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He was watching tv, and he almost didn't answer the doorbell. But the bell would have been easier to ignore than Zoe's persistent doggy noises, as she scratched at the door and insisted that he pay attention.


Michael swayed slightly, underneath the porch light, blindingly bright on a moonless night. "Rick."

"What are you doing here?"

"What am I...oh, hello." Michael bent down automatically, fingers scratching the ear of the over-eager dog.

Rick watched him for a moment. His pupils were dilated, eyes opened wide as he followed the motion of Zoe's wagging tail. "Did you drive here?" Rick asked.

"What? No. Judge brought me."

"Chris drove?" If Michael was drunk, it was sure odds that his co-worker was drunker.

"Yes. No. Wait. Amanda was driving. I think."

Rick sighed. He could already hear the jokes, flying fast around the set. "Okay. Back to my original question."

"What am I doing here?"


"What do you think?" Michael asked bluntly. Then he tottered on the porch, and had to grab the doorframe for support. Zoe sniffed him gently in sympathy.

"I think," Rick said, "that it's a good thing my cleaning lady is coming in the morning."

Michael frowned. "What?"

"Come in. And sit down before you fall down."

"I am not going to fall down," Michael said, and promptly lost his balance.

Rick laughed.

"It's not funny."

"Fine. It's not funny." Rick helped Michael up, grabbing onto him with both hands, and led him towards the nearest couch. Michael lay down obediently, on his side with his body curled. Zoe jumped up, sniffed him twice, and then settled in beside him.

"Traitor," Rick told her.

Zoe barked happily, then rested her head against Michael's knee.

Rick brought Michael a pillow. "Okay. Once more, what are you doing here?"

Michael's fingers brushed his mouth. Rick waited. "I thought it was time," he said finally, "that we talked about our unresolved sexual tension."

Rick didn't react. "Are you sure that you didn't mean to go to Chris' house?"

"Ha." Michael's words slurred easily into each other, without speed. "Chris and I got that out of the way during the first season. You and I, on the other hand..."

"You and I, on the other hand, are either engaged or otherwise occupied."

Michael only smiled happily at that. "Yes. Lexa says...."

"Lexa does?"

"Lexa says," Michael ignored Rick's frown of disbelief, "that we should both tie up all our loose ends before we, you know."

"Tie the knot?"


"And is Lexa somewhere hitting on her executive producer right now?"

Michael's brow creased as he thought about it. "Kevin? I don't think so. She would have told me."

Rick sighed. He sat on the floor, down to Michael's level, before he spoke. "And I'm a loose end, am I?"

"Well, yeah. Amanda and I at that con last year, remember, and Vaitiare and I...talked. Kinda. So it's just you."

Without thinking, Rick reached out and touched Michael, one finger against the back of his hand, tanned and perfectly smooth. "Do you have any idea how embarrassed you're going to be in the morning?"

Michael frowned, not convinced.

Rick saw the next moment coming. Michael tasted like beer, for the most part. Underneath that, maybe whiskey, and definitely cigarettes, all of it entirely familiar.

Rick saw it coming, but he didn't react fast enough. "Michael," he said, when he could breathe, "I'm going to drive you home."

Michael licked his lips, his head falling back against the pillow. Lashes turning down, he looked like he'd just been kicked. But Rick had known him too long for that. "Are you sure?" Michael asked.

"Positive. You need some help getting up?"

Michael had to think about it. "Yes."

Zoe leapt up, with the clear intention of racing them both to the door.

Rick's hand gripped Michael's tightly, helping the other man as he struggled for balance. With one step, he stumbled, falling against Rick, Rick with one arm reaching out to assist him. Michael's body was warm, extra warm as he leant against Rick for support.

"Nice try," Rick said.

Michael nodded vaguely, his head on Rick's shoulder. "I thought so. Not having second thoughts?"

He didn't answer, too busy ignoring the sound of Michael's breathing, and the prickling sensation on his skin as he absorbed Michael's heat.

Michael's hand slid into the back pocket of Rick's jeans.



"Stop that."

"Stop what?"

They didn't seem to be making any progress towards the door. Michael was only getting warmer, and heavier.

Inside his back pocket, Michael's hand moved gently.

"Let me get this straight," Rick began.

Michael giggled drunkenly. "Are you sure that 'straight' is the word that you're looking for?"

"If I fu...if I have sex with you tonight, you'll never bother me again?"

"When you say 'bother'..."

"You'll never knock on my door in the middle of the night looking for sex again."

"Never." Michael sounded certain, and a little insulted. "I'm getting married."

"In that case, I'll think about it."

In an instant, Michael was swerving, tugging Rick towards the stairs that led to his bedroom. "Really?"

Rick paused. "No. Not really."

Michael pouted. He pouted with his whole body, slow rustling movements. "Why?"

"Lots of reasons. Beginning with, you're drunk."

"I'm not that drunk."

"You are that drunk," Rick told him, "and I'm not even thinking about touching you when you're this out of it."

With a frown, Michael's hand released Rick's pocket, and inched towards the side seams that ran down his hip. "You're touching me right now."

"You're touching me. There's a difference."

"Mmmmn." Restless, Michael's fingers continued to stroke. "Doesn't feel that different."

With difficulty, Rick reached across the hall table for his car keys, as he continued to steer Michael towards the entrance. Michael was no help, tangling Rick's arms and hands as he struggled to open the front door.

"But it's not that you're not attracted to me," Michael said suddenly. "Right?"

Rick sighed. "Michael."

Michael's fingers had found a patch of bare skin, above Rick's hip. His movements were circular and surprisingly steady. "Yes?"

"Let's get you home."