He didn't have any scenes with Chris the next day, which was a relief. In fact, Zach didn't see him at all. He had half-expected that Chris would try to confront him, but as the day went on and Chris still hadn't showed up, he let himself relax.
It wasn't that surprising, really. Chris was notoriously famous for avoiding conversations he didn't want to have.
"What's up with Pine today?" Zoe asked during a short break between scenes.
Zach's hand froze in the mid-air before he brought his mug to his lips. He took a sip of his coffee. "Chris? Have no idea. I haven't seen him today."
Zoe frowned. "He's been weird. I had a scene with him this morning, and he was off. Like, really off. Distracted and tense. More of an asshole than usual."
"Zoe," he admonished. Zoe and Chris hadn't been getting along very well since the beginning of the filming. He'd never openly asked why, but he could guess. "Probably just stress getting to him."
She shrugged. "He looks like he's been in a fight. Has a nasty bruise on his face. JJ and the make-up girls were pissed."
"Really?" Zach said, pushing his hands into the back pockets.
She eyed him for a moment or two. "Zach."
"Look, I've got to go—"
She grabbed his arm, forcing him to stop. "Listen to me. Stay away from him, hon. He'll only hurt you."
Their gazes held.
Zach was the first to look away. He wondered how much she knew—how much the other guys knew.
"Don't be silly, Zoe," he said with a faint chuckle. "We're friends. He'd never hurt me intentionally. He cares about me."
"That's what I'm afraid of," Zoe said grimly.
"Zoe," Zach said with a sigh. "Don't."
She let out a frustrated, angry noise. "I know it's none of my business, but I hate what he does to you. He's a selfish, insensitive asshole, Zach!"
"I know," he said tiredly.
She blinked. "Then I don't understand. What do you see in him? Jon is a hundred times better than him."
"I know," Zach said, running a hand through his hair.
Zach didn't know what to say. Putting emotions into words was too hard. No words could describe what precisely he felt every time he touched Chris, had Chris smile at him, or heard his voice. Even simply watching him do a crossword puzzle brought a ridiculous amount of joy and contentment. He'd never felt anything like that. Not even with Jon.
"He makes me feel whole," he said simply.
Zoe's dark eyes widened and then filled with such pity that he couldn't bear to look at her.
Zach forced a laugh and kissed her on the cheek. "Don't pity me. I'll live. I have Jon."
She gave him a fierce hug. "Yes, you do. He's amazing. Remember that."
"Yes, he is," he said and left before it could get too emotional. Damn that woman. She knew him too well.
In his haste to get away from her, he wasn't looking where he was going and, rounding a corner, bumped into someone.
"Shit, sorry," he said quickly, his arms automatically coming up to steady the other person.
Then he saw who it was.
"Hi," Chris said.
They stared at each other, Zach's arms still around him.
Chris licked his lips.
Zach's gaze dropped to them for a second.
When he looked back, Zach met the blue, blue eyes and knew if he didn't step away now, he would do something stupid.
He did it anyway.
Chris gasped when Zach leaned in and bit his lush bottom lip, sucked on it slightly. Mmm, god. God.
Breathing raggedly, Zach pressed his forehead against Chris's shoulder. "What are you doing to me?" he whispered, arms tightening around Chris.
They were out of sight of the crew, but anyone could come upon them any minute.
He knew it, but he couldn't let go.
"It's been years since Paris," Chris murmured, running his fingers through Zach's hair, stroking it gently. "You've had a few boyfriends since then. I thought you were over it."
Zach grimaced at the mention of Paris. "And I'm over it," he said into Chris's shoulder. "I'm happy with my relationship. I like—I love Jon."
Chris was silent for a while.
Zach lifted his head to look at him.
"I'm sorry," Chris said. He did look sorry, though he wouldn't quite meet his eyes. "Sorry for being an insensitive jerk, I mean. I swear I'll stop touching you if it makes you so uncomfortable."
As if to demonstrate it, he took a step away from him.
Zach studied him. Chris looked…bothered by something. There was something like upset lurking in those blue eyes.
"It's not your fault," Zach found himself saying, even though it was bullshit. It was totally Chris's fault. Chris had led him on. He hadn't just stood and watched Zach fall so hard and so fast; he’d helped him actively, being his touchy-feely, flirty self. "It's not your fault that you were…" He trailed off, biting back the word that was on the tip of his tongue—the word 'mine.' 'Mine' used to be the word he associated with Chris. He had deluded himself into thinking that Chris was It for him. He deluded himself into thinking that they were attuned to each other. That they were made for each other.
