"No, it's not like I had nothing else to do," said Chris. "There's a half dozen other places I coulda been and you know it. Specially since you sent me one of the invites."
"Yeah, yeah sure," scoffed Lance. "You just keep telling yourself that."
"Whatever, man," said Chris. "You know I'm right. You're just sore 'cause I didn't show up at your thing is all."
"Yeah, that must be it," said Lance dryly. "There's no other reason for me to think that you had to be having a pretty slow night to show up at Nick Carter's show."
"I was in town anyway! And besides, we haven't even gotten to the good part yet."
"So get on with it, then."
The only thing worse than a bunch of screaming girls, Chris decided, was a bunch of screaming girls in a confined space. A confined space with good acoustics, no less. He should've brought earplugs with him; instead he had to wad up bits of Kleenex he fished out of the bottom of one of his pockets. It tickled and it didn't really do much about the sound.
He'd heard good things about Carter's show, from a guy who knew a guy who was mixing for him, who thought it would be Chris's kind of thing. Chris thought that wasn't really too likely, but he made it a point to show up anyway. Carter was a good kid, and Chris liked a live show as much as the next guy.
But the girls, god, the girls. Chris wasn't dumb, he knew all about crossover crowds and stayed in low light as much as he could. Stayed in the back and out of people's way, glasses but no telltale hat, more because he actually wanted to be able to see the damn show from the back than because he thought it would disguise him.
He figured it would be cute at least. Not as polished as Justin's act because Nick had never been much of a polished guy, but cute. Energetic. He'd caught a couple of those talk show performances of Nick's, just a couple, and he knew the havoc Nick could wreak on stage when he wanted to. If he could actually stay on key for a whole song, he'd be a hell of a performer.
Turned out he was kind of a hell of a performer anyway. Chris hadn't exactly been prepared for Nick to be dumping water on himself and halfway stripping on stage, thrashing about and arching his body, offering himself to the crowd. Half rock star and half porn star and damn, so hot. It wasn't just the press of bodies that was making Chris start to sweat.
He strutted, he prowled, he stocked, he looked incredibly aloof and then grinned and was the boy next door again. Chris guessed you didn't grow up on stage without picking up a few tricks of the trade. What was the surprise, was that Nick had kept some essential part of himself, too. He was having the time of his fucking life, and it showed.
"A little too heavy on the detail there, Kirkpatrick," said Lance, and yawned. "If I wanted a recap of Carter's show, I know plenty of places on the Internet to find it."
"You're such a bastard," said Chris and hit him. Hard. "When you're the one telling the story you can be as skimpy as you like. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am."
"Thank you sir."
"That doesn't rhyme, dumbfuck. Anyway. You saying you want me to skip to after?"
"That would be nice, yes," said Lance. "I do have that appointment with my manicurist middle of next week. She hates it when I'm late."
"Fuck you," said Chris, and hit him again. Lance had tough shoulders. "So okay, the show was cool, Nick was hot, blah blah blah."
"Hey, that you, Kirkpatrick?" asked Nick, like he was too cool to say Chris's first name. "Hey! How's it going?"
Chris gave him a little wave to start out with, and looked over both shoulders to see who else was about. Just his crew, few as they were, a couple of scantily clad girls, a couple of scantily clad boys and his band.
"No, I'm his evil twin," said Chris and pushed his way to Nick's side. "I'm here to kidnap you and take you away from all this."
"What, are you kidding?" laughed Nick, running his fingers through sweat-slick hair. He sweat on stage even more than Chris did. "I'm loving this. I don't want to get away."
"Yeah, well, that's the whole "evil" part of it," said Chris, making finger quotes. "Not really evil if I do to you exactly what you want done."
"Oh, Chris," laughed Nick, almost sputtering water. What a dork. Incredibly cute, hot dork. "You have no idea what exactly I want done." The he coughed politely and looked down and when he looked up again he had another goofy grin on his face. "So hey, what are you really doing here?"
"What do you mean, what am I doing here?" asked Chris. "It's a concert. I came to listen to music. What, do you usually not have anyone show up or something?"
