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BLIND ITEM: "A friend of mine was once fucked – quite savagely — by ZQ. He had marks all over him from where ZQ bit him, and a handprint shaped bruise on his ass from where ZQ spanked him when he came. He’s definitely a top.’”

BLIND ITEM: "B- list movie and television actor. HUGE summer movie, and a very popular network drama. He hasn't really come out publicly, but he doesn't exactly hide it either. This isn't a post about his sexuality so much as it is about his sexual habits. It seems that our actor is very insecure about his manhood. So much so that during the entire time he is having sex he keeps asking his partner,"what do you think of my d**k?" "Tell me you like it." The guy will not shut up about it. Needless to say, despite his resume and money he doesn't get many repeat partners. Have some confidence. You are a movie star and television star and get pretty much your pick of partners. All you are doing by asking is making whatever you don't have, worse."


"What," says Zoe, leaning forward, "The fuck is that?"

Chris is about to sit down across from her but freezes, half-in the chair. The last time she sounded like that was when they were on tour somewhere in New Zealand and he was three seconds from sitting on a stool that had gum stuck to the seat. "What?"

Instead of whipping out one of her seventeen bajillionty Handi-Wipes from her Purse of Amazing and scrubbing his seat, she leans forward and points at his lower neck, where it joins his shoulder. "That. Is that a hickey?"

Zach, who is fucking around with his cellphone and sipping at something that is very, very pink, looks up. "No way," he says to Zoe.

"Way," Zoe says, and grabs Chris (who almost spills his coffee) by the collar, yanking it down to display something that Chris would have worn a turtleneck to cover, if this wasn't Los Angeles in July. Judging by the hilarified looks on Zach's and Zoe's faces, Chris is debating just getting a scarf.

"Chris, were you making out with Tiffany behind the bleachers again?" Zach says, very solemn.

"Shut up," he says, and Zoe releases him to slouch in his chair. "It was... this girl last night at the cast party."

Zach sounds like a donkey when he laughs; Zoe tends to snort, and cover her mouth and wrinkle her nose up like some really skinny pug dog. Chris scowls into his coffee and tries very hard not to kill them both.

"And she what, got hungry halfway through?" Zoe said, still laughing. "I mean that's, like, she took a chunk out of you. You might want to get some Neosporin on that." She rummages through her purse, pushing her sunglasses up onto her forhead to see.

"Seriously, dude," Zach advises, "If you're going out with women who need protein that badly, you should probably just convince them to go down on you."

"I'm really glad that we're having this conversation in public, outdoors, with four different paps taking grainy photographs of us," Chris says.

"Found it!" Zoe waves a tube of Neosporin around and Chris resigns himself to the inevitable, because he is not going to be able to prevent her from fussing over him and actually doctoring his lovebite like it's a goddamned skinned knee. But fuck it. He probably should put something on it.

"Seriously, seriously, though," Zach says, leaning forward to observe as Zoe dabs ointment on his neck, "What were you guys doing?"

"Man, I don't even know," Chris said, and the absurdity of this whole thing catches up to him. "One minute we're making out on her couch, everything's great, next minute she's latched onto me like a fucking vampire and I thought she was going to steal my soul and eat my heart. I had to make up some bullshit about an early night and bravely run away."

"You know, they have an iPhone app for that," Zoe says, "For when you need someone to 'call' you? Then you can pretend it's an emergency or something and get away. You should really check it out."

"I love how you're a bigger asshole than we are," Zach says to her.

"Baby, you don't know the half of it," she laughs.

Zach looks a little afraid for a second before refocusing on Chris. "Well, I'm glad you got out alive. Although if you turn into a zombie in the next twenty-four hours, I totally get dibs on shooting you in the head."

Zoe, finished with her ministrations, leans back in her chair and cocks an eyebrow at Zach. "I love how you're making fun of Chris because someone gave him a lovebite. You. Of all people."

Chris frowns. "Him of all people?"

"Oh Jesus," Zach groans.

"According to some blind item that Simon linked me to, Mr. Quinto here is quite the... what's the term that I want to use here?" Zoe puts on a thoughtful face, tapping her forefinger against her lip. "Let's just put it this way: Zach is not the vegetarian he claims to be."

"Give me your purse," Zach demands.