He was such a fool, god.
"Gorgeous?" Chris suggested with a weak smile.
"Nah. Your forehead is too huge, Pine."
"Hey! My forehead is fine!" Chris mock-glared at him, eyes laughing, and Zach's chest constricted painfully, to the point that he was having trouble breathing. Chris Pine wasn't for him.
"I'm sorry," Chris said again, as if sensing the aching want twisting his insides. He reached out for Zach, as though to hug him, but at the last moment, snatched his hands back and put them on his own hips.
Feeling oddly robbed, Zach dropped his gaze. "I know."
"Do you really hate me?" Chris said, his voice strained.
Zach just laughed quietly.
They stood in silence for a while, neither of them looking at the other.
"If I were gay, it would be you, you know," Chris said, breaking the silence.
"Shut up. Please."
"It's true," Chris said, and Jesus, at this moment, Zach truly hated him.
He gestured vaguely toward the crew. "I need to go. We're reshooting that Spock and Uhura scene."
"Yeah, sure," Chris said awkwardly and left.
Zach didn't watch him go. He pulled his phone out and dialed Jon.
"Come to the set," he said the moment Jon picked up. "I need you."
Maybe it was just a freaky coincidence, but the day Jon came to the set, Chris's girl made a surprise visit, too.
Dominique was as gorgeous in reality as she was in pictures. She and Chris looked cute together, all couple-y and shit.
"I love you," Zach told Jon, looking away from the couple. His words came out a bit too loud.
Jon gave him a weak smile. Zach returned it.
Seeing Jon again was a great relief. It made him remember what he loved about him. Jon might not be as classically handsome as Chris, but he was cute, adorable, and likeable – the way Chris wasn't. It wasn't a secret that Chris was a bit of a dick; Jon wasn't. Chris also didn't have those charming dimples and he didn't have those curls. Chris's skin wasn't as perfect as Jon's.
Jon was everything Zach wanted.
Chris laughed loudly at something his girlfriend said.
Zach grabbed Jon's hand and entwined their fingers.
Jon's jaw clenched. "I need to talk to you, Zach," he said with a bright smile and all but dragged Zach to his trailer.
When the door shut behind them, Jon let go of his hand and turned around to face him. "What the fuck, Zach?!"
"I don't understand," Zach said, clasping his hands behind his back.
Jon glowered at him. "Bullshit. You used me like a safety blanket out there! You fucking used me."
"Look, baby, I'm sorry—"
"Don't call me 'baby'!" Jon roared and it was so unlike him that Zach couldn't help but stare. Jon was red in the face with rage. He gesticulated wildly. "Don't you fucking call me that! I'm not the one you really want to call baby, right, Zach?" His lips twisted. "A crush? Yeah, sure. I saw how you look at him. I saw it, Zach!"
Zach sighed. God, he was so tired. "It doesn't matter. Chris is straight—"
"But what if he weren't?" Jon fixed him with a hard look. "If he weren't straight? What would you do?"
Zach said nothing.
Jon laughed. "I'll tell you what you'd do. You'd ditch me in a heartbeat." His lips curved into a snarl. "Have nothing to say, huh?"
Zach stepped closer. "Jon, please," he asked softly. "We're good together. Why does it matter what I would have done if things were different? Chris is straight, so the point is moot."
"We're good together," Jon repeated flatly. "It's not the first time you told me that. What, exactly, does it mean?"
Zach tried to find the right words. "You and me…we just work, okay? You're the kind of boyfriend I've always wanted--nice, funny, smart, understanding—a great person all around. You know I've had my share of bad relationships, but with you, it's different—easy, nice and comfortable—"
"Please, shut the fuck up before I punch you," Jon said, his chest heaving. "And fuck you, Zach. I don't want to be someone you settle with only because I'm nice and you're having a mid-life crisis and scared of being alone."
"It's not that—" Zach tried, but Jon just laughed.
"Really? Look me in the eyes and tell me I'm wrong."
Zach opened his mouth, then closed it.
Jon studied his face before sighing heavily. "You know, I really thought I could do it. I thought I was prepared to deal with it. But I was wrong. I don't want to be someone you settle with only because you can't have the guy you really want. I don't need a boyfriend who's mooning over his co-star."
"I'm not mooning over Chris."
Jon laughed. "Sure. You just look at him like you want to cover him in kisses from head to toe, grab him away from his girlfriend and shout 'mine' for everyone to hear."
