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Let's Stay Together

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Chris didn’t think he’d ever be sad to see a Star Trek press tour come to an end. The things are torture--even with the dumb vocabulary games to take the edge off--and he always feels strung out and exhausted and shitty for days after they’re over. Especially by now, when it seems like he has been asked the same questions over and over for the past ten years of his life, one would think that he’d be pleased as punch that he never has to do another one. And yet.

“Thank God it’s over,” Zach says as he settles back into the cushions of his couch, beer bottle perched on his knee. He doesn’t sound like he means it, though. He sounds like he’s saying it for Chris’s benefit. Chris watches him tug his tie apart with one hand, then abandon the loose ends to hang around his neck as he raises the bottle to his lips.

“Yeah. Thank God,” Chris repeats hoarsely.

The New York premiere was tonight--the last official stop on their tour before they all part ways again for the last time. There was an after-party, and Chris’s head is foggy with alcohol and sleep-deprivation, and his ears are still ringing a little bit, but it was worth staying out long past the time his introverted self would have liked to be back at his hotel in bed. He found it hard to let go of Simon when they were hugging goodbye. He kissed Zoe right on the mouth--husband and babies be damned--because he has spent more time with her in the past decade than with his own sister, and that has to count for something.

The person Chris is going to miss most is sitting right here though. The person he can’t bear to miss. The person he hopes he won’t have to miss.

They have some time, but it’s not going to be nearly enough. Chris is going to be based in New York through the end of the year--almost six whole months. He is shooting a movie here in a few weeks, and he has already rented an apartment not that far from Zach’s, so it’s not like their friendship is going to be strained right away. But Chris has been agonizing since filming began about the eventual moment when they start to drift apart, when he goes back to LA and Zach forgets him once and for all. He has lain awake nights thinking about it--and when he realized that lying awake nights thinking about it wasn’t normal, that made it even worse. It took months of being sick over Zach for him to realize that those feelings meant something. It took months for him to realize that Zach hasn’t just been a friend to him for a long time.

“You think it’s all going to change now?” Chris asks. He’s aware how weird of a question it is, how much it makes him sound like he’s drunk and not thinking straight. He is thinking straight though. He has been turning this thought over in his mind for the past year.

“Hmm?” Zach says, lifting a questioning eyebrow at him. “Do I think what’s all going to change?”

“I...I don’t know. You and me?”

Zach frowns, just a little--more of a furrow of his brow than anything else. “Of course nothing’s going to change.”

It sounds like he says it out of reflex though, not out of sincerity, and Chris can’t deal with it. He can’t deal with any of it. There is something he has to do, and he wanted to do it in a better way than this, but the words are already bubbling up and out of his mouth, and it’s too late.

The most idiotic thing that has come out of Chris’s mouth in his entire thirty-five years of life is: “Do you want to have coffee with me sometime?”

It would be a perfectly normal question in almost any other circumstance, with almost any other person, but here and now it makes Zach choke on his beer and look at Chris like he is expecting an alien to pop out of his chest, and Chris can’t say he blames him. In fact, he is pretty sure that at least eighty percent of his body is flushed bright red with humiliation, but it’s too late to take the words back.

“Come again?” Zach sounds a little shrill--and a little hoarse from hacking on his beer. Chris’s face gets even hotter, and he scrubs at one cheek with his hand like that might somehow help matters.

“I asked if--”

“No, I heard what you said,” Zach cuts him off. He leans forward and sets his bottle down on the coffee table. “I’m just...confused.”

The thing is, Chris has known Zach for almost a decade. In that time, they have gotten coffee together hundreds--if not thousands--of times. They have had meals together at all hours of the day, all over the world. They have fallen asleep next to each other on planes and in trailers and on friends’ couches, seen each other in various states of undress, seen each other sick and depressed and angry and mean. They barely even need to speak to communicate anymore. So the words themselves--asking Zach to have coffee with him as if something like that requires a formal invitation anymore--are silly. Stupid even. But Chris didn’t mean it that way, and Zach obviously knows it.

“I’m asking you out,” Chris clarifies anyway. “Like, on a date.”

“A date?” Zach repeats, as if he has never heard the word before. Chris feels the blood rush unsurprisingly to his face, and he wishes that for once in his life he could have been a little more suave.