"Why?" she asks, handing it over.

Zach immediately starts digging through it. "I am taking away your Fag Hag card. Your license is revoked, bitch."

"So, wait," Chris says. It's ten in the morning, and this is only his second cup of coffee; he shouldn't have to process this kind of thing. "You bite people?" he asks Zach. "In a sex way?"

"Oh my God, I hate the whole world." Zach slams the purse on the table and hides his face in the crook of his elbow. His ears are bright, tomato-red.

"Don't they freak out? Or cry? Or sue? 'Cause this hurt like a motherfucker," Chris points out.

"I think the overwhelming thrill of getting fucked by Sylar kind of overrides the pain receptors," Zoe says.

Zach just makes an incoherent noise of dismay into his arm.

Chris shakes his head. "I don't know, man. I like my pleasure separate from my pain. Once a girl accidentally kneed me in the nose and that was - I mean, it was memorable. But not in a good way."

"How did she knee you in the nose?" Zoe asks.

"I was, you know." He makes waving motions, hoping to convey "I went down on her and she came so hard she caused me physical injury" nonverbally. It doesn't work, so he says, "I went down on her and she came so hard she caused me physical injury."

"Really?" Zoe looks surprised.

"Why do people think I'm bad in bed? Was there a blind item about that?"

"Which reminds me! There was another one about Zach yesterday!" Zoe shrieks. She points at Zach, who had raised his head for a moment to say something, but then buries his face again.


Chris laughs every time he thinks about it for the next week - just the idea of Zach chewing on somebody's shoulder blade or saying "You like my dick, baby?" makes him giggle at really inopportune times. He's kind of glad that Zach's out of town at the moment, because probably the sight of him in his stupid Where's Waldo tank top and flip-flops would make Chris start laughing again, and he doesn't want Zach to think he's a total douchebag.

It's not that Zach's a freak, or that he shouldn't have whatever kind of kink he likes, but this is the same guy who goes jogging in yoga pants. Ladies' size six tall yoga pants. He drinks his coffee with so much sugar that it's basically a dessert, he has read "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" and the sequels, and he'll call Chris at two in the morning when they're on opposite sides of the globe and have forgotten about time zones to pick up the thread of an argument about whether or not Jennifer Lopez got an asslift that has been going on for three weeks. Zach once confessed to Chris that Sylar was the most difficult character he's ever played - not because he was evil or crazy, but because he was sexy. "I don't know how to play anything but weird or nerdy. Or gay."

Zoe has a similar reaction to his; he keeps getting text messages from her along the lines of BABY CAN YOU FEEL IT and DO YOU LIKE MY DICK BABY and OH SHIT OOPS WELL I'M SURE THAT WON'T SCAR TOO BADLY BABY. Chris enjoys being the somewhat nicer person, because he doesn't send any texts like that back to her, and when he meets up with John one afternoon, he doesn't gossip like a 15-year-old girl about how Zach's apparently a lady on the streets and a freak in the sheets.

Except John's already talked to Zoe, and there's no way this is going to end well.

"Dude, blind item got it right," John says, wrestling with a sealed Dasani bottle. Chris often thinks that the biggest special effect in the movie is whatever magic J.J. did to make Sulu look like a badass. "I know this guy from the show who takes a kickboxing class with a guy who went out with him last month, and apparently our boy Quinto did things that made it hard to sit down for a week. The guy's found religion just so he can pray to Jesus for Zach to call him back."

Chris frowns. "But if he couldn't sit--"

"Apparently it was in a good way, I don't know," John sighs. "The prostate is a beautiful and mysterious thing, man."

"Oh, come on, gross," Chris protests.

John looks mildly offended. "What? You've got a problem with which team Quinto plays for?"

"Jesus - no, I went to Berkley, I'm down with the LGBTSA." It's true; his best friend in college was a sardonic lesbian who taught Chris everything he knows about cunnilingus. He got kneed in the nose about a week after Meredith told him exactly what a clitoris was for. "I just can't really integrate Zachary John Quinto, International Sex God of Mystery with Zach Quinto, Dork from Pittsburgh Who Wears Pork Pie Hats. Plus, bragging about your dick in the middle of it seems kind of... I don't know. Weird."

