Ray’s wedding is as fucked-up whacktarded trailer trash glorious as Brad could’ve hoped for. It’s held out in an open field lined with port-o-potties. There isn’t even a tent in case it rains. Ray’s got his buddies from home done up in dresses, chicken wings at the sagging buffet table, and a drunken priest to officiate. Brad doesn’t know what the bride did with her maids of honor, but he doesn’t see any women running around in tails. Millions of kids pile up underfoot and somebody’s DJing straight up country with an occasional Lynyrd Skynyrd song thrown in to preserve everybody’s sanity. The entire thing is ridiculous and Brad realizes of course that not even Ray is this messed up. He's doing it for plain ole performance's sake.
“Dawg, you gotta admire the fact that his old lady let him do this,” Poke says, appearing at his elbow.
“How do you know it wasn’t her idea?” Brad replies. “Maybe Ray found the other half of his soul.”
“Dawg, I only know one person with a soulmate and it’s y—” Poke breaks off suddenly, lips slamming together like he can gate in what he was attempting to say.
Brad stares at him. “What?”
“Nah, nothing,” Poke replies. His eyes dart over the wedding party. Ray’s wife is letting him smear cake on her face so that he can lick it off. Poke clears his throat. “Maybe you’re right, maybe Ray has found his soulmate.”
“Mmm,” Brad replies, staring at the antics over his cup of beer. He looks past Ray and his wife and sees Nate stepping out of port-o-potty. Almost all of Ray’s guests are totally overdressed, because they were expecting an actual wedding and not this farce. Somehow Nate looks even more pristine than the rest of them, like the lord slumming it among the commoners. The wind blows slightly and his jacket flaps back. Brad watches Nate smile and shade his eyes, lifting his chin to the sky, completely unselfconscious.
When he looks back at Poke, he finds him staring at Brad with a nonplussed expression, arms crossed. “What?” He repeats, but Poke shakes his head and walks away. Brad turns to look back at Nate and their eyes connect through the shifting melee of fake hillbillies. Nate grins crookedly at him.
Evan looks surprisingly fey without his do-rag. Like a little boy whose mother shoved him into his Sunday suit for mass. He stands in the darkness of Nate's unlit porch, tie-less, looking lost.
Nate who has to be up in three hours takes one look at his face and sighs. "Do you wanna come in?"
He sets Evan up in the kitchen, glass of milk, Brad's box of 'Nilla wafers. Evan doesn't say anything, he munches on a few cookies quietly, head bowed, eyelashes dark crescents against his cheeks. Nate pulls out a chair and sits down across from him.
"Stafford, what happened?"
He doesn't understand any of this. How Evan got here to D.C., what he's doing in that tailored suit. Evan doesn't say anything. Brad walks into the kitchen, dressed only in a pair of flimsy pajama pants. He scratches lightly at the trail of hair disappearing into his waistband and says to Evan, "Nate should be asleep." He shoots Nate a mildly disapproving look and then drinks straight out of the milk carton Nate left on the kitchen table.
Evan stares. He tugs on the cuffs of his shirt peeking out underneath his jacket. Brad turns around to nail him with a sharp look, stowing the milk back in the fridge. He waves a hand at Evan's clothes. "Were you getting married today?"
Evan visibly swallows, but he holds Brad's gaze. Nate stares at Brad and then turns back to Evan. "Am I missing something?"
Brad leans back against the fridge and crosses his arms, looking like he's content to wait for Evan to speak. Nate who has no idea what's going on just wants it to be over already.
"Stafford, whatever it is, you know you can tell me?" He feels like he should reach out and pat Evan's head, but he really doubts anybody in the room will appreciate that.
Evan takes a deep breath, he diverts his gaze to Nate. "I think I might be a...a fag."
Nate started writing under the pseudonym Natalie Edgewood when he was twenty-three. His sister had gotten the Idiot’s Guide to Writing Romance novels as a joke gift and one thanksgiving where he was home at his parent's house Nate had wound up reading it when he couldn’t sleep. Frankly he’d thought he could probably write a better Idiot’s Guide, but it gave him a few ideas.
When his fifth novel won a RITA, it was a problem. Natalie Edgewood didn’t exist. Her bio on the inside flap was a complete fabrication. It said she lived in Portland, Oregon with her two cats, her husband Jesse, and their temperamental parakeet. Well, there were no cats, no Jesse, no parakeet—temperamental or otherwise--and Nate lived in Boston. The publishers didn’t want to unmask him, so he thought somebody would have to accept the award in absentia, and they'd just pretend Natalie Edgewood was getting surgery or had a funeral to attend to or something. It seemed like a fair plot. But the publishers weren't going to pass up an opportunity to put a human face on their cashcow. They sent a hired actress in his place and said he could pretend to be Jesse.