“Yeah. I want to….I want to, uh…” Chris tugs at his collar, wishing he had taken his jacket off when they walked in. There is sweat pooling between his shoulderblades, sliding down his back. “I have feelings for you,” he blurts.

“You what?”

This is excruciating. Chris makes a frustrated sound. “Okay, are you really going to make me repeat every single thing I say, because--”

Zach seems to have blown right past disbelief and arrived at irritation, because he is scowling, spots of color blooming high on his cheeks.

“What are you doing, Chris?”

“Jesus,” Chris huffs, dragging a hand across his jaw. “Can you stop asking me stupid questions and say something already? It’s’s not...”

“If you say it’s not that big of a deal, I swear to God…”

“No,’s a big deal. I know it’s a big deal.” Chris sighs. It’s an even bigger deal for Chris, for reasons that he has tried not to look at head-on. Reasons like the fact that he has never had feelings for another man before. But if those feelings were going to go away, they would have gone away by now, and Chris is too exhausted to fight it anymore. “ you not want to? Because you can just say no. It’s okay.”

Zach scoots forward to the edge of the couch, but he still seems too far away. Chris wishes he was sitting next to him instead of in a chair a few feet away. It makes him feel like a coward, asking this question from across a gulf. He doesn’t want Zach to think he’s a coward.

“You’re not into men,” Zach says, with the certainty of someone who isn’t certain at all but can’t bear to be contradicted.

“You have no idea what I’m into,” Chris shoots back.

“Are you kidding me? I’ve known you for almost a decade. Known you well. You’re one of my best friends, Chris!” Zach gets to his feet, and for a moment Chris fears he’s just going to walk out, even though they are in his apartment. He just walks a few steps away and stops though, fidgeting with nervous energy. “How long have you...I mean, do you even…?”

“How long have I wanted you?” Chris says, lifting his eyebrows. The look Zach fixes him with is somewhere between terrified and hopeful, his anger temporarily hidden. “Probably longer than I’ve realized.”

“I’m going to need a little more than that,” Zach says shakily.

Chris sets his beer down on the table and stands up, moving slowly, like Zach is a cornered animal that he doesn’t want to spook. “Zach, look, I...I don’t have it all figured out, okay? And maybe it’s irresponsible of me to risk this, but...fuck it, right?” He gives a sheepish little shrug that he knows fails to capture the gravity of the situation. “What good is being responsible if it means you’re missing out? Because...I feel like we’re missing out on...a hell of a lot.”

Zach still looks like he has no idea what’s going on. His eyes dart to the door, then up to the ceiling, like he’s searching for someone or something to save him. “You’re not gay,” he says desperately.

“I told you I don’t know what I am.” Chris takes a step forward, then stops when Zach flinches. “Do you think it feels good to realize at thirty-five fucking years old that you might not be as straight as you thought? It’s doesn’t.” He pauses, chest heaving, but Zach’s expression has gone cautiously curious, so he takes that as a good sign and blunders on. “Ever since we started filming the last movie, all I could think about before I went to sleep at night--and the first fucking thing on my mind when I woke up in the morning--was how this was the last one. The last movie, the last fucking press tour. And...what if we started to drift apart? What if you found someone else? What if you got married and adopted some beautiful little babies and...I didn’t want you to do that without me, Zach! I don’t want your life not include me. I don’t know what that means, but I...I want to find out. I want that chance.”

He didn’t want to be reduced to begging, but he doesn’t think he admitted to himself until this moment how much he wants this, how much he wants Zach. If Zach tells him no, he’ll live--he’ll move on eventually and will probably be fine again someday--but it will hurt. A lot. The kind of hurt that changes you a little bit, throws your life off course.

“Chris, I can’t...I can’t be your experiment,” Zach says.

Chris grinds his teeth and shakes his head. “That’s not what this is. Not any more than dating anyone else is an experiment. You never know going into it if it’s going to work, and...and we know more than most people.”

“Do we?”

“We know we get along. We know we have a lot in common. We know we enjoy each other’s company, we challenge each other, we make each other better, we--”

Zach holds a hand up, cutting Chris off. Then, he’s taking a step forward--then another, then another, until he’s right up inside Chris’s personal space, where Chris can see the amber in his eyes. “But do you want me?” he asks. Gently, he takes one of Chris’s hands and places it on his chest. “Are you attracted to me, like you are to women?”

