"Let me get this right," Andrew says.
Steven pauses patiently, even though he has at least five more arguments. Andrew likes to figure things out himself, and Steven has learned that if he gives Andrew the time, he usually comes around.
"You want us to get our mutual employer, Buzzfeed, to pay for our dates. In exchange, we'll have our dates on camera, where we will pretend to not be married, which will, I might add, make it pretty hard for us to act like we're on a date."
"Right," Steven says, nodding. He snuggles up a bit closer to Andrew on the couch, because physical affection also works pretty well in these kinds of situations. "But not entirely right."
Andrew rolls his eyes, but puts his arm around Steven. "How about you explain the part where I'm not entirely right, then?"
Steven grins. "I need a new Worth It partner if we're going to make the show a success! I want to spend more time with you, my husband, for obvious reasons. So I thought, why not do both? You like eating food, you like me…"
"But dates where we can't act like we're on a date aren't really dates," Andrew counters.
Steven nods, conceding the point. That part had stymied him, too, for a while. "But we'll still go on real dates, which we will have more money for, because work will be paying for a lot of our other meals!"
That earns him a thoughtful look and a moment of silence. Steven internally fist-pumps. He was definitely going to win this. He breaks out his secret weapon: the pout.
"Don't you want to work with me?" he asks, looking up through his lashes. He gets the expected eye roll, but Andrew also pulls him closer and starts rubbing his neck lightly.
"Don't be stupid," Andrew says. "You're an annoying pain in my ass, but I wouldn't know how to live any other way."
"Darn right," Steven agrees. The next morning, he makes his pitch and the new Worth It is born.
Now came the fun part.
"You want to what," Andrew says, several weeks later. He's using his very flat "Steven are you fucking serious right now?" voice, which Steven hadn't actually anticipated. It's not like he wasn't a virgin when they got married.
"I'm going to say I'm a virgin on film to throw people off the scent!"
Andrew just stares.
"I was a virgin before we got married! And this way when I forget and accidentally flirt with you, it'll be clear it's just part of my outgoing personality." Steven does his best to try and think of a way to make this appealing to Andrew. "We can… pretend I am a virgin again? In bed?"
"Okay," Andrew says. "First, we are absolutely going to pretend you're a virgin again in bed. Second, you could just not flirt with me on camera, and thus avoid the need to share details of your personal life with all of the internet."
Steven shakes his head sadly. "It'll never work. You'll do that scrunchy thing with your forehead, or make a bad pun, and I'll just lose it and sit in your lap or something. You know I can't help it when you roll your eyes at me or say my name in that disapproving way that secretly means you want to kiss me!"
"So you just want an excuse to not exercise even a modicum of self-control, is that it?"
Steven beams. "Yup! And as a good husband, you should indulge me."
Andrew sighs, does the scrunchy forehead thing, and shrugs his shoulders. "I am a good husband."
"You are," Steven agrees. Then he remembers the whole pretending to still be a virgin in bed idea and the way Andrew had looked when he suggested it, and the night takes a very different, yet still satisfying, turn.
Adam usually enjoys Worth It shoots. He always gets excellent food, and he doesn't have to eat more than one bite of it on camera the way Steven and Andrew do. He much prefers being behind the camera to being in front of it, and he knows exactly how long it takes them sometimes to get just the right take. He does like working with Andrew and Steven, too, even if the on-camera flirting gets to be a little much sometimes. It's almost like filming someone's private moments for consumption by the entire world, which he feels a bit odd about doing. But Steven and Andrew don't seem to mind, and Steven has full control over edits, so Adam doesn't let it bother him for long.
Road-tripping with two men who are married, but don't think anyone knows they're married, is another story.
"We're just going to grab a drink," says Steven, ostensibly to Adam, but since he's looking at Andrew like a lovesick puppy, Adam feels he is justified in ignoring that statement.
"We'll just bunk together so we don't wake you up," Andrew says. He's supporting Steven, who has already had a drink, and clearly isn't going to have any more. Adam knows he doesn't like to get more than slightly tipsy.