He stayed up the night before puzzling over his acceptance speech--possibly longer than he had the night before he submitted his dissertation--finally giving in and going to bed. The actress, her name was Sarah, was going to have to say it, not him. The publisher was probably going to giver her something pithy and sweet to say that only somebody paid to speak would say.
As they were outfitting him and Sarah in a matching suit and dress, so they'd look like the adorable couple they were, they informed him that they'd hired Sarah a bodyguard. They told Nate not to worry about it. It was a little silly, they assured him, but apparently there was some cause for worry at these events. Nate wouldn’t know, he’d never gotten to do a signing. This was, in fact, going to be Natalie’s first public appearance. Nate sighed, looked down at the fake wedding band on his hand. It was getting a bit too complicated.
And it all went horribly, horribly wrong. The bodyguard got shot right outside the hotel after Sarah accepted Nate’s award, and Nate and Sarah got stuffed into the back of a speeding van. His grandma had always said romance novels were purveyors of vicious disgusting filth and said that God was disappointed in his sisters when they read them. Nate supposed that God probably cried about people writing them. This was his punishment. Should've listened to Grandma. He sighed and tried to avoid being handled too roughly.
Sarah was a sobbing mess. Please, please, she kept whining. It was completely useless. Either they were dealing with insane people who wanted them dead and could not be deterred or they were dealing with insane people who wanted something specifically other than death and could not be deterred. He tried to tell her it was going to be okay. Which, all right, he knew that was a lie, but she was likely to give herself a heart attack and thus render any decision their attackers had in the matter completely null.
For two days, he endured being carted around as Jesse, Natalie Edgewood’s wooden husband, having his wrists tied to various things and being spoon-fed soy yogurt, which he hated, while their attackers waited for whatever it was they wanted. At that point Nate was pretty sure it was not death. Somebody at the top seemed to be hoping to force the press to publish their stuff by kidnapping one of its bestselling authors. It was all very strange. Nate was only contracted for one more book. They should've nabbed Stephanie Meyer or something--worst extortionists ever.
Nate missed his bed, felt badly for Sarah who never stopped carrying on, and hoped the insane attackers would give up their mad quest. Finally when he thought he was going to go quite insane, the door at the warehouse they were being held burst open and several black-swathed figures shoved in and started shooting people. Nate thought watching that was kinda worse than hanging out in an uncomfortable warehouse for two days. At least he’d been able to think of a few new ideas for lack of anything better to do.
“You’re going to be fine,” one of the figures said, stopping before him and pulling off his mask. He was very tall. Nate supposed he would make a good romance hero. Nice cheekbones and a good strong mouth. That whole thing. The romance hero pulled out a knife to cut Nate loose from his bonds.
“Yes, well thank you, but they weren’t planning to kill me,” Nate replied. “Now they’re all dead.”
A raucous voice yelled over the man’s shoulder, “OH SWEET! Does this one have Stockholm syndrome? I always wanted to see that.” A skinny man who Nate wasn’t quite sure should be allowed to handle high-caliber weapons bounced up, hair in horrible disarray from the ski-mask.
“Be assured, I am merely lamenting their wasteful death. Nobody deserves to die.”
“Who talks like that?” the skinny man said to the tall man, who smiled and replied, “Natalie Edgewood.”
Nate’s head jerked upwards. “How did—”
The tall man shrugged, gestured at the screaming Sarah, and said, “Ray, can you deal with that?” He kept a careful hand on Nate’s elbow even though Nate assured him he was fine, quite able to walk, he’d probably been treated better than most prison inmates.
Brad shut him up with a kiss, a sudden brush of his lips over Nate’s. Nate stared up at him, frozen in surprise.
“I always wanted to lay one on Natalie Edgewood.”
“I’m sorry,” Nate said, blinking up at him. “You’ve read them?”
Brad grinned, made a jerking off motion with his hand that caused the Ray person-thing to cackle, and then walked off to the waiting ambulance. Nate figured it was meant for him to go to the ambulance too, but he was still stuck on that hand gesture.
The man saved his life. That much was clear. He wondered if this was the legendary Brad Colbert the locals whispered about as Nate sat there doing his best not to interfere with their lives. Rule number one of anthropologists. He stared at the man. Did it count as interfering if he'd just been walking along minding his business when he'd been attacked?