Chris flexes his fingers against Zach’s pectoral muscle, feeling the way the fabric of his shirt rasps against the thatch of hair he knows is underneath. There is no soft swell of breast here, and when he extracts his hand from Zach’s grasp and trails his fingers down to his waist, he doesn’t find the hourglass curve that he’s used to, but it doesn’t really matter. Maybe Chris hadn’t thought this far ahead--hadn’t thought of much beyond the fact that he wants Zach with him always, always, always--but now that he is touching, he doesn’t want to stop.

“It’s different with you,” he says, his voice breaking in the middle. He was watching the path of his fingers, but now he meets Zach’s eyes again. “I don’t think about it I want you for your mind, or I want you for your body, or I want you for your talent. I just...I just want everything. I want all the parts of you. Everything you’ll let me have.”

Zach shakes his head, a little sound of disbelief escaping his mouth. “Why...why are you just now saying something?”

“I didn’t know what it meant. I was...I was just stupid.” It took staring down the barrel of the last Trek movie to make Chris face these feelings. “I’ve never felt like this about another guy, so I didn’ took me a while to figure it out.”

Zach is still shaking his head. “This is just...really hard for me to wrap my head around.”

“You’re telling me,” Chris huffs. His hand is still on Zach’s waist, and he curls his fingers into his shirt, holding on tight. “ That’s all. If it doesn’t work out then we can...I’m pretty sure we can bounce back from it. Go back to being friends. We can take things slow--see how it goes.”

A shaky hand comes to rest on Chris’s neck, a thumb tucking up under his chin, and Chris lets his eyes flutter closed for a moment and lets the steady warmth seep into him. Zach’s touch is tentative, but it’s also grounding, and it drains away some of Chris’s tension.

“Okay,” Zach says, his voice low and rough, and Chris’s eyes snap open again.


“I said okay.” Zach slides his hand to Chris’s shoulder and gives it a squeeze. “Let’s start with coffee and see how it goes.”

“O-Okay,” Chris says dumbly. He probably should be smiling, but he feels too overwhelmed to do much more than stare in disbelief. “Good. That’s...yeah. Good.”

Zach does manage a little smile, and though it’s cautious, it makes Chris’s heart flutter in his chest. His heart has done that a million times before when Zach smiled at him, but now that he has a name for the feeling, it feels so much more significant.

“Good,” Zach repeats. He gives Chris’s shoulder one more squeeze and then his hand slides away. His smile softens into something more natural, more familiar. “Now finish your beer and get out. No sleeping over before the first date.”

That surprises a laugh out of Chris, and he feels himself relax even more, silently thanking his lucky stars that Zach is much better at not being an awkward tool than he is.

“Some host you are,” he says as he walks back over to the chair he vacated earlier and collapses back into it.

“I’m just trying to protect your virtue,” Zach says, seemingly oblivious to the fact that the words suck the air out of Chris’s lungs. “Enjoy it while it lasts.”


“Umm,” says Chris.

“So,” says Zach.

It’s not going as well as Chris would have hoped. They’re both stiff, clutching their coffee cups close like shields and unable to hold eye contact very long and struggling to come up with anything of substance to say. Chris actually commented on the weather a minute ago, which made him want to just crawl under the table and die.

“So, how’s, uh, how’s Joe?” Chris asks, then takes a sip from his cup to hide his wince.

Zach lifts an eyebrow. “Didn’t you talk to him on the phone yesterday? I think you talk to him more than I do actually.”

Okay, so it was a stupid question. But Chris has no idea what he’s supposed to be talking about right now. All the normal first date questions aren’t going to work, because he already knows the answer to all of them. He knows all about Zach’s family. He knows about his life goals and his favorite music and his most embarrassing moments. He knows just about everything there is to know about Zach, so what is he supposed to ask him?

“Look, Chris,” Zach says, leaning forward and curling a hand around his wrist. “We don’t have to do this.”

“No,” Chris says, shaking his head vehemently. “No, I want to--”

Zach cuts him off. “No, I mean that we don’t have to do it this way. We don’t have to pretend this is different than what it is. I don’t want to start from scratch, you know?”

Chris sighs with relief and rolls his shoulders. “Yeah. Me either.”

Zach gives his wrist another squeeze and then pulls it back, smiling. “Good. Then tell me about this movie you’re about to start shooting.”

It gets easier from there. They laugh, they talk shop, they get off on a bullshit philosophical tangent about the performative nature of being a celebrity--a conversation they have had a hundred times but that never seems to get old. And this is it--this is the intangible thing that Chris can’t bear to be without.

