last few days or so. I wanna meet up with you. You free right now?”

“Nicky, no,” Connor hissed. “You cheated on me for two years. I’m not just gonna drop everything and meet up with you.” There was a long sigh coming from the man on the other end, sounding like Connor’s father for a moment, full of disappointment.

“Tell me the truth, you have nothing better to do,” Nicky replied coolly. “I’m the best thing that ever happened to you. What are you without me? Nothing.” Connor huffed annoyedly and wiped at the eyes that were suddenly beginning to tear up.

“Shut up, Nicky,” Connor cursed himself inwardly for how weak he was. He could feel the power Nicky was getting off of his anxieties through the phone. He wondered if their relationship had always been like this. Where Connor’s soul was practically getting sucked out of him and Nicky was just along for the ride.

“You’re so pathetic, Connor,” Nicky spat, and Connor flinched despite the fact that they were on opposite sides of the city. “You act like you’re a grown adult but in reality, you’re just a scared little kid who can’t face the facts that you need me-” Connor’s finger shook against the end call button as he squeezed his eyes shut, tears streaming down his face. He curled up in on himself for a moment, and his phone started to ring again. Ignoring it, he crawled out of bed and walked over to his closet. He knew what he needed to do.


When the clock on his car read ‘4:00’ am, Connor was pulling into the driveway of a 24/7 Wendy’s off of Route 73 in the middle of New Jersey. New. Jersey. He had needed to get as far away from the city as he could stand. Sitting in the front seat as the lights of the car faded away and he listened to the sound of the speeding cars along the highway beside him, he considered putting the key back into the ignition. Turning around. Maybe crashing at Naba and Arnold’s place for a night. Anything to avoid just thinking. But a Frosty was sounding pretty good, despite his usually strict diet. Not that he really needed one at the moment.

Letting out a short breath through his nose, he opened his car door and stepped out into the cold. Instantly, he tugged his sweater closer to the center of his chest and deeply began to regret coming out here still clad in his pajamas. If anyone saw him, fashion master Connor McKinley, wearing a baggy Star Wars t-shirt and sweatpants that had ‘Fabulous’ on the ass, well - he’d probably either kill himself or kill his career. He didn’t know which was worse. Shaking his head, he tucked his keys into the pocket of his pants and started across the road. There was practically no one in the restaurant, save for a half-asleep teenage girl at the register and a few trucks stopping there for a late dinner. Putting on a brave face, he paused before opening the door and glanced around.

He pushed on the glass door, felt the chill of the restaurant, and heard the strangely familiar sound of a motorcycle in the distance. The truckers didn’t look up from their intense conversation on the current football scores, and the teenage girl now appeared comatose. Connor’s fingers twitched, and for a moment, Connor regretted leaving his phone in the car. But it was the only way to get rid of the constant calls.

Connor twisted in place and headed down the hallway into the bathroom, wrinkling his nose at the smell. Pushing open the bathroom door, he took one look at himself in the mirror and nearly broke down for the third time that night.

He was a fucking mess. There were tear tracks along his cheeks that practically led into the ground, due to his tearful rendition of ‘All By Myself’ when he had first gotten into his car in his apartment parking garage. His clothes were baggy, practically concealing his body. He never usually wore clothes like this. Usually, he felt too insecure to not show off his body, especially when he was dating Nicky. His feet were clad in fuzzy slippers, his red hair sticking up in random directions due to his restless sleep. His eye bags were embarrassing, and though they weren’t as red as they should have been (moisturizer and some special cream he had bought during a trip to Mexico did wonders for his skin) they were still bigger than he wanted them to be. Connor looked like a trainwreck, and he supposed that’s what he was.

He splashed some water on his face and bopped along to the sound playing in the bathroom. Female of the Species. Somehow he recalled it playing at his prom, in which he spent the entire time crying in the bathroom. It seems life hadn’t changed all too much in the last ten years or so. Watching his dripping face in the mirror, blotchy red cheeks, freckles splattered everywhere uncomfortably, he realized that he really didn’t care that much. About life now, how all of his friends have moved on and found someone to spend their life with, and he’s still lonely, single, and falling in love with his ex-model for his magazine. Life then, when his daily routine was getting tossed into trash cans. Though he hadn’t gone back to his first high school reunion, he was beginning to contemplate going to the next one. Just to prove to everyone in high school that he was still the same, scared gay kid as he always was. He hid it better now, though. Shaking his head at the empty paper dispenser, he wiped his hands against his pants (an unheard of thing within Connor’s strict table etiquette) and walked back out of the bathroom.

