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As soon as the other group entered the room, Chris looked up to see him.

He was impossible to miss, given that he was the tallest of his group. From where he was standing, Chris had a perfect view of his face.

He was still wearing his hair long, something that Chris greatly appreciated. The long cut accentuated his face, and with the beard, it gave him a very distinguished look. When Versace had asked him to model, they had only confirmed something that Chris had known for a long time.

Kevin Richardson was a gorgeous man.

A gorgeous, married man who had chosen to come to the Jive party with his group but without his wife, wearing a black tight sleeveless shirt. From where he was standing, Chris could only see Kevin’s naked shoulders, but that was more than enough, especially when Kevin leaned down a little to listen to what Nick said as he stood next to him, and Chris could see strands of hair falling over Kevin’s eyes, and how his mouth curved in a smile.

Chris wanted to go over there and lick that smile.

Instead, he took a long sip of his drink, still watching. When Kevin’s head started to move in his direction, he sharply turned his attention to Joey, who was talking animatedly about Kelly.

There were many reasons why he never approached Kevin, the first and most important being the wedding ring on Kevin’s finger. And because of those reasons, he was very careful so Kevin would never catch him watching.

* * *

Nick was talking about his latest girlfriend when Kevin decided let his eyes wander a little across the room.

It wasn’t that he was looking about to see who was there. He only wanted to know if he was there.

Being tall had its advantages because he pretty much could see over everyone’s shoulders, but since he wasn’t that tall, he was hard to find. Kevin was about to give up, convinced that the other group hadn’t arrived, when the sound of his laughter called Kevin’s attention.

And sure enough, Kevin finally located the object of his search, sitting next to the bar and chatting with the other members of his group.

Chris had again lost some of the weight he always seemed to gain between tours, making Kevin smile. Thanks to Howie, Kevin was very aware of the nightmare weight represented to two fifths of *N Sync (and at least one Backstreet Boy, he knew even if they never mentioned it). His hair was now dyed in a very bright red, and there was something weird going on with his beard, even when Kevin couldn’t really say what at that distance.

Getting closer, however, was out of the question. From where he was he could simply admire Chris, who was completely dressed in black, with no jewelry visible except for a silver necklace with the fumanskeeto logo. Getting closer would mean that Kevin would have a harder time to not get close enough to touch Chris’s bare hands, to trace the outline of Chris’s muscles.

He was perfect where he was.

Chris was laughing at something Joey had said and shaking his head. Realizing that soon he was going to look in the Backstreet Boys general direction, Kevin turned his head towards Brian to ask his cousin what they were going to do.

* * *

Great, they’re at it again.

Justin sighed, watching Kevin duck his head just in time not to see how Chris turned to see him. In a minute or so, Chris would turn around and miss the looks Kevin kept sending him. Rinse and repeat until it was time to leave the party.

Next time the groups had to be together? The story was going to repeat itself.

Justin didn’t know when they had started the ‘looks’ game. The first time he had noticed had been a little after the Backstreet Boys released Millenium, when he had accidentally caught Chris watching Kevin.

Watching was an understatement. It had been the kind of look that a starving man gave to a Big Mac.

Worried about Kevin’s reaction to being Chris’s obsession, Justin had started to pay more attention to Kevin. That had been when he caught Kevin watching Chris with an expression that pretty much spelled that Kevin wanted to tie Chris to his bed and not let him go for a week.

Chris, however, never noticed. And Justin was willing to bet that Kevin still hadn’t noticed that Chris zoomed in him almost instantly.

The end result was that both men could spend hours ‘not looking’ at each other, driving Justin crazy.

Not crazy enough to go and force them to talk to each other but close enough. He simply couldn’t believe that both were happy with only brief stolen glances.

* * *

Don’t turn around Chris, don’t turn around Chris, don’t turn around Chris…

Joey was telling Chris about Kelly’s latest weird cravings when he noticed the Backstreet Boys walking into the room.

Just like the last five times when the two groups happened to meet, Kevin was watching Chris’s back with the attention Joey usually reserved to curvy women.

Or tall, thin, short, busty, or plain women. Joey had never been picky. His only requirement to watch a woman was that she was a woman.

And while intellectually he knew that Chris wasn’t ugly or unattractive, he really couldn’t understand why Kevin Richardson of all people seemed so intent in memorizing every single inch of Chris’s neck.

Because in every single of those events, there were women around. Women who would probably throw themselves at Kevin’s feet if Kevin so much as smiled at them.

And that made Joey feel a little bad for the oldest Backstreet Boy, because while Joey understood that Kevin could be bisexual –because, hello, Kevin’s wife was hot-, he knew that Chris was very much a ladies man.

Chris wouldn’t take kindly the knowledge that Kevin Richardson was discreetely licking his lips while watching Chris’s neck.

So it was better if he kept distracting his friend. Maybe next party, Kevin would remember that he had a hot wife and would stop ogling Chris.

