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Kate had been more than happy to have Luca for a couple of days, giving them some time alone before Chris is gone again. Having thrown some things in overnight bags, they'd made their way to the beach house. It's early evening when they arrive.

"I don't think I have anything for dinner," Chris says, letting them into the house. "We can either run out and grab some groceries or order in and worry about anything else tomorrow."

"I really don't mind," Matt follows behind Chris. He's looking forward to some quiet time with his lover, they've some things to sort out for the wedding and he's happier doing that uninterrupted by a small boy.

"Let's order in then," Chris decides, locking up, their bags left by the door for the moment as he kicks off his shoes and pads through the living room to open the windows, letting in fresh air and the scent of the ocean and beach below. "We can go out for brunch in the morning, pick up some things, and spend the rest of the day in bed," he says with a grin over his shoulder at Matt.

"Oh is that how it is?" Matt teases, well aware that was the plan all along. "Just don't fuck me so hard that you incapacitate me, yeah?"

"I promise not to put you out of commission," Chris says, crossing his heart, a definite twinkle in his eye as he moves back towards Matt, reaching for his hands and reeling him in for a kiss.

Matt offers himself up willingly, his mouth opens, his arms slip around Chris's waist and he allows himself to be in the moment.

"Have I told you how much I love your smile?" Chris murmurs, drawing back a little and staring down at Matt.

Matt shakes his head a little, responding with said smile. "No, even though my eyes all screw up?"

"I love the way your eyes screw up," Chris says with a huge smile of his own. "It's so sexy."

Matt huffs out a laugh, "Sexy? Makes my cheekbones pop though hmm?"

"Yes, and yes," Chris says, his own eyes crinkling as he kisses Matt again, hands sliding down his back to his ass.

Matt hums at that move, loving how Chris cups his butt like that. "Can we order food before we start getting naked, I'll need to keep my energy up," he chuckles.

"Of course," Chris grins, holding Matt close. "What do you want? Chinese, Italian, Indian?"

Matt considers his choices, he's fond of all the options on offer. "Chinese?" he replies, a little uncertain, wondering if Chris would prefer Indian.

"Sounds good to me," Chris says, kissing him again, fairly chastely this time. "What do you like? Any favourite dishes?"

"Noodles and duck, I love shredded duck and hoisin," Matt grins. "Other than that I'm game to try anything."

"How do you feel about spice?" Chris asks, giving Matt one more kiss before reluctantly pulling away to find the menu for his favourite Chinese.

"Some is good, but not in all of it." Matt wanders to the windows to look out over the beach, he throws a glance over his shoulder. "Shall I go and put fresh sheets on the bed while you do that?"

"That would be great, thanks," Chris says with a smile, dialing the restaurant. "Yes, hi, order for delivery, please..."

Matt scoops up their bags and takes them down to Chris's bedroom, he sets them to one side and goes in search of fresh linens, humming to himself as he first strips and then remakes the bed. Matt smiles as he smoothes out the top coverlet with his hands, knowing that soon enough it will be mussed up, reconstituted into a space of sex and sleep.

The order placed, Chris follows Matt down the hall to bedroom, leaning against the doorjamb. "Food'll be here in 45 minutes," he says with a smile.

"Time for a walk?" Matt suggests, inclining his head toward the windows and the beach beyond. "I could do with stretching my legs."

"Yeah, that would be great," Chris says, checking his watch to make sure they'll be back in plenty of time for the food. They make their way outside, locking the back door, and heading down to the beach from the back deck. "I still need to Lulu-proof this place," he notes, looking at the railings. "Maybe when I'm back from Europe or over Christmas if we'll be down here. It probably wouldn't take more than half a day."

"There's no rush," Matt says, falling in step. "I don't mean I don't want to bring him here. Just there's no rush okay? He's already had some big changes going on in his life, I don't want to overwhelm him."

Chris nods. "That makes sense," he agrees, the beach deserted, the sky getting darker. "And the weather's not the greatest for swimming right now anyway. April or May would be better."

"How's it feel to be a Dad now?" Matt asks. "He's using Daddy Kis more I noticed." In fact Luca had been showing Chris more and more trust in the last few days, even going so far as to demand that Chris put him to bed one night.

"It feels amazing," Chris says, letting his fingers brush against Matt's. "Kids are so accepting, it's crazy, and he's so amazing." He glances at Matt. "How do you feel about it?"

Matt doesn't reply straight away, he smiles to himself. "Honestly? A little ambiguous, but that's not about you. It's about processing he now has two fathers, which is what he was supposed to have had from the start, and, I guess, conflicted about sharing him, his love. He has been the centre of my world, my anchor and my lodestar in my darkest hours, he's mine and here I am inviting you into our lives and encouraging him to love you too."