Zach swallowed. Was he really that obvious? "I don't—"
Jon shook his head. "Don't. I'm done, Zach."
Zach's mouth went slack. "What? You can't do this," he whispered. "You told me you'd fight for us. You promised."
"Only because you told me you loved me." Jon met his eyes. "After what I saw? I don't believe you."
Zach's jaw worked. "Are you calling me a liar?"
"Yes, I am. You're lying either to me or to yourself. Either way, I'm done, Zach." For a moment, his eyes flickered with pain. "I liked you," he said, voice hoarse. "I really liked you, you ass."
With that, he left.
Zach flopped onto the couch, buried his face in his hands and closed his eyes.
After a little while, the door opened again.
He didn't have to look to know who it was.
"That bad?" Chris said softly, sitting down next to him. He laid a hand on Zach's neck, brushed his hair with his fingers before starting to stroke it.
He had such strong, capable hands.
God, he was a terrible person. His boyfriend just broke up with him, but here he was, blissed out from having Chris pet his hair.
"Go away," Zach said without opening his eyes. "Your girl will miss you."
Chris pressed a dry kiss to his temple. "I don't care. She's nothing."
He really was a terrible person because hearing that made him glad. Zach snorted. "Does she know she's nothing?"
"Sure. We aren't exactly a couple. She's fun to talk, and sometimes we have sex. There are no strings attached."
"How very progressive of you."
"Are you jealous?" There was that weird intensity in Chris's voice again.
"Yes," Zach told him the truth, because what the hell. It wasn't like there was a point in pretending anymore. It wasn't like Chris didn't know.
"You have a boyfriend."
"Your point being, Christopher?"
"I…" Chris sighed. "I don't know."
"He broke it off."
Chris stopped stroking his hair. "Groff?"
"Yeah. For some reason, he didn't like that his boyfriend was drooling over his co-star. Weird, huh?"
"Oh," Chris said. "I'm sorry, man."
Zach snorted at his insincere tone. "No, you aren't."
"All right, I'm not. Never liked the guy."
"You've met him only today. And you don't like people, period."
That made Chris shut up. For a moment. "I like you."
He said nothing to that. Couldn't.
"Zach, I'm really sorry, you know," Chris whispered, kissing him on the temple again. Zach let him.
"Sorry for screwing up your life."
"As you should be, you fucker."
"Okay, I've got an idea," Chris said after a short pause.
Chris smacked him on the head lightly. "Oh shut up. You haven't heard it yet."
Zach opened his eyes and turned his head to look at him.
Chris looked hesitant. "I know it may sound crazy—"
"A very inspiring beginning, Christopher."
Chris glared at him.
"Okay, fine, I'm listening."
Chris tugged at his collar. "I know it may sound crazy, but I think it would work."
"Just spill already, Chris."
"So… we should make you immune to me, then you can go back to Groff—if you want, that is. Personally, I think he's not good enough for you, but it doesn't matter what I think. He'd take you back. I mean, who wouldn't? You're a great catch--"
"Whoa, hold on. Care to clarify? How, exactly, would I get 'immune' to you?"
Chris shrugged. "I'll let you do things to me so that you would get over me."
Zach stared at him.
"Please tell me you're kidding."
Chris fixed him with his blue eyes. They were intense in the way they got only when Chris was being particularly stubborn. "It makes perfect sense, Zach. Just think about it like— like an injection of the virus of a disease to immunize the body."
"You're right: it does sound crazy. Because it is crazy. You're ready to let me 'do things to you' for the sake of friendship? And what, exactly, are those things?"
"I'll let you kiss me and stuff."
"Kiss you and stuff," Zach repeated flatly.
"It's not a big deal, really. You're my friend."
"You're insane," Zach told him, feeling the surge of affection in his chest. This was so Chris. He might be an asshole sometimes, and his idea might be utterly ridiculous, but he meant well. He always did, and that was the root of the problem. Zach didn't think he would have ever fallen so hard for Chris if he wasn't so essentially good and decent in his own way—at least toward the people he cared about.
"No. That would never work."
"Why the hell not?"
Chris sounded so fucking confident of himself and of his stupid plan, and just like that, Zach was pissed. He grabbed Chris by the collar of his shirt and shook him hard. "Because 'kissing and stuff' would never be enough for me. Kissing is for kids. I'm a man. I want to fuck." Chris inhaled sharply. Zach laughed, the sound mean and unpleasant. "What, did I shock you, Christopher? Did you think gay men just hold hands and make out? Well, let me enlighten you: we like to fuck. I like to fuck." He stroked Chris's erratic, strong pulse with his thumb. "I want to fuck you," he said quieter, holding Chris's gaze. "I want to spread you open under me and put my cock in you." Zach smiled ruefully when Chris's face flushed. "Shocked?"