Adam raises an eyebrow and nods at Andrew, then ignores them both to go into his room. There's a shuffling noise outside in the hallway, then Steven's voice, clear through the thin walls.
"Shhhh, Adam thinks we're going out!"
Andrew snorts. "Shush yourself, sweetheart."
Then the other hotel room door opens and closes, and Adam goes to put on his noise-cancelling headphones and open his laptop. He likes filming Worth It, but he does not need to hear what's coming next.
That exact scene, or something very like it, plays out many times, until one day, Adam reaches the end of his patience.
"We'll let you get some sleep," Andrew says. "Enjoy having your own room—it's hell sharing with this one." He shoves Steven in the shoulder, who gives him a very obviously fake wounded look.
"Um, no," Adam says. He's had enough. "You're going to share because you want to have sex and wear your wedding rings after having them off all day. I'm going to let you because I'm a good friend and I have excellent noise-cancelling headphones."
Steven's mouth drops open. "You knew?" he says incredulously.
Andrew looks surprised, too, which is not something Adam expected. Surely Andrew didn't think they were being stealthy? Sure, insulting Steven constantly on camera was a good feint, but when it was accompanied by literal heart eyes whenever he saw Steven, it stopped being so effective.
"You're okay with this?" Andrew asks. "I'm sorry we didn't tell you, it's just that—"
"It's a secret!" Steven cuts in.
"It still is," Adam says, deciding not to burst their delusions of secrecy. "Except for me."
"That's okay then," Steven says slowly. "But what gave us away?"
Adam loses his patience. "These hotels have thin walls, and I have noise-cancelling headphones for a reason," he says, giving them both a pointed look. "I'm very happy for you. Go be married somewhere else."
He smiles to soften the message, then goes into his own room. From the hallway, he hears Steven say, "He knows, Andrew!" before their door opens and closes as well.
Well. At least he doesn't have to pretend he doesn't know anymore. He's a good friend, but it's been a long couple of seasons. He gets out the noise-cancelling headphones even though he thinks they might try to be quiet now. Better safe than sorry.
The HR Lady
Lenke doesn't see many Buzzfeed staff one on one. She's usually too busy with the broader human resource needs of the company in general, which are varied and frequently unpredictable, which is frankly her favorite part of the job. But sometimes her assistant will schedule a meeting that means he was hassled by someone until he put it on her calendar, and this is definitely one of those.
"What can I help you with, Steven?" she asks, trying to remain patient. She has about thirty other things she should be doing right now, and none of them include delicately teasing out whatever has Steven Lim so nervous he's red-faced and stammering in her office.
"Well, uh," Steven says, then blurts out the rest of his sentence without a pause. "Worth It is going really well and I realized that I've been withholding important information from Buzzfeed that might affect Worth It, so I wanted to make sure you knew and that nothing bad will happen because Andrew and I are married?"
Lenke stares. "Of course you're married," she says. "You have each other listed as your emergency contact and you live at the same address."
Steven sits bolt upright. "You knew?" he asks, clearly shocked.
She sighs. "Of course we knew," she says. "Steven, there's no rule against fraternization or on-screen relationships at Buzzfeed. You know this, you've seen plenty of couples who work together here."
"Straight couples," Steven says, and Lenke immediately softens her tone when she hears how panicked he sounds.
"There is no difference between a straight couple and a gay couple at Buzzfeed," she says gently. "I promise, Steven, nothing needs to change. I appreciate you telling me, and I'm sorry this was causing you unnecessary stress. Can I do anything else for you today?"
Steven shakes his head. "No, I guess that's it. It's really okay? You won't make Andrew leave the show?"
She stands, offering him her hand. "Absolutely not. That would be a disaster—the show works well with both of you."
Steven shakes her hand and heads to the door, turning back and smiling at her. "Thanks," he says, and shuts the door behind him.
Lenke sits in the armchair next to her desk and grabs her laptop, shaking her head. What kind of HR professional doesn't know when two of her employees are married to each other? Honestly, kids these days.