The tune was now stuck in his head, and he was humming along as he strolled down the hallway, wiping at his eyes still, not even attempting to pat down his head. He was turning towards the counter when a familiar face stepped right in front of him. About six inches above him was Kevin Price’s beautiful, concerned, adoring face, his hair sticking up to the heavens. Connor vaguely recognized Kevin was there, about to ask something, before he spun out the door and raced towards his car. Connor heard the pounding footsteps behind him, and wondered whether or not screaming would get him out of this.

“Connor, wait,” Kevin panted, and brushed against his sweaty hair. Had he run to the Wendy’s, or something? Connor saw the motorcycle parked right beside his car at that moment and shook his head. “Just… let me buy you a drink and explain.” Connor stared at him for a second, holding his breath. This was one of the turning points in life. If he chose to stay with Kevin, well, he didn’t really know what that would turn into. Turning away to drive back to his apartment would leave him sad, hungry, and just as single as before. Firmly, Connor curled his fists, and let out a sigh.

“Get me a large vanilla Frosty, bucko, and then we’ll talk,” Connor walked past Kevin and patted his shoulder to walk back into the outdoor section of Wendy’s to wait for his companion. He didn't have to glance behind him to know that Kevin was wearing the same shit-eating grin he had worn when they had first met, and Connor had to hold up a hand to hide his mimicking expression.

Chapter Text

Connor found himself a table, while Kevin marched like a man on a mission into the Wendy’s. Sitting out there in the cool of the night, perched on one of those broken, chilled out chairs at the unstable tables beside the highway, he felt something settle in his chest. He looked over to Kevin, who was stood at the counter, smiling as he spoke to the woman working there. A soft expression ran over Connor’s face, and his heart fluttered, despite the fact that Kevin still had not explained what he had been talking about to Alexis a few days before.

Just seeing that smile set off something in him. Something he hadn’t felt in a while. A frown came over his face as he continued to watch Kevin, so at ease, careless in his conversation with the teenager in there. Why had he come? Had he been following Connor?

No. Connor shook his head at himself. Kevin wasn’t the kind of creepy his ex-boyfriends’ were, and he needed to get that through his skull. There must be something else. He was snapped from his thoughts by the sound of the back door jingling, and the sight of Kevin standing there, a vanilla Frosty in hand.

“Thank you,” Connor gushed and outstretched his hands like a small child. Kevin let out a chuckle, and handed it to him, plopping down in the seat across from him. They watched each other from over the table, both waiting for the other to speak.

“Why are you here?” Connor spoke at the same time as Kevin, who was leaning across the table to ask him, all in a rush:

“Why’d you come?” Both stopped, and then laughed out of their own awkwardness. So things wouldn’t just be able to get back into the swing of things. Good to know. They were quiet again for a moment, neither looking at each other straight in the eye. Connor toyed with the paper wrapper of his straw and then watched it blow away in the wind. Almost unconsciously Kevin reached out to grab it and crumbled it in his tan fingers. Connor’s heart shook at the sight, for some inexplicable reason.

“I’ll go first,” Connor started carefully and took a sip from his Frosty. The chill relaxed him almost instantly. Kevin nodded, and Connor saw a hint of bashfulness in his stance. It was cute. “I got a call from Nicky, and I needed to leave my apartment. I was scared he was gonna do something...that I was gonna do something.” Connor slumped his shoulders, avoiding his companion’s gaze. He never usually spoke about his problems with feeling worthless, unless it was with Whizzer or Nabulungi. Both gave him too much tough love, though. Kevin was radiating understanding. Connor could almost feel it through the ground, where the tips of their shoes were almost touching, and in the metal table.

“I got a call from my mom,” Kevin ran a hand through his hair as he spoke this, voice spiked with deeply-rooted hatred. “She wants me to come back so that the kids grow up without hate. And yet they still belong to a religion that teaches them that.” He practically spit the words. “Doesn’t matter. I’m not going.” Connor looked up at him through his thick red fringe.

“Why not?” Connor asked him curiously and then prepared to drop the subject. It seemed sore, and while he hadn’t taken the time to realize that before, it very obviously was now.