Chris nods, deciding to the hell with it and taking Matt's hand. "That's what I figured and I don't blame you at all. But you'll always be Daddy. You're the one he's imprinted on and you're still the centre of his world."

Surprised that Chris has reached out and taken his hand, Matt looks up, questioningly. "Are you sure?" he asks, given Chris's fingers a grateful squeeze.

"I'm sure about us," Chris says with a soft smile, squeezing back. "And I trust everything else will happen the way it's supposed to."

It's getting dark enough and they're on their own out here, so Matt takes the opportunity to lean into Chris, his head tipped to his lover's shoulder. "You're everything I needed," he admits softly, "and I had no idea."

"I'm so glad to hear you say that," Chris says, pressing a kiss to Matt's hair. "We're amazing together and you make me so happy."

They walk on for a few minutes before Matt speaks. "We're getting married in a few weeks. Does it feel real for you yet?"

"Yes and no," Chris answers, blowing out a breath. "I'm really looking forward to it, I don't have any doubts, I feel like we've got everything in place, but I don't think it'll really feel real until I put that ring on your finger, and maybe not even then. It'll have to sink in for a bit." He smiles and nudges Matt's shoulder. "What about from your end?"

"Pretty much the same," Matt admits, glancing up to flash Chris a smile. "I still keep having moments where I expect to wake up from all this."

"It probably doesn't help I have to keep going away," Chris says, glancing at his watch but only because they have to be back in time for the food.

"Well, that's how our life is going to be right? So it's better I get used to it from the get-go," Matt shrugs, they've not gone far, more a stroll than a real walk.

"Maybe, plus having me home all the time might drive you up the wall," Chris teases.

"Hardly. Though I guess my butt is going to need a break every so often," Matt retorts.

Chris chuckles. "Not all our sex is about your butt," he points out, giving Matt's hand a squeeze.

"It's not?" Matt turns wide eyes on Chris, faking his bemusement. "So why is my ass always so tender when you're around and I seem to work my way through several pairs of shorts a day huh?"

Chris outright laughs this time, ducking his head a little. "I can't help it if you're irresistible," he says with a smile. "But seriously, tell me to lay off if you're getting too sore."

Matt barks out a laugh at that. "Yeah right, I'm still making up for lost time remember?"

"So it'll be at least a few years before you tell me to fuck off?" Chris teases.

"That is never going to happen," Matt bumps deliberately against Chris. "I feel sorry for you though."

"Oh?" Chris grins, knowing something's coming. "Why's that?"

"You'll never be able to get down and dirty with you, because damn..." Matt's smile is wide and warm.

Chris's grin widens. "You know my answer to that, don't you?"

"I do?" Matt pulls back to look up at his lover.

"I get to get down and dirty with you," Chris says. "And damn... from my end, that's hot as hell."

Shaking his head and chuckling Matt looks away, his skin heating.

"You make me want to tie you to the bed and get my hands and my mouth on every inch of you," Chris says, taking a bit of a risk.

Matt's head snaps back so swiftly he's at risk of whiplash, to compound things he trips over his feet, stumbling and making a grab for Chris with his free hand.

Chris grabs Matt, pulling him in close and saving him from falling. "I didn't mean to knock you off your feet," he says with a smile.

"No?" Matt blinks, surprised at how breathy he sounds, how light-headed he's feeling.

"Not that way," Chris says. "Did I freak you out?"

"Yes," Matt shakes his head, "No, no you didn't. Caught me by surprise I think." He hasn't loosened his hold on Chris's hoodie, and he doesn't want Chris to let go either.

Chris nods. "Do you want me to tie you to the bed? Get my hands and mouth on you?"

"I don't know," Matt admits. "You've done that before, the all over part." He frowns and shakes his head again as if trying to clear it. "Why the tying up?"

"Because I think you'd like it," Chris says. "Like you liked me pinning your wrists the other day."

"I'm not sure how I feel about it to be honest," Matt admits, aware he's still very much in Chris's embrace and whilst it's dark, they're still in a public space.

"Which? Me pinning you the other day, or suggesting it now?" Chris asks, taking Matt's hand and turning them around.

"I was fine with the other day," Matt replies as they start back to the house. "But being pinned down in the heat of the moment versus being purposely restrained beforehand are two very different beasts."

Chris nods. "Do you want me to let you think about it, or do you want us to talk?" He doesn't ever want Matt to think he's pressuring him into anything.