Maybe.

* * *

JC was coming back from the bathroom when he noticed Kevin and the Backstreet Boys. They were not mingling with the rest of Jive’s guests yet, forming a very close group.

Totally focused on each other.

Except for Kevin, who once in a while would look up to see something in the general direction of the bar.

Following his eyes, JC was not surprised to see that the ‘something’ was Chris. It had been a couple of months since JC noticed that apparently Chris had a magnet on his back that only Kevin could sense, and that Kevin could be very discreet because Chris had no idea what was happening.

It was a beautifully choreographed ballet, and it hurt JC to see such longing in Kevin’s eyes every time he looked up.

Sometimes JC wondered what it was that Kevin was looking for. Love? Sex? Something in between?

And what would Chris think about it? JC didn’t know because he kept watching Kevin on those moments, not Chris.

If Kevin wasn’t married, JC would have mentioned those looks to Chris long ago. But Chris deserved to be the first in someone else’s life, in someone else’s heart, and JC was sure that regardless of what Kevin’s eyes said, Chris would be second to Kristen.

So JC stayed silent and watched Kevin.

* * *

Lance almost chocked on his drink when he happened to catch Kevin watching intently in their general direction.

He actually coughed when he realized that the ‘I want you now’ look wasn’t just in their ‘general direction’ but focused completely on Chris.

When had that happened?

It wasn’t good. It wasn’t good at all.

While Lance knew Chris, and he knew that Chris was pretty much equal opportunity when it came to lovers, he also knew that the Backstreet Boys wouldn’t know that. In fact, he suspected that the Backstreet Boys would blame Chris for causing Kevin to look at him like that.

Not that Lance could blame Kevin. Sometimes Chris looked too good for his own good, mostly because Chris was never aware of how hot he was.

Kevin seemed to have discovered it.

And if Chris happened to look up now, Chris would know. Because only a blind asexual man would miss that Kevin was probably picturing Chris naked on a bed right at that moment.

Thankfully, Chris seemed completely focused on whatever Joey was saying to notice Kevin. Lance kept his eyes on Kevin, hoping to send some ‘back off’ message to the other man before Chris noticed.

Because this had the potential of being really bad if any of the others noticed.

* * *

Why is Lance looking as if he wanted to kill us?

Nick looked up just in time to catch Lance Bass apparently planning the fiery demise of the Backstreet Boys. He even looked around to see if somehow O-Town had arrived because if they were there, standing right behind the Backstreet Boys, well, then it would make sense that Lance was experimenting if he had death vision.

But O-Town wasn’t in the room, and Lance was still trying to drill holes in Nick and his friends.

Except he wasn’t focused on all of them. His hate filled glare was focused on Kevin.

Oh.

Nick sighed. Of course Lance would hate Kevin. Apparently, the *N Syncer had finally gotten the memo that Chris Kirkpatrick lusted after Kevin, just like half the fans of both groups.

But that was not Kevin’s fault.

It was Chris’s fault for crushing after a straight married man.

Nick glanced towards Chris and sighed. Of course Chris would be watching Kevin like an attention starved puppy.

It was getting old. Nick figured he should talk to Kevin, tell him about Chris’s crush, and then wait for Kevin to let Chris down gently. But he couldn’t because Chris was his friend too, and getting his heart crushed would hurt Chris.

So Nick stayed silent and hoped Kevin would never notice Lance or Chris’s looks in his direction.

* * *

AJ directed his group toward one of the tables. He was tired and the Jive sponsored party was one of the many places where he didn’t want to be that night, but since they were there he wanted to make the most of the night.

Watching Chris making sheep eyes to Kevin was not part of a fun evening in his book.

Well, no. Watching anyone making sheep eyes to somebody that was not him was not fun for AJ at all. The fact that the sheep eyed guy was Chris had no extra impact.

Chris was his friend, after all. His friends shouldn’t act like lovesick schoolgirls if they could help it.

But since Kevin wasn’t into guys, AJ knew that Chris’s crush was going to go unrequited. It would be a lot easier if Chris was ogling Howie or Nick. A couple dozen drinks and both would be quite agreeable to any kind of proposition.

Kevin? There was not enough alcohol in the world to make Kevin consider looking at another guy in the way that Chris was watching Kevin.

AJ sighed.

He really hated the company parties.

* * *

When Howie noticed Chris looking their way, his first impulse was to check a nearby mirror.

His hair was in perfect shape, there weren’t any problems with his outfit, so there was no reason why Chris kept sending them discreet glances. Howie shook his head, trying to get his friend’s attention when he saw Chris look the other way pretty fast.

Puzzled, Howie followed Chris’s gaze but he couldn’t figure out what was so fascinating about a wall. They didn’t even put a plant there to make it look better.