They walk back to Zach’s apartment with hands and shoulders brushing, fighting smiles the whole way. Chris feels increasingly twitterpated, painfully aware of how many times he has to sneak looks at Zach’s profile and how much his eyes linger on his mouth. The thought of kissing another man--of kissing Zach--still ties his stomach in knots, because there’s a part of him that’s worried it’s going to totally freak him out and ruin everything, but he can’t help but imagine it anyway--how Zach’s cupid’s bow of a mouth would feel pressed against his, how his big hands would feel cradling his jaw, how it would feel to be held against that broad chest.

Chris is so busy picturing it--and panicking a little bit--that he almost doesn’t notice that they’ve reached the stoop to Zach’s building until Zach puts a hand on his arm to stop him.

“You okay?” Zach asks, his brows knitting together with concern.

“Uh...yeah. Yeah, I’m good. Sorry. Just...distracted.”

Zach’s expression smoothes out, and Chris thinks he catches just a little glint in his eye, but it disappears before he can be sure.

“I had a good time,” Zach says. His hand is still on Chris’s arm, plucking at the sleeve of his shirt.

“So did I,” Chris says sincerely. Of course he did. He always has a good time with Zach.

“When can I see you again?” This time his tone of voice is playful, and that glint in his eye is back, and Chris feels his heart rate pick up. It’s weird, seeing Zach like this. But it’s not a bad weird. Not really.

“Whenever you want,” he answers a little breathlessly. “Tonight. Tomorrow. Any time.”

Zach laughs, a low rumble that makes goosebumps break out on the back of Chris’s neck. “Not even trying to play hard to get, I see.”

“Nope. I’m easy to get,” Chris says, mustering a lopsided grin despite how off-balance he feels.

Zach’s smirk fades a little bit, and his eyes travel slowly over Chris’s face before landing on his mouth. He bites down on his bottom lip and stares for a long, thoughtful moment, then says, “I have a feeling that isn’t true.”

Chris sucks in a breath, but before he can say anything, Zach’s hand slides up over his shoulder and curls around the side of his neck.

“Is it okay if I kiss you?” he asks. Chris could swear that his heart stops beating altogether, but he can’t back down from this now, so he nods, his hand coming up to clutch instinctively at Zach’s shirt.

It isn’t even that salacious, as far as kisses go. Zach steps in close and tightens his hand on Chris’s neck and presses their lips together almost chastely, lingers there just long enough for Chris to consider deepening it but not so long that he actually has a chance. When he pulls away again, taking a half step back, Chris’s hand remains curled in his shirt while he tries to calm down, tries to decide if he liked it, if he wants to do it again.

“Freaking out?” Zach asks quietly.

Chris’s heart is knocking on his ribcage and his breathing is a lot faster than it should be considering how not-intense a kiss that was, but he shakes his head anyway. “No, not...not really.”

“Not really?” Zach repeats, sounding a little worried this time.

“Umm, can we...try one more time?” Chris asks.

Zach glances past Chris down the sidewalk, then throws a look over his shoulder. The block isn’t exactly deserted, but it’s not packed either. No one is loitering. No one is paying attention. Still, Zach takes Chris’s wrist and tugs him over to the building, maneuvers him so his back is pressed up against the brick wall, and then moves in close again.

This time he doesn’t hold back. One hand cups the side of Chris’s face as he covers Chris’s mouth with his and presses their bodies together from the waist down. Chris can feel the bit of stubble at the edge of Zach’s lips, can smell the bright woodsiness in Zach’s cologne. And then Zach’s thumb is behind his jaw, coaxing his mouth open, and Zach licks past his teeth, sliding his tongue along Chris’s and swallowing his whimper before he breaks the kiss and steps back again.

This time they are both breathing hard, and it’s at least a little comforting to see that Zach is affected too. Chris doubts that nerves are the cause of his breathlessness though. Thinking about what probably is causing his breathlessness sends a shiver down Chris’s spine.

“Now are you freaking out?” Zach asks. His eyes are still watching Chris’s mouth.

“Uhh,” Chris stammers. “Uhhh, no. I’ That was good.”

“Are you sure?”

Chris closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, then looks at Zach again and nods. “Yeah, it’s...going to take some getting used to, but it was good.”