"I don't know what to say. On one hand, it doesn't freak me out, on the other I'm not champing at the bit to try it out. I'm aware this is on the outskirts of what you had with Henry, and I'll be honest, I've not given your propensity toward BDSM much thought. Not only because this has all happened so fast and you told me it wasn't important, but because I'm pretty fucking clueless. I understand the mechanics of what people do to each other but not the needs and desires that drive it." Matt sighs as he finishes.

Chris smiles. "It's not that important to me," he reiterates, "but I do think you're a little more inclined that way than you think you are, and I wouldn't mind us exploring that a bit. Nothing too crazy, no pressure from my end, just we play a little and you either like it or you don't. Like anything couples do together sexually."

"Why do you think that?" Matt glances up at Chris. "That I'm 'inclined that way'? Is it because I only bottom for you?"

"Nope, that has nothing to do with it," Chris says. "It's the way you react to me sometimes, like when I pinned you the other night or when you posed for me before I left for Morocco. Even the way you first reacted to my suggestion tonight."

Matt mulls on that for a moment. He's aware something happened when Chris had pushed his wrists into the mattress, when he'd felt helpless, but he's really not sure what to make of it yet. "When I posed for you?" He casts his mind back to when they'd taken pictures of each other. "How do I react?"

"You get quiet, your pupils blow wide, you do whatever I tell you, and you look at me like you're waiting for what comes next," Chris says, thinking there's more to it than that. A dominant's intuition. That soft intake of breath and the way Matt looks at him. "I know you hate the idea of being seen as submissive in any way, but it has nothing to do with being weak or being that way all the time. A lot of people confine any play they do to the bedroom."

"Wait, what?" Matt pulls up short, making Chris stop beside him. "I never said I hated the idea of being seen as submissive in any way, at least I don't think I did. I don't want to be assumed to be an entirely passive partner to you, by you or anyone else. And even that's all complicated, you're famous, hugely successful, so fucking hot you're way out of my league, confident, self-assured..." Matt trails off and sighs, turning his head to look toward the sea. "I let Dylan set the pace of our relationship, I let him talk me into having a baby when I wasn't really sure it was what I wanted and then he left me and I still don't know why. I can't afford to be passive again, I have to pay attention, not be complacent, because I can't let that happen again."

Chris smiles. "I would never expect you to be anything less than a fully-involved partner in our relationship and our marriage," he says, ignoring the 'way out of my league' comment which is not how he feels at all. "Not only would I not talk you into anything, I wouldn't even try and talk you into anything you obviously didn't want. But our relationship in the bedroom can be something completely different from our relationship outside the bedroom," he points out. "That's why there are so many high-powered CEOs who are also submissive as hell. Sometimes it feels really good to give up power and control where it won't do any damage. And I'm not asking you to be my boy, I'm not thinking everything we do in the bedroom would be flavoured by kink, but I wouldn't mind exploring things like I said, finding out what works for us both."

"I don't want to be a boy or your boy," Matt starts to walk again, aware that they need to get back soon. "But I'm willing to let you take me on a journey to try some things,"

"And I'm willing to let you top me if you're still interested," Chris says, giving Matt's hand another squeeze. "Meet trust with trust."

"Yes, I'd like that, though I'm in no rush to take you up on it. I'm more than content with what we have right now." He smiles at that. "More than content."

Chris starts to say something but his phone buzzes. "Our food's at the door," he says, quickly texting back that they'll be right there.

They're not far from the steps back up to the house and as they move into the light Matt lets his hand drop away so he can follow Chris up the stairs.

"Should we eat inside?" Chris asks, letting them into the house and heading for the front door.

"No, let's sit on the deck," Matt calls back as he detours to the kitchen for cutlery and beer.

Big brown bag of Chinese food tucked under his arm, the smell making his stomach rumble, Chris drops his wallet back in the wicker basket on the front hall table before joining Matt on the deck. "I didn't even realize how hungry I was," he says, pulling various cartons from the bag.

"I'm starving," Matt admits, peering into each carton as he opens them, hunting out his noodles. "Mine!" he grins, scooping the fourth carton up.

"You have to at least give me a taste," Chris says with a laugh.

"No, I don't. I haven't married you yet, what is mine is still mine," Matt grins, dropping into a seat, his leg bent, his heel braced on the seat edge. He pokes at the noodles with chopsticks before capturing a mouthful and shoving it in his mouth.

"I'll keep that in mind," Chris says with a grin, eyes crinkling, waving a piece of Szechuan shredded beef at Matt before popping it into his mouth and making some very appreciative sounds.

"Those are sex noises," Matt observes as he shoves more noodles in his mouth.

"So?" Chris's grin widens, a clear touch of mischief in his eye. "Good food's a lot like good sex. It deserves to be appreciated." He takes another bite and groans again.