"You're with that anthropological study," Possibly Brad Colbert said, turning awkwardly to inspect a horrible bloody gash across his back.
"I--yes," Nate replied, watching blood darken Brad's red shirt. "Who were those men?"
"Bandits. Want to scare the locals off so that they can slash and burn the forest into arable farmland." Brad shrugged, pulling off his shirt to get a better look. His skin was darkened to a deep gold from the sun. His eyelashes looked pale against his cheeks. This was not what Nate had expected when the locals talked about the crazy white mountainman who lived somewhere deep in the forest. He was beautiful. Undeniably fit and strong, but Nate had known plenty of tall men who knew how to use a bowflex. There was some other quality that made it hard for Nate to keep from staring.
Nate swallowed. Possibly legendary Brad was peering unsuccessfully down his own back. "Can I help?" Nate asked weakly.
Brad looked like he wanted to protest, like he didn't trust Nate not to stick rocks in the cut, but he shrugged again. He sat down on a stump and gestured for Nate to knock himself out.
It was a shallow wound, but bleeding freely. The flesh had been skived from the point of a machete blade when possibly Brad Colbert had saved him from certain beheading. He mopped up the blood with Brad's ruined shirt, pressing it tight against Brad's skin. Nate carried a med kit with him at all times and he pulled out the small vial of iodine.
Brad's back muscles trembled as he swabbed iodine down the diagonal slash, but he didn't make a sound. "I think it may need stitching," Nate said softly, fingertips light on Brad's shoulders. Brad turned his head to look back at Nate and nodded. Their faces were suddenly close, and Nate didn't know what possessed him, leftover adrenaline maybe, but suddenly he was leaning forward,brushing a kiss to the corner of Brad's mouth, remembering how Brad had held his body between Nate and the bandits until he'd sent them running.
Brad made a sound in the back of his throat and then turned further, head craning on his neck to deepen it into a real kiss, and Nate breathed a sigh of relief. Brad's mouth was warm, sweet with the taste of fruit, and he sucked on Nate's lower lip like it was candy. Nate breathed hard, hands braced against Brad's back to keep from crushing into his wound.
Finally Brad pulled away. "Shouldn't have done that," he said.
"Interferes with your study if I'm fucking you while you're trying to take notes on the daily habits of the indigenous population." Brad grinned. "And, make no mistake, I am going to fuck you."
The first time Bruce Wayne met Alex it was at a society function. He’d broken two ribs and the second and third metatarsals on his left hand two days before. He was in a horrible mood, possibly deepened by a fever headache, but Alfred insisted he had to attend. So he’d put on the new John Varvatos suit they’d had tailored to fit him, and that he secretly thought made his neck look big, and hopped in a smashing red Tesla Roadster he’d bought. If Alfred wouldn’t let him drive around in a Prius he could certainly have in the next best thing. When he arrived, he behaved as he'd been properly schooled and he grinned like his face had been botoxed that way.
“Oh you really must meet Alexander!” Sabina, the hostess was telling him. “He’s an actor, you know, on that HBO show True Blood. Man’s an absolute laugh riot. Don’t know how I ever persuaded him to come.”
Bruce kind of agreed with the latter statement, but his lips curled up sweetly and he said some flattering comment he’d be throwing up for days over. He was absolutely sure he did not want to meet Alexander. He never wanted to meet people at these events. He'd learned his lesson when the last person he’d wanted to meet at these events had half his face burnt off and then went mad. That seemed to happen a lot. He tried not to sigh as she led him over to a man holding court in the corner.
He was very tall, this Alexander. Bruce did not like having to look up to meet his eyes. He was also quite drunk. Charmingly drunk, Sabina would probably say. Bruce just saw it as uncontrollable excess. But he unfurled the smile and held out his hand. “It’s a pleasure,” he said shaking Alexander’s hand.
“And you Mr. Wayne, I’ve heard quite a lot,” he replied. His accent barely tinged the corner of his words, but Bruce who didn’t know anything about him beyond the True Blood business, was quite sure he was Scandinavian.
Sabina left him them to go schmooze somebody else and a bottle-blonde debutante barely out of her teens waltzed up, flirting wickedly with Alexander and batting her eyelashes at Bruce. Bruce did his best to be charming and at the first available moment turned slightly to watch the crowd, which as a testament to how boring the conversation was, was far more interesting than the current gossip in Los Angeles. After a moment jailbait debutante swept off to bother somebody else and Alexander turned to him.
