Nick watched. Every movement engulfed his senses. He hadn’t noticed when it had become this strong. There had always been something about him, something that drew him to Zak. But now it was almost as if it had become a full blown addiction. Through the lens of the camera it was okay. At least that’s what he had convinced himself. Now… now even just sitting here across from him at dinner, he noticed it. Every movement had a musical score punctuated by his heartbeat. Zak would look up and smile at him and the tempo picked up. Aaron barely registered in his periphery and he hated that. He wasn’t sure which part of it he hated though- that Aaron even registered at all, or that one of his best friends was now on the fringe of his thoughts when they were together. He knew Aaron before he met Zak, but that didn’t even matter now.
Zak’s leg bumped his under the table sending jolts of electricity through his leg straight to his groin. He scowled. “Sorry, dude. Damn friggin small tables,” Zak mumbled between bites. Nick just shrugged and tore into his ribs. Aaron started in on what they discovered that day about their investigation location for the next night. Their chatter became background noise as Nick picked up a rib, cleaning the meat off with his teeth and sucking on the bone.
Zak looked up and stared quizzically at him. “Good ribs?” He hadn’t noticed the loudness of his sucking the meat off the bone, nor that he was staring at Zak while he did it.
He coughed. “Yeah, sorry.” He laughed uncomfortably.
Walking back to the hotel from the restaurant, Nick shoved his hands in his pockets. This evening was weird. Something was off. Something was off about him and he thought Zak had noticed. Aaron grinned at him. “Time to go call the wife?”
Nick scowled again. “Yeah, I guess so.”
“Too bad,” Zak said, pointing down the street. “Aaron and I were thinking about hitting up that bar down there. If she lets you off the phone you should join us.” Nick nodded. He wanted to. Really wanted to. But he had to call Roni and check in first. He sighed. He always had to check in.
They walked him to the front of the hotel before wandering off down the street, calling back at him to hurry up with the phone sex and come to the bar. Nick watched them walk off. The pit of his stomach burned. He wasn’t sure if it was because he knew they were going to go have a good time, dance with random strangers and drink the night away or if it was because Zak was walking away from him. But that didn’t even make sense.
He walked back to his room, sliding the keycard in and pulling out his cell phone. Flopping back on the bed, he hit the speed dial to his home number. When Roni answered, he didn’t understand the feeling of anger that welled up in him. When she asked what was wrong, he honestly answered that he didn’t know. Maybe he had just been on the road too much lately. That had to be it. He missed being home. He missed being with his wife. The alternative was just too odd. Not him at all. Not something he wanted to think about either. So instead, Nick listened to his wife’s voice as she talked about something that happened when she went out with their neighbors earlier that night.
Half an hour later, he hung up the phone, plugged it into charge, and went to take a shower. When he got out, he checked the time and saw he had a text message from Zak. It was a picture of a beer stein with the words “BAR!”
Nick sighed, smiled, and put his clothes back on. Zak wanted him and who was he to say no?
Nick stepped into the bar, the beat of the music echoing off the beer stained walls immediately taking him over. Scanning the crowd, he quickly found Zak and Aaron off in a corner, talking animatedly to each other and a couple other people. He stopped at the bar first, picking up a beer and opening a tab, before making his way over to the small group. Zak grinned at him. He was drunk, as Nick had suspected.
Aaron was equally drunk, which made them for an interesting pair. Nick couldn’t quite follow the conversation… something about aliens and the color blue, but he wasn’t sure. Following beer logic while sober was never one of his fortes. So he was content being the watcher, until Zak reached out, grabbed his arm and pulled him in tight. The topic of conversation had stalled and Zak’s arm wrapped tight around Nick’s shoulders as he started in on the morgue story from their NJ asylum lock down, laying it on thick about how he almost had a panic attack because they couldn’t find Nick. He could feel Zak’s breath against his cheek and felt himself flush. This story was not his favorite, though he would never let his friends forget it. They had a standing agreement that Nick did not do morgues unless it was his idea and surprisingly, Zak stood by it.
Suddenly the warmth from Zak’s arm left him. He had moved on, wrapping his arm around Aaron’s shoulders now, regaling how Aaron had lost his marriage and tested his faith in this job but he hadn’t quit yet. Nick frowned as Aaron and Zak leaned into each other. Aaron’s arm wrapped easily around Zak. He didn’t like this feeling that swelled up in him. Something felt… off… You shouldn’t want to tell one of your best friends to back off the other. Because really, what would that be about?
Then Zak turned and grinned at him, moving forward. He couldn’t understand what he was saying, but he saw the fall start. Tripping over his own feet, Zak fell forward. Nick felt like he was watching it in slow motion, Zak coming directly at him. All he could do was hold out his arms and hope for the best. He landed directly on him, beer from the bottle in his hand splashing all over both of them as Zak flailed. Nick caught him, Zak’s face landing in his neck, hands clutching to his arms. “Dude, I am so sorry!” he started, righting himself from Nick’s embrace.
Nick brushed him off but looked down at his shirt. He was going to have to wash this before throwing it in his suitcase. No way all of his clothes needed to smell like beer. But Zak was pulling him. “Dude, its fine, really.”
“No, no. Come on. I’ll clean us up,” Zak told him, pulling him towards the bathroom.