"I have never eaten anything that is comparable to your sex," Matt admits with a grin, reaching for another carton.

"You're going to give me a swelled head," Chris jokes, ducking his head a little. "You want to try some of this?" he asks, offering a bite of the beef on his chopsticks.

"Are you blushing?" Matt leans in to take the proffered food. "Seriously?"

Chris chuckles, making a bit of a face, clearly uncomfortable before he finally admits, "You know I was with Henry for seven years, and even before that, I was firmly in the closet. Pretty much from the time I started doing this show Home and Away back in Australia, when I was twenty. I had this Hollywood agent just in case and he told me I wasn't ever to come out, ever, don't fuck around, take a girl or a family member to every event, but of course I wasn't going to be celibate so he hooked me up with this very private, very discreet club where I could hire guys without anyone ever finding out."

Matt goes still as Chris talks, swallowing the beef before he's really chewed it properly. "You hired guys?" he questions. "For sex? Like hookers?" His disbelief is evident.

Chris nods, his heart thumping in his chest, unsure of Matt's reaction. "They were pros, of age, vetted and screened, there because they were being paid really well, but yeah, hookers, sex workers, whatever you want to call them."

Matt is silent as he takes this in, Chris has thrown a lot at him today, indeed Chris has thrown a lot at him from the moment they'd met, but this... this is probably the most shocking of all. It just doesn't fit with the person he thought Chris was, and it's not like Chris couldn't have pretty much anyone he wanted. A sex club, with prostitutes. Fuck.

"I don't use them anymore," Chris goes on, watching Matt, his breath held even as he speaks. "I didn't use them while Henry and I were together and I didn't use them when we broke up, but before that, I went in occasionally, when things got to be too much. I knew I could trust them and that I wasn't threatening my career in any way."

"A sex club?" Matt's voice is rough and he has to clear his throat. "You went to a sex club?" he blinks then frowns. "Is this about the BDSM shit? Did you do that to them too?"

Chris sits back, realizing he's fucked up big-time. "It wasn't about that, but yeah, that's where I first experimented," he says. "Not in public because I wasn't out, even there, but in the private rooms..." he nods.

"Is there anything normal about your sex life?" Matt bites out, he's upset, distressed by one too many confessions, he reaches out to put the carton of noodles on the table and rubs over his face.

Chris swallows against a throat gone dry. "I guess I deserve that," he says, "and no, maybe there isn't. I've had fewer sexual partners than most guys my age, only two serious, Henry and now you, and I've spent most of my life pretending I wasn't gay or kinky not only to the public, but to my family, my friends, my co-workers, because either or both those things could destroy my career." He scrubs a hand through his hair. "I'm sorry. I really am. I thought I was doing the right thing being honest with you, because you're going to be my /husband/, because I wanted you to know where I came from, and that the reason I was blushing is because I'm still not used to being genuinely complimented that way."

"Chris, this is a fucking bombshell," Matt's tone is frustrated, irritated. "You're going away again for two weeks and you drop this, right after you've asked that we try out some of the kinky shit ourselves... that leaves me no time to process this or ask you questions or get comfortable with it, you just drop this on me and then leave, and when you're back we're getting married..."

"I know, I'm sorry," Chris says, leaning in again. "I really am. I fucked up and I'm sorry. And I want to explain and try and make it better but I don't want to frustrate you more. I want to give you the room to be pissed off at me."

Matt blows out a long breath. "If you're going to explain, you better have something stronger than beer." He pinches the bridge of his nose. "We need to deal with this."

Chris nods. Matt's words give him a sliver of hope but he still feels sick to his stomach. "I have a bottle of Glenlivet," he says, pushing up from his chair. He's back in a minute with the bottle and two glasses, pouring them each a healthy measure. "Do you want me to talk or do you want to ask me questions?"

Picking up the glass Matt downs half of it in one go, the amber liquid burning as it goes down. "You talk, I don't even know where to start."

Fuck. "I joined the club in Sydney," Chris says slowly, feeling his way, not even sure what to say to make things better. "My manager sponsored me in, paid for my first year's membership, told me to go there. I was twenty. I'd just got my first big acting break and he was sure there'd be more if I didn't get outed. I'd barely done anything even outside the club at that point, I was too scared of getting caught and my dad was a lot more vocal then about not accepting gays."

"You were a virgin?" Matt interjects, his gaze never leaving Chris's face.

"No," Chris shakes his head, "but the sum total of my experience at that point was messing around when I was a kid up at the cattle station and then fucking this guy in the dark at a house party where everyone was in costume. A couple of handjobs the same way. House parties, all ages clubs, anywhere dark, where I didn't know them, they didn't know me and they wouldn't be able to identify me later. No names, nothing."

