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Out of Character

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When Pavel heard that the cinematographer could use a subject for camera testing, he jumped at the chance. He wanted to prove that his director, Jim Kirk, had been right to cast him as the lead in his new independent film, and that he was no bratty teen TV star—he’d pitch in wherever he could to help make the low budget production a success.  So after exchanging a few emails with Hikaru Sulu, he drove over to Griffith Park for their first meeting, intending to show just how professional he could be.

That plan hit a speed bump when Pavel saw Hikaru get out of his jeep, camera in hand and looking hot as hell in a beaten up brown leather jacket, dark jeans that fit him just right, sunglasses, and a serious expression.  Pavel walked over, feeling a little unsteady on his feet but willing himself not to act like an idiot.  Hikaru Sulu didn't look like he suffered fools.

"Hikaru Sulu?" he asked.

"Yes?" Hikaru replied. He took off his sunglasses to reveal soft brown eyes and the most perfect high cheekbones, and that was it.  Pavel was a goner.

"Pavel Chekov, good to meet you," Pavel said, giving Hikaru a firm handshake. 

"Sorry I didn't recognize you," Hikaru said.

Pavel giggled, which he was sure was the opposite of sexy and self-assured.  "No one does.  That bowl cut on the show is a wig."

"Must be handy for avoiding crowds of female fans."

"Oh, they aren't so bad," Pavel said, not wanting Hikaru to think that being around him was like being with a boy band or the Monkees or something.  "They only mob at personal appearances.  I can leave the house pretty well on my own."

Hikaru nodded.  "Well, shall we?" he asked, indicating a path that led through the trees.  "The foliage here is similar to the outdoor locations we'll be using."

"Great," Pavel replied. "Do you mind if I run a few speeches?  I'm still working on this southern accent."

"Sure," Hikaru said. 

He led them to a small clearing where the large old trees made a canopy overhead and instructed Pavel to walk in and out of the dappled sunlight.  Then he lifted the camera to his shoulder and looked through the eyepiece at Pavel.  And just like that, Pavel didn't feel so nervous anymore.

"Go ahead," Hikaru said.

Pavel launched into one of the humorous stories his character used to cheer up his dying father.  He’d been having trouble finding the right rhythm, as it was so different than the broad humor of his television show, never mind the accent.  But with Hikaru calmly looking at him through the lens, his mind felt just a little clearer. Odd as he'd been in front of a camera off and on since he was seven so it really wasn't anything new.

"What do you think?" Pavel asked.  "Of the speech, I mean."

Hikaru seemed surprised.  "I—er—it's really up to Jim—"

"But I want to know what you think," Pavel insisted.

"Oh," Hikaru said, and then cocked his head, considering.  "Well, you may have said it a little too fast?"

"Ah, slow down, I can do that," Pavel said, pleased to have been taken seriously.

And so it went for the next hour or so, Hikaru asking Pavel to move this way and that and Pavel doing his own work on his speeches and accent, until Hikaru said he had enough to work with. 

As they walked back to their cars, Pavel said, as casually as possible, "I don't know about you but I'm starving.  Want to get a burger or something?"

Hikaru stared at him for a long moment, deciding, and Pavel hoped that he looked merely friendly and not, "You, sir, are sex on legs and I'm not eager to let you out of my sight" even though that was what he was thinking.

"All right, sure," Hikaru said at last.

Pavel grinned and was rewarded with a bit of a smile from Hikaru.  It was a start.

Hikaru saw nothing wrong with being friends with the kid.  Pavel was young, sure, but he was more of a pro than Hikaru had been at that age.  At seventeen-going-on-eighteen, he'd still been making silly movies in the backyard with his buddies and hoping to get into film school.

In conversation Pavel revealed what Hikaru had half suspected during the camera test.  Pavel might look like a teen heartthrob and have that Disney star training, but underneath he was actually a giant movie geek, just like Jim and Spock and Scotty and Hikaru himself.  When Pavel asked about the camera test and their ideas for making the 16mm work he seemed genuinely interested in the technical side—a director in the making, Hikaru thought—and so knowledgeable that it was disconcertingly easy to forget his age.