The door gave way to a dingy, dark bathroom with a single flickering bulb. There was barely enough room for the both of them to fit, but Nick wasn’t given a choice. Zak pulled him in and closed and locked the door. “Take it off.”
Nick blinked. “What?”
Zak rolled his eyes. “Take off your shirt,” he answered, pulling his own over his head.
Nick stared. He had seen Zak take his shirt off before and never thought anything of it. But he had never seen it this close. His body looked hand crafted, with just a little wear from travel. He was tempted… so tempted… to just reach out…. Hands on the hem of his shirt pulling yanked him out of his stupor. Nick brushed Zak’s hands off his shirt. There was no way Zak Bagans was pulling his shirt over his head. Nick pulled the cotton up and over his head, handing it to Zak. Running it under water slightly, he rubbed the cotton together, attempting to rinse out the beer. He washed his own shirt and handed Nick’s over to him.
Nick snorted. “I am not putting on a wet shirt.”
Zak stood up and faced him, their bodies inches from each other. His eyes flicked down for an instant, but Nick caught it. Straightening, he brushed past Zak and walked out of the tight bathroom. He pulled the wet shirt over his head and walked out of the bar, down the street and back to their hotel.
Back in his hotel room, Nick ripped off his shirt and flung it towards his suitcase. Flopping down on the bed, he stared at the ceiling. What the fuck was THAT about? Zak looking at him like that. Men don’t do that. Zak checked him out. Zak checked HIM out. He was drunk. That had to be the only reason. Had to be. Any other reason… any other reason and he’d have to quit.
A hard knock sounded at the door. Nick stood up, and looked through the peephole. Zak stood there, wearing a fresh tshirt, hands in his pockets. Nick sighed and opened the door, quickly realizing he was still shirtless. “I’m sorry,” Zak said quietly.
Nick sighed and stepped back, letting him in. He closed the door and grabbed a clean shirt from his suitcase, slipping it on. “You’ve sculpted up,” Zak said, sitting on the bed, facing Nick, who was still standing at his suitcase.
Nick blinked. “What?”
Zak shifted on the bed. “In the bathroom, I noticed you’ve taken my advice. You’ve sculpted up. You look good.”
Nick blushed and crossed his arms over his chest. Men did not compliment other men’s chests. “Did you leave Aaron at the bar?”
“Yeah, I told him I had to come back and change.” He reclined on the bed, resting on his elbows. “You going to come back to the bar with me?”
He shook his head. “No, I don’t think I should.”
Zak visibly deflated. “I’m sorry if I…”
Nick cut him off. “No, you didn’t. Its just been a long day. Got a lot on my mind.”
“Well let me text Aaron. You and I can go down to the bar or just stay here and talk. We haven’t done that in awhile,” he said, pulling his cell phone out of his pocket.
Nick’s heart started racing. Zak was the last person that he wanted to discuss his issues with, but the man was already texting. Instead, he managed, “I don’t want to go to the bar.”
Zak nodded, kicking off his shoes and scooting up on the bed. “We can stay here then.”
He groaned inwardly and looked down at his feet. How in the hell was he going to get drunk, persistent Zak out of his room? A pen smacked him square in the chest.
“Dude, its just me. Stop standing there looking all awkward,” Zak said from the bed.
Nick groaned at him, but sat down in the chair opposite the bed. “Zak, I just don’t want to talk tonight.”
“Do you have a problem with Aaron?”
The question caught him off guard. Why in the world would he have a problem with Aaron? “No, why?”
Zak shrugged, playing with bedspread. “You seem pissed off at him. What did he do man?”
Nick considered it. “I don’t have anything to be pissed off at Aaron for.” There’s just something about you…
Zak sat up suddenly. “You’re having an affair.”
“What the fuck?” Nick started. “I am NOT having an affair. Where the
HELL would you even get that?”
Zak smirked. “At least I got a reaction out of you. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong dude?”
Nick sat back in the chair, leaning his head against the wall, staring at Zak. The dim hotel light shone just right on his overly tan skin. His shirt was tight over his chest and the sleeves barely fit his arms. Nick closed his eyes. “Why did you check me out in the bathroom?”
Nick sighed and opened his eyes, staring at Zak laying on his hotel bed. “Why did you check me out in the bathroom? You fuckin told me I had a nice chest, man. What’s that about?”
Zak sat up, anger evident in his voice. “I didn’t check you out, man. And I told you you had a nice chest because you’ve obviously been working on it. What the fuck, bro?”
Nick shook his head and sighed. “I don’t know man. This whole…” He waved his hand around the hotel room. “I’ve been gone too long. I think we need a break man. For my sanity. For our sanity.”
Zak stared hard at him from across the room, as if he wasn’t satisfied with that answer. “How long of a break? Want to just postpone next week’s lockdown?”
Nick leaned forward in the chair and put his head in his hands. “I don’t know dude. I might need a longer break than that. A month, maybe a couple.”
“What the fuck, Nick?” The bedsprings squeaked as Zak got up from the bed. He sat down again on the edge of the bed, right in front of Nick. “You’re not quitting.”
Nick looked up at him. “I don’t know man. I think I’m going crazy.”
Zak snorted. “We’re all crazy, Nick. Look at what we do!” He sank down to his knees in front of him and clasped his hands. “I will beg you not to leave the group. Don’t leave me with Aaron dude. Don’t do that to me. We’ve been together for over ten years now.”