Chris opened his mouth but closed it without uttering a single word.
Zach put his weight fully on him, straddling Chris's thighs. Their bellies were pressed together, chests brushing. Zach's heartbeat thundered in his ribcage. "Yes, you are," Zach said with a twist of his lips. "It's probably so shocking to you that I wanna do to you the same things you do to women, isn't it?" Unable to stop himself, Zach leaned down and bit Chris's plush bottom lip, sucked on it. God. "I ogle your ass every time you turn around. I look at you and think about licking you open with my tongue—"
A sharp intake of breath.
Zach laughed softly. "Yeah, I want to do it to you. Wanna spread you open and lick your little virgin—"
"Shut up, Zach," Chris said, his face red. He seemed unable to meet his eyes. "You aren't being funny."
Zach laughed again. "I'm not trying to be funny, Chris." He took Chris's hand and, sliding it between their bodies, pressed it against the bulge in his jeans. "Nothing's funny about having blue balls."
Zach pressed his hand harder against his cock. "Yes, this is my cock, Christopher. It's hard for you. Do you think it would be satisfied by some childish 'kissing and stuff'?"
He knew he was taking this too far. Chris looked on the verge of freaking out: his face red, blue eyes darting around frantically, fingers trembling against Zach's cock. Zach didn't care. He wanted to freak him out, wanted to make Chris finally get that he was playing with fire, that Zach's feelings weren't a fucking joke.
Chris scowled. "I know this is your dick. I have one of those too."
Zach narrowed his eyes. Chris still didn't get it. Not truly.
"Yes, you do," he said softly. "You're a guy. You have a cock, too." He took Chris's chin with his other hand and forced him to meet his eyes. "Imagine a hypothetical situation, Christopher. You have a beautiful female friend. She's always in your personal space. She undresses before you, flashing you her tits and her legs. She kisses you all the goddamn time on your neck. She cuddles to you whenever you watch movies. In short, she drives you crazy to the point that you pop a boner nearly every time she licks her lips, and she licks her lips a lot. Now tell me, Chris, would you get fucking 'immune' to her if she kindly offered you to just 'kiss her and stuff'?"
Chris stared at him with wide eyes.
Then he licked his lips.
Zach glared at him. "You little shit."
Chris flushed. "I didn't do it in purpose, I swear!"
Closing his eyes, Zach pressed his forehead against Chris's shoulder. Gritted his teeth, trying to get a grip. "The problem with you is, you never do. You never do it on purpose."
Chris's hand was still pressed against his hard-on. Zach wasn't sure why; he wasn't forcing Chris's hand to stay there any longer.
"It's not my hand you're holding, Chris."
"I know; you already told me it was your dick."
They snickered and then erupted into a fit of hysterical giggles.
When their giggles quieted down, Zach found that they somehow had ended up hugging each other tightly.
He wasn't surprised.
"You fucked me up," he said quietly, pressing his nose against Chris's neck. Christ. He wasn't usually one to mope about what ifs, but he couldn't stop thinking how right they would have been together if things were different. "I wish…" He bit his lip, barely swallowing back the needy words. "I need some distance from you."
Chris stiffened against him. "For how long?"
"As long as it takes."
"It's been three years."
A pause. Then, "No."
Chris's arms tightened around him. "Zach, I… I missed you, you ass. I don't think I can do it again."
Zach knew he should be pissed at him, and he was, but there was a part of him that felt stupidly, illogically giddy to hear that.
"Missed you, too, baby," he said and grimaced as soon as he the words left his mouth. When it came to Chris, the 'baby' still slipped from his tongue like it was the most natural thing in the world. With Jon and his other boyfriends, it always felt awkward and forced. With Chris, it wasn't. With Chris, he had to stop himself from using every stupid, clichéd and sappy endearment ever invented.
"Oh really? Missed me?" Chris said with a scowl in his voice. "You gave me the opposite impression when I came to visit you in NYC. You barely spoke to me, and only when you got tipsy at the party, alternated between groping me and glaring at me. You weren't happy to see me."
Zach nuzzled his nose against the side of Chris's face. "Yes, I wasn't. Because you fucking broke the promise, Chris. We agreed to keep away from each other."
"We didn't agree on anything. You told me to keep away from you!"