But then again, one of the attractive things about Pavel was how open and enthusiastic and positive he was.  When he talked his eyes would get larger and larger and his speech faster and faster and he would burst into a big cheerful grin—

Wait.  Did he just use the word attractive about Pavel, even just to himself?  No.  No no no no no.

First, Pavel was an actor, and the one rule Jim had given him—and Jim Kirk, not fond of rules—was never to date actors.  He’d told Hikaru this rule at breakfast after the one and only time they'd fucked.  (A clearing of the air fuck, Jim had said, and it had worked surprisingly well as once their curiosity was satisfied and their itch scratched they could move on to being good collaborators and great friends.)  Jim had said Hikaru shouldn't allow himself to be some actor's dirty little secret and Hikaru was inclined to agree.   Coming out hadn't been entirely shitty—having liberal San Francisco parents helped—but it had been shitty enough that he wasn't going back in for anyone.

Plus, Pavel was seventeen.  Sure, okay, technically he was two weeks shy of eighteen, but barely legal had never been Hikaru's thing.  Pavel was absolutely mature for his age and a consummate professional.  But Hikaru was nearly eight years older and just because that sort of thing happened all over Hollywood didn't mean that he wanted to live out that cliche.  (At least, from this end; he'd had an older lover when he was about twenty, and that man hadn't been a creep at all.  Hikaru still had him friended on Facebook, actually.) On their last movie Jim had had a fling with the second female lead, Miri, a Disney star, and the whole thing had ended in disaster. And that girl had three years on Pavel. So Hikaru wasn’t eager to get a Disney star of his very own.

Not to mention they were about to film a movie on location in the middle of nowhere, Georgia.  The shoot was bound to feel enough like summer camp already.  Hikaru didn't much go in for on-set romances; they tended to be a bit overdramatic and then fall apart in the flat light of daytime Los Angeles.  He liked Pavel too much for that.  If he played this right, he might get a lasting friendship out of it.  He wasn't going to risk that for a few months of newbie-fucking, which had never held much appeal for him anyway.

Close friends.  Absolutely the best plan.

As soon as news of Pavel’s casting broke, his friend Miri took him out to lunch and advised him not to make her mistake and get romantically involved with his director.  Pavel had heard about her troubles with Jim already, as Disney circles were small and gossipy, and it wasn't much of an issue as Jim wasn't Pavel's type—too much the blond all-American and definitely too old.  Besides, Jim wasn't living up to his reputation as an equal-opportunity seducer, at least in rehearsal; while friendly and supportive, he was focused on the work.

But it did make Pavel wonder about Hikaru. Listening to Hikaru geeking out about movies, and feeling comfortable to geek out along with him, made him even more attractive than he already was. Their burger dinner felt like a date—at least, right up until the end, when instead of a kiss Hikaru shook his hand goodbye. Maybe having watched all the drama between Jim and Miri unfold in front of him was making Hikaru hesitate. Well, Pavel had faced bigger challenges.

The second camera test was at a Fleet Pictures soundstage, where Scotty, the production designer, had built a small set similar to two of the rooms in the location house.  This time they were more precise, more particular about where Pavel was standing and what direction he was facing.

"You're not working on your accent today?" Hikaru asked.

Pavel hadn't noticed until that moment; he'd been too distracted watching Hikaru (and Scotty) work.  "I didn't want to interrupt."

"You wouldn't be," Hikaru replied.

"I'd rather listen to McCoy's words than myself thinking," Scotty agreed.

"Well," Pavel said, feeling pleased, "of course."

It went much as before, with Hikaru giving Pavel little words of encouragement and critique while he and Scotty made their adjustments.  Scotty packed up quickly after they finished but Hikaru dawdled, so Pavel did as well. 

"So, where are you off to?" Pavel asked.

"There's a screening of The Naked Time tonight, so I thought I'd just kill a couple of hours until then."

"That's Archer's first film, isn't it?"