Zach sucks his bottom lip into his mouth for a second, regarding Chris thoughtfully, then says, “Okay. I can work with that.”

We can work with that,” Chris corrects, his smile a little bit shy. He just wants Zach to know that they can get through this together, that he shouldn’t give up yet.

Zach smiles back at him, then leans in for one more quick peck. “Right. We. We can work with that.”


Chris stares down at his contacts list, at Zach’s name, for what seems like eternity. This is stupid, and he knows it. He calls and texts Zach more than anyone else, and yet now he’s worried that he won’t know what to say, that he’ll end up sounding like an idiot, that Zach is going to tell him this isn’t working out.

They’ve been on two more dates since they had coffee that first time--one casual dinner at a bistro Zach likes and one movie--but it feels like Zach has been keeping him at arms length. Their conversations are as platonic as they have always been, with minimal flirting, and though they have kissed a few more times and held hands in the movie, that is as far as the physical intimacy has progressed. Chris happens to know that Zach is usually a sex-on-the-first-date kind of guy, so he expected things to be moving a lot faster between them even despite his uncertainty. Even though the thought of moving forward makes him nervous, he is equally nervous that Zach is going to get frustrated and pull away from him.

Chris really wants to talk about it, and, because he’s a bit of a coward, he thought a phone conversation would be best, but apparently even that makes him freak out.

He takes a deep breath and pushes the call button anyway.

“Hey,” says Zach’s voice after only one ring. Chris can hear the smile in it, and it makes him smile too, despite the nervousness churning in his gut.

“Hey.” Chris flops back on his bed and looks up at the ceiling and tries to tell his heart that it doesn’t need to race every single time Zach talks. “What are you up to?”

“Just watching some TV before bed,” Zach says. Chris doesn’t hear any background noise, though. “Or, I was, before you called.”

“Sorry, dude. I can let you get back to your Desperate Housewives or whatever.”

Zach chuckles. “No, I’m good. This is better.”

A silence settles between them, and Chris is still smiling at first, but then it goes on long enough to get awkward, and he realizes he probably should say something. Just as he opens his mouth though, Zach beats him to the punch.

“So, uh, how are you feeling about our little experiment?”

Chris takes a deep breath and steels himself. “I wanted to talk to you about that actually.”

“Oh?” Zach sounds immediately wary, which makes Chris’s heart clench a little bit. He wonders what it will take to get Zach to believe he actually wants this.

“ just seems like things have been going kind of...slow?”

Zach sighs into the phone. “We’ve been on three dates. How fast do you think we should be going?”

“Come on, Zach. You know what I mean.” Or maybe he doesn’t. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking, since Chris really doesn’t want to explain himself. His cheeks are already flaming, and he hasn’t even said what’s on his mind yet. “Maybe we’ve only been on three dates, but we’ve known each other forever, and it just seems like we should be...I don’t know. Farther along than we are.”

“Chris,” Zach says, exasperated, “the fact that we’ve known each other forever is a reason to go slow, not a reason to go fast. Especially since you’ve never been with a guy--”

“I knew it! I knew that’s what this is about.” Chris scowls at the ceiling, not sure whether he’s more annoyed with himself for being scared or Zach for knowing that he’s scared.

“I just don’t want to freak you out, Chris.”

“You’re not going to freak me out.”

“Oh really?” Chris can practically hear the eyebrow raise. “The thought of touching another man’s dick doesn’t scare you at all?”

“Uhh,” Chris gulps.

“Or having one in your mouth?”


“Or having one up your ass?”

“Whoa, okay,” Chris says. He is pretty sure about half the blood in his body just migrated to his face. It’s a good thing Zach can’t seem him right now. “Slow down there.”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying,” Zach says. “We need to go slow.”

Maybe--just maybe--Zach has a point, but that’s not really making Chris feel any better. It still seems like a lose-lose situation to him.

“I just don’t want to disappoint you,” he says quietly.

There is silence on the other end of the line for a little while, and Chris tries not to panic, tries to keep breathing. Finally, he hears Zach take a breath.

“I know you’re going to be worth the wait, Chris,” he murmurs.

Chris feels hot all over again, but this time it’s not from shame. Hearing those words warms him from the inside out and sends a bolt of desire streaking through his stomach, making his dick give an unexpected twitch inside his pants. He knew, theoretically, that Zach wanted him, but actually hearing him say it out loud is entirely different.