"Well, from what the guy's friend says, Quinto's got a lot to brag about." And John gives Chris this significant look.


And just like that, it's not really funny anymore.


It's still pretty weird, though.


"So, seriously. You talk about your dick when you're doing it?"

Zach chokes on the glass of whatever he's drinking. It may or may not be a Cosmo. "Chris!" he coughs. "Jesus! Really? Right now is when we're talking about this?"

Chris has to admit it might not be the opportune moment; it's some awards afterparty, and they're still at the part of the evening where photographers are roaming the tables taking "casual" pictures of people who are probably drunker than they should be. But Chris is on a fact-finding mission. "I'm just wondering how that works," he says.

Zach squints at him, and runs a hand through his hair; he has a way of doing it, where he kind of fluffs it as he goes along. Chris hasn't had hair long enough to do that for a while, but even when he did, it never looked that good. "I'm really not sure that sharing details about my sexual proclivities is the best way for us to spend the evening," he says, sounding a little sulky.

"Oh, come on. I do that kind of stuff, too, you know, crazy stuff," Chris says.

It's not really a lie - nobody's ever broken up with him because the sex was bad, and in fact he's had more than a few ex-girlfriends comment on how the sex was the best part of their relationship. But he's usually too busy making sure the girl is having a good time to get any wild ideas, other than to aim for an orgasm at some point during the proceedings. He's famous, now, and people other than his mom and his agent tell him he's good-looking, but for most of his life he's been pimply and weird and there were a few years where he thought a goatee was a good idea. He's used to cajoling women into sleeping with him, and he's used to working hard to convince them they want to sleep with him again. This does not lend itself to a lot of experimenting with dripping candlewax or biting people's shoulders or asking about how much they like his dick.

Zach's eyebrow twitches, but Chris can't see his expression behind the glass as he takes a sip. "I can only imagine," he says, and looks at him for a long moment, and Chris makes sure he doesn't swallow or clear his throat or fidget, because all of a sudden he feels like a small forest-dwelling rodent on some nature program.

The moment passes when a flash goes off in front of them, and Zach claps him on the shoulder. "Catch you later," he says, and drifts off.

He wears flip-flops, Chris tells himself. And sunglasses with rhinestones. He puts a bandanna on his dog whenever they go out. Chris recites these things to himself like a mantra for the rest of the night, every time he watches Zach slouch in a chair with his tie loose around his neck. It works right up until Zach catches his eye and smiles, not a goofy grin but something sharp and unfamiliar.

Chris isn't really thinking clearly when he goes up to a room in the hotel with someone named Mitzi. They run into a few photographers in the lobby, who yell "Chace! Chace! Over here!" and Mitzi giggles something about looking forward to seeing Footloose, and Chris smiles and reminds himself that he was never all that good with people he cared about.


Chris is observant; it's how he manages to scam people into giving him jobs. He can watch someone for five minutes and know everything he needs to know about them -- he can work out their personalities, which way they're going to jump and what it might take for them to give him a chance. And after five minutes of Zachary Quinto, Chris had him all figured out. Brassy and cheerful and deadly serious about his acting, ambitious but embarrassed about it, willing to play straight for television but never for the red carpet. Zach wanted to be mysterious, and as a result Chris could read him instantly. Zach was down pat the first time they met.

Except then Zach would do something that didn't fit, and Chris would be jolted out of his omniscience. Zach joined a bowling league; he bought season tickets to the Los Angeles Opera; he bought season tickets to the Los Angeles Lakers; the calendar on his fridge was Muscle Cars of the 1960's; he knew how to tie a bow tie but couldn't tie his shoes without making rabbit ears.

After a few months, though, Chris got the rhythms down, and when Zach started wearing plaid shirts ironically and talking about starting a production company, it fit into what Chris already knew about him, smoothly, without that almost-nauseating moment of surprise. Zach hasn't done anything shocking for a long time.

So it's a little unsettling to find out that, two years after he's got Zach down and dusted, there's something left to discover.


Chris has an audition the next morning, so he tells Mitzi he's got to go after they're done. It's barely 2 a.m.; the party is probably still going strong downstairs. She nods, sleepy and satisfied. "Mmm, 'kay. Call me," and she's out like a light, sheets tangled up between her thighs.