"Yep.  Relaunched the whole indy scene back in the 90s.  You interested?"

"Definitely.  I've never seen it on the big screen."

"Great," Hikaru said, smiling a little.  "There's a tacqueria between here and there."

"Sounds perfect."

It was perfect—perfect to leave his car behind at Fleet and ride with Hikaru in his jeep, to share fish tacos and pineapple Jarritos, to sit next to him in the theater with their hands brushing against each other in a shared bag of popcorn, to get coffee after and talk about Jonathan Archer's ouevre.  By the time Hikaru drove Pavel back to his car he was floating on air.

"This was fun, thanks," Pavel said.

"I had a good time too," Hikaru replied, nodding.

There was a pause then, a little awkward, with Hikaru staring off at the hood of Pavel's car and Pavel pretty much staring at Hikaru.

Then Pavel took a deep breath and said, "So I just bought a new house of my own and my birthday is next week.  You should come by."

Hikaru smiled just a little.  "Great, that sounds great, I will."

"Cool," Pavel said, relieved.  "Well, I guess—"

"Oh the hell with it," Hikaru said, suddenly.  He put his hands on either side of Pavel's face and pulled them together into a kiss.

Pavel got over his surprise quickly—who knew how long this kiss would last or when there would be another one—and let Hikaru back him up against his car.  Pavel wrapped his arms around Hikaru, one hand against the back of his neck to pull him in closer, or at least keep him there.  By the time Hikaru loosened his hold, their legs were entwined.

"Wow," Pavel said.

"Yeah, so that was illegal," Hikaru said, laughing a little.

"Next week," Pavel reminded him.  "An incentive to come for my birthday."

"Some incentive," Hikaru replied, raising his eyebrows.

Pavel chuckled, and they kissed again.

"I should go," Hikaru said.

Pavel sighed.  "Yeah," he replied.  "But I'll see you next week, yes?"

"You bet," Hikaru said.  He climbed back into his jeep and drove away.

All the way home Pavel was buzzing from that unexpected kiss, and he couldn't keep his hand from his lips.  Apparently he’d gotten Hikaru past whatever hesitation he’d been feeling.  Now, obviously, birthday plans must be made.

Hikaru went back and forth all week about the wisdom of going to Pavel's house on his birthday.  None of the three very good reasons for staying platonic with Pavel had changed, and yet he'd actually macked on the kid; he'd been the one to initiate that kiss.  But then again, it would probably be a party, so there would be safety in numbers.  And snubbing him right before they left for Georgia probably wasn't the best idea.

He'd just make it clear that there was to be no more kissing.  Even if that kiss had been fantastic and still made him a little giddy to think about, it was a one-time thing only.

He could control himself.  He was the adult here.

Pavel’s birthday dawned sunny and warm—not unusual for a late June day in Los Angeles, but welcome nevertheless. He’d had dinner with his family the day before, and planned drinks with friends for the next day, telling everyone he wanted to be alone in his new house on the day itself. Which wasn’t precisely true, but close enough.

Once the guard called up from the community gate, Pavel had just enough time to double check that everything was set and that his hair wasn't doing anything strange before he heard Hikaru pull into the driveway.

"Hey, glad you could come," Pavel said, showing him in.

"Brought a camera like you asked," Hikaru replied.  "Am I early?"

"Not at all," Pavel said. 

Hikaru looked around the living room.  "You have a lot of maps."

"I love old maps," Pavel said, "and star maps.  I've been collecting them for a while.  Now I can finally have them all framed and hung on the walls.  I like them better than art, anyway."

"I'm a pilot," Hikaru said, "and navigation is my least favorite task.  I usually try to get someone else to do it."

"A pilot?" Pavel asked.  "That's really cool, Hikaru."

"Thanks," Hikaru replied, and there was that little smile again.  "Got my license when I was a teenager.  Now I part-own a private jet."

"Will you be flying to the set?"

"I doubt it. Can't exactly keep the plane in Georgia for six weeks."

"Well," Pavel said, smiling, "I guess I'll have to navigate for you some other time."