“Yeah?” Chris says. His voice is thick and his tongue feels like cotton, but somehow he manages to get the words out. “Do you think about it?”

Zach lets out an amused little huff. “Of course I do. I tried not to let myself know, when we were just friends. But now I can’t stop thinking about it.”

“What do you think about?” Chris asks tentatively, even though he isn’t one hundred percent sure that he’s ready to hear the answer.

“I think about...your mouth,” Zach says. Chris could swear his voice just dropped a whole octave. He closes his eyes so he can focus on the sound of it, hoping that concentrating on the fact that it’s Zach on the other end of the line will keep him from freaking out.

“You think about me sucking you?”

Zach takes a sharp breath, and Chris feels a heady rush of triumph. “Yeah, but you don’t have to--”

“Hey, no,” Chris says. “Just...just talk to me, please. I...I need this.”

It’s a good starting point, actually. There are no actual dicks in the vicinity except his own, so Chris can just think about the things that Zach is saying, let himself get used to the ideas before they become a reality. His stomach is still doing nervous backflips, but he is already half-hard and getting harder, just from Zach’s voice in his ear and the slightest hint of the filthy things he might say.

“Okay,” Zach says slowly. “Are you touching yourself?”

“Not yet.”

“Do you want to?”

Chris does--of course he does--but he chews on his bottom lip for a moment, considering. “Do you want me to?”

“Yeah.” The ragged way Zach says it lets Chris know it was exactly the right question for him to ask. “Yeah, but just over your pants for now, okay?”

“Okay,” Chris agrees. At the moment, it’s hard to imagine a version of himself that can ever tell Zach no. He palms himself carefully, his touch tentative since he is not fully hard yet, and strains to hear the sound of Zach’s breathing. “So, you were saying.”

“I do think about you sucking me,” Zach says. “On your knees, so I can see your face and your pretty mouth.”

Blood rushes to Chris’s face and his dick in equal measures, and he gives himself a squeeze through his jeans, biting back a groan. “What do I…” he stammers. “How do I do it? What am I like?”

“You’re...shy about it at first. You keep looking up at me all bashful and uncertain and eager to please.”

Chris can imagine it. He can imagine it easier than he thought he would be able to--the velvet heft of Zach against his tongue, his lips stretched around him. He can imagine doing everything he can to make it feel good, because even if he is an amateur, he wants Zach to want him more than he has wanted any other guy he has been with. Maybe that’s too high a bar to shoot for, but he doesn’t care.

“I want to make you feel good,” Chris breathes. Zach’s breath hitches at that, and it goes straight to Chris’s cock, which is fully hard now and straining against his jeans. He squeezes his eyes shut tighter and tries to imagine it’s Zach’s hand clutching him, stroking him, and groan falls from his mouth.

It’s almost a shock when Zach lets out an answering groan. “You will, baby. You will make me feel good. I have no doubt.”

“Zach,” Chris gasps. “God, can I--?”

“Yeah, do it. Get your cock out.”

Chris has his fly open and his jeans and briefs shoved down his thighs in record time. He doesn’t even bother to kick them all the way off in his haste to get a hand on himself--just leaves them stretched around his knees

“Don’t stop talking,” he says, trying and failing not to sound too desperate. “Are you touching yourself too?”

“Yeah, I am,” Zach says, and Chris immediately tries to picture it--Zach spread out on his bed, working himself over with one strong hand. “Fuck, I wish I was there with you. I want to get my hands on you so badly.”

“I want that too,” Chris says--and he means it. If Zach walked in the room right now, Chris doesn’t think he would hesitate even a little. “Tell me what you’d do, if you were here.”

“God, I’d...I’d take my time with you. I’d stroke you slowly, and put my mouth all over you--your neck, your stomach, your thighs--until you were begging me for more, faster.”

The image of Zach’s head between his legs is a powerful one. Chris can almost feel that silky hair between his fingers, and he lets out a little whine and jacks himself faster, gripping himself tighter like he figures Zach would.

“I bet your cock is gorgeous, just like the rest of you.” Zach’s voice sounds strained now, and if Chris listens hard enough, he thinks he might be able to hear the soft sound of skin on skin. “I can’t wait to get my hand on it, or my mouth on it. I want to memorize every inch of you. I want to watch your face while you come apart for me.”