Nick grimaced at his choice of words. Been together for over ten years… Zak’s hands rested on Nick’s knees as he started the pouty lip. Nick jumped up at the touch and immediately regretted it. Zak’s face was at the perfect height… He shook his head and walked over to his suitcase, folding clothes and rearranging things just to be busy. “No, I won’t leave. I just need some time.”
Zak got up off his knees. “Ok, we’ll take a couple weeks off.” Nick nodded towards his clothes. “You sure you’re ok, dude?” He walked over, resting a hand on his arm.
Nick yanked his body away, his shoulder on fire from the soft touch. “Yes, Zak, Jesus. Will you just leave?” Nick practically screamed.
Pain etched across the fine features of the older man’s soft face. “Fine,” he said, and turned and walked out the door.
Nick threw his cell phone in the drawer of the desk in his home office and slammed it closed. Zak’s incessant texting was getting annoying. He didn’t want to hang out. He didn’t want to answer his text messages. He didn’t want to answer his calls. Hell, he didn’t even want to THINK about him. Nick sighed. Roni was gone for the afternoon. The house was quiet. He reveled in the moment. Alone. Finally.
He pulled up the internet and checked his personal email. No business today. No business this week. They took two weeks off for “personal” reasons. His phone buzzed in the drawer and Nick scoffed. Yanking open the drawer, he pulled out his phone. Twenty-three text messages. Nineteen of them were from Zak. He opened the last message. Are you mad at me?
Nick sighed and finally texted back. Not mad. On vacation. From everything. He wanted to add in especially from you but he didn’t.
Within seconds his phone buzzed in his hands. Okay. Nick sighed again and leaned back in his chair. His phone buzzed again. Miss you man.
Nick groaned. Grown men were not supposed to miss other grown men. He fought the urge to respond, but left the message up on his phone until it went to a black screen. Zak missed him. Zak wanted to hang out with him. Roni was out for the afternoon. He could invite him over. Could. Instead he pulled up the internet and typed in a familiar website. Turning the volume on low, he got comfortable in his chair. He picked a movie, pulling his soft cock out of his basketball shorts, stroking it slowly. Closing his eyes as the movie loaded, Nick sat back farther, spreading his legs a little wider. He groaned as his hand slowly worked his cock, fingers stroking slowly, brushing over the head. Images flashed behind his eyelids. Zak’s fingertips brushed over his arm in the darkness of the hospital hallway… Nick reached out and pushed him against the wall, covering Zak’s body with his own…
Nick jolted in the chair as the loud porn music started over his speakers. The woman on the screen looked like his wife. He scoffed and clicked out of the movie. Last thing he needed to be reminded about while watching porn was his wife. Hand on his cock, Nick sighed. He was not going to jack off thinking about Zak. Was not. Not. His eyes glanced over at his cell phone and he hit the button once to come out of sleep mode. “Miss you” flashed up on the screen and his cock twitched. He was not gay. Or even bi.
He clicked on Google and searched for gay porn. He would prove it. He pulled up . This site seemed ok. There were women and men on it and he was built like Zak… But not that that mattered. He picked a video, allowing it to load, looking at the pictures of the other videos. This guy was good looking, with a nice smile. The video started and Nick was dead set on not enjoying it. So deadset that when the two minute segment was over, he hit replay just to be sure he wasn’t enjoying it. Next, he clicked on a video with one of the girls. This one was a blond with huge tits. He could work with that. The two minute preview started and he actually scoffed at the way she sucked cock.
His eyebrow arched and stopped a moment. He clicked on the previous video one more time and determined that the guy sucking off Cody was far better at it than that blond girl. That didn’t even make sense… but… well maybe… Men know what men like. So, he guessed it would sort of make sense that this guy would know what felt good.
“NICK?” Roni screeched walking into the office.
“SHIT!” he screamed, clicking furiously to exit the gay porn while trying to shove his rock hard cock back in his basketball shorts.
“The hell?” she demanded.
Roni crossed the small office, arms crossed, to stand by Nick’s side in the desk chair. Nick’s heart raced. He had been caught. “You leave me for weeks at a time and when you’re finally home you’d rather jack off than have sex with me?” she practically shouted.
Nick hesitated with his response and her face seemed to grow redder. “You weren’t here…,” he managed. “It had been so long… I couldn’t…” He could feel his face growing hot with embarrassment. She had caught him, but he didn’t think she had seen the computer screen. He stood up, his erection fading and wrapped her stiff body in his arms. Roni finally gave in, returning the embrace.
“I just want to be your wife, Nick,” she whispered. “And everything that comes with it.”
Nick sighed. “Tonight, I want to take you out for a fabulous evening. Just the two of us.”
Nick grunted in frustration, rolling off his wife. “I’m sorry,” he whispered. She simply rolled over, leaving him to his thoughts and embarrassment. Nick lay next to her, wanting to wrap his arms around her and tell her it’s not her fault. There’s nothing she can do. His demons were far too large and Zak shaped. He wasn’t quite sure what to say so he didn’t say anything at all. Nick had no excuse other than the fact that he was tired. Anything else would have sounded ludicrous … and so not straight. Which he was… completely. He had been straight for all his life, why would it suddenly change now?
“Do you still love me?”
It was so quiet he barely caught it. He rolled over, wrapping her in his arms and clenching his eyes shut, not daring let the tears cascade out. “Of course I do. I don’t know what’s wrong. I’m sorry.”