She's beautiful and she really appreciated it - loudly and at length - when he went down on her, but later she looked confused when he murmured, "So do you like it?" as he pushed inside.

"What?" she said, her hips moving with his even as her forehead wrinkled.

"Uh. Nothing," he said.

Now he closes the hotel room door behind him and makes sure the concierge has the room charged to him, before going outside to wait for his car and trying not to think about how he's basically doing the LA equivalent of the walk of shame.

"Hey," he hears behind him, and turns to see Zach sauntering out the door. "Thought you left a while ago."

"Oh. Uh, just now."

Zach narrows his eyes, his lips compressed like he's trying not to smile. "You slut," he says, and the grin breaks through.

"Her name was Mitzi with an 'i'," Chris explains.

"Mm, you do love girls with poodle names," Zack agrees. "So you're taking off?" Chris shrugs, about to say that he could do whatever, but his car pulls up at that moment, and Zach steps back. "I'll see you," he says, and pulls out the pretentious as-fuck-cigarette case that he loves more than life itself.

"Yeah," Chris says, and drives away.


Negotiations, when you're a nobody, pretty much consist of your agent scribbling directions on the back of a side, telling you to be clean but not clean-shaven (you never know what role will call for stubble), and reminding you how hard he worked to get you the gig. Negotiations, when you're a somebody, are more complicated. You'd think that would make them exciting somehow, but no.

"You're in negotiations for what?" Zach asks. It sounds like he's outside, if the occasional shushing sound of a car is anything to go by.

Chris collapses on his couch, tucking his portable phone under his ear as he rifles through the mail. "I don't know, some action movie. It's got Denzel Washington in it."

"And we all know about your big gay crush on Denzel," Zach says.

"Fuck you, Glory was a seminal piece of film," Chris says.

"I know, I know. And Devil in a Blue Dress was underrated."

"Well it was," Chris grumbles, and Zach laughs. "What about you?"

"Oh," Zach says, "I'm filming that thing in New York."

"What thing? Wait, you're in New York?"

"Yeah, dude. You should check your emails more than once a millenium." Chris makes a face. Zach, because he either has psychic power or because he wasn't kidding when he said he installed a spycam in Chris's place, adds, "Don't make that face. Your hatred of email is weird and makes people think you and your dad had some kind of Freaky Friday body-swap."

"My dad hates email, too," Chris points out.

"Anyway," Zach drawls out, "It's that Funny Or Die thing where I play a bank robber who falls in love with a hostage?"

Chris makes another face. "A girl hostage?"

"Shut up, I can play it straight."

"Just don't bite her or anything," Chris says, and winces the second the words come out.

But Zach just sighs and says, "Pine, I really do despair of you sometimes. Seriously, check your emails."

"You and Karl still having that argument about cunts?" The last time he'd caught up on the epic email round-robin that most of the cast from Star Trek were on, Zach and Karl were sending one-line emails back and forth on an average of once every five minutes. This would've been fine if they hadn't copied everyone else in on it. Reading them gave Chris the uncomfortable feeling of watching two friends have a slapfight in the middle of a party.

"No, we're not, because he finally bowed to my awesomeness and recognized that it is a demeaning term for women in the US, regardless of what use the fine people of New Zealand think about it, and he has agreed never again to use it in my presence."

"Zoe kicked his ass, didn't she?"

"Apparently he cried," Zach says smugly.


"Yeah." There's silence for a minute, and while it gets longer and longer Chris's brain ticks over the way it's been doing lately back to the blind items, to the possibility that Zach spanks men on the ass while he's fucking them and tells them to take it. He clears his throat and says, "So, I should--"

"Right, see you," Zach says, and Chris presses the MENU and the REDIAL button before he manages to end the call, fingers clumsy. He gets up and puts the phone back in its charger, before grabbing his keys and going for a long drive so he can avoid thinking much of anything.


The next few weeks are full of really terrible lunches at really expensive hotel restaurants and cafes where people who make tens of millions of dollars like to be seen eating beet salad with celebrities. Chris is more than a little grossed out by the unavoidable fact that he's a celebrity, but on the plus side, he's not paying for said beet salads and that's nothing to sneeze at.