Howie was about to give up when Chris looked their way again. This time, there was no mistake. Howie knew that look. It was the ‘you have something I want but you’re not going to share’ look.

Howie hated that look because it usually ended up in Howie trying to find out what the person doing it wanted so he could give it to them. It had started with his sisters, and followed him all his adult life.

Nick had learned the trick fairly quickly. AJ had mastered it in just weeks. Fortunately, both Brian and Kevin were too mature, or proud, to use it except in cases of emergency.

Howie hadn’t known that Chris could do the look as well.

Curious, Howie followed yet again Chris’s gaze as he tried to figure out what Chris wanted.

Maybe Howie could get it for him, and then he wouldn’t have to look at Chris looking like a kid who hadn’t been able to buy a lollipop.

Unfortunately, what Chris wanted wasn’t exactly a lollipop.

Shit. Chris is watching Kevin. Chris wants Kevin. How am I going to get him Kevin? Kevin is married! Why can’t Chris lust after AJ? AJ would sleep with anyone! But Kevin?

Howie shook his head, defeated. Helping Chris was going to be a lot harder than he had expected.

* * *

Brian almost groaned when he realized that his cousin was getting distracted again. It wasn’t that it happened very often, not even when Kristen was always away in auditions or on location.

In fact, it only happened when they happened to meet *N Sync.

Sometimes, it would be a gradual thing. Kevin would steal glances now and then, as if he was just trying to assure himself that the other man was there. Only when he could be completely sure that no one would notice, usually in the award ceremonies when *N Sync had to perform and so staring wasn’t going to look out of place, Kevin allowed himself to watch undisturbed.

Other times, it was as if the other man had a beacon and Kevin’s eyes would be completely drawn to him. From the moment they entered the room until any of the two groups left, Kevin would have eyes only for Chris…

As long as Chris was not looking.

That frustrated Brian to no end because since he did watch Chris too, he knew Chris was suffering from a similar situation to his cousin. When Kevin was not paying attention, Chris was focused on him.

It was a tiresome circus and Brian didn’t know what to do about it.

On one hand, Kevin was married. Brian knew that he should be telling his cousin to be faithful to Kristen in thoughts as well as in deeds, and to stop watching Chris.

On the other, Kevin was not happy with his life. Why couldn’t he pursue some happiness? In that line of thinking, Brian wanted to tell Kevin that it was ok. That he should stop watching and start talking to Chris.

He didn’t know what to do.

So he kept silent and prayed that somehow his cousin found an answer.

Preferably before the next time they had to be in the same place as the other group.

* * *

AJ had found them a table to sit at when they weren’t mingling, and after that pretty much everyone had gone their own way.

Howie had volunteered to go for drinks all night long, so Kevin hadn’t had any reason to move. Most people who wanted to talk to him went looking for him and that particular night he wasn’t looking to talk with anyone.

He had gone because the group was expected to go and because he knew that Chris was going to be there.

At the moment, Chris was talking to a cute blonde who seemed to find whatever Chris was saying incredibly funny. When he spoke, Kevin could see the white of his teeth and briefly remembered when Chris was still wearing braces.

He had been watching Chris for a long time.

As he smiled, Chris waved his hands around. Besides his eyes, which Kevin only could really see in pictures and his smile that was mesmerizing, Chris’s arms were one of Chris’s best features in Kevin’s opinion. The fact that lately Chris seemed to be favoring the naked arms look was perfect in his opinion.

Seeing Chris’s wide gestures, he wanted to go there, grab Chris’s arms and then start licking his fingers one at a time. He wanted to grab Chris and hold him against the wall before kissing him and finding out if Chris’s tongue moved as much when he kissed as it did when Chris talked. He wanted to strip Chris and then touch and memorize every part of his body that was hidden by clothes.

Instead, he turned his back to the scene and emptied his glass in one long drink.

Chris was probably getting lucky that night. That was not something that Kevin particularly wanted to see – even when one of his nighttime fantasies involved Chris and Kristen on his bed, together, and that was one can of worms he didn’t want to examine closer.

He was perfectly happy keeping his distance.

* * *

Chris smiled politely to the girl talking with him. She was fun and nice, even if she hadn’t bothered introducing herself and had started their conversation with ‘so… is it true that Justin and Britney are having problems?’

While she definitively wasn’t material for a long and lasting friendship, she was nice to talk to for a while. She kept him from looking across the room, mostly.

Still, he kept stealing glances of Kevin. Kevin talking to Brian, to AJ, to Nick.

Kevin drinking from his glass.

Kevin throwing his head back so Chris could clearly see his adam’s apple as he drank from his glass, his hair brushing his back and shoulders.

That was a very good image to add to his already growing file of ‘Kevin looks sexy’ memories.

And while he wanted to go to Kevin’s table, bite Kevin’s lower lip and trace circles with his tongue on Kevin’s stomach, he wouldn’t.

If he kept his distance, he would never get hurt.