"That's a cold way to pop your cherry," Matt takes another mouthful of scotch and swallows before continuing. "So there's all that impersonal shit and then you get sent to a sex club? How is your head not all fucked up?"

"I guess I got lucky," Chris says, musing for a moment on that. "Sex club sounds kind of awful but the place was really... nice. Positive. The first time I went I hired this older guy because he looked approachable and we went upstairs and he gave me a blowjob but then we just watched a game together and ordered some food up and he let me ask all the questions I wanted to ask about the place and him working there."

He can't help it but Matt snorts at that. "You watched a game then you ate what? Buffalo wings?" It sounds ridiculous - and not at all seedy. "And then what? You'd just go there when you got a hard on you couldn't deal with?"

Chris smiles at that. He knows it sounds weird. "Burgers actually," he says, his drink untouched. "But yeah. I saw the same guy - David - the whole time I was working on Home and Away. He was submissive and he said I was naturally dominant and he encouraged me to experiment with that. But it wasn't just about getting my rocks off," he adds a little more softly. "I liked the guy, even though I was paying him, and it felt really good to spend time with someone where I wasn't pretending to be someone I wasn't."

Eyes narrowing, Matt leans in, "Okay that, that makes more sense to me."

Chris nods, stomach settling a little. "When I came over here, he had some friends who were working the club here and he gave me their names and I just continued the way I'd been going. My career was really taking off, my manager was even more adamant that I had to stay in the closet, and yeah, I'd got more into kink and playing there was cathartic."

"So before Henry, you didn't have a relationship?" Matt reaches for the bottle of scotch and tops up his glass. "A romantic one I mean."

"No, never," Chris shakes his head. "I just couldn't risk it and I think I was so closed off that way no one even thought to approach me."

"And what changed?" Matt sips the whiskey, he can feel it relaxing him, making his head swim a little. "How did you and Henry happen?"

"We met at a stuntwork class," Chris explains, watching Matt, hoping they'll be okay, that he hasn't completely fucked things up. "We went for lunch and then out for dinner, just pool and some pints. There was attraction but neither of us was going to act on it - we both thought the other was straight - and then... we ran into each other at the club. It turned out he was a member too."

"So this club, this sex club... what is it? Because, seriously, what are the odds you'd meet him there?" Matt reaches out and nudges Chris's untouched glass toward his lover. He's not about to get drunk on his own here.

Chris nods, downing half his drink in one swallow, steeling himself. "It's... it's not just a club. It's like this super-secret organization with locations all over the world. And a ton of high-powered lawyers and security to make sure it stays super-secret." He blows out a breath, knowing it already sounds surreal. "The membership dues are insane, as is the paperwork to get in, but once you're in, they're amazing. It's focused on providing a safe place for what they call 'consensual alternative sexual expression' which includes BDSM but a lot of actors and high profile business people join because they're closeted, like me and Henry, or they just want some privacy." He downs the other half. "Don't get me wrong, a lot of kinky shit goes on, but you don't have to participate. There are people I know who go there just to use the gym and have dinner without being snapped by the paps. And others go to hire in-house staff to play with them. Like me and Henry again."

"If this situation wasn't so serious I'd think you were making this shit up." He can see the tension in Chris, that his lover is on edge, worried. "Were you ever going to tell me about it? Or were you just going to talk me into engaging in some BDSM with you, come out and stop going?"

"I don't know, I wanted to," Chris answers honestly. "I stopped hiring anyone there once I met Henry and I haven't been back on my own since we broke up so for all intents and purposes I'd already stopped going. But they also offer referrals for vetted services and that's how I found Aaron. That's why we can trust him with not exposing us."

"Aaron's a sex worker too?" Matt blinks, not at all happy with that information. It's one thing for your partner to tell you they used to use discreet sex workers, it's another to have one on staff.

"No, he's a member," Chris says, quick to clear that up. "His ex paid for his membership when they were together and now it's part of his benefits."

"And he's just an employee to you?" Matt swallows the last of his second glass of scotch and reaches for the bottle once more.

Chris nods. "He's straight and I've only had two sexual partners in the last eight years - Henry and now you."

That's something. Actually, that's a lot. Matt drops back into the seat, his legs stretched out before him. "So the upshot is, there is me, there was Henry, with whom you had a long term BDSM thing with, and before that, there were paid sex workers for what, seven years?" He waits for Chris to nod, his lover's gaze never leaving him. "With whom you also did kinky shit with?"

"Yes." Chris nods, heart in his throat again, praying to any gods listening that they'll be okay, that he's explained things well enough and it won't change the way Matt feels about him. About them.