At least the contracts are signed and Chris is told to casually mention his new project whenever he does an interview in the next few months. More importantly, he actually gets to meet Denzel Washington and he doesn't even ask for an autograph.

You are playing it so cool, Pine, Zach writes to him.

Chris scowls at his computer screen. Fuck off, I heard how you cried like a bitch when you met Bruce Springsteen.

Zach just sends him an emoticon that looks vaguely like a sad face.


It's not until a few days before he's supposed to leave for location shooting that Chris actually sees Zach again. And even then, he's not seeing Zach so much as he's seeing Zach and a hundred of Zach's closest friends, a barbecue-type thing that's celebrating... actually Chris isn't sure, and neither is anyone else he asks. Mostly Zach's general awesomeness, apparently. Someone puts a boa on the dog and soon the air is filled with pink feathers, trampled into the ground or floating around until they land in peoples' drinks.

"This is insane," Chris yells at Zach at one point. Zach's flipping veggie burgers on the grill; his apron says "Mr. Good Lookin' Is Cookin'!"

"What?" Zach replies.

It dies down after a few hours, the hundreds fading off to a few dozen, then a handful, then it's past midnight and Chris is sitting in a lounge chair watching Noah eat and then spit out the same olive, over and over again.

"You'd think he'd learn better," Zach observes.

Chris startles and looks up -- Zach's looming over him, his apron discarded at some point and his hair starting to lose the all-important gelled look, strands flopping into his face as he smiles down at Chris. "Hey," Chris says.

"Hey yourself. You crashing here tonight or what?" Zach asks, offering him a hand up.

"So really," Chris says, taking Zach's hand but making no effort to rise, "You bite people?"

Zach just blinks, for long seconds, then his face clears a little and settles into some strange blank expression. "How much've you been drinking?" he asks.

Chris thinks about it for a while, because the answer's going to be important somehow. "Enough," he says.

Zach lets go of his hand, but before Chris can get enough brain cells together to protest he's faced with a lapful of Zach, fingers digging into his shoulders and pushing him back. Chris tilts his head up and waits and wonders if anything will ever make him feel this powerful ever again, being what Zach wants. Even if it's just for a little while.

"You're just trouble, aren't you," Zach murmurs, his nose brushing against Chris's ear.

Chris opens his mouth to say something -- what, he has no idea -- and the bright bloom of pain on the side of his neck makes him gasp instead, arch his back and push up into the heat of Zach's body. Zach's teeth don't let go, and Chris teeters on some kind of edge while his body tries to figure out of he likes this or not, but then Zach lets his weight drop down on Chris's crotch, beautiful pressure just where Chris needs it, and Chris moans, "God, please," high and pleading and not his voice at all.

That doesn't exactly have the desired effect; Zach stops, of all retarded things to be doing, and pulls back to stare down at Chris. "I can't--" he starts, but Chris manages to get his hands working and grabs two fistfuls of Zach's jeans and yank him forward again, and it's obscene the way Zach just rolls his hips into it, his shoulders still taut and his arms still braced against the back of the lounge chair, like fucking is second nature to him. Like fucking is what he's built for, made for.

"Zach," Chris whispers, "Please."

"This is going to bite us in the ass," Zach says, his voice harsh and warning, but Chris bursts out laughing and drags him down for a kiss. He means to break off and say something clever like, "As long as you bite me in the ass first," but Zach tastes like wine and salt and cool breezes, and Chris doesn't remember what else he's supposed to do.

"Come on," Zach murmurs, dragging them both to their feet with his hands hard on Chris's hips. "I'm sure you're worth the public indecency, but--"

"Right, beds inside," Chris finishes.

Every time things start to feel awkward -- and it's amazing the number of times that can happen in a walk that's only, what, fifty feet -- Chris presses himself up against Zach, pushing or pulling at him and willfully forgetting all the reasons he never tried to do this before. Zach doesn't fight it, just keeps steering them through the darkened rooms and into a bedroom that's moonlit, bed unmade and sheets rucked.

"Stay still," Zach murmurs, backing Chris up against a closet door. "Let me -- God, look at you." Zach steps back, pressing the back of his hand against his mouth for a minute. Chris swallows; he's had people watch him before, desire burning, and he's even enjoyed it, welcomed it. But this doesn't feel like desire; it feels a lot more dangerous. Zach narrows his eyes and says, almost like he's experimenting, "Take your shirt off."