“My sister wouldn’t want me at her stupid engagement party anyway. They just want the model me. The one that’s famous. Not their relative,” Kevin explained, kicking at a loose rock in the pavement. Connor pushed the Frosty over the table, and his companion thankfully took a sip of the cold drink. The redhead watched him now, eyes sparkling in the moonlight, face pulled tight together.

“So are you gonna tell your mom that, or just…” Connor trailed off, and moved his fingers to go along with his word, hand breezing along in the wind that seemed to barely be there. Kevin’s eyes followed the trail of his hand carefully.

“Just…” Kevin took another sip from the Frosty and leaned back in his chair as if contemplating what to say next. “Just what, not go completely? I have no clue, that’s for sure.” He swung the drink around and then slid it across the table back to Connor. His shorter friend took a swig of it and grimaced slightly.

“I wish I had some vodka to pour into this,” Connor suggested, wriggling the chilled-out Frosty in the air. “Maybe then things wouldn’t be so unbearable. Like they are now.” Their eyes met, brown on blue, and then both looked away. Out of embarrassment, awkwardness, Connor didn’t really know what. It didn't seem like the last time they'd do that night.

“Why did you fire me?” Kevin’s voice was barely a whisper, and yet Connor still heard it echo through the deep stretches of his mind, throughout the parking lot, as if Kevin had yelled it out to him across a gaping cavern.

“Why did I fire you?” Connor let his face harden, let his heart harden. It was all he could do, although it was pretty useless in the grand scheme of things. Handsome boys with a tendency to break hearts always broke down his barriers.

“You look so pretty in the candlelight,” Kevin told him with a laughing edge to his voice, as he twirled his fork around in their shared spaghetti.

“It’s the specific shading,” Connor argued back, his inability to take compliments skyrocketing, along with his anxiety. First the roof, and now this? What was Kevin playing at, exactly? He suspected it had something to do with sex in the beginning, but now, he wasn’t so sure.

“I’m pretty sure it’s just you,” Kevin replied, now full-on laughing, though it wasn’t the type of belly laugh Connor had seen him do hanging out with Arnold. It was quick, and snorty, filled with something Connor couldn’t identify. “You’re beautiful in any lightning.” Connor pursed his lips unbelievingly.

“Come back to me on that when you see me in the morning,” Connor replied, stabbing some spaghetti with his own fork, and then instantly regretted it. His blush was most certainly noticeable in the candlelight. Kevin didn’t seem to mind though and distracted himself with the spaghetti. Connor watched him and smiled.

“I know that you were using me, Kevin,” Connor felt hollow as he told him this. Kevin’s mouth dropped open in shock. “Using me to climb some stupid fashion ladder. And here I had thought you actually liked me.” Connor shook his head, and let out a humorless chuckle. Kevin’s face was unexplainable like he had been hit by an oncoming truck after purposefully walking into traffic. It was twisted up in the worst way possible, lips hanging open, his handsome facial features contorting into something out of Connor’s nightmares. In fact, he was almost certain he had seen Kevin’s face appearing the same way during one of those many sleepless nights.

“Goddamnit!” Connor wouldn’t let himself cry in front of him. He just wouldn’t. “I really, really liked you, Kevin. I still really like you. You’re the only person who’s ever made me feel this kinda way. It just really fucking sucks.” He took a deep breath as if struggling to let the words out of his mouth. Kevin’s face seemed to twist even more in pain. “And thank you, for the Frosty, but I just...can’t.” He made a move to leave, holding tightly onto both the table and his baggy sweatpants when Kevin reached one long-fingered hand out to grab onto Connor’s own. Their skin contrasted against the metal table, and Connor turned his head back with a quick intake of breath.

“I don’t what you really heard,” Kevin began, keeping steady eye contact with the other man. “But if this is about the conversation I had with Alexis, I wasn’t talking about you.” Connor froze in place and pulled his hand away from Kevin’s grip.

“What were you talking about, then, Kevin? Just what?” Connor folded his arms across his chest. “Are you toying with another man’s emotions, or is it just me?” Kevin stood up abruptly from the table, face on fire.

“You’re the one who’s toying with me!” Kevin snapped. “You fire me, without a valuable reason, and then you don’t call me afterward! You freaked when I appeared here! And the thing is, I’m not using you! I would never do that to someone, especially not you.” He was panting as he finished, hands curled up into fists. Connor took a step back.

“I really like you too, Connor,” Kevin admitted and pushed back some of his fallen brown hair. Connor’s eyes flickered across his calming face and swallowed roughly. “It’s alright if you don’t feel the same, but don’t lead me on.”

