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Performance Anxiety

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Griffin hates live shows. They’re unpredictable and draining and he can’t edit out bad jokes or awkward pauses in real time. 

“Yeah, I’d say there’s a lot of pressure to perform,” Travis agrees with a grin and an elbow nudge when Griffin voices his annoyance. 

Travis eats up live audiences so voraciously it should be a crime. He always has. The glee on his face every time he walks off a MBMBAM stage is the exact same expression he’d worn at community theater curtain calls when Griffin was still too young to know that the sharp wanting thing twisting in his gut when he looked at this older brother was more than envy of a low-anxiety life.

Griffin barely remembers what city they’re in the time that live shows get markedly better. All he knows in the moment is that he’s in the green room and on the edge of hungover, just sober enough that the idea of going on stage is starting to curdle his stomach.

“This is such a bad idea,” Griffin says, watching Travis and Justin giggle over pouring shots like they’re seventeen again. 

“Don’t be such a spoil sport,” Justin admonishes, handing Griffin a glass that he slams against his better judgement. 

“Don’t think about the parts that make you nervous,” Travis advises. He’s holding his own shot glass delicately with his thumb and middle finger. His nails are a vibrant red this week. 

“Oh, that’s great advice. Apart from the fact that all of it makes me nervous, that’s really good. I’ll just forget about the entire thing.”

Justin snorts, and then pulls himself into Actual Advice Mode. 

“Think about something else,” he says. 

“Like what?”

Travis takes a sip of his drink and makes a face at the taste. “Like what you’re going to do after the show.”

“Pass out from relief that it’s over and pray that you never make me do this again?” 

“No, get fucked,” Travis says. He puts his free hand on Griffin’s face, and his touch is a cool contrast to Griffin’s immediate blush. For a single wild second Griffin thinks Travis is going to kiss him right then and there—that he’ll have to walk on stage with awful beard burn all over his fucking mouth—but someone knocks on the door behind him and calls “Five minutes!” 

“Thank you five,” Travis and Justin chorus. Griffin can’t find his tongue. 

Travis pats his cheek gently. “Game face,” he says. “You cannot go out there looking like you’re thinking about how much fun you’re going to have when I bend you over that fucking hideous armchair in your hotel room tonight.” 

“Or when you grope him right after we walk off stage,” Justin adds helpfully. 

“Or when I grope you right after we walk off stage, right,” Travis repeats in agreement. 

“Look like you’re thinking about how much you hate talking in front of crowds,” Justin says. 

“But don’t think about that,” Travis says. “Think about my dick.”

He finishes his shot.

 

/ / / 

 

At their next show, Griffin spends the minutes of their intro trying to get a handle on the regret he’s feeling over every life decision he’d made that had led him to standing on this precipice of fucking up in front of a few thousand people.

He might be significantly drunk again, and who’s to say if that makes it better or worse. 

Travis slings an arm around his shoulder. 

“I’m going to die,” Griffin tells him. 

“You’re gonna do great,” Travis corrects, “and then I’m going to give you the best blowjob you’ve ever had.”

Griffin almost laughs. Of his top five blowjobs, at least three already belong to Travis. Probably four. The man’s got a talented tongue. 

“You’re drinking water, right, Ditto?” Travis adds nonchalantly. “You don’t want to be hungover for the flight home tomorrow.” 

Griffin drinks half the bottle Travis passes him before they walk on stage, and he swallows the rest of it down by the end of the second yahoo. Travis silently fishes another bottle from under the table, and Griffin empties that too before realizing that he still has at least 40 minutes left on this stage and he could have timed his fluid intake better. 

By the end of the show, he’s too preoccupied with the imminent explosion of his bladder to give a fuck how well it went. 

He barely notices Travis tailing him to the single-use bathroom backstage until he slips through the door before Griffin can shut it behind himself. Travis kisses him greedily, licking into his mouth and running one hand into his hair to pull him close even as Griffin does his best to squirm away. 

“Fuck—Trav, no, fuck, I seriously have to piss, can you wait like ten seconds—”

“Rather not,” Travis breathes, tugging open Griffin’s pants and shoving them out of the way as he drops to his knees and—

They’re seriously too old to be fucking in a semi-public restroom, but this sight still makes something jump in Griffin’s stomach. Jesus Christ, if he weren’t already about to explode this would be doing all sorts of things to his dick. But as it is. 