Chris struggles out of it, feeling the collar of the t-shirt stretch as he catches it on his chin. He finally gets it off and throws it to one side, and looks back to see Zach breathing hard -- like just this would be enough to get him off, just being able to tell Chris what to do.

Christ, it's working for him, too.

Zach looks up, catches his eye and then looks down again, focusing on his own hand as it reaches out and begins unbuttoning Chris's jeans. "You have no idea," he murmurs, "Do you? What you want?"

"I want--" Chris swallows again, trying to think beyond the heavy heat of his cock still trapped in his jeans, beyond the way Zach's other hand is stroking his neck. "I want to know what it's like," he says. It's not true, exactly, but he can't put into words what he wants, and this is what he'll settle for.

Zach nods, like it's the right answer or at least it's the answer he expected, and suddenly the gentle hand on his neck tightens and squeezes, jerks Chris around until his face is mashed against the door. Zach kicks Chris's legs further apart, shoving Chris's jeans and briefs down until they're bunched at his thighs. Chris braces his hands against the door, instinct making him struggle against the vise around his neck that's pressing him into the wood. But Zach steps in, grinding his crotch against Chris's ass -- he's still got clothes on, how unfair is that -- and makes a tsk sound against the shell of Chris's ear. "You wanted to know what it's like, Pine," he says. "You're going to find out."

"Please," Chris says, feeling stupid and young and exactly like he always does when he's around Zach.

"You say that a lot," Zach says, observational. The hand around Chris's neck squeezes, a warning, and Zach says, "Don't move."

There's some ominous noises in the background, as well as the more promising sound of clothes being taken off, soft sounds as they fall to the floor. Chris's jeans are still loose around his thighs, but he stays put until he feels Zach hovering behind him. One hand smooths down his stomach before sharp fingers dig in, scratching hard enough to make Chris flinch back and against Zach's chest. He can feel Zach's cock, hard, pressed against his ass, and he can't help the whimper that comes out of his throat.

Zach's fingers are still digging into his stomach, almost too painful, but they stop after another second and rub, soothing, down past Chris's belly button and bumping as if by accident against Chris's cock. "Oh God," Chris gasps, bracing his hands against the door as he watches his cock slide through Zach's fist, dry and hot and too rough and fuck, perfect.

He can't tell himself that he doesn't hear the snap of the tube lid, or that the feel of lube dripping down between his cheeks is a shock. He wants to, wants to flinch like this is all some kind of surprise, but more than that he wants Zach, so he breathes deep when he feels the first curious fingertip circling around his hole.

Zach's pace on his cock slows down as he eases his finger into Chris, slow and careful and so, so much better than Chris had been hoping for. He closes his eyes, lets his head fall back to where it can rest against Zach's shoulder, and Zach rewards him with another bruising bite on his neck while a second finger joins the first.

"Oh," Chris whispers, because he's about five seconds from coming and Zach hasn't even fucked him yet. He's not going to survive, he thinks, bleary and content. Worse ways to go, though.

"Chris, c'mon, tell me, let me--" Zach's muttering nonsense in his ear, but it's not nonsense, and Chris manages, "Yeah, yes, do it," and Zach pulls out his fingers, takes his beautiful hand off of Chris's cock, and grips him hard by the hips as he begins to slide in.

Chris hasn't seen Zach's cock, which is an absurd thing to realize when he's getting fucked with it, but it feels huge, terrifying, and Chris can hear Zach telling him to breathe but it's not until Zach pulls out, just a little, that he remembers how his lungs work. He sucks in a lungful of air and lets it out again on a high, humiliating keen as Zach strokes into him again, and God, this is going to be over so fast.

"You like it?" Zach asks. "You want it harder?"

Chris means to say, "Yes," or "God, yes," or possibly, "Fuck me harder Mr. Quinto Sir oh my God," but what comes out is kind of "Hnggggflg."

The fucker actually laughs. It's not that he laughs that distracts Chris (just for a split second), but the sound of the laugh -- not mean or low or nasty, not vicious and dominating and cruel. It's delighted. Happy.