“I just told you I liked you!” Connor practically shouted, through his hands up in the air. “Were you listening at all? You make me feel a way I’ve never felt before, and it’s scaring me! You hurt me, and you can’t even ad-admit to it!” He tugged his sweater closer to him, suddenly feeling an onslaught of chill from the night air.

“What do you have to be afraid of, Connor?” Kevin yelled right back, stomping one of his boots into the ground. His face, once again, twisted up in slight pain. “I like you, you like me-” Connor shook his head, and waved his hands around in protest.

“Oh, I have a lot of things to be afraid of!” Connor laughed. “I feel like I’m going crazy! Have you no comprehension of where we work? Of my friends? Of your friends?” He ran his hands through his red hair, messing it up even more.

“That’s not the kind of afraid I was asking about, Connor, and you know that,” Kevin replied stonily, and shoved his hands into his pockets. There was a calm after the storm, then, both refusing to meet each other’s steady gaze in the moonlight of the Wendy’s parking lot.

“Who were you talking about?” Connor whispered, rubbing the sides of his arms, avoiding Kevin’s face. “When you were having that conversation with Alexis.” Kevin let out a sigh and leaned back against the metal table. The Frosty shook in its place.

“I was talking about my motorcycle,” Kevin told him and rubbed the sides of his face. Connor’s heart dropped to the soles of his shoes, which he was currently staring at. Who knew they could be so interesting? "A lot of people refer to their cars or their modes of transportation with pronouns. I love my motorcycle, so I call him a 'he' instead of it."

“You were talking...about your motorcycle,” Connor echoed softly, as if not comprehending what he had said. “And not me. God, I’m so stupid!” He kicked the table behind him, and it skidded along the pavement.

“Wait… you fired me because you thought that conversation was about you?” Kevin put two-and-two together, moving his hands around in the air once more. “Oh, Connor.” Connor wiped at his eyes with the paw of his sweater annoyedly, though his annoyance was stemming from seemingly nowhere. Was it Kevin? Himself?

“I’m just gonna go,” Connor told both himself and Kevin tearfully, something building up in his chest. He felt like throwing up. He grabbed at the Frosty, almost in a trance, and stepped away, not daring to meet Kevin’s eyes. He was sure he’d see something he hadn’t wanted to see if he did. “Thanks for the Frosty.” He remembered already saying that when he had first tried to leave. This time, Kevin made no physical attempt to stop him. Connor sped up, though he had short legs, and pushed open the back door to go through the restaurant to the parking lot. He didn't want to have to hop over the back fence again. He was barely turning the corner at the main part of the Wendy’s, where the teenage girl was taking some tired, road-trip worn family’s order when the back door slammed shut.

“Connor, wait!” Kevin’s voice lit a fire in his heart. Connor barely had time to set the Frosty down beside the soft drink machine and spin around in his spot along the dirty linoleum floor of the Wendy’s before Kevin was kissing him. Connor let out a surprised squeak but allowed himself to be picked up by Kevin’s strong arms circling around his waist. His pale hands flew up to clutch the sides of Kevin’s face, gripping his skin as though he didn’t really exist, like he was a figment of Connor’s imagination. Their lips touched in a way they hadn’t before, softly, carefully, the heat from earlier not really necessarily gone - just stored away. After about fifteen seconds of heaven, both the boys seemed to finally remember where they were. Kevin pulled back, and Connor grinned goofily up at him, teeth shining in the low lighting of the Wendy’s. The cashier girl’s eyes were still vacant, but the rest of the customers were watching the two men with various looks of shock, confusion, and humor.

“Kevin,” Connor’s whispered against his lips when they parted, smile too wide to try to kiss him again. “You are…” He saw Kevin smile, similar to his, full of puppy love.

“I know,” Kevin agreed softly. “You’re as well.” Connor’s hand slipped behind the back of his head, gripping it as he felt his feet touch back down on the floor.

“Kiss me again,” Connor told him breathlessly, and Kevin was helpless not to comply.


Connor cracked his eyes open, and he felt New York City stir to fully awake mood along with him. Beside him, there was the sound of soft, but heavy snores. They brushed along Connor’s soft head, and he tilted his face up to see Kevin stretched out underneath him. Both were still wearing the clothes they had been wearing the night before, and yet Connor couldn’t bring himself to freak about the so-called hygiene mistakes.