"And there's a sex club," Matt mutters to himself, his hand brought to his mouth, as he looks out into the dark, letting the sound of the sea soothe him. It's a huge amount to take in, to see if he can reconcile what he's learned with the Chris he thought he was building a life with.

Chris nods again. "Just so you know, there's nothing else I haven't told you. You knew about my being gay, about Henry, the kink, how closeted I've been. I just didn't know how to bring this up. And despite this, and our talk on the beach, I meant what I told you that first weekend in bed, the kink is not important to me. The fantastic sex we've been having is," he says with a small smile, "and the intimacy we're sharing and building is, but vanilla to me is the gay equivalent of missionary all the time, lights off, sheets up, and we're so far from that... I think you're amazing and hot and incredible and I feel so lucky you're going to be my husband and so excited about coming out so I can hold your hand and be Luca's dad and I swear... I know who I am and I am not the kind of guy who would have let you let me into your and Luca's life without being a hundred percent sure this is everything I want. I wouldn't do that to him. And I wouldn't do that to you. I love you."

Those words have Matt snapping his attention back from gazing out across the beach to refocus on Chris's face. He studies his lover for a moment, Chris's distress and fear evident in the slight frown, the intensity of his demeanor. He doesn't speak, reverting to his habit of silent consideration; something he's done his entire adult life. It's a habit that has frequently unsettled those who are not familiar with him, but it's one that's served him well, giving him time and space to think before reacting.

Chris meets Matt's gaze, holding it for a long time before he finally reaches for the cartons of food and closes them back up. That done, he shifts his chair closer to Matt's and reaches over, brushing his fingers against Matt's free hand, keeping quiet, knowing he needs to give Matt room to reflect.

Matt takes Chris's fingers in his own, and for the next few minutes, they simply let their fingers play against each other with gentle, tentative caresses. "What I'm struggling to reconcile," Matt starts softly, breaking the silence, "is the fact you've never had what I'd call a traditional relationship, you've either had these impersonal paid interactions or the kink based and secretive relationship you had with Henry. And then within days of our meeting, you've decided you want a non-kink essentially-traditional relationship with me, with children, and you want to come out."

"I've always wanted to come out though," Chris says, every bit as quietly. "I've always wanted what I had growing up - parents, kids, a happy family. I've always wanted to be a dad and a husband. The plan was always that Henry and I would come out, get married, have kids, that's what he and I talked about and what I thought we were on the same page with, and if we'd done it, a lot of the kink would have had to take a backseat for a while, maybe a long while, anyway while we raised our family."

"But you hadn't actually made any move to achieve that, had you?" Matt asks. "Fuck I don't know. But this feels like a bucket of cold water waking me up from a perfect dream."

"Why?" Chris asks, thinking he could argue about the moves he'd made, the way he'd tried to get Henry to commit to their future, take actual steps, but he doesn't want to keep talking about Henry. The past. "I don't know about all your sexual partners or your past relationships. I see you who you are now, the love you have for Luca and Kate, and the way you and I are together and nothing's changed. You are the man I love, the man I want to marry and raise a family with and you are most definitely the man I want to grow old and grey with."

"Why? Why am I shocked?" Matt blinks at that, there's an edge to his voice now. "Because we've created this little bubble for ourselves, and I let myself be seduced by it because I was lonely and you, you're this amazing person... who wanted me, and today you've just thrown this thing at me, it's made me realise we still have so much we don't know about each other, that our joke about jumping off a cliff together is... cavalier to say the least."

"No, I know why you're shocked and I'd never tell you can't feel the way you feel..." Chris says, clamping down on his need to make things right. "I'm sorry, I love you, I'm going to shut up now and give you some space... do you want me to put this in fridge...?" he asks, nodding at the food.

"Yeah," Matt nods. "Leave the scotch." He glances up at Chris, his heartache obvious. He's pretty sure he can work past this, but he needs time and he's not about to reassure Chris if he's not entirely sure himself.

Chris nods. He rises to his feet and leans in, dropping a kiss on top of Matt's head. "I'll be back in a bit if you don't come in, but we'll just sit. I'll bring a blanket," since it's getting chillier. He puts the cartons back in the bag and carries them inside, absolutely miserable.

Matt pulls his legs up, heels resting on the seat. He reaches for the bottle of scotch, unscrews the lid and tosses it back on the table then lifts the bottle to his mouth and takes a long drink.

Inside, Chris packages everything up and puts it in the fridge. He hates that he's disappointed Matt, that he's made his lover see him differently. There's a part of him that wishes he'd just kept quiet but lying - aside from the closet issues - has never been his style.