"I look forward to it," Hikaru replied. Then he seemed suddenly a little shier, and shifted from one foot to the other.

"Here, let me give you the tour,” Pavel said.  “It's a small house—two bedrooms."

Hikaru was silent after that, just nodding as Pavel showed him around, ending in the master bedroom. The room was bright and sunny, and a light breeze stirred the curtains.

"So ... what do you think?"

Hikaru glanced around the bedroom, then focused on Pavel, his expression stern.  "I'm the only one invited tonight, aren't I?"

"I never said you weren't," Pavel replied.  "I just asked you to come by."

"Ending the tour in your bedroom," Hikaru said.  "Not exactly subtle."

Pavel shrugged.  Subtle had rarely gotten him any place he really wanted to go.

"Why the camera?"

"You’re more relaxed behind it," Pavel replied, "and I wanted you to feel comfortable."

"This is a bad idea," said Hikaru, turning to leave the room.

"No, stay, please.  I know I'm young, I know we'll be working together a lot—"

"And I won't be your secret, Pavel."

"My what?"

"Well, you're not exactly out, are you?  I'm not meeting your friends tonight."

"Hikaru, we've been on two dates."

That seemed to bring him up short.  "Well, I guess that's true."

"My family and friends all know I'm gay.  Just not about you.  I thought you'd want to take it slow."

"Taking it slow is bringing me to your bedroom?"

"We can go back to the living room and talk about maps," Pavel said, "but I don't think you want that."

Hikaru sighed, closing his eyes, and Pavel saw he'd need a little more help to make the leap.

"Take out the camera."

"What?" Hikaru asked, looking at Pavel.

"Come on, take it out."

He hesitated, and Pavel dared not move, willing him to stay.

"Okay," Hikaru said, and pulled a smallish video camera out of his messenger bag, which he set aside.  He turned the camera on and trained it on Pavel.

Pavel sat on the bed and untied his sneakers.  "I got my first commercial when I was seven."  He pulled off his socks and tucked them into his shoes.  "Usually, on my show, I want to see the playback.  I like knowing right away if what I'm doing is working."  He took off his shirt next, laying it across the back of a chair.  "But with you, even though I've only known you a couple of weeks, I don't think I'll need to."  His jeans followed.  "I feel so unselfconscious when you're behind the camera."  He slid off his briefs then, putting them on the chair.  "So I don't have to see me.  It's like you've seen me, you know?"

Hikaru cleared his throat.  "Is that why you've taken all your clothes off?" he asked in a choked voice.

"No," Pavel replied, and couldn't help but smile.  "I took my clothes off to entice you to have sex with me.  Is it working?"


"You're not sure?"

"That it's a good idea?  No."  Hikaru sighed.  "But it looks like I'm doing it anyway."

"Good," Pavel said, and knelt at Hikaru's feet, the camera following him.

"What are you doing?" Hikaru asked.

"Undressing you. Lift up your foot."

"I can undress myself, you know," Hikaru said, but he let Pavel take off his boots and socks.

"Not and hold the camera," Pavel replied, sitting up and starting on Hikaru's jeans and belt. He was trying to stay focused, maintain control, and not think about how Hikaru’s clothes were warm from the heat of his body, or how much he wanted to kiss every inch of skin he revealed.

"You have nice shoulders," Hikaru said, stepping out of his jeans.

Pavel looked up into the camera as he stood up.  "Thanks," he said, smiling.  He divested Hikaru of his jacket and tshirt and put all his clothes neatly on the same chair as his own.  Then, finally, he pulled off Hikaru's boxers, and they stood there, naked, Hikaru behind the camera and Pavel in front of it.

"What now?" Hikaru asked.

"That's up to you."

"Okay," said Hikaru, thinking.  "Why don't you get on the bed?"