“I swear to God, I am this fucking close to pissing all over you, Scraps—”

“Yeah, that’s almost the idea,” Travis interrupts. 

Oh. Fuck.

Fuck.

“Oh, fuck me running,” Griffin wants to yell, but contents himself with letting his head thunk back against the tile wall. Travis licks broadly up the underside of his dick, then wraps his stupidly beautiful lips around the head and sucks just a little. He brings his other hand up to put pressure on Griffin’s abdomen and—

Griffin’s hips jerk forward at the push, just once, and then he lets go. Travis swallows down every drop, and an embarrassingly short amount of time later he swallows down Griffin’s cum too. 

“Jesus fucking Christ, Travis, holy shit,” is all Griffin can string together as Travis wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. 

Travis responds with that pleasant hmmmmm that he uses to mean anything between “I have no idea what you’re referring to” and “I know exactly what you mean and I want to hear you say it.” 

 

/ / / 

 

Griffin’s flight to the next live show gets canceled at the last minute, and then his new flight gets delayed, and it’s basically going to be a miracle from God Himself if Griffin makes it to the theater at all. 

He’s skimming email-submitted yahoos on a laptop with 16% battery in the airport when Travis calls. 

“I need you to only say good things to me right now,” Griffin says instead of hello. 

“That bad?” Travis asks. 

“You know how I’m always saying there’s no way for anything to be worse than live shows? There is apparently a way for live shows to get even worse, and it’s called everything about today.” 

“I just got to the hotel,” Travis says, and then something else that Griffin doesn’t hear because the speaker directly above his head starts spitting out an announcement: they’re finally fucking boarding, thank God.

“I have to go,” Griffin says.

“Check your Snapchat before you take off,” Travis says insistently.

Griffin’s halfway down the jet bridge when he gets the notification. He opens it, studiously ignoring the dozens of other Snaps he’s been ignoring for God knows how long.

He’s expecting this to be a photo of something at the hotel that Travis thought he’d get a kick out of, which means he’s completely caught off guard by the full-body mirror selfie of Travis in lingerie. 

It’s a matching set, bra and panties—or whatever the words are for those general shapes of fabric when they’re being worn by someone as burly as Trav—and the lighting is as terrible as it is in all hotel selfies Griffin’s ever seen, but he can still tell the teal fabric is soft as satin and the black lace framing looks ready to tear away at any moment. Travis is looking down at his phone screen instead of into the camera, but his free hand is rucked in his hair and he’s biting his lip so wantonly that Griffin licks his own lips without thinking about it, and then walks directly into the wall because he hadn’t been watching his own feet, goddamnit. 

It’s not the joke he was expecting, but he still laughs. 

In the end he takes an Uber directly from the airport to the theater and spends the whole ride fiddling with his phone. 

Backstage, he finds his way to the green room, which is empty except for Travis sitting on a worn-down sofa and scrolling Twitter.

He’s dressed absolutely normally. T-shirt and untucked button-down, dark jeans, boots too sturdy to belong to someone getting paid to tell jokes on the internet. 

His nails are painted that same soft shade of teal. 

Griffin drops his messenger bag on the free sofa cushion so he won’t be tempted to sit there himself. Travis smirks up at him, because he knows exactly what he’s doing. Motherfucker. 

Griffin shoves his suitcase into a corner, and drops himself onto the swivel stool in front of the paint-stained vanity. He rubs at his face, digging the grit from his eyes. When he looks up again, Travis is standing behind him, watching him through the mirror consideringly. 

“How was the flight?” Trav asks as he sets his hands on Griffin’s shoulders and digs his thumbs deep into the tense muscles there. Griffin lets himself lean back. 

“Long.”

“You got the picture I sent you?” Travis asks even though, yes, of course he fucking got it, Snapchat doesn’t let you turn off read receipts. 

Griffin takes a deep breath instead of saying any of that. He looks up at Travis again through the mirror, letting his gaze really linger at the places across his chest and shoulders where he should be able to see the tell-tale lines of the undergarment’s straps and edges. 