Matt sits there in the dark, taking intermittent swigs from the bottle, not even tasting the scotch as good as it is, while he plays over all that he now knows about Chris. The things his lover has done as well as the person he's gotten to know. The man he's let into his life is warm, funny, down to earth, gentle, sexy as fuck, has proved himself to be wonderful with Luca, which really doesn't fit with what he's just been told. In all the time they've spent together not once has he felt something was off, or that Chris was anything other than what he was letting Matt see. "So..." he murmurs to himself, "does this shit really matter? He's the same guy, right?"

Everything tidied up, Chris waits another ten minutes then digs up a large blanket from the linen closet and carries it out to the deck, the sliding doors closed behind him. "I thought you might want this?" he says, unfolding it as he moves towards Matt.

Looking up, Matt tips his head in the direction of the other chair. "Pull up," he offers, "sure, we can share it." There's just a hint of slurring to his words.

Matt's words give Chris a little hope. He pulls his chair right up to Matt's and then wraps one side of the blanket around his lover's shoulders, tucking it in smooth behind his back before doing the same for himself, the ends folded in over their legs and laps. He notes the bottle of scotch in Matt's hand, a fair bit of it gone, his own glass still half full on the table. He reaches for it and takes a sip. "Another week or two and it'll probably be too cold to sit out here in the evening. Unless we get one of those patio heaters."

Matt turns his head to look at Chris, takes another drink from the bottle before he leans over to top up Chris's glass. "We won't be here in a week or two," he points out.

"I know," Chris says, blowing out a soft breath. "I just meant in the future. Other Decembers." He hopes.

"Can you delay your flying out an extra day?" Matt throws the question with no preamble. Chris doesn't go until the day after next, but the last thing Matt wants is to rush what they need to sort out.

Chris looks at Matt. "Yeah, I'll call Aaron tomorrow and have him change my flight."

There's no hesitation, no trying to change Matt's mind, just a swift unequivocal agreement and that was exactly what Matt needed to hear. "Thank you."

"Whatever I can do," Chris murmurs. He'll miss the cast dinner but they've already been together and this, Matt, is way more important. "Are you warm enough?"

"Yeah," Matt nods letting the silence play out once more. "You're freaking out, right?"

"Hugely," Chris admits, nodding. "I don't want to lose you."

"I'm not going anywhere," Matt replies softly. "There's more than just my feelings I have to take into consideration here."

The first part is a relief but the second makes Chris wonder if Matt would end things if there wasn't Luca to consider. Fuck. It's not a question he's going to ask and he really doesn't know what else to say. He doesn't want Matt feeling pressured. So instead he reaches for Matt's hand under the blanket and gives it a squeeze. A squeeze that means 'I love you' and 'I'm sorry' and 'you won't ever regret choosing to stay'.

"That was such a shock," stating the obvious Matt drinks from the bottle before he continues. "Not an hour before we're on the beach and everything was perfect, I felt totally zen about what we were doing, then you drop that. Without thinking. Do I know you? Do I know you enough to marry you? Am I already too invested in what we've already created? I'm so fucking confused."

"I know," Chris says, blowing out a breath. "I think I stupidly thought it wouldn't be quite as big a deal," he admits. "That's on me, not you. Hollywood warps your perception of things sometimes. It seems like everyone's doing something and you get to thinking that's normal. And you talked a number of times about clubs when you were younger and back rooms and all that and I thought this was just a different, more hidden, version of that. It obviously wasn't. But here's the thing. You know it all now. I swear to god, there's no other bombshells, no secrets, and you and I have talked about so much, things people who date for years don't talk about, and I don't want that warped Hollywood life. I want a real down-to-earth life as Luca's dad and your husband and Kate's friend and us up at your place working on the garden and playing with the chicks. I still want my career if I can have it, but moving forward, I want it on my terms."

"This is gonna sound fucking weird," Matt tips his head back on the seat, the bottle still firmly clutched in one hand, "but tell me what your life with Henry was like, because right now, in my head, I just think it was you bossing him around and fucking him, being this Sir-thing and it wasn't normal, in any sense, because that would mean our relationship is the first normal one you've ever had..."

It feels weird talking to your current lover about your past one and even weirder trying to describe his and Henry's relationship. "We were never 24/7," he explains softly, starting out slowly. "That's what they call what you're talking about, when you're never really out of role. He was my boyfriend, my partner and my boy. I'm not going to lie, a lot of that first year was about sex and kink. We were both drunk on getting to explore all of that with each other. But we both loved the outdoors, so we surfed, went horseback riding, Henry loves horses, went camping, did yoga, worked out together. We liked going out and playing darts and pool. We had a lot of breakfasts in bed and lazy mornings where we did nothing but just talk and read scripts together. And we called each other all the time. Texts, Skype... when you're apart that much, you have to do everything you can to stay connected. We'd do stupid things like fly twelve hours just to be able to see each other for six." He sighs. "We slowly started to come out at the club, let people know we were a couple, our co-stars know we were gay..."