Pavel did so, pushing pillows to the side and pulling back the covers.  Now it was his turn to watch as Hikaru set the camera on the nightstand, then pulled some books from the shelf to put under it.  His body was as nice as Pavel had imagined it, slim but toned, a hint of muscle showing in his arms, smooth chest, and thighs.  And if his cock hadn't been hard when Pavel was stripping him, something Pavel didn't take too personally as Hikaru had needed some time to get into the spirit of things, he was certainly getting there now.  His brow furrowed in concentration as he checked the camera angle again, which made Pavel want to kiss him, smooth out that wrinkle with his tongue.

"Hey!" Hikaru said.  "Get your hand off that."

Pavel realized he'd been stroking himself—of course he was hard; he'd been thinking about this all day—and set his hands on the bed.  "But Hikaru, all you've done is look and not touch," he said, and really, he was trying not to pout. Or hoping that the pout was sexy and not infantile, at least.

Hikaru raised one eyebrow and Pavel felt his breath hitch.  "Patience, Pavel," he said.

But he must have been eager too, despite the cool exterior, as he only made one more adjustment before joining Pavel on the bed.  He lay atop Pavel, supporting his weight on bent arms.

Pavel spread his legs obligingly.  "Condoms and lube are in the nightstand."

Hikaru shook his head.  "We won't need any of that."

"No?" Pavel asked, trying to look appealing and shifting his legs open a bit more.  "I thought, since it's my birthday—"

"Getting fucked the first time on your eighteenth birthday is almost as much of a cliche as doing it on prom night."

"I didn't go to prom," Pavel said, "except on television."

"Even more reason," Hikaru said.  "We're taking this slow, remember?"

"Then kiss me, Hikaru."

He obliged, sinking down into Pavel, who wrapped his arms around Hikaru's back, feeling the muscles rippling as he moved.  Hikaru lay so their cocks rubbed against each other as they moved.  After that it was a blur of tongues and fingers and friction, and Pavel couldn’t quite keep track of what was where.  He knew it wouldn't take much but oddly he didn't feel embarrassed at coming so quickly; he just couldn't feel embarrassed with Hikaru, who came pretty quickly after him anyway, and collapsed on his chest.

"Wow," Pavel said, running his hand through Hikaru's thick hair.

"Yeah," Hikaru replied, a little out of breath.  He sat up.  "We should probably clean up."

Pavel pushed the hair out of Hikaru's eyes.  "Will you stay?" he asked.

"Sure," Hikaru said, smiling a little.

"Will you let me jack you off in the shower?"

Hikaru laughed.  "We'll see," he said, "but that doesn't need to be on camera."  He reached over and turned the camera off.

Hikaru had always been an early riser, and he was up at seven-thirty despite Pavel's best attempts to exhaust him the night before.  After that first shower they’d eaten some kind of slow-cooking Russian stew that Pavel had put into the crock pot, and then there was a long second, maybe third round before they showered again, changed the sheets, and finally fell asleep. Pavel did look sort of adorable, cuddling into the pillows, and Hikaru didn’t want to disturb him. So he slipped on his boxers and wandered out into the kitchen in search of coffee and maybe something for breakfast.

Coffee he found, and got it brewing, but the only breakfast-like food he saw were several boxes of brown sugar cinnamon pop tarts.  He supposed this was what it would be like—little reminders of how young Pavel was—but that was okay.  He was kinda young himself; his shelf was full of Cheerios.  He settled down on one of the stools and checked his blackberry.

Pavel got up not long after that, and wrapped himself around Hikaru from behind.  "Good morning," he said.

"Let me buy you waffles," Hikaru said.  "Or eggs or something."

"Sounds good," Pavel replied, planting a kiss on the back of his neck. Pavel then sat on the other stool and poured himself a cup of coffee, grabbing the old-fashioned sugar dispenser to dump in what had to be a quarter cup.  Hikaru wondered if this was a kid thing or a Russian thing.

"After that I should go.  Jim's dinner is tonight."

"That's right, sushi and salsa dancing," Pavel said.  He turned to Hikaru. "Do you want to tell them?"

Hikaru realized that this was why Jim didn't have any rules—because sometimes things just worked out.  "Nah," he replied, smiling.  "Let's see how long it takes them to figure it out on their own."