“Yes,” Chris hisses, his hips coming off the bed for a moment as he fucks up into his hand. If Zach was here right now, he would certainly get to see Chris come apart. He feels like he is going to shake apart at the seams any second now.

“Is this doing anything for you?” Zach asks a little breathlessly, temporarily pulling Chris out of his head. The question seems ridiculous, but then again, Zach isn’t here. He can’t see that Chris is flushed all the way down to his chest, his head thrown back against the pillow, his cock hard and red and leaking.

“Fuck yes, Zach. Yes. Don’t stop. It’s so hot, it’s--”

Zach makes a sound somewhere between a moan and a growl, and he is right there in Chris’s ear, and for a moment it’s like he’s right there in bed with him too. “Oh fuck, Chris. I want you. I want to taste you. I want to...I want to fuck you.”

Chris comes with a surprised shout, just barely managing to ruck his shirt up out of the way in time for the mess to land on his stomach as he strokes himself through it, wringing out every last drop like he thinks Zach probably would if he were here.

“Oh my God, did you just--?”

“Yeah,” Chris says. He’s still trying to wrap his mind around it himself, still trying to process the fact that Zach helped make him come, that Zach told him he wants to fuck him and it gave him one of the most intense, toe-curling orgasms he has had just from touching himself. Jesus fuck.

“Chris,” Zach groans, and then the groan lengthens into a stream of low curses, and Chris keeps his eyes shut and imagines Zach spilling over his hand and his thighs and that trail of hair on his lower stomach. His dick gives one last little twitch at that, and he moans right along with Zach, wishing more than ever that he hadn’t decided to start this conversation on the phone in the first place. If he had waited until they were together, they could be lying side by side right now.

For a few moments afterward, they just breathe with each other, and Chris tries to calm his pounding heart and shaking hands. Come is cooling and congealing on his skin, but he doesn’t think he could move right now if he wanted to. There are shifting sounds on the other end of the line though, and he has a feeling Zach is being slightly more responsible.

“So, umm,” Zach says. “Are you...okay?”

Chris huffs out a disbelieving laugh. “Yeah, Zach, I just had a pretty mind-blowing orgasm. I think I’m doing just fine.”

“You know what I mean,” Zach says, half exasperated and half hopeful. “You’re not grossed out or anything?”

Chris sighs and finally rolls to the side, then gropes around on the bedside table for some tissues. He pauses with the box clutched in his hand though, figuring he shouldn’t let Zach just sweat it out while he cleans up.

“Listen, I can’t promise you I’m going to be cool as a cucumber once...stuff starts to go down, but I have never once been grossed out. This is all weird and new for me, but...we can figure it out, okay? If you’re willing to be patient with me.”

Zach blows out a slow, relieved breath. “Okay. Yeah. I can be patient. I meant it when I said I think you’re worth the wait.”

Hearing the words again makes Chris feel just as warm and glowy as it did the first time, and he flops onto his back again and smiles, absently swiping at the mess on his stomach with a handful of tissues.

“I don’t think you’ll have to wait that long,” he says. He doesn’t want to get Zach’s hopes up or anything, but everything that just happened feels like a pretty good sign.

“Good,” Zach says. “Because I meant everything I said.”

It still makes Chris nervous to think about it all--about being on his knees in front of Zach, about Zach being inside him--but this time when his stomach flips, it takes him a second to figure out whether it’s anxiety or arousal that does it. Maybe some of each. That’s progress, though. It feels like there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

“What are you doing tomorrow?” Chris asks.

“Uhh. I think I have something in the afternoon, but I could see you tomorrow evening?”

Chris grins at the ceiling. He would be thoroughly embarrassed by how much he feels like a teenage girl right now if there were anyone around to witness it. “Do you want to come over and watch a movie?”

“I don’t know, Chris. Are your parents going to be out of town?” Apparently Zach picked up on the teenage girl vibe he was putting out after all. Astute motherfucker.

“Fuck you,” Chris says with a laugh. “Are you coming over or not?”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” Zach says, his voice softer this time but no less amused. “I’ll have my older brother buy us some beer.”

“You’re a jerk.”

“I know.” He sounds almost proud of that fact.

Chris lets out a long-suffering sigh, but he is having no luck with wiping the grin off his face. “Okay, well. I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“Good night, Chris,” Zach says.

“Good night, Zach.”

As soon as the line goes dead, Chris drops his phone and rolls over and buries his face in the pillow. Even then, he can’t stop smiling.