"I needed time. I needed distance from you."
"Yeah, I see how great it worked. You're one step away from licking me."
"That was just low, Chris."
Chris squeezed him. "Yeah, maybe it was a dick thing to say, but I'm right, admit it. I'm not letting you cast me aside again when it's not going to work anyway."
Zach closed his eyes. Tried to will himself to pull away. Couldn't. Greedily, he pressed his lips against Chris's pulse. He wanted to suck the skin into his mouth, leave marks all over him. He couldn't. Chris wasn't his to mark. "Chris, please." His voice broke and he had to take a deep breath. "I'll never move on if you're around."
A beat passed.
Frowning, Zach lifted his head to look at Chris's face. "What?"
Chris's face was flushed, and there was an almost feverish intensity in his eyes. "I don't mind. I really don't mind, Zach."
He told himself Chris was just being ignorant, not intentionally cruel. "Well, I do. It might be flattering to you, but for me, it sucks. It sucks a great deal. Panting after a straight guy all my life isn't my idea of a personal life."
Chris licked his lips. "All your life?"
Zach stared at him in disbelief. "Holy shit. You really would like that, wouldn't you?"
Chris avoided his gaze.
Zach studied him with narrowed eyes. "I can't believe it. You're like a goddamn dog in the manger! You don't want me, but you don't want anyone else to have me, either."
Chris still wouldn't meet his eyes.
"Christopher," Zach said, very softly, leaning in and thus forcing Chris to look at him. "Care to give me an insight into the inner workings of your mind?"
"Look, I don't know. I don't understand it myself."
"Bullshit. You're one of the smartest people I've ever met. You also tend to over-analyze everything. I bet you had it figured out ages ago."
Grimacing, Chris looked down. "Look, can we leave it, please?"
"No, we can't. Actually, we should have talked about it all those years ago." Zach stared at him. "Yes, I deluded myself into thinking you felt the same, but I don't think I made up the flirting, the touching, the smiling. And now this. So tell me, what the fuck, Chris?"
Chris didn't reply, determinedly looking down at his own hands.
"You can't do this to me," Zach said, his voice starting to shake with anger. "You can't keep fucking with my mind like that. Answer me, damn you!"
Chris's jaw clenched. He said nothing and Zach saw red. "You--you," he said before crushing their lips together. Chris's lips were soft, plush, and disgustingly perfect. Zach bit and licked them, feeling like he was drowning in want, his body hot all over, his dick hard as a rock. He wanted to have him. God, how he wanted to have him.
"Stop me," he croaked between pressing needy, frantic, open-mouthed kisses along Chris's neck.
"Zach," Chris gasped, burying his fingers in Zach's hair. He didn't push him away, though. He still did nothing.
And Zach lost it. With a groan, he pushed Chris back on the couch and rolled on top of him, pressing him down with his body. "I want you," he whispered against the skin of Chris's collarbone. "Want you." Love you, his heart beat. He covered Chris's neck in desperate kisses, feeling almost drunk, while his hands slid under Chris's t-shirt, stroking the smooth, naked skin, touching the nipples, greedy, desperate, then sliding down to grope Chris's crotch.
"Zach," Chris breathed out, his fingers practically clawing into Zach's head. He still wasn't pushing him away, not even when Zach unzipped his fly and pulled his half-hard cock out.
With a muffled groan against Chris's neck, Zach started stroking him to full hardness. "Want me, damn you, the way I want you."
"Zach," Chris said again, sounding freaked out as hell, but he was hard already. It mattered, didn't it? Didn't it?
Jacking him off, Zach kissed him. "Tell me you want me," he whispered raggedly against Chris's lips. "Tell me."
"I—I," Chris panted out before suddenly grabbing Zach's head with both hands and kissing him hard.
God, yes, yes.
It was love, and want, and need, and yearning, and his body roaring yes, yes, finally. It was like something finally clicked and the world righted itself. It was home. It was Chris. His Chris.
"Love you," he whispered as Chris's clumsy fingers helped him pull out his cock.
"Love you," he tried to say again, but Chris shut him up with a kiss.
Love you, he thought dazedly, feeling almost high, as they kissed desperately and rutted together like goddamn teenagers.
Love you, love you, love you his heart pounded as he came a few seconds after Chris, moaning his name.
"It was a mistake," was the first thing Chris said afterwards.
Zach's gut tied into a painful knot.
"Really?" he said into Chris's sweaty neck, keeping his voice lighthearted. "Didn't feel like one."