"And it turns out, everyone in Buzzfeed management already knew we were together!" Steven is pacing the floor in their apartment, arms flung out and gesturing wildly as he recounts his meeting with HR.
Andrew hides a smile. "Well, we do have each other listed as emergency contacts on our official paperwork," he says.
Steven stops and glares at him. "That's exactly what she said!"
"It is, in fact, a fact."
Steven's glare is momentarily overcome by a fond grin, which Andrew is pleased to see. A worked-up Steven is no fun for anyone, unless Andrew himself did the winding up, in which case it's very fun for both of them.
It's only a momentary reprieve.
"Don't try to distract me," Steven says, eyes narrowing. "I thought we were being sneaky, but Adam knew, and HR knew. Who else knows?"
"Leaving aside the absurd idea that anything you do on camera could be considered sneaky in any sense of the word," Andrew says. "Lenke said there was no issue with our relationship, so this doesn't affect Worth It at all, right? So what's the problem? Ashamed of being married to me?"
Steven's eyes go wide. "Of course not!"
"Then what? Your professional pride is wounded?"
Steven sighs and slumps down onto the couch with Andrew, putting his legs up on one end and settling his head in Andrew's lap. Andrew unconsciously moves to start petting his hair.
"Yeah," Steven confirms. "It was so much fun pretending to not be married, like we had this secret no one else knew. And now apparently everyone knew, and I'm bad at lying."
Andrew smiles. "You are bad at lying," he confirms. "I love that about you."
"Hmmmph," says Steven, pouting. "I guess."
"If it's a secret you want," Andrew says, getting a very good idea, "we could still have one of those."
"Ooooh, what kind?" Steven asks, already excited. Andrew silently congratulates himself on having removed the small lines of distress on Steven's face.
"A sex secret," Andrew announces. Steven rolls over and sits up, setting himself down into Andrew's lap.
"I like sex secrets," he says, blinking innocently down at Andrew, arms on his shoulders.
Andrew swears to himself. Sure, marrying a sex kitten who didn't know he was a sex kitten at the time had been a good idea, but man was it tough keeping up with him.
"I know you do, sweetheart," he says, and braces himself to lift Steven up and carry him to the bedroom. "Maybe you can do that thing where you tie me up a little?"
Steven's excited "oooooh" trails down the hallway behind them.
Later, drowsing peacefully next to Steven and enjoying the press of their bodies, comfortable and warm under the blankets, Andrew is abruptly dislodged from his cozy, well-deserved rest when Steven sits upright.
"Everyone knows we're married, so we can tell everyone that we're married!" he says. "I'm going to have the best Instagram marriage reveal in Buzzfeed history!"
Oh no, Andrew thinks. I've created a monster.
And Everyone Else
On Steven's Instagram:
[An image of Steven and Andrew, holding up their joined hands to the camera. They are each wearing a wedding band, and are grinning at each other. Steven looks radiant, with a very clear sense of satisfaction all over his face. Andrew doesn't seem to be glowing in the same way, but anyone familiar with him can see how happy he is in his smile and relaxed demeanor.]
Caption: To the love of my life who taught me a lot about truffle oil, being happy, and how to mix work with family successfully. Happy five-year anniversary!
On Andrew's Instagram:
[A short video plays on a loop. It starts with a shot of Steven from behind, wearing a tanktop and sweatpants, seemingly unaware of the camera. He is swinging his hips back and forth to the music (Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off"). In the foreground, Andrew holds a finger to his lips and sneaks toward Steven, holding the phone camera out so that the view moves fairly smoothly along with him.
Andrew reaches out with one hand and smacks Steven's behind lightly. Steven startles and turns around with a soft yell. Andrew laughs, and then the phone falls to the ground. We see two pairs of bare feet, and hear Steven saying "You're a menace!" Andrew keeps laughing, and then is abruptly silenced, following by noises like someone is being kissed. Then Andrew picks up the phone and says "Surprise, we're married!" and turns off the camera.]