Aaron had never intended for it to go this far. Never. But it had… and they did… and man… He wasn’t going to say he regretted it, because he didn’t, but maybe he should have called Nick and warned him before their next lockdown.
Instead, here he was, awkwardly sitting next to an overly energetic and happy Zak, trying hard to avoid the accusatory gaze from Nick from across the table. Maybe a text message would have been safer than a phone call, but that point was moot now. Aaron shifted uncomfortably in his seat as Zak rested his hand on his arm momentarily while telling a story. Nick’s stare never faltered. Billy sat next to Nick in a happy, ignorant daze half listening to Zak and seemingly half wondering when he was going to shut up. In his own defense, Nick had broken up with Zak, if you could call it breaking up when you never even said you were together. Then Nick had left and Zak is a needy little bitch. ‘Come do this with me,’ lead to ‘stay with me,’ which lead to something of a physical relationship he never expected to have with a man, let alone his best friend.
An hour later found them wandering the streets of the city, anxious for a place to film some dark history. Nick fell in step next to Aaron, clearing his throat as Zak and Billy walked ahead of them. “So how long?”
Aaron shrugged, shouldering his camera just for something to do. “Not long. Look… I didn’t mean to step in on your territory or anything…”
Nick shrugged back at him. “Not exactly my territory. Zak’s a grown man. We can all make our own decisions on what we do in life and who we fuck.”
Aaron winced at his choice of words, looking around nervously to make sure no one was paying them any attention. “Look bro, I would never have… He wanted…,” he sighed. There was no good explanation. “It just happened. I think he was missing you,” he lied. “Plus, we haven’t, um… we haven’t yet.”
Nick smiled at him weakly. “You don’t have to explain it to me, Aaron. I fell under his spell too, remember? What do you mean you haven’t fucked him yet?”
Oh yeah. He remembered. He still refuses to get a room next to Nick after that one night in Los Angeles. “No. We haven’t. I mean,” he rubbed his bald head nervously, “we’ve done other stuff. Just not that.” This was so not a conversation he wanted to have in public, let alone in public with Nick while Zak keeps looking back at them, giving them a side eye.
“Like a brother,” came the automatic response, but he paused afterwards, his step stuttering. “Ok, that sounds weird now.”
Nick laughed, “Yeah it does.”
“Did you or do you love him?”
Nick shrugged. “I’m not going to lie. When I saw him squeeze your hand in between interviewers I wanted to punch you in the face.”
Aaron nodded. That was about what he expected. “We aren’t really dating. I mean, if you wanna… I’m not going to be pissed at you.”
“You should probably clarify that with him before you say you aren’t dating. And you know I can’t touch anymore.”
Aaron nodded again. The wife did step in on that one. And yeah he probably should, but they weren’t dating. He really wasn’t that interested in their feisty lead investigator. At least that was what he told himself every time Zak reached for him in the dark or whispered his name in his ear, but he always responded. “Well, just so you know, you can punch me in the face anytime.”
Nick laughed, shaking his head. “Nah, then have Zak come after me? He gets super bitchy and possessive, but maybe you haven’t gotten that far yet. Just wait.”
That night, Aaron sat on the bed in Zak’s room, listening as he showered. Lately, he would have been happy to join the younger man, but the conversation with Nick earlier laid on his mind heavily. Zak stepped out of the bathroom, white towel wrapped around his waist, steam billowing around him. “Hey, you. Everything ok?” he asked as he walked over to his suitcase, grabbing his boxer briefs.
Aaron watched as the towel was tossed to the side before the blue cotton was pulled up the pale legs. “What do you want, Zak?”
“Huh?” he asked, walking over and sitting down next to Aaron on the bed.
“From me. Between us. What do you want?”
Zak shrugged, running his hand through his wet hair. “I don’t know. I was kind of just letting this go… figure itself out. What do you want?”
“I don’t know… I talked with Nick today…” He played with his fingers nervously. No wonder Zak wore so many rings; that way he had something to do when he couldn’t come up with the words.
“Oh, Jesus, Aaron. What the fuck did you do that for?” Zak asked, frustrated, standing up and crossing his arms over his chest.
“Dude, he brought it up! He said he wanted to punch me in the face when he saw you grab my hand.”
A small smirk crossed over Zak’s lips but disappeared as quickly as it had shown. “He’s the one that broke up with me.”
Aaron sighed. “Do you still love him?”
Zak grunted. “Are we having our first ‘couple’ discussion?”
“Seriously, Zak. Do you still love him?”
Zak shrugged, uncrossing his arms and nervously playing with the waistband of his boxers briefs. “You never stop loving someone, Aaron. You just start loving someone else and hope that grows.”
A small smile formed on his lips. He supposed he was right. He still loved his exwife deep inside and prayed for her to find happiness even if it wasn’t with him. “Do you wish he hadn’t of left?”