“Good morning,” Connor pressed his words into Kevin’s neck, his heart practically bursting out of his chest as he realized he had the chance to do so. His partner wasn’t running away this time - and neither was he. “Did you have a good sleep?” He watched, with delight, as Kevin’s long eyelashes fluttered and he woke up, albeit groggily.

“Good morning,” He spoke sluggishly, sleepily, in reply, and Connor couldn’t help but giggle at the sound of it. “And yes, I did. Turns out my sleeping problems disappear when I’ve got a small koala clinging to my body the entire night.” Connor poured into his neck, his smile still wide on his face.

“Not my fault you’ve got a tree-like body,” Connor responded, and pulled him closer, snuggling up to him. “You didn’t leave.” Slowly, he felt one of Kevin’s hands tangle with his bedhead lightly, fingertips just ghosting along the red strands.

“I couldn’t have, even if I wanted to,” Kevin told him truthfully, and Connor’s smile widened as he felt Kevin press a kiss to his forehead. “You were like...glued to me.” Connor rolled his eyes.

“You just don’t want to admit you like me,” Connor argued, nuzzling his nose along one of the veins in Kevin’s neck. Kevin gave an affirmative hum and shifted so that his other hand, the one not moving along in Connor’s hair, was resting on his back.

“I did last night, though,” Kevin teased, pressing another kiss to Connor’s forehead. “So did you.” Connor pressed his eyes shut, and then, deep in his mind, realized that sleeping beside Kevin was the best night’s sleep he had gotten in months.

Connor’s phone, which was currently resting on his nightstand, began to ring wildly with ‘Wannabe.’ He let out a playful groan, Kevin chuckling deeply, the sleep still clear in his voice. It made Connor tingle all over. The redhead rolled out of his grip, and grabbed his phone, pressing it to his ear.

“Naba, what’s up?” He asked, attempting to tone down the happiness in his voice so that she would not become suspicious. Though, of course, he wanted to tell her about the latest happenings in his love life, it wouldn’t be fun to do it over the phone. Then he wouldn’t be able to see her reactions.

“Do you realize you’re thirty minutes late to the shoot and we still don’t have a main male model? Get your ass out of your apartment and down here! We haven’t got all day!” Naba snapped, sounding on the verge of having a breakdown. Connor winced, and then double winced. Of course, he would forget the most important thing about his magazine.

“We’ll-I’ll be right there, Naba,” Connor replied and patted Kevin’s chest. He grumbled, but got up out of bed dutifully, acting as though they had done this routine many times before. Connor supposed that might actually do that. Kevin opened the curtains, and then shrugged on his jacket. Connor’s grin spread across his face as Kevin smiled back at him through one of his bedroom mirrors. “And I’ve got us a new male model.”

Chapter Text

Connor managed to take a shower (by himself, though Kevin was pouting for about half the time they spent commuting in the subway after being denied entry into the bathroom) and change clothes within fifteen minutes total. The two men had connected hands, and then giddily ran out the door like school children, rushing to get to class on time after a makeout session in the janitor’s closet. Instead, this time they were running so that Connor wouldn’t lose his job, and both had spent the entire night cuddling.

“We’re gonna be late, Kevin,” Connor chided, hopping around on one foot in the center of his hallway to pull on some old Converse he had dug out from the back of his closet. They looked like they were from years before, back in college. Kevin strolled from the bathroom, having taken his sweet time with fixing up his hair. As usual, it was heightened to perfection, and Connor almost tripped over his one leg at the sight of him.

“Need help tying your shoes, Con?” Kevin joked, raising one bushy eyebrow as he strolled over to his companion. Connor rolled his eyes but didn’t attempt to hide the very obvious flush to his cheeks, the pink dotting all over his freckles. He continued to hop around for a moment in vain, before giving up and slumping over to tie his shoe with his foot planted firmly on the wooden flooring of his apartment hallway.

“Are we in second grade now?” Connor deadpanned, and bent over to tie the shoe he had been struggling to get over his foot. Curse you, big heel! He could almost feel Kevin staring directly at his ass, and from his uncomfortable bending position, Connor smirked into his jeans. “Alright, ready to go.”

They managed to get out the door, scrambling for coats before abandoning them completely after Kevin had attempted to wear one of Connor’s baggiest coats. It had too many zippers for him to understand which ones to leave open and which ones not to. After watching the big dummy fool around with his prized coat for about five minutes, Connor gave up with a huff and decided on being cold.