He heard a soft sob come from her as she sucked in a ragged breath. “Its ok, Nick.”
Nick lay on his side, not facing his wife. He knew what the problem was, but it wasn’t something that you can tell your wife that you’re struggling with. That wasn’t even a conversation he knew how to bring up. With him or her. After all… he didn’t even know…
The next night found him three cities over. Nick stood outside the club, the music pounding in time with his rapid heartbeat. He knew he should have brought someone with him, just in case, but he wasn’t ready for that yet. He wasn’t ready to let someone in his head. Nick shoved his hands in his pockets and stepped forward. The bouncer asked for his ID. There didn’t seem to be any recognition in the bouncer’s eyes, no smirk showing on his face as his ID was handed back to him. The door opened, and Nick stepped through. The music immediately engulfed him and the beats reminded him of Zak. The neon lights flashed, disco balls spun on the ceiling. He felt eyes on him as he made his way to the bar. He hadn’t decided on a plan once he made it through the door. The bartender smiled as he approached. “What’s your pleasure, sexy?”
Nick returned his smile and ordered a beer. He couldn’t help but smile to himself just a little. He felt like he was getting away with something, a dirty little secret maybe. “Where’s your boyfriend tonight?” a voice asked next to him.
Nick took his beer as it was set in front of him, laying money down. “Don’t have one,” he answered. He turned towards the voice. A blond man stood next to him, smiling coyly.
“That’s a shame.” The stranger sat down next to him. “So what brings you here then?”
Nick shrugged and looked down at his beer. “Just never been.”
The blond smiled. “You’re new, aren’t you?”
Nick blushed and gave a single nod. “Just trying to figure a few things out.”
The stranger’s smile widened. “How about I help you figure it out?”
Nick’s blush deepened. “Oh, I don’t think… That’s not…”
“Reed.” The blond stuck his hand out. “Why don’t we just go to a quiet corner and talk, no pressure.”
“Nick and sounds good.” He took Reed’s and shook it. Fingers tightened around his as Reed led them towards a seating area by the wall.
Nick sat down on the couch, eying the couple making out heavily next to him. Reed sat next to him, almost a little too close for comfort. His arm snaked around Nick’s shoulders, pulling him closer. Mild panic turned to excitement. Hot breath grazed his ear. “Is this okay?” Reed breathed. Nick nodded, his hand tightening around his beer. He moved his other hand to Reed’s leg. Soft lips grazed his cheek and his temperature rose. “Someone’s getting more comfortable.”
Nick licked his lips. The music in the club was drowned out by the heartbeat in his ears. Turning his head slightly to look at Reed, his lips were attacked. Reed’s hand cupped his face as the shocked surprise left Nick, the kiss finally being returned. His body responded whole heartedly to the soft touch. Nick deepened the kiss, his body willing to go way farther than his mind. Reed’s hand moved down to his chest, thumb rubbing circles over his hardening nipple.
Groaning into the kiss, Nick unconsciously spread his legs a little wider, his cock throbbing against the zipper of his jeans. All thought processes seemed to stop in his mind. The only thing that existed was this moment and he was going to live every minute of it. His entire body was on fire with the touch of this stranger… this other man… Nick felt the outer reaches of him mind attempt to fight with logic, but as Reed’s hand sank lower, cupping his throbbing cock, those voices dimmed even more.
Reed broke the kiss and sank to his knees in front of Nick’s spread legs. Seconds later, Nick’s eyes rolled into the back of his head. Images of Zak flashed on the backs of his eyelids and he decided that he needed to talk to him… tonight.
Nick walked out of the club, Reed’s phone number in his phone and a smile on his lips. His body thrummed with satisfaction and adrenaline. Getting into his car, Nick pulled out his cell phone and dialed Zak’s number. “Nick! God, are you ok?” Zak exclaimed into his ear.
Nick smiled into the receiver. “I am fucking fantastic, Zak.”
There was a moment of silence on the phone. “Are you ok?”
Nick laughed and started his engine. “I’ve never felt better, actually,” he laughed as he pulled out of the parking space. “But I need to see you.”
“Okay, I’m home. You can come over.”
“Okay, I’ll be there in an hour.”
“An hour? What the fuck? Where are you?” Zak screeched.
“I’ll tell you about everything when I get there.”
Zak sat on his couch staring at Nick. The man was simply glowing. It was so weird. Two weeks ago he wasn’t even sure if he would be returning to the show. “So vacation worked?” he asked, popping the top on his beer.
Nick took a long swig out of his own beer, carefully watching Zak over the bottle. He finally felt that he could fully appreciate everything that Zak had to offer. He set his beer down on the table and nodded. “Vacation has definitely worked. I needed this time.”
Zak nodded back. “You seemed pissed at the world man. I was worried about you.”
Nick sighed. “I know, and I’m sorry. I’ve had…” He picked up his beer and downed it quickly. “I’ve had an issue that I needed to figure out.”
Zak watched him carefully. “So… you figured it out?” Nick nodded. “…. Do you want to talk about it?”
This was starting to not seem like such a great idea. Nick’s palms started to sweat and his heartbeat raced. “I cheated on Roni. I went looking to cheat on her.”
Zak stared at him from across the couch. “You what?”
Nick looked down at the tattoo on his arm, feeling the full impact of his actions. “I cheated on her…”
“Okay… so are you getting a divorce?” Zak asked, trying to process.