Zak smiled, pushing him back on the bed and climbing over his body. “I would be lying if I said no, but not because of what he and I had.” He leaned down, gently kissing him, smiling against his lips as his beard tickled his face. “I’m thankful for what you and I have.”
“Would you go back to him if he wanted you?”
Zak steeled his face as he peered down at him. “What is all this about? Are you jealous? You know you have no need to be.”
Aaron rolled Zak off of him so he could stand up from the bed. “Bro, you and Nick had this like long drawn out thing… relationship… whatever it was, for years. And then he leaves and like not even two months later you’re in my bed in my house.”
Zak flopped back on the mattress, following his line of thinking. “Aaron you are not my rebound. Nick and I didn’t exactly have a relationship. If you didn’t notice he has a pretty glitzy wedding ring on his finger.”
“Yeah, but you guys went a lot farther a lot more often than you and I do.”
Snorting, Zak sat up. “Is that what this is about? Aaron if you want to have sex just say so. You know I would never turn you down.”
“That’s not what this is about!” he fussed, his voice raising.
Zak rolled his eyes. “Then what?”
“What do you want from me?” he asked again, his voice quieter as he sat down in the chair opposite from the bed. “What… I don’t know, man. I’ve never done this before.”
“I want you. You’ve been such a solid person in my life and I love being around you. You make me laugh and feel better about myself better than anyone has ever been able to. You accept me for who I am and still want to hang out with me. And you’re sexy as hell without even trying. Why wouldn’t I want to be with you?”
Aaron could feel the blush creep over his bald head. He had no idea that what Zak felt went deeper than what he had anticipated. “Do you still love Nick?” He had to know. If they were going to do this, he needed a better more definite answer.
Zak sighed. “Nick will always have a piece of me. He helped me through a lot, but what he and I had is gone. What do you want out of this? Do you even still want to be with me?”
Aaron looked down at his hands. “Honestly, before this conversation I wasn’t even sure if we could call what we had a relationship. I didn’t know what we were doing. It’s just so strange, man. I’ve never been this close to a dude before. I don’t know what I want. I mean, I love spending time with you. I like what we’ve done so far. I’ve clearly gotten off on it, which also made me question myself… I’m at that cliff, man. Peering over the edge. I don’t know, Zak. I don’t know what I want.”
Zak nodded and slid off the bed, picking his pants up off the floor and clutching them tightly to his body. “Do you want me to go?” he asked quietly, his eyes not daring to make contact with Aaron’s.
“No,” he answered, reaching out for him, pulling him in between his legs and tossing the pants he clutched to the side. “I didn’t say that I wasn’t willing to try this. I’m just scared, bro. I’ve never done this before.” Resting his face against the strong abs in front of him, he whispered, “I just don’t want to get hurt.”
Resting his hands on the back of Aaron’s head, Zak whispered back, “I won’t hurt you.”
Aaron laughed softly, raising his head to look into his blue eyes. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep. I don’t want to be the next Nick, wanting to punch the next person in the face that I see you with.”
Zak laughed down at him. “I want to see you punch someone in the face. I don’t think you have it in you.”
“You’re changing the subject.”
“Aaron, I can’t tell you that this is going to work out. I can’t tell you that I will want to spend the rest of my life with you. There are no definites. What I can tell you is that you are a very important person in my life and have been for years, years, and I want you to be even more important in my life for a long time to come.”
Aaron smiled, standing up to place a soft kiss at the corner of Zak’s mouth. “I guess that’s the best I can ask for.”
Zak smiled widely, wrapping his arms around Aaron’s waist, pulling his body against him before pressing his lips against his beard. “So…”
“So I guess this means you’re uh… Boyfriend is such a weird word…”
“It is weird,” Zak agreed, starting to walk them backwards towards the bed.
“Other half. It can sound like brother in public… people won’t think anything of it. You’re my other,” he grinned.
Zak laughed, “Okay, other. I’m exhausted and we have a long day of filming tomorrow. Let’s go to bed.”
Aaron stripped to his boxers before climbing into bed next to Zak, feeling the younger man snuggle into his side. Minutes later, soft snores filled the room as he sunk into sleep. Beside them, Zak’s phone lit up, vibrating on the night stand. Reaching over, he silenced it before checking his text messages, already knowing who it was.
Talked with Aaron today. Cheating on me already?
Zak smiled before quickly typing back. You’re the one that left. Not my fault
Bastard. Haven’t hit a home run yet though huh? What are you waiting for?
Aaron grumbled next to him, shifting in his sleep. Zak waited to respond until he felt him settle back down and heard the soft snores return. Waiting on Aaron to figure himself out. Might happen when we get home and you’re too far away to notice
Zak smirked and quickly typed, Jealous?
Yes. When are you coming over here? I feel like I need to restake my claim
Aaron just fell asleep. Over in a few. Remember, no marks. No one can know.