“You don’t like parties, do you?” It was more of observation than a question.
Bruce blinked and protested, “Pardon? What makes you say that?”
Alexander snorted, took another sip of his wine, and said, “That tie makes your neck look big.” Bruce arched a brow. Alexander smiled back, one half of his mouth quirking up higher than the other half. “But the rest is pretty good.”
This time it was Bruce’s turn to snort. “I hope you have a lovely night.”
Alex said with a grin around a mouthful of wine, “Oh, I shall.”
Bruce turned away and rolled his eyes. He resolved to feign deafness the next time he came to Sabina’s parties, surely a trap and skeet accident could be engineered. Ugh, if only Bruce Wayne weren’t, in his own small pathetic way, necessary. Sure that he would never see Alexander again, he didn’t think anymore about him.
That was his first mistake.
The football team made fun of Puck for weeks. Kept calling him Heath Ledger and shouting, “I WISH I KNEW HOW TO QUIT YOU!” whenever he walked into a room. He was unsure of how the other guys on the team and the glee club were escaping the treatment, but Finn kept saying karma and then stealing Puck’s slushie. Either way it was really, really aggravating. He’d only seen Brokeback Mountain the one time and he didn’t remember any of it, so at least he could point out they knew it better than he did. But it was small comfort when the entire defensive line made kissy noises when he passed.
Puck thought he might kill someone.
Kurt was staring at the parade, frozen next to his locker, trying to hide a smile. Puck looked back at him, stone-faced. Their tightend was singing, “Cowboys are Frequently Secretly Gay with Each Other,” and the irony was not lost on Puck. Puck, the master of schoolyard taunting, knew he couldn’t say, 'quit it.' They’d only get worse. The silent treatment hadn’t been working, so he’d have to up the ante. As they walked past Kurt he had an idea.
Awkwardly turning to face the other boy, he hooked a hand around Kurt’s waist and thrust him gently back into the locker, swooping in for a kiss over Kurt’s wide red mouth. Kurt struggled in surprise for a moment, but when Puck pressed more of his body into him, Kurt moaned and sagged back against the locker. It was Kurt’s first kiss. Puck could tell and he swept their tongues together, raising a hand to cup Kurt’s jaw. Kurt made that sound again, the one that made a strange heat flare up Puck’s spine. He didn't know where that was coming from. Kurt raised up on his tiptoes to push further into it. Okay, this was getting a little too real. Puck smiled against his mouth, appreciating Kurt’s interest, and broke away.
He looked back at the football team who’d been watching him make out with another guy and blinked. “Oh, you’re still here?” They stared at him, mouth open. “Well, you kept going on about it, so I thought I’d try it.”
Kurt was staring at him in confusion and Puck shrugged his shoulders. He knew what he should say. That the kiss was terrible. That was how he’d get the team back, imply they’d all been fucking each other and liking it, while he, Puck, the lone and pure hetero, had better things to do. But the look on Kurt’s face. He’d seen it a million times, but not after sticking his tongue in someone’s mouth. He tightened his hand around Kurt’s hip and said, “This one needs practice.” And then he pulled away and walked off down the hall, dropping his eyes to avoid Kurt's expression. Kurt had looked like he wanted to murder him, but Puck could take that. He had his own skin to worry about, and Kurt would deal. Maybe he'd even learn something from it.
Nate’s doing a solo shoot for Vogue Homme and Brad decided, if he wasn’t Nate’s roommate, and he wasn’t Nate’s fuckbuddy (because Nate doesn’t do that), than he was Nate’s boyfriend. And furthermore he was taking the privileges that came along with that: like showing up on his sets, bringing him Honest Tea in glass bottles as a surprise, because he wouldn’t drink it out of the plastic. He can't help staying to stare.
They had Nate grow his hair out a little for this one and it’s spilt over the pillow on the antique couch they have him lying on. He looks feverish and beautiful, shirt open over his chest and stovepipe pants tailored to fit his legs like a second skin. The photographer tells him to prop up a knee and Nate does it slowly. All Brad can think about was three days ago, he learned what that knee felt like sliding up his side, how Nate’s jaw fit against his shoulder, the sound of Nate’s breath as it huffed out of him.
The photographer tells Nate to stick his hand down his pants, like he’s so relaxed and alone he can touch himself and not worry about it. Nate does it after he gets his face back from an amused 'seriously?' grin and into a more acceptable fond and relaxed expression. He looks dreamy, like he’s somewhere else. Brad’s pretty well hidden, behind drops and props and people, but somehow Nate turns his head and meets Brad’s eyes, lips just slightly parted. His eyelids flutter and white teeth sink into his lip. Lights flash erratically over him, snapping pictures, but Nate holds his gaze as he moves his arm like he’s stroking himself. Jesus, maybe he is.