And then Zach hits him, hard, on the left asscheek just as he's pulling out and in the next thrust, Chris is coming all over the door, legs shaking and forhead pressed against the wood and Zach shuddering behind him, soft words against the knob of his spine. He can feel Zach coming, a few seconds later, and he manages to twist around and catch Zach's mouth in a kiss one last time before they tumble onto the bed.


Chris must pass out for a while, or just bliss himself to sleep, or something, but it's still dark when he opens his eyes the next time. There's some wheezing sound in the background, which he identifies pretty quickly as Noah, sacked out in a dogbed in a corner of the room. Chris wonders for a second if the dog was there the whole time, then makes a command decision to never think about it ever.

Zach is sitting on his couch, watching some infomercial that looks like the bastard child of the Thighmaster and George Foreman's grill. He looks up when Chris comes in; the light from the TV bounces off his glasses. "Hey."

"Hey yourself," Chris says, scratching at the back of his head. "You coming back, or you like the sofa better?"

Zach smiles, stiff and completely unconvincing, and turns back to the infomercial. "Actually I've got an early thing tomorrow, I was wondering if you -- I mean, I can sleep out here, it's just I don't want to wake you up so if you wanted to--"

And Chris feels what this is, knows the exact tilt of Zach's head from all the times Chris has done it to girls, had girls do it to him, casual things where they were pretty sure of each other's first names but didn't have a clue about the last, and didn't really care. One night, no fuss.

"Oh. Uh," he turns away, back to the bedroom. "I'll just get my stuff."

"Thanks, man," Zach calls. When Chris leaves, Zach doesn't get up to follow him to the door.


Chris leaves three days later; it's raining for one of the three days a year that it actually rains in LA, and Chris would appreciate the symbolism except he doesn't really believe in that shit. He checks his phone, his text messages, even figures out how to get alarms on his phone telling him about new emails. This backfires spectacularly when his aunt gets hold of his email address and adds him to her list of people she sends Inspirational Daily Thoughts to. But there's nothing from Zach.

There continues to be nothing, even after Chris sends one -- two, actually, the first was just a question mark in a text message and it probably doesn't count -- to ask how he's doing. "I got some aloe for my ass, everything's great here," he says, and winces immediately, but short of a time machine there's no way to take that back. "So anyway, uh. Hope the weather's nice. Or whatever." He hangs up and debates hurling the cell phone over the bridge he's leaning against. Then he debates hurling himself over. In the end he lights a cigarette and smokes it and throws the butt over the edge, and gets a stern talking-to by a cop doing set security.


When he gets back to LA, it's not much better. In fact it's about fifty times worse, because he does see Zach, at various awards shows or at Anton's birthday party or at Zoe's perpetual come-hang-out invitation. But Zach just smiles and eases away from Chris, every time. Chris starts wishing he'd taken a photo of the handprint on his ass before it'd faded, just to remind himself that it really did happen.

Then Zach starts hanging out with a photographer -- Taylor something, who knows, a frail-looking guy that Chris could probably break over one knee and who seems to take three steps for every one of Zach's. There's talk about a girlfriend, about a friendly professional relationship, but Chris realizes that when he listened to all those rumors, he never thought about what Zach's type might actually be. Turns out it's exactly what Chris isn't.


"Okay, listen," Chris starts, "You need to let me in, otherwise I'm going to have some kind of a psychotic break on your doorstep and I saw a pap lurking around under the rhododendrons across the street."

"They're magnolias, dumbass," Zach says reflexively. He seems to think about it for a second and then says, "Fine. But if you start foaming at the mouth I'm telling Gawker."

"Deal," Chris says.

The house smells faintly of cleaning products. "Oh, God," Chris says, realizing. "Did Taylor dump you?"

Zach looks confused. "Who? No, I didn't get the part in some -- wait, what makes you think I got dumped?"

"Every time something bad happens, you clean," Chris explains. It's true; Chris remembers every failed audition and every bad interview of Zach's; he could tell how upset Zach was by how much bleach had been used.

Instead of being impressed and amazed at Chris's powers of observation, Zach sighs deeply and pinches the bridge of his nose. "Okay. And who's Taylor?"

"The scrawny-ass photo guy," Chris explains, forcing himself to relax his jaw so he doesn't grit his teeth.