Nick didn't even flinch, thank god, which meant it did come out at a joke and not some kind of bitter dig. "Yeah? Seriously?" he said, his eyes real bright. "What did you think of the show?"
"It was great," said Chris, and the good thing was, it was the truth. He would've probably said it anyway, because Nick was all puppyish and eager right then, but it was better to be able to say it and mean it. "Like, seriously, really cool, Carter."
"Yeah?" said Nick again, and even sweaty and sticky and flushed and dorky, still hot. "Hey, that's great. It was a great crowd tonight, don't you think? Really into it. Man, I love this."
"So you're saying he really is cool with it all?" asked Lance skeptically. "Either the guy's lowered his standards or he's a better actor than I give him credit for."
"Yeah, speaking of bad actors," muttered Chris. "Yes, yes, he's totally cool with it. He's ecstatic. He's doing cartwheels all over the backstage he's so damn happy right now. Happy as a pig in shit."
"Pigs are actually really clean animals. Cleaner than you, anyway."
"Why am I talking to you again?"
"No one else would sit still long enough."
"So, what, you're asking me out or something?" said Nick.
He was drying his hair and he'd put his pants on, but he was still shirtless and he shouldn't have been that hot. He just shouldn't have. Take all his parts individually, his body, his skin, his hair, his eyes -- they were all just average. But put the whole thing together and damn.
"What do you mean, asking you out?" scoffed Chris, ripping his eyes away. "I just we should go out, have a drink or seven and fool around. In what universe is that 'asking you out'?"
"Right," said Nick, tossing the towel aside. It vanished within moments, complements of an overeager assistant. "Actually, I think the word you used was 'kidnapping' but hey, close enough. I wasn't planning on doing anything 'cept hanging out, anyway. Bus isn't heading out till morning. What did you have in mind for us not going out?"
Chris didn't exactly have a plan. Most of the time when he did something like this, he would just wing it. "Well, they do serve alcohol here, right?" he said. "Isn't that good enough for you?"
Nick's lips twisted like he thought he might smile, then didn't, and he nodded his head. "Sure. It's not like I mind being mobbed. So what if they tear my clothes off, right?"
"That's the spirit," said Chris, clapping his bare shoulder. "Not that you have much to tear off right now. I'm pretty sure this is a 'no shoes, no shirt, no service' kind of establishment, at the very least."
"Right, right," said Nick, tracking down a shirt for himself as everything was packed up around him. No mad dash for the bus this time. No need to. The shirt was brown and looked like it would have been more at home in the seventies, but Chris was down with retro chic and didn't say anything. Chris mostly just wore anything, anyway. "There, ready."
They snuck back up to VIP. Well, not snuck, more like had a couple of very large men plow them a path. But still, they got there with clothing and dignity intact and managed to slide into a couple of chairs without too much further fuss.
"I want a tequila sunrise," said Nick, expectantly, and Chris sighed and guessed he probably was responsible for ordering. Since he was the one trying to get Carter into bed. Or, at least, the one who was obviously trying to get them into bed.
"Orange juice?" scoffed Chris, even though he knew he'd order it for him anyway. "That's for breakfast where I come from."
"Yeah, whatever," grinned Nick. "I have it on good authority it's good for the throat. The non-tequila part of it anyway. Or maybe the tequila part, too. Let's go with that." He was smiling so wide and looking so pleased that he was glowing.
"Wait, did you say glowing?" said Lance, breaking Chris's entire train of thought. And it was a great train of thought, too.
"Yeah, glowing," said Chris. "So?"
"So... glowing," repeated Lance, and snickered at him.
"Come on, it's funny--"
"Come and listen to a story 'bout a man named Shht! Shht! even before you start. That was a pre-emptive shht!"
Lance just rolled his eyes at him. "You are so lame."
"So we've definitely done the drinking part," said Nick, sucking off his pinky finger again, like there was still something left to suck off it after spilling his drink half an hour ago. "Were you serious about the making out part?"
"You're really that easy?" said Chris, and tried not to sound as enthusiastic as he felt about that. "I can just suggest it and you'll come?"
