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players only. takes place shortly after Christos meets Alfonso's father.

Returning from the bathroom in the dead of night, Christos is about to blindly climb back into bed when he notices the empty space next to his own. Pulling on a pair of shorts, he reverses course down the hall and finds his lover pacing in the living room, muttering to himself. "You can't sleep?"

Alfonso's head jerks up and he stares at Christos for a moment, utterly exhausted. He holds up one hand, the script for the play tightly clenched in it. "We only have four weeks," he says, rehearsals starting in a matter of days but with a truncated schedule - a month instead of six weeks.

Christos nods. Right. He knew that. Yesterday... So why is it an issue now? "You're worried?" he asks, feeling like an idiot. "Worried you won't know everything?"

"Worried I'll make a fool of myself, let others down," Alfonso says, rubbing his free hand over the back of his neck. "It's so much. Such big shoes to fill. I don't know why I thought I could do this."

"Because you're very talented. And smart enough to want to challenge yourself," Christos answers, a beat before reflecting that perhaps it was a rhetorical question. He crosses the room to put his arms around Alfonso's waist. "You can do this. Tell me how I can help."

Alfonso leans into the embrace, taking comfort in Christos's solidity. "Run lines with me?" He knows he'd teasingly warned Christos about this but he hadn't really expected to take advantage.

"Okay." Christos doesn't hesitate. Although perhaps he should — he's no actor. Nonetheless he nods and holds out his hand for the script. "Pretend I'm a teenage boy," he says with a sparkle in his eye.

They run through the script - the entire thing - Christos reading all the other roles for him, Alfonso's anxiety slowly seeping away. He knows this. He can do this. "It's a good thing I'm not a teacher," he teases when they're done and settled on the couch, Alfonso well aware it's the middle of the night but he's still too keyed up to sleep.

"Why is that?" Christos asks, curious. Still wrapped up in the tragic romance of the play, its message to make one's life extraordinary in some way. "I think you'd be a very inspiring teacher."

"Si, but I would have trouble keeping my hands off one particular student," Alfonso says with a smile.

Christos laughs, gratified. "One particular student would be trying his hardest to get his hands on you," he says, stroking Alfonso's nape.

Alfonso's smile deepens and he leans into the touch. "What is the biggest age difference you've ever had with a lover?"

"With someone steady? Six years. I didn't ask the flings," Christos chuckles. "Didn't want to know."

Alfonso gives a soft laugh. "Were they older or younger?" he asks.

"Usually younger. On occasion older," Christos answers, assuming his lover means the flings and not the relationship. "I like to think I corrupted quite a few."

Alfonso laughs again. "And the steady one?"

"Six years younger." Christos wraps a short curl of dark hair around his finger. "You, though, are only five years younger than I am. I looked it up."

Alfonso nods. "Tell me about the steady one," he says, unsure why his curiosity's coming to the fore now of all times. "How long were you together?"

"On and off for... years," Christos says with a shrug. He stops to think. "About ten. But that's, like, being together for two years and then broken up for a year before we got back together, over and over again. Not ten straight." He sighs. "Eventually I grew so tired of all the drama that it actually overpowered how much I wanted him. And that was it."

"What was the drama over?" Alfonso asks, watching Christos, eyes roaming over his lover. "Or did you just clash?"

"This was the one... I think I might have mentioned him once, he was very manipulative. I thought he was a selfish brat and he thought I was too possessive and controlling," Christos murmurs, opening up in rare detail. Thinking of Kostas. "He slept with other people while I was faithful. And even when we stopped saying we were committed to each other, he still found ways to get to me."

"And now?" Alfonso says. "Do you wish things had turned out differently?"

"No." Christos doesn't even hesitate. He smiles a little, drowning in his lover's dark eyes. "I'm in love with you. And it actually feels like a smart thing, a healthy thing. I didn't know I could feel so good with someone else."

"Me too," Alfonso says softly. "I thought I was better on my own, that that was the only way I could accomplish the things I want to do, but I'm starting to realize just how wrong I've been."

Christos smiles faintly, watching him. "Love is supposed to make us stronger, no? Make life better?" He combs his fingers through his lover's hair.