"We shouldn't have done this," Chris said, his fingers treading through Zach's hair. He sounded pissed. His arm was wrapped around Zach's back.
"I don't fucking get you," Zach said though his teeth. He propped himself up on an elbow and looked down at Chris's flushed, cum-drunk face. "What the fuck, Chris? You say you're straight, but then you sleep with me. You say we shouldn't have done this, but you're still touching me. You break my heart, but then you go all possessive and shit and say you don't mind me being in love with you. What the hell is that supposed to mean? I'm fucking sick of all kinds of mixed signals coming from you. Care to explain yourself?"
Chris said nothing for a while.
Then he wet his lips and said, "I love you."
Zach almost choked, as all the air left his lungs in a rush and his heart beat loudly in his ears, drowning out all other sound. "What?" he whispered.
"I love you," Chris said again, but it didn't make more sense than the first time around.
"What the…is that supposed to be a joke? Are you really going for the 'I broke your heart because I loved you too much' angle?"
Chris chuckled hoarsely. "No. I broke your heart because I didn't know what to do with it." He met Zach's eyes. "And I still have no fucking clue. I'm really straight, Zach. I'd never been into guys."
Zach stared at him. "You aren't making any sense. First you have sex with me and say you love me, then you say that you're straight. Make up your own mind. You can't be straight and love me."
Chris laughed slightly. "I wish I couldn't."
Zach clenched his jaw and, rolling off him, sat up. "Then why all of this? If it's a mistake, why the fuck did you have to have sex with me and tell me you love me? Or do you fucking enjoy leading me on and stomping all over my heart?"
"No," Chris said quickly, sitting up as well. He touched Zach's bare shoulder and forced him to look at him. "No, Zach," he said softly, blue eyes pleading him to believe. "I swear I never wanted to hurt you. Not you. You're—fuck."
Zach pursed his lips, refusing to be swayed by those eyes. "Then why, Chris?"
"Because I'm an idiot. I knew I shouldn't have let it happen." Chris heaved an angry sigh, running a hand through his hair in frustration. "Just wasn't strong enough." He licked his swollen lips, looked at him. "Wanted to touch you too much."
Zach stared at him. "Then why can't we be together?"
"Look at you," Chris said, skimming Zach's cheek with the back of his fingers. His eyes were no longer inscrutable. Now they were full of want, need, and almost terrifying longing. "Look at you. You're so perfect, and nice, and— I'd destroy you. I'm not good for you. I wouldn't be good for you. You're an idiot if you don't see it."
Zach snorted, immensely, overwhelmingly relieved. "That is your reason? Overdramatic much, Christopher?"
"Zach," Chris said, eyes wide and intense. "You're laughing now, but just think about it. If we got together, you'd be back in the closet for the rest of your life because I'd never come out and I'm too clingy and needy to let you go. You know it, Zach. I'd never come out, because I'm really not gay, despite my feelings for you." He smiled ruefully. "And let's be honest, I'm not brave enough to do that. We both know it'd destroy my career, not to mention that the Paramount would never let Kirk be gay, because Kirk is supposed to be 'the ladies man' and shit." His eyes clouded. "And you'd end up resenting me, Zach. I know you would."
Zach knew Chris was right. He knew that if they got together, Chris would have beards to keep his publicist happy, and Zach probably would have to do the same thing, too. He would never be able to kiss Chris or hold his hand in public the way he could easily do with Jon. He would never be free, hiding forever, lying forever, forced to watch fake blondes on Chris's arm.
"I don't care," he said, and meant every word.
Chris just stared at him at first, but then he was beaming at him, adorable little crinkles in the corner of his eyes—and fuck. Zach's chest felt impossibly tight all of a sudden.
"Oh thank god," Chris said with laughter, practically climbing onto his lap and engulfing him in a hug. "You know how awful I am at doing the right, selfless thing."
His chest still tight, Zach chuckled. "Yeah, I know. Did it hurt, Christopher?"
Chris nodded solemnly and said, "Very," before breaking into a wide grin.
Zach looked at him and couldn't tear his eyes away from his grinning face.
Chris wasn't perfect. He wasn't even close to perfect. Chris cared deeply about very few people, and most of the time, he was too absorbed in his own angst to care about other people's problems.
And god help him, Zach adored every selfish, every self-absorbed thing about him.
Chris leaned in and kissed him softly. "What are you thinking about?"
"You," Zach said honestly, pulling Chris closer, tighter, until there was no space left between them.
He wouldn't let go.