"I asked if you were serious," said Nick, chewing a nail before pulling his hand away from his mouth. "I didn't say anything about me coming."
"Well hey," said Chris, scrubbing that image from his mind before he got carried away. "Will a little bribery help things along? I can buy you--" He felt around for change in his pocket. "--breakfast?"
"I usually grapefruit for breakfast," said Nick. "That's not really much, uh, incentive."
"Oh, I can do better than that," said Chris grandly. "I'll even take you to IHOP afterwards. You look like a boy who can work up a fair appetite."
"Coming from you," said Nick, finishing off his current drink, "I'll try and take that as a compliment. It was meant as a compliment, right?"
"Definitely," said Chris. "A compliment in the way that 'sex machine' is a compliment. Sex machine is a compliment, right? I mean, I've always used it as one..."
"How about you don't tell me how many people you've called 'sex machine'?" suggested Nick. And sucked his damn finger again, and how was Chris supposed to ignore that, anyway?
"I wouldn't even know," Chris admitted, and he licked his lips and hoped it didn't look as lewd as it felt. "So what do you say? A night in a real bed with a real me and a real breakfast in the morning? There's no bad here, Carter."
"You tried to seduce him with pancakes?" Lance said. "I don't even believe you, man. What even made you think that would work?"
"Waffles," Chris corrected him. "I tried to seduce him with waffles. And whipped cream. Though, if he really does have grapefruit every morning, I probably could've offered him, like, toast and still had him follow me home."
"Wait, so the pancakes were what did it?" confirmed Lance. "You didn't have to fall back on a plan B?"
"Would there even be a story if it hadn't?"
"Shit," said Lance. "Well, apparently you guys were made for each other, then."
"Nice room," said Nick, except Chris hadn't even thrown on a light and Nick could probably barely see it. Of course, it was a nice room; Chris could afford it and he didn't throw money around but a good bed was worth the price he paid for it.
"Well, I guess you've been sleeping on the bus," he said, closing the door behind them and still ignoring the lights. "Motel 6 would probably be nice after that."
"Probably," admitted Nick, and chuckled, and that was the thing. That was the new thing. That Nick always seemed so damn happy with everything. Or possibly it was all the tequila, but Chris was pretty sure he'd been like this all night. "As long as we're not gonna try to fit in a cot or anything."
"Oh, believe me, no cots," Chris assured him. "My body would hate me in the morning, and so would you. You want another drink or anything? I'm stocked."
"No, no way, I'm good," said Nick. "Any more and I'm not gonna, um, 'perform'... and that would just suck, really."
That was a little bit too much information, but Chris just went with it and nodded, because Nick was probably right. And if Chris had another he might fall and fuck up his knee and end their night right there, so best to just leave the minibar be, for the moment.
"So okay, that was supposed to be my icebreaker, though," said Chris, fumbling toward the bed as his eyes adjusted to the dark. He could hear Nick breathing just behind him. "So we'll have to figure something else out."
"I think," said Nick, taking hold of Chris's arm, "that the ice is pretty well already smashed. Just like us!" He laughed and pulled Chris closer and then they were kissing, just like that. And Chris always figured, once you got to the kissing part, the rest was just smooth sailing.
"Smashed, yes," said Chris, and at the moment it even seemed intelligent
"As long as I don't break my neck trying to take off the shirt you made me put on," said Nick, "it's all good. How about we get-slash-stumble-slash-fall onto the bed now, yeah?"
"And then we had sex."
"What, that's it?" said Lance, staring at him incredulously. "That's the end? 'And then we had sex'? That's a really fucking dumb story, Chris. Even for you."
"What, did you think I was going to share my whole kinky sex life with Nick Carter?" asked Chris. "Yeah, right."
"Well yeah," said Lance, nodding emphatically. "What did you think I stuck around for? Jeez, Chris, way to gyp a guy out of his money shot."
"You're a sick bastard, Bass," said Chris. "Go find your own kinky love toy."
"Whatever, man, just whatever," said Lance, and turned and walked away. Chris just smiled.