"And what I have to offer you, it's not too mundane? It'll be enough?" Matt interrupts, shifting in his seat so he's facing Chris a little more. "Me, my son, Kate. It's enough for you to want to stay?" And there, without even recognising it, is Matt's insecurity about all of this. About the Chris he thought he had gotten to know versus the Chris who is the movie star.

Chris is quiet for a moment, making sure Matt sees that he's taking the question as seriously as it's asked. That he's not just delivering a quick reassurance, a gut reaction, when he says, "Yes. The things I can have with you guys are what I've always wanted, my end goals, the things I've been grieving over losing since Henry and I broke up, but it's not just that. I thought I'd be happy with us being best friends with some really hot sex thrown in, and I would have, but then I fell for you so hard and now I get to marry you in a few weeks and put the words love and cherish and til death do us part into my vows and mean them with every fibre of my being. And I know I've thrown you a curveball, but I am still the man you thought I was. I would never have brought Luca into this if I wasn't 100% sure I would stay."

"Okay," Matt swallows, nods, and then looks away with a sigh. He's deeply unsettled but not so much that he's questioning the entirety of their relationship any longer.

"Can I suggest something?" Chris asks. "You don't have to give me an answer right away but can you think about it?"

"Go on," Matt's not about to agree to anything without hearing it first.

"Let's call our families and invite them to the wedding. I can get Aaron to book another couple chalets, we'll fly everyone in and have Christmas together," Chris suggests. "I want you to know that I'm 100% committed to this, to us, and having our families there on such an important day seems like the right step. I'm not Dylan. I'm not leaving, I'm not having second thoughts, I don't have a single doubt. I want to stand up in front of both our families and declare my love for you and my commitment to our marriage and our family."

That wasn't quite what Matt had expected, not at all, so he doesn't respond immediately. "Okay, I'll think about it," he agrees.

Chris nods. "Do you want to come sit with me?" he asks softly.

"I am sitting with you." Matt's not trying to be deliberately obtuse, he's just tired, emotional and not a little drunk.

"I meant on my lap. Let me hold you," Chris says, giving Matt's hand a light tug. "You can bring the scotch."

Despite himself, Matt finds it too easy to acquiesce, he's clumsy as he pushes up out his seat the bottle still clasped in one hand. He trips over the edge of the blanket and falls into Chris with all the grace of a bag of rocks. "Fuck!"

Chris laughs, an elbow in the ribs getting a pained grunt from him. But he's so happy to have Matt in his arms that he couldn't care less and he pulls him in closer, tugging on the blanket and getting it wrapped around them once more.

"I'm not kissing you though," Matt rumbles. "I'm still angry at you." Despite that he wriggles until he's comfortable, his face tucked up under Chris's chin. "And no sex."

There's something really cute about Matt's grumbling and the way he wriggles into Chris's lap but Chris isn't stupid. He's not about to comment or even tease about any of it. "Will you still sleep with me?" he asks, tightening his arm around his lover and just savouring the closeness.

"Yes," Matt's eyes are closed and he lets himself relax. "I'm going to want breakfast in bed, just sayin'," he adds.

Something truly eases inside Chris when Matt agrees to sleep with him, the thought of being parted from his lover while together almost too much to bear, especially with his going away so soon. "I'll make all the food," he promises, brushing his lips across Matt's hair.

The emotional whiplash, whiskey and Chris's embrace combined have made Matt sleepy; he smothers a yawn. "No kissing," he slurs, reprimanding Chris as he feels that caress.

"Sorry," Chris says quickly. "I thought you meant on the mouth." He sees the scotch bottle slipping in Matt's grasp and takes it from him, setting it on the table. "Want me to carry you in to bed?" Sober he wouldn't dare suggest it but tonight seems like an exception.

Matt doesn't reply, he's already slid off into sleep.

Chris sits there for a little bit longer - thinking about the whole night - before pushing to his feet, Matt cradled in his arms. He gets the sliders opened and closed, carries him down the hall to their bedroom and, nudging back the covers, sets him in bed. Matt stirs, mumbling, as Chris undresses him, clothes folded and set aside, sheets pulled up around him. He puts a glass of water on the nightstand along with a couple of ibuprofen just in case, quickly washes up, undresses and climbs in beside Matt. One arm curled around him, Chris goes to kiss Matt's shoulder before he reminds himself 'no kissing' and settles for a whispered, "Love you," before closing his eyes.