The subway was chillier than usual. The two men managed to gain seats in the back of one of the cars, cuddles up together along the plastic chairs in order to hold enough warmth between them so that they didn’t turn into icicles. Connor draped himself across Kevin, cuddling into him, both deeply regretting not grabbing coats before leaving. Again, a blatant disregard for the fact that the paparazzi were everywhere, even in a practically empty subway car. The two men only had the company of a young, teenage girl heading off to what looked like her friend’s house, if the was she was jabbering on the phone was any idea, and an older man fast asleep in the front of the car.

Finally, they made it into the opening the building, panting, with about an hour before the final modeling pictures had to be proceeded to get the magazine issue out on time. Connor stumbled out of the elevator, hand still clutched in Kevin’s, to be greeted by a very emotional Nabulungi.

“Where the hell have you guys been?” She screeched, and then yanked Connor into a very tight hug. He felt the circulation in his body start to disapparate, and managed to push her off of him. “Why is he here?” Connor split into a wide grin and stepped back to Kevin, who was watching Naba with a mixture of fear and excitement.

“He’s the male model I told you about!” Connor presented him, waving his arms around as though he were a spotlight on Kevin, despite the fact that the man beside him had at least four inches on him. Naba blinked, her eyes growing wide at the sight of the two standing next to each other, no inkling between them of wanting to rip each other apart or argue.

“Seriously?” Naba asked, clutching the stack of paperwork she was holding in her dark hands closer to her chest. She blinked again. “He’s the male model. The guy who was trying to use you to get farther up the model industry ladder?” Kevin glanced down at Connor, who flushed at the memory of their previous screaming match in front of the elevators.

“He wasn’t,” Connor told her. “I just freaked out. And I trust him not to do that, okay? You should too.” Naba turned her steady gaze to Kevin, eyes bearing into his soul. He shifted in his spot, scuffing his shoes along the wooden flooring. After a moment, she sighed and smiled at her best friend warmly.

“I’ll get used to him. Just remember to invite him to movie night with me and Arnold tonight,” She decided, then shot out an arm to grip Connor’s wrist with her long fingernails and dragged him down the nearest hallway. Connor jolted slightly, having forgotten about movie night. It had been a planned thing for about a week or so before he had even met Kevin. Connor blinked at that thought. Didn’t even know Kevin. Naba paused them then and contemplated something. “Hold these.” She forcefully shoved her papers into Connor’s hands, who fumbled with them for a moment before holding them tightly in his hands. She dug a walkie-talkie out of her messenger bag and held it up to her mouth.

“Connor and his model have arrived,” She spoke into it, both of the adults glancing back over at Kevin, who was awkwardly looking over the empty reception desk. “He’s in the front lobby. Get him ready.” There was static on the other line for a moment.

“Are you done talking?” Cordelia asked from the other end, chaos clear in the background of where she was responding. “If you are, then you have to say over. We’ve been through this.” Connor grinned at Naba as she rolled her eyes.

“We’ve got the model. He’s in the front lobby. Over,” Naba droned out, grimacing at her best friend beside her. “I swear to God, it’s like she’s still in third grade.”

“Who is he? Over,” Cordelia responded, voice cracking midway due to the poor quality of the walkie-talkie. Again, Naba rolled her eyes over at Connor, who’s grin spread.

“Let me give you a hint - his name starts with a K and ends in a Price,” Naba spoke into the walkie-talkie, and then began to move down the corridor. Connor followed her after a moment, watching as she seemed to remember something. “Over.” They reached the end of the hall, where studio B sat, and she pushed open the door. Both were greeted by a squealing Cordelia, who flung herself onto Connor in the midst of her excitement. Behind her, Thomas and Poptarts were in the midst of a photoshoot featuring a few of the female models, Poptarts shooting the makeup artist behind him a quick glare.

“You got Kevin Price back? You’re amazing, Connor,” She cheered, and wetly planted a kiss on Connor’s cheek. The fashion designer stumbled slightly underneath the weight of the small blonde girl.

“I didn’t get him back,” Connor flushed indignantly and set her down awkwardly back onto the floor. “We just talked… and he agreed to do the modeling gig.” Cordelia flipped some of her fallen curls over her pale shoulder, shooting him a happy grin.