“Once I tell her, I’m sure she’ll file.”
“Well, I mean, maybe she won’t,” he offered. “Being on the road so much and all and if it was just once.”
Nick nodded, “Just once. Tonight.” The surprise on Zak’s face was almost satisfying.
“Tonight? Is that where you were? Oh my God, did you fall in love with another woman?”
Nick shook his head and smiled. “Nah. I drove an hour outside of town.” He breathed deep. Moment of truth. “To a gay club where I didn’t think anyone would really recognize me and they didn’t.” Zak’s jaw dropped but he didn’t say anything. “I just wanted to see… I wanted to know if what I had been feeling… If I was… you know…”
“So you’re gay?” he blurted.
Nick thought for a second. “No… I would say bi.”
Zak nodded. “Okay, okay… so you… on Roni… with a man?”
Nick nodded. “His name is Reed.” Nick sat back against the couch, rubbing his hands over his face. “He gave me the best blowjob I have ever had in my life, Zak.”
Zak sat, still staring, not quite sure on what to say to respond to that. “Well, is Reed a good guy? Was he clean?”
Nick hadn’t even considered that. “He just went down on me. There was no… we didn’t…”
“Fuck,” Zak finished for him.
“Right. I kind of wanted to save that.”
“Dude, its like losing your virginity for a second time. That’s kind of cool.”
Nick laughed. “Yeah, it kind of is.”
Zak stood and retrieved new beers for both of them. “So, are you and Reed dating? Do you have like, any crushed on anyone I know?”
Nick smirked. “Nah, Reed and I aren’t dating. He’s just a guy I met at a club. There is this one guy that I’m kind of interested in though.”
Zak’s eyebrows arched. “Who is he?”
Nick shook his head. “I’m not comfortable with that yet.”
“Well then at least tell me about him. I’m trying here, man.”
Nick smiled broadly at him. “You have no idea how long I’ve been struggling with this. It’s been so hard.”
“So this is the reason why you ran out of the bathroom at the bar? And why you didn’t want me to touch you in your hotel room?”
Nick’s body thrummed again with the mention of him touching Zak in the hotel room. He nodded. “It is. I didn’t want to deal with those feelings yet.”
“So, tell me about this guy!” Zak took a long drag off of his beer. “Since this is your first, what? Man crush?”
Nick blushed. “He’s got wonderful deep blue eyes. They show more emotion than he thinks sometimes, and he can never hide what’s in them. They give him away every time.”
“Sounds dreamy,” he teased.
Nick rolled his eyes. “Shut up.” He set his beer down and scooted a little closer to him. “He’s a little shorter than me, but not by much. He’s a bigger guy, muscular, but a complete pushover. Something else he doesn’t show everyone.”
“Sounds like you know him pretty well.”
He nodded. “I do.”
“Is he gay? Does he know?”
Nick shrugged, scooting ever so slightly closer to Zak as discretely as he could. “No idea and I don’t think so. I think if he knew he would have said something about it. He doesn’t keep secrets very well.”
“Do I know him?” Nick nodded and Zak thought. “It’s not Aaron is it?” Nick shook his head, picking up his beer and draining the rest of it. “Adam? Nah… Mike?”
Nick shook his head again. “No, none of the crew.”
“Billy doesn’t have blue eyes…”
Nick sighed. “Zak, I couldn’t stay in that bar bathroom with YOU. I couldn’t stand to be alone in my hotel room with YOU touching me.”
Realization flooded the chiseled features. “Oh… you have a crush on me?” he said slowly.
He nodded and blushed a deep crimson.
Zak stood, looking down at Nick sitting on his couch. Panic raged through his eyes and his body stiffened.
“Um, should I go?” Nick asked.
Zak’s mouth worked. “Yeah, yeah, I think that’s a good idea.”
Nick stood up, rejected. He stepped outside the door and heard it slam behind him. Leaning against the wall he closed his eyes, his heart shattering in his chest. Inside, he heard glass shatter.
Nick sat in his car in his driveway. Roni walked by the window and his heart broke just a little bit more. Tears stained his face. He knew when he walked in that she would ask what was wrong. How could he tell her? Zak rejected me. I told him my feelings and I was kicked out. No.
Slowly, he got out of his car and walked inside. “Nick?” Roni called from up the stairs.
“Yeah. I’m here,” he called back.
She came running down the stairs. “You’ve been gone for hours! Where have you been?” she demanded, until she saw his face. “Oh, honey. What happened? Are you ok?”
Roni went to him, held her hand up to touch his face, but he batted it away and stepped back. “Ron, I can’t.”
“What’s wrong?” she asked, stepping closer, reaching out again.
Nick stepped back again, his back against the door. “Please don’t touch me.”
“Nick, what happened?” She was getting more persistent, a touch of anger and panic entering her voice.
Nick felt the same adrenaline rush he had at Zak’s place, but this was for an entirely different reason. Zak was someone he wanted to be with… Roni… Veronique… he loved her. He did. Which was why this had to happen.
“Veronique, I cheated on you tonight. I want a divorce.”
Zak swept the shards of glass from the broken beer bottles into the trash. Everywhere he looked he was reminded of Nick. He was reminded of his past. For over ten years they had been friends. Nick had never known. Zak had made sure of that. He never let on, he couldn’t. At that time, their friendship was new and he didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize it. He didn’t want to do anything that would drive Nick away. And then here tonight, the words that he had wanted to hear over ten years ago, and he drives him away.