"Si, but it can also make you lose your head, your way, make you do foolish things," Alfonso counters even as he leans in the touch again.

"I'm not going to ask you to jump off a cliff with me," Christos teases gently. He changes his touch to more of a massage, watching Alfonso's every response. "What if I promise you I'm past the foolish stage?" he asks, although it occurs to him that he's fool enough when he's with his lover.

"You don't have to do that," Alfonso says, quick to reassure. "It was more a general you. The voices in my brain warring with each other. Mostly I'm winning," he adds with a smile.

"That's lucky. Because you make me forget that I'm a cynical boring middle-aged man," Christos tells him with a laugh.

"There's nothing boring about you," Alfonso insists.

"Ohh, you're supposed to flatter me and tell me I'm not old, either," Christos teases him. He tightens his hold on Alfonso's hair and drags him in for a kiss, tongue playing with his lover's.

Anything Alfonso might have said is lost in that kiss, their tongues tangling, his body reacting instinctively to Christos.

Slipping his arms around his lover, Christos pulls him closer, pressed against him. "Come to bed, my love," he murmurs, his voice husky. "I'll help you fall asleep."

"Sale," Alfonso agrees with a smile, although he's yet to let go of Christos.

Christos grins back and gets to his feet, pulling Alfonso with him. "Let's see, if you were my professor... I'd stare at you every day in class, trying to see if I could make you break your concentration. Maybe wait till you were looking at me and then lick my lips, just so," he says, slowly doing so.

"And if you were my student, I would do my best to ignore you," Alfonso says, groin flipping at that swipe of tongue. "Never be caught alone with you, leave the door open if we had to meet. I'd know I couldn't trust myself if we were alone."

"And if I surprised you in the parking lot after school?" Christos asks, slipping his fingers around Alfonso's nape. "Backed you against a brick wall and dropped to my knees..."

Alfonso groans, unable to help himself. "I'd try and stop you..." although his tone, his words leave no doubt as to how successful he thinks he'd be.

Smiling, Christos shakes his head. He nudges Alfonso backwards onto the bed, then slides his hands over his lover's lean hips. "You couldn't stop me," he says. "I'm very determined once I decide I want something."

"But I could lose my job..." Alfonso protests, eyes wide, cock betraying him completely, tenting his black pajama pants.

"I won't tell." Christos tugs the pants out of the way and smiles. He takes his time when he licks from root to tip, slowly savoring the texture and taste. Glancing up at Alfonso from beneath his eyelashes.

Alfonso moans, eyes rolling back, hands fisting the sheets as pleasure shivers through him.

Fuck, yes. Christos grins wolfishly and licks more, like he's lapping up drips of melted ice cream. He slides one of his fingers into his mouth, rubbing Alfonso's cock for a moment before he pushes his thighs wider apart, and presses his finger into his lover's tight hole.

Alfonso whimpers, body clenching tight around that intrusion. "Si, si..." he moans, fucking himself on that single digit.

The sexy way Alfonso moves on him damn near sets Christos on fire. He growls and takes his lover into his throat, bobbing his head and sucking rhythmically.

"Unh..." Alfonso gasps, letting go of the sheets and shoving his hands into Christos's hair.

The grip nearly has a possessive edge, and god it feels good. Christos pulls back with a grin. "Come for me," he says, and sucks Alfonso in again.

It doesn't take much more than that. Hands in Christos's hair, those words, that permission, and that wicked, wicked mouth. Shouting out a curse, Alfonso spills down Christos's throat, pleasure crashing over him in wave after wave.

Christos gags but makes himself swallow anyway, determined to accept all of his lover. Soon he's licking up the last stray drop, then crawling up the bed to lie down next to Alfonso.

"Eres increíble," Alfonso breathes, turning to press close, bury his face in Christos's throat.

"Yeah? Good." Christos wraps his arms around his lover, enjoying the moment of vulnerability. "Sleep now, my love."

"Si," Alfonso murmurs, snuggling in even closer, already fading into sleep. "Mi amor."

Those words... they're enough to make Christos ignore the hot spike of his own erection. He grins, unwilling to disturb his lover for all the world.

[feedback welcome. comments screened.]