"The scrawny -- oh, Tyler. Wait. Tyler? Oh, God," and seriously, Zach's probably going to crush his nose between his forefinger and his thumb. "I'm not dating Tyler. I've never dated Tyler -- Tyler's got a girlfriend with a really mean left hook and a propensity to wear stilettos. Plus, as you mentioned, scrawny-ass." He sighs again and runs his hand through his hair.

"Oh." Chris ponders this. "So wait, if you're not dating Taylor--"


"Then maybe--" This isn't the way he planned for this conversation to go. He did have a plan, too. Come over, apologize for whatever it was that he did in the grand tradition of clueless boyfriends, tell Zach that he wanted to be friends again in the grand tradition of every ex-girlfriend he'd ever had, and hopefully at least get back to the point where Zach would forward him links to the latest puppycam he'd gotten obsessed with. "Okay, then you've been acting like this just... because?"

"Acting like what?" Zach says, completely flat.

Chris's hands ball up into fists and he's grinding his teeth again. "Look, I just want to figure out what I did wrong so we can get over it, Jesus, Zach, you act like I set your eyebrows on fire or something." That gets him a smile, at least. "Come on. What--"

"I'm just not that -- I don't do that, okay?" Zach bursts out.

Chris blinks. "Um."

"I know we did do it, and I know you liked it, but i can't--" Zach makes a pinwheeling flailing gesture with his hands and collapses onto a couch. Chris sits, more gingerly, on one of the chairs.

"You mean the--" he tries to think of a good way of saying "mind-blowing aggressive toppy shit" but can't, so he settles for, "The mind-blowing aggressive toppy shit?"

Zach gets up from the couch. "God, you're such a douchebag." Chris starts to get up to follow him, but Zach's just pacing back and forth. "Look, it was just -- the blind items weren't real, okay? I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not--" Another flail. "I like lighting candles in the bedroom and putting on music and soft clean sheets and I like doing it face-to-face and kissing and saying nice stuff, not..." he lets his hands fall to his sides and looks away. "I'm sorry."

Chris tries to process the enormous stupidity of what Zach's problem is, but his brain can't quite get off the idea of Zach lit by candlelight, sweet and pliable and smiling. It's fucking distracting, is what it is. "So hold up," he manages. "You're saying you wanted -- you don't--"

"I don't want to spank you, Chris," Zach says, then his ears seem to hear what he just said and he snorts. It's a tired laugh, but it's real. "I'm just not that into it."

"That's fine," Chris says, too fast, and Zach looks up at him, startled and maybe hurt, there's no way to know -- Zach's a better actor than most people give him credit for. Chris licks his lips and clears his throat. "But just... what about me?"

Zach frowns. "I don't -- what about you?"

"Are you into me?" Chris says, the crushing horribleness of what he's saying making him seriously rethink the wisdom of not hurling himself off the nearest precipice. "You know. Spank-free."

"Jesus, I can't believe I'm about to encourage this kind of behavior," Zach mutters.


There aren't any candles lit, but that's because they're too busy kissing and peeling each other's clothes off to really set the mood.

"Please," Zach murmurs, quiet against Chris's neck. "Please, please..."

"You say that a lot," Chris mumbles back, and Zach laughs, his nose bumping against Chris's chin. Finally naked, he pushes Chris down onto the bed and sprawls on top of him, hips moving lazily against Chris's thigh as he mouths at Chris's collarbone.

"You bring out the begging in me," Zach replies after a while, long enough so that Chris has half-forgotten what they were talking about. But he manages to pick up the thread fast enough and twists around until he's straddling Zach, cradling his head in one hand, absently thumbing a nipple and watching how Zach squirms.

"I like the sound of that," he says, reaching for the nightstand where the lube is housed. "Plus, fair warning, I'm definitely going to ask if you like my dick--"

"Oh no," Zach says, rolling them over again so he's back on top. "You're the one who came crawling back for more, you're gonna take it and like it."

"Well, the blind item got that right at least," Chris mutters. "You're toppy as all hell."

Zach chuckles softly. "They got more than just that right," he murmurs. Chris wraps his arms around Zach's shoulders and holds him in place, gasping as Zach's cock brushes against his hole.

"What -- else?" he asks.

Zach grins, low and predatory. "I really do like biting," he admits.