He felt like breaking another beer bottle.
Nick’s wedding had sealed Zak’s fate. Zak had sworn off men forever at that moment. With women, he was never monogamous and they never lasted long. If Nick even said one bad comment about one of them, she was gone the next day. And then Zak stopped caring. He had settled into the friend category. But now, now! What the hell? Was Aaron around the corner with a camera? Was this going to be a new vlog?
He grabbed a wine glass from his kitchen counter and chucked it into the wall. The glass made a loud, satisfying sound upon impact, pieces of glass going everywhere. He grabbed another and chucked that one at a different wall. One by one, each wine glass met its fate. The carpet shone like diamonds in the soft lighting. “Fuck,” Zak said outloud. He was surprised his neighbors hadn’t come by to see what was going on. Opening the fridge door, he grabbed the bottle of wine he had been saving. Uncorking it was a pain, but the sweet taste on his tongue was worth it.
Wrapping his hand around the bottle, Zak attempted to tip toe through the glass shards to make it back to his couch. If he was going to make himself pass out, that was the best place to do it. Pain ripped through his bare foot as he stepped on some fine pieces of glass. The surprise threw him off balance. Pinwheeling back, the first thing to go was the bottle of wine, crashing to the carpet. The second thing was Zak. He landed on his back with a loud umph, the wind being knocked out of him. Tiny pieces of glass stuck him along his backside. He lifted his arm for inspection, glass stuck in his skin and his clothes, droplets of blood falling to the carpet. Zak set his arm back down and laid there, his eyes clenched shut, and told himself he was not going to cry.
Nick stood outside of the GAC office. He heard Aaron and Billy inside, laughing. He knew Zak was in there; he saw his car outside. Taking a deep breath, he pushed open the door.
Aaron and Billy were at the computer, watching YouTube videos, but they acknowledged his arrival. He couldn’t quite make out what exactly they were watching but apparently it was hysterical. Zak was laying on the couch, cap over his head. Nick knew he wasn’t asleep. His breathing was too quick and there were no soft baby snores.
Sitting beside Zak, Nick coughed lightly. Zak raised his hand to raise his cap and Nick saw the tiny scabs along the back of his arm. “What the hell happened to you?”
Zak smirked, rubbing the back of his arm. “Got a little drunk last night and landed on some broken glass.”
Nick’s went between angry and concerned. Why the hell was the glass broken and how could he have landed in it? How drunk was he? And just what gave him the right to be upset? He’s the one that broke Nick’s heart? “Are you ok? How drunk were you?”
Zak sat up, straightening his clothes, letting his knee brushed slightly against Nick’s, sending a shiver through both men. “Drunk enough.” Nick sighed. “You know you didn’t have to leave last night.”
The words were so quiet, barely above a whisper. “You didn’t want me there,” Nick answered, just as quietly.
Zak looked up at Aaron and Billy and motioned Nick towards an office. Closing the door behind them, both men stood awkwardly staring at each other. “I didn’t say I didn’t want you there,” Zak answered finally.
Nick nodded. “Oh, so you just standing up looking like you wanted to punch me meant ‘let’s make smores?'”
Zak ran his hands over his face. He was hungover and not very willing to have this conversation in the middle of their office. “I can’t do this here, Nick.”
Anger flooded his veins. “You can’t handle this at home. You can’t handle this here. Where the hell else are we supposed to talk about it?”
“Does Roni know?”
Nick nodded. “Sort of. I told her I cheated on her and that I wanted a divorce.”
Zak’s jaw nearly fell out of his head. “You told her you wanted a divorce?”
Nick shrugged. “What the hell else am I supposed to do? I went to a gay club and had a guy go down on me. I can’t stop thinking about you! I mean… she doesn’t deserve to be married to me. I think this would get much worse for her before it would get better and I don’t want to drag her name through the press if any of this ever got out.”
The word ‘press’ hit Zak in the face. He hadn’t thought about anything leaking to the press, but the thought of it excited him. “How long?”
“I don’t know. I just realized it about a month ago really, but when I think about it, about as long as I can remember. You’ve always meant something special to me, Zak. I just didn’t realize what kind of special until recently.” Nick’s face and neck were red with embarrassment as he shoved his hands in his pockets as he talked.
Zak breathed deep and closed his eyes. The words he recited so many times in the mirror ten years ago rushing back to him. “I’ve loved you from the moment I met you. I would give my life for you. The day you got married, was the day my heart was ripped out of my chest, still beating.”
Nick stood in awe. Zak’s eyes were clenched shut, his hands balled into fists. He had been repressing these emotions for so long it hurt to let them out finally. “Since before Roni?” Nick whispered.
“The night I met you.”
“Then why did you kick me out last night?” Nick practically screamed.
The outburst caused Zak to open his eyes. “I didn’t know what to do. Over ten years Nick I had to pretend like you were my brother, one of my best friends and that I didn’t love you like I did. How do you expect me to react when you show up at my door telling me you have feelings for me after all this time?”
Quickly, Nick advanced on him, pinning Zak to the wall with his body. He could feel Zak’s heartbeat race in their close proximity. Nick’s inch or two height difference played to his advantage as he bent his head slightly, grazing Zak’s lips with his own. “Something like this would have been nice,” he whispered before leaning down and pressing his lips to Zak’s pliant pout.