Brad reaches a hand to his own face and feels the heat from a dark blush. Nate’s lip quirks at the corner. And then the photographer shouts, “That’s it, that’s the one.”
*The Cockburn Commision was actually under Disraeli’s government some twenty years earlier, but I don’t know enough about the specifics of British Victorian politics, so I just used that.
They don’t have much time alone. Just the few bare hours they can scrape together in Nate’s rented room in Cheapside, and then Nate has to return to his wife and young son and pretend he doesn’t know Brad beyond mutual invitations to the club and run-ins at the theater. Brad lives with this, because there’s no other way to be. He sometimes thinks that Nate would love to live like Edward Carpenter, throw all this aside, set up right next door to him in Millthorpe. They both know such a scheme would only render themselves politically impotent. Nate is Gladstone’s man and perhaps one day he will run for Prime Minister. They can’t pitch it all away. Not after the hell Brad went through to get elected as an MP as a mere ward of the Colberts and not their actual son.
But whatever Nate’s thoughts, he is also endlessly practical, and he never says he will leave his wife--throw their carefully constructed lie into the Thames like so much trash. It’s just a look he gets in his eyes. He turns his head to face Brad, and Brad simply knows what’s running through his head.
But now he is not thinking of any of that. He sweeps a hand through his hair and levels a hard look at him. “Bradley, why are you still dressed?”
Nate pulls a chair out from the rickety old desk and sits upon it, legs crossed, determined to wait. He’s dispensed with his weskit and pocket watch. The fine linen of his shirt is from a better tailor than Brad ever bothers with, but it's carelessly torn at the neck.
His eyes say he's going to make Brad strip before him and then he’s going to run his mouth down every plane of Brad’s skin.
Brad quirks a grin. He can't help resisting a little. “What think you of the Cockburn Commission’s findings?” He unbuttons his collar and sets aside his coat.
“That parliament should decriminalize trade unions?” Nate says, leaning his chin on his fist and taking in Brad’s movements. His cheeks are flushed even though the room is drafty at best.
“Does it not rankle that Salisbury’s government will introduce this reform and we will yet again be made to look like fools?” Brad unbuttons his smalls and pulls his shirt tails free. He looks at Nate beneath his lashes like a coquette.
Nate sighs, eyes following Brad's hands. “Just so, but it takes a meaner man than I not to admit that we desperately need it.”
Brad shakes his head, pulling his shirt off and tossing it at Nate. “You astonish me.”
“Oh?” Nate raises his eyes back up to Brad’s face. “That I can talk of politics before your nakedness? You brought the subject up, friend, but I might add that it has been several days since I have been able to converse with one who shares so many of my opinions.” He grins and re-crosses his legs. “You should join me for brandy at the club, and then I could empty my mind of everything but you.”
Brad kicks off his boots. “Dangerous,” he says, taking a moment with his soft trousers. He enjoys the way Nate sinks his teeth into his lower lip. “You stare at me, my lord.” Nate has always been able to find his gaze, to meet it, to convey perhaps more than words, and it has always been a distraction. Nate, bloody obstinate, knows it.
But now he gets to his feet. “Do not ‘my lord’ me, Brad, not here,” he says, closing the last few feet of space between them. Brad hides a smile and accepts his kiss. With Nate’s hand at the back of his head, his mouth brushing across Brad’s, and the feeling that wells up in Brad every time they do this, even Brad occasionally entertains thoughts of moving to Millthorpe.
Nate’s teeth scrape over his lower lip and his fingers drag down Brad’s spine. A moan jerks out of him, unbidden. Before he knew Nate and his arresting laugh and bright eyes, there was only the thrill of change, and the power behind it. Now, occasionally, something in him aches, wishes he could’ve met Nate at a card party or a trifling tea dance. The two things he loves most are mutually exclusive and he cannot find the strength in himself to give up either.
Nate has this strength. And it scares him.
Nate refused to give up the NoLiTa apartment. He refused to go to NYU—“do I look like some fucking hipster?”—or Columbia. He says, 'You don’t need to move with me,' when out of the seven schools that accepted him, he chooses Amherst.