“Don’t be an idiot, Ditto. You absolutely cannot see it,” Travis says, and squeezes Griffin’s shoulder harder. “I am about to walk on stage in front of a few thousand people who all have Instagram. There are some things that Justin would truly never let me live down.” 

“Sure,” Griffin says more easily than he feels. 

“But,” Travis says, and reaches one hand around to grab the edge of the stool between Griffin’s legs and spins it until Griffin’s facing him. Travis is half-crouched from the movement, his face level with Griffin’s, and he slides his hand up the inside of Griffin’s thigh in a way that is teasingly, rudely, purposefully not too close to his crotch. “You can feel it,” he says. 

The door’s open behind him, but they don’t have an opener tonight so there shouldn’t be anyone around to see them. Griffin straightens up enough to be able to reach a kiss—which he means to be on this side of chaste, something like plausible deniability, but Travis won’t have it, makes it deep even if he lets it stay slow and soft. Griffin slides his hand under the hem of Travis’ layered shirts and reaches into the loose waistband of his jeans to brush against the coarse, decorative lace of the panties. 

He’d known to expect it, but the texture is still thrillingly incongruous to the image of the man standing in front of him. 

Travis’ hand shifts on his thigh. It’s still not giving him the pressure he wants, but it feels like permission to get handsier, to kiss him harder, to pull him closer, to—

The door slams shut. Griffin jumps back in half a panic, but it’s just Justin. 

“Isn’t it kind of early for you to be planning the post-show sexcapades?” Justin says, plopping himself onto the sofa.

Travis rolls his eyes. He swings his legs up to straddle Griffin’s lap spider-monkey style and kicks at the vanity with his too-sturdy boots to turn the stool again so he’s the one facing the door and Griffin can hide his mortification by burying his face in Travis’ shirt. 

“Oh, this is the pre-show sexcapade,” Travis corrects cheerily. “Totally separate. A much longer-standing tradition.” 

“Sure, green room make out sessions. Real junior high stuff, am I right?” 

Travis laughs. “You’re not wrong.” 

 

/ / /

 

Travis spends most of the show with his hands flat on the table, fingers spread wide to show off the bright color. It does a predictably effective job of keeping Griffin’s mind off the audience and on his hopes for the rest of the evening.

Still, it feels stupidly late by the time they finally reach the hotel, and Travis has been quiet long enough for Griffin’s brain to start anxiously picking at itself again. 

“What a fucking day,” he groans when the elevator doors slide shut in front of them and Travis hits the button to their floor. 

“Reading for a fucking night?” Travis jokes, and he takes Griffin’s hand. 

“Did I fuck up?” Griffin lets himself ask.

“No,” Travis insists. “You did great. Everyone loved you.”

Travis kisses him gently until the elevator stops with a shudder. He turns back to the door. 

“I don’t want to think about everyone right now,” Griffin says. “Just you.” 

The sidelong glance Travis gives him might be more amusement than seduction, but Griffin doesn’t care. 

“Just me,” he confirms, “and you. Got it.” 

When they get to their room, Travis makes Griffin power off his phone while he slides the do not disturb hanger on the door handle. 

He talks Griffin through undressing him slowly, invites him to touch and taste and look at every newly revealed inch of skin like it’s a fucking grounding technique, except CBT exercises have never made Griffin this horny. By the time he finally reaches into the front of the panties and wraps his hand around Travis, Griffin’s mouth is dry and his dick is so frustratingly hard he could cry. 

“You’re gonna run out of ideas someday,” Griffin tells him after they both finish, when it’s fucking Four In The Morning His Time and he’s pleasantly sore and rung out and curled up against Travis’ side. 

“Hmm?”

“This whole fucking...distraction sex thing,” Griffin mumbles. “It won’t work forever.” 

“Don’t have to do it forever. Just until you decide to stop doing live shows.” 

Griffin buries his face more securely in the pillow. “Won’t,” he says. “You love ‘em.” 

“You dumbass motherfucker,” Travis says fondly. “You know you could buy me roses and get the exact same result.” 

“Did you just call yourself cheap?” 

Travis laughs. “Alright, fine. Keep wining and dining me with sold-out theaters. See if I complain.” 

“You can’t complain,” Griffin says. “Complaining is my job.” 

“What’s my job?” 

“Sixty-nining.” 

“I’ll put that on the list of ideas for next time.”