Zak’s hands rested gently on Nick’s arms. His lips opened, begging for Nick’s tongue. Nick deepened the kiss, bringing their bodies closer together, grinding his hips against his lover’s. Zak laughed when they came up for air. “You sure you’ve never done this before?”
Nick laughed back, taking the liberty of running his hands over the chest and arms he had been dying to touch. “With women, plenty of times. It seems to work the same with men, just a different groping style.”
Zak laughed and pulled him closer, cupping his face, pulling him down for another kiss. Nick smiled and leaned in, wrapping his arms around Zak’s waist.
Neither one of them heard the door open behind them, but the gasp and muttered “oh fuck” from the two men entering the room could not be missed.
Nick jumped away from Zak immediately. The four men stood there awkwardly staring at each other. Billy coughed while Aaron stood staring.
“So um, how’s it going?” Nick managed, his face burned from embarrassment.
Aaron still stood there. Billy motioned towards the door. “Do you guys want to um, go over the audio? Or video? Or something else to break this awkwardness?”
Zak nodded, but Nick stared hard at Aaron. “Aaron?”
“Is this why I get left alone so much in investigations?”
Zak winced. “Aaron, this is new as of last night.”
Billy walked out of the room, mumbling about setting up review equipment, but Aaron remained cemented to his spot. “Last night?”
Nick stood his ground. “I told Roni I wanted a divorce last night. I realized a few things…”
Aaron nodded slowly. Zak added, “We don’t know what’s going to happen next. Nick still has a lot to figure out.”
“Okay,” Aaron said, still eyeing both men.
“What investigation are we looking at?” yelled Billy from the next room.
A few hours later, walking out of the office building, Zak stopped Nick and Aaron after Billy went on. “Do you guys want to grab some lunch?
I think we have some things we need to talk about.” They all nodded,
Aaron still not sure of this whole new situation.
Sitting in the booth, Zak next to Nick, both facing Aaron each ordered a drink. The tension in the air was thick. Nick cleared his throat and grasped Zak’s fingers under the table. “There’s a lot that has happened over the years.”
Aaron nodded, holding up his hand. “I know, I’m sorry for how I reacted earlier. I was just surprised… really surprised. Though I guess I shouldn’t have been. Its fine, dudes, really.”
Nick let out a sigh of relief. “But I don’t want this to change anything. And like Zak said, I still have a lot to figure out… a lot…” Zak squeezed his hand under the table.
Aaron tilted his glass to him before taking a long gulp. “Well, good luck, dude. I mean that. It must suck to have your life flipped like that.”
Looking over at Zak and down at the table, Nick was silent. There was no way words could ever express the turmoil that he’d been in since these feelings erupted to the forefront of his mind. The guilt he felt was immense, even still. This decision… these feelings… they affected everything. They changed everything. Aaron was right. It does suck. Nick downed his beer. “Hopefully it only gets easier from here.”
Aaron ordered them all another round. “Well if you ever need to talk, I’m here man. Not really, you know, to check out guys, but like if you need anything, just give me a call.”
Nick laughed. “You don’t want to go check out guys with me?”
“If I have my way, he won’t need to be checking out other guys,” Zak cut in. Nick blushed deep and Aaron rolled his eyes.
“So are you moving in with Zak?”
Both men stopped and looked at each other. Neither had even considered it. Nick had asked Roni for a divorce the night before and slept in a hotel. “We hadn’t talked about it. I don’t know, that’s kind of soon.”
Zak shrugged. “You’re welcome to. If its uncomfortable for you, I do have that guest room. It could be Nick’s room.”
“Oorrr, you are welcome to stay with me. Anytime dude.”
Nick grinned and raised his glass. “To friends.” They toasted and Aaron tapped his empty glass on the table.
“I think I’m going to go. I’ll see you guys tomorrow. Nick give me a call.”
They waved Aaron off and were left alone in their silence. In any other circumstance, Nick would slide over to the other side. He coughed uncomfortably. “Should I move over?”
Zak shook his head. “I don’t want you to, but if you want to…”
Nick smiled. “I’m good here.” Zak interlaced their fingers. “Billy seemed okay today, with the whole walking in the room…”
Zak coughed. “Yeah, well… he’s known for awhile how I felt.”
“You told him?”
Zak shrugged. “He kind of guessed. He does watch our video.”
“So does Aaron…”
Zak shrugged again. “Yeah, but its Aaron.” His thumb stroked the back of Nick’s hand, sending waves of sensation up his arm.
“So since you met me?”
Zak groaned inwardly. “Since I met you.”
“So that guy at the time…”
He laughed. “Yeah, he was my boyfriend then. His name was Tom.”
Nick nodded. “So this isn’t new to you.”
Zak shook his head. “Not at all.”
Nick shifted uncomfortably. He didn’t know why Zak’s experience would make him feel awkward. If anything, it should be reassuring that he could have someone to learn from.
The body next to him leaned in closer, heat engulfing his side. Warm breath hit his hear. “Nick Groff, do you want to come home with me tonight?”
The masculine hand in his was still new. The largeness of it was different. Everything was different. Zak opened the door to his house, letting Nick enter first. He had been here a hundred times before, but even this felt different. Just the other night he had stood outside this door, exposed and heartbroken.