Brad's not going to lie. There are times when he honestly wants to reconsider. It’s fucking cold in Massachusetts, and they have to fly into Hartford’s Bradley airport and then drive an hour whenever they come back from a photoshoot, and retarded undergrads are retarded. Especially the freshman.
But then Brad gets back from two weeks in Majorca getting oil rubbed all over him and sand up his ass to find Nate sitting on their Restoration Hardware sofa in pajamas and a pair of geek chic glasses typing furiously at some paper he’s got due in twenty-four hours and Brad is really glad he said 'hell to the fucking no' to long distance.
“I brought dinner,” he says, bending down to kiss Nate who manages to wickedly slide his tongue along the crease of Brad’s lips without a stutter in his typing. “Wendy’s, special treat,” he says and grins, licking Kiehl’s off his bottom lip. The winter dryness gets to Nate up here. He smears lipbalm on constantly and asks Brad to rub him down with Lubriderm in the hard to reach places, like the middle of his back.
“Mmhmm,” Nate replies, distracted. He aggressively hits the spacebar and Brad bites the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing. Later they’ll have time for other things when Nate’s sent off the paper, put his books and papers away, and eaten the fastfood Brad got them, because bugging Nate to cook when he has an assignment is like asking him to pry out one of his own teeth. Brad will tie Nate’s wrists to the bed, and Nate won’t even bother to take his glasses off. He’ll pull and struggle at the knots that Brad’s made, and he’ll moan with every touch of Brad’s mouth to his skin like the slutty school boy he is.
He’ll tell Brad he can take it harder and faster and he’ll get vicious, find a way to fight against his bonds and wrap his fingers against the rungs of the headboard Brad ordered custom. He’ll growl, “Are you tired? Is this all you’ve got?” And Brad will slow everything down, slide his dick out so that only the head is holding Nate open. He’ll look down at Nate and share breath with him, until he begs, and whatever fear he has over his damn ten page paper melts away. He’ll kiss Brad, and tighten his legs around Brad’s hips, not to spur him on, but just to say ‘I’m here.’ And Brad’s heart will fly up into his throat, and he’ll forget why he hates Amherst.
But that’s all later. For now, he’ll settle with plying Nate with cheeseburgers and a few subtle reminders to breathe, the paper's going to be fine.
He doesn’t tell Nate he’s coming, he likes being able to drop in on him unannounced. One thing he’s learned about him is that Nate's never going to be in his apartment. He’s sharing it with a biomedical engineer that Brad finds both asocial and hilarious and for whatever reason they’re both allergic to the place. If Nate isn’t in the library, than he’s at a coffee shop, if he’s not at a coffee shop, then he’s TAing, if he’s not at any of those places it’s office hours—either a professor’s or Nate's own for the snotnose undergrads he has to deal with.
It's not a problem. Brad’s always had an unerring compass when it comes to Nate, so when his taxi drops him off at Nate’s apartment, he knows he’s not going to find Nate in any of those places. He lets himself in with the key that the asocial biomedical engineer keeps above the sill on the doorway, deposits his stuff in Nate’s bedroom (which looks like a showroom at the furniture store), and walks right back out again.
He finds Nate at the blacktop basketball courts three blocks away, playing half-court with a couple of guys. It’s cold enough that their breath shows on the air, but they've all worked up a sweat. Nate's longish hair falls into his eyes, but he pushes it roughly away before accepting a pass. A player on Nate’s team sets a screen and Nate goes in for a layup that sinks through the hoop perfectly. His team whoops in exultation, and Nate turns around, tugging his sweat-damp shirt away from his chest and says, “How long have you been standing there?”
All the other guys turn to face Brad and he grins back, digging his hands into his pockets. “Not long. Buy you a cup of coffee?”
Nate shakes his head, but he’s smiling. “That’s my cue, gentleman.” He pats a few backs and jogs off the courts while the other players groan at the sudden unevenness of the teams.
“You think you’re a sneaky bastard showing up here without telling me,” Nate says, giving him a kiss when they’re out of sight under the shade of a tree rapidly changing colors. Brad takes a moment to pull him in and palm Nate’s perfect ass, something he’s been thinking about for months now.
“Pretty much,” he says. It comes out as a low rumble, like his voice has gotten lost somewhere coming out of his throat.
Nate nuzzles his neck, just at his jawline. “But you’re not, because you showed me how to hack into your credit card statements.” His tongue comes out flicker quick, sliding across Brad’s pulse, before he pulls away altogether. “I saw you bought the tickets weeks ago.”
Whew, couldn't fit anymore into a post. I'll do another one tomorrow, probably!