“Well, I’m happy either way. I swear to God, Whizzer was about to have a panic attack about this magazine issue. I mean, we have less than thirty minutes - “ She cut herself off then, grin faltering at the reminder that every minute she spent blabbering to her boss was another minute wasted on getting these pictures to the manufacturers. “Oh my god, we have less than thirty minutes.” She dashed away then, grabbing her makeup bag tightly and pushed open the door to Studio B, most likely heading out to get Kevin ready. Connor turned to Naba with a soft smile on his face.

“It’s just like every other time we have to get a magazine issue out,” He joked, and Naba shook her head fondly at him. Connor turned on his heel and bumped straight into Whizzer, who was rushing to follow Cordelia out and help Kevin into the final outfit. The two men watched each other for a moment, Whizzer’s expression unreadable, Connor’s worried.

“Come to dinner next Friday night, okay?” Whizzer told him carefully after a moment, face still twisted up in many different emotions. “You can bring Kevin with you if you want.” Connor smiled thankfully up at him, and, knowing that was all the sense of approval he was going to get, side-stepped out of the older man’s way to let him through the door of the studio. Whizzer rushed out, slamming the door shut behind him, and the photo shoot continued on.

Seeing Kevin in that suit again stirred up something in Connor’s chest, but he kept his mouth shut, thankfully, when his lover went waltzing back into the photoshoot room about five minutes after disappearing. Once he got in front of the camera, the shoot continued smoothly, picking up from where it had stopped a few days before. Kevin posed with some of the other models for the cover, the trio of he, Alexis, and another woman named Jessie, all perfectly professional when in the spotlight. Connor couldn’t hide his amused smile at the rare moments Kevin would come out of his camera-induced stupor to turn his happy gaze onto the redhead. Close to when the shoot was about to finish, Naba slipped out of a conversation with one of the waiting models and stood next to Connor.

“What happened? How’d you message him again?” She asked him, confusion high in her voice. “I thought you had thrown out your answering machine.” Connor tilted his smile to her, freckles spreading across his skin even more.

“We ran into each other at a Wendy’s last night,” Connor shrugged, cheeky dimples appearing clearly in the bright lighting of the studio. Naba looked like she was about to speak again, but a sharp whistle from Poptart’s direction caused both of the adults to whip their heads back towards the front of the room.

“Come take a picture with Kevin, Connor,” Thomas waved his boss over. Connor stuttered for a moment in place, furrowing his eyebrows as he moved towards the camera per the other’s request.

“Why?” Connor asked Poptarts, who rolled his eyes at the question and shoved Connor in front of the camera and the lights. The fashion designer blinked rapidly, grimacing as his eyes adjusted. “Jesus! I’m not used to being in front of the camera.”

“We’re gonna put you two in the magazine,” Poptarts explained distantly, flipping out his walkie-talkie (as it turns out, every worker in the building had one) and listening to whatever the person on the other line was telling him. “You look cute together.” Kevin wrapped an arm around Connor’s waist, and pulled him close, smiling softly down at him.

“Just relax, Connor,” Kevin told him quietly, and squeezed Connor’s hip in emphasis. Connor let out a long sigh, relaxed his shoulders, and smiled up at the camera. He could see Naba’s proud grin behind the camera, and he couldn’t help but laugh slightly as the first flash went off.


Leaving the building at the end of the day with adjoined hands, Kevin and Connor stepped onto the busy sidewalk of New York City in front of the large skyscraper.

“You want me to drive you to Naba and Arnold’s apartment for movie night?” Connor asked Kevin, who snorted slightly and squeezed his hand.

“You never even invited me, Connor,” Kevin replied with a lilt to his voice, and Connor flushed slightly. “But sure. I was planning to anyway. Arnold had invited me. We’ll just have to walk all the way back to your apartment to get your car.” Connor nodded, smiling up at him excitedly. Kevin returned it, albeit shakingly, and then took a slight breath of preparation.

“Uh, before we head off with our arms linked and whatnot, I was wondering,” Kevin’s eyes dropped to his shoes, and Connor was overwhelmed with happiness for how cute the man was in front of him. “What are we?” Connor blinked for a moment, and then reached out with his other hand to rub Kevin’s arm reassuringly.

“Dude, we’re dating,” Connor laughed, and Kevin looked up with his happy grin on full-force. “Now come on, we’re gonna be late.” Connor tugged on Kevin’s hand, pulling him along down the sidewalk, still chuckling slightly. Kevin smiled widely at the back of Connor’s ahead and followed him willingly. He’d follow him anywhere.