Standing inside the hallway, looking into the living room, everything even looked different. He couldn’t explain it. Zak came up behind him, rubbing his back and kissing the back of his neck. “Want a beer?” Nick nodded and went to sit on the couch.
Zak walked in, shoeless, with two bottles in his hand. He sat heavily down next to Nick, handing him his beer. “You ok?” he asked.
Nick nodded and smiled, taking a drink. “Yeah, just thinking about the last time I was here.”
Zak set his beer on the coffee table. “You shocked me and I didn’t know how to react. I’m sorry, man.”
Nick shrugged. “Its ok. We’re here now.”
Zak leaned close and smiled before kissing him chastely. “We are.”
Nick set his beer down and took a deep breath. Zak’s hand came up to
his cheek, stroking it softly, pulling him in closer. Nick’s hand rested on Zak’s hip, his body leaning into the kiss. Gently, he guided Zak back to lay down, covering his body with his own. Hands guided and stroked clothed muscles, slowly. Both men took their time, caressing and appreciating each other. Zak’s hips lifted, grinding up against Nick’s. Nick pulled back, his heart beating rapidly, his breaths coming quick. “I don’t… I’m not sure…”
Zak pulled him back down for a quick kiss. “Its ok. I’ll show you. Bedroom.”
Nick stood up and was led into the dark bedroom. Zak turned on the lamp on the nightstand, opening the drawer and pulling out a small tube of what he assumed was lube and a condom, setting it on top of the nightstand.
“Are you sure?” Nick asked, slightly hesitant.
Zak pulled his own shirt over his hand, his hands going for Nick’s. “Yeah, unless you don’t want to…” But his hands didn’t give him time to respond. They were tugging and pulling the cotton fabric up his body, tossing it across the room. Fingertips danced over the muscles that he had watched develop and been longing to touch for years.
“I want to,” Nick whispered, stepping closer, taking Zak into his arms. Lips met as hands worked quickly on each other’s pants. Nick rested his hands beneath Zak’s ass and lifted, setting him heavily on the bed. “You’re heavy as fuck,” he grunted.
Zak laughed as he settled himself in the center of the bed. “You didn’t have to pick me up.”
Nick climbed on the bed, resting on his hands and knees above Zak. His brain switched into panic mode. Now was the do or die time. He hadn’t been the performer with Reed… Shit, how was he going to do this?
Zak reached out and pinched a nipple causing Nick to wince. “Breath, Nick. I’ll show you.” He reached over and grabbed the lube and condom. “Do I need to use a banana?”
Nick rolled his eyes and sat back on his ankles. “I know how to put a condom on and this is so ruining the mood,” he chided, but was grateful for the levity.
Zak sat up quickly, attacking Nick’s lips with his own, sucking and nipping as he unrolled the condom over Nick’s shaft, stroking him slowly as he rolled it down. Pulling back he smiled and asked, “Mood still ruined?”
“No,” Nick grunted. Zak uncapped the lube, squirting some on his finger and spread his legs apart. Nick watched as his finger swiped over the small pucker, only entering it slightly. “That’s it?” Zak nodded, pulling Nick on top of him. “But I don’t want to hurt you…”
Cock resting at his entrance, Zak sighed and relaxed his muscles. “If it hurts, we can always use more lube, but I think we’ll be ok.”
Nick wasn’t convinced. He bit his lower lip, watching as he guided his cock in slowly. He felt the body below him tense and release. Balls deep, he looked up into Zak’s face, searching for any trace of pain or discomfort. Zak’s back was arched slightly; his mouth formed a silent “oh”; his eyes were closed, lashes resting against his skin. “Ok?” Nick breathed.
His eyes opened. Zak gritted his teeth and grumbled, “Fucking move, Nick! You’re driving me insane.”
Nick grinned, running his hands down his lover’s sculpted body, grabbing his legs and wrapping them around his waist. Slowly, Nick began to move. This was a motion he knew well. Hands planted on either side of Zak’s body, his hips rolled in a well practiced rhythm.
Zak’s hands traced his body as he moved above him, as if he was trying to memorize every line, every hair, every mole. One came to rest on the pistoning hips, his thumb stroking the smooth skin. The other wrapped around his own cock, stroking it in time with Nick’s movements.
Half lidded, deep blue eyes met browns and Nick felt his body light on fire. His body responded with unbridled lust. Leaning down, resting on his elbows, Nick’s mouth found Zak’s. Their bodies slammed together as Zak’s arms wrapped tightly around Nick’s back, his hips moving against his body. “Fuck, Nick,” Zak breathed. His breaths became shallower, hands clutching tighter to Nick’s shoulders.
Nick leaned down, whispering huskily in his ear, “Come on, Zak.” His breath hitched as his whole body tensed. Nick moaned, “Oh my God,” as Zak’s muscles clenched around him, sending him over the edge.
Zak’s arms stayed wrapped around Nick as he collapsed. He felt slightly empty as he pulled the softening cock out, tying off the condom and dropping it on the floor. Gently, he kissed Nick’s forehead. “You ok?”
Nick closed his eyes and sighed, adjusting his body so he was half on Zak and half on the bed. “Fantastic,” he mumbled. Zak reached over beside them, turning off the lamp. Nick reached down and pulled a blanket from the foot of the bed up over their naked bodies. The smell of Zak engulfed him. This was different too. But sometimes, different can be so good.