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Beyond the Gate - Part II - Window of Opportunities

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Part II

Window of Opportunities



These words have never left a mouth
We never got to get it out
Communication not allowed
Some things we don't talk about

(Take That 'Wait')

-----

I

Michael had a period of free time and trekked through the dealer's rooms after breakfast. It was still early enough to do this fairly undisturbed. Most shops were just opening or re-stocking their tables. He purchased a magazine and a photo set of 'The Originals', a 'Vampire Diaries' spin off Tatiana loved, a bunch of mangas for Mia and a new Star Wars light saber for Sam. It would take a while until he'd be able to play with it. But his old one had been broken in battle and he'd wanted a new one for quite some time.

Michael found a broken arm was a good reason to be spoiled a little. And if he brought presents for his youngest he couldn't just leave the girls out. He would have liked to get them something specifically German. But he wasn't kidding himself; his kids wouldn’t value a Duesseldorf coffee mug or anything like that very highly. They'd be happier with mangas, photos and light sabers. They could still tell their friends the stuff came from Germany even though it had probably been imported from the US, the UK or Canada in the first place.

He considered going over to the airport to find a gift for Lexa as a thank you for enabling him to be with Rick. Nothing outrageous, just something to express his love. He couldn't weigh her in gold, he knew that. And he didn't want to buy her anything just because he felt guilty – despite the fact that she had practically ordered him to get laid.

Still weighing the pros and cons he left the dealers and took the elevator up to his room. He tossed his purchases on the bed and headed out again, briefly wondering what the cleaning staff thought of the soiled towels at Rick's. He decided he'd rather not know.

Whistling, he rounded the corner by the elevators and almost ran into Paul Brown who sidestepped quickly as he tried not to drop the pile of towels he carried.

“Sorry,” they both said and Michael quickly caught one of the towels in mid-flight.

“Ah, Michael. Remember the trio photo shoot is at 11:00,” Paul said absently, “Richard will probably be late. He's still signing and the line isn't getting any shorter. Thank you.” He took the towel Michael handed him.

“No problem. Who's taking a bath?”

Paul frowned, then said, “These are for Richard. He's always hot.”

Michael swallowed a reply along the lines of 'yeah, he sure is'. Instead he just nodded and pressed the button to call the elevator.

“I asked a member of the con crew to get him towels, but she never returned. Probably got held up somewhere else. Richard brought one down with him this morning, but he'll need more during the photo shoot. He might even grab a shower before that, if there's time,” Paul went on. “He gave me his key card to get towels. However, there weren't any clean ones left in his room just now. I had to actually find someone of the cleaning staff to get me new ones since his room wasn't done yet.”

Michael coughed and gazed at the ceiling for a moment to compose himself. Surely Paul hadn't gone through Rick's dirty towels to see if they were still useable. Surely Rick had balled his towels up and thrown them into the bathtub so the cleaning people knew to replace them. Surely Paul hadn't...

The elevator doors opened and they stepped into the car.

“He's sweating a lot. It’s a side effect of his meds,” Paul elaborated as Michael hit the button for the lobby.

“Yeah. I figured that,” Michael said lightly, then quickly changed the subject. “Julie reminded me of the photo shoot this morning.” Sometimes he wondered why their handlers seemed to think actors weren't capable of memorizing schedules. Or maybe they just considered it their jobs to play nanny. Julie had told him twice not to miss the shoot.

The elevator doors whisked open and they stepped out into the beehive that was the lobby.

“Good, good. I have to go. I wanted to run over to Starbucks to get some coffee, but I don't see that happening anytime soon. The hotel coffee is very bad.” Shaking his head, Paul hurried off, muttering something about crazy schedules.

Michael checked his watch and decided there was enough time to drop by the airport.

He greeted people on his way out, stopped here and there to say hi and shake hands with some fans he recognized from various other conventions. Some peeps showed up everywhere he went and some he remembered because they stuck out to him for one reason or another. He liked his fans. All things considered there were very few weirdos among those he'd encountered personally. He had met more lunatics on twitter than he'd ever met on conventions, face to face.

He crossed the bridge that led from the hotel to the airport, inhaling deeply the fresh air. The sun was out and while it was still cool now, Michael was sure it would warm up nicely later. What a shame to be stuck indoors for most of the day. Maybe he and Amanda should really steal an hour or two to roam the city.

Maybe they should kidnap Rick and take him along.

Maybe he should kidnap Rick and take him somewhere...

He rolled his eyes at himself. Hello, brain, could you please stop thinking about Richard every damn five minutes, thank you very much.

The airport was like a small town in itself. Spaciously laid out over two levels were shops, restaurants, a bank, bookstores and a post office.

Michael entered a jewelry store and browsed it for a while, then moved on to a boutique where he found a lovely red silk scarf. Lexa didn't usually wear scarves, but as Michael let the smooth, cool fabric slide through his hands he thought of several different ways they could play with it. Smiling, he took it and as he waited by the check-out he also found a pair of silver earrings he knew she would adore, so he got those, too.

Maybe she'd tease him about bringing her gifts to relieve his guilty conscience. But she would love her presents all the same and he hoped he didn't have to explain to her what it meant to him that she had given him this weekend. He hoped she knew.

He was a lucky guy, there was not a shred of doubt about that. Lexa could be a pain in the neck sometimes. She was stubborn and independent. She needed her space as much as he sometimes needed his. She could be a real vixen when she was stressed or mad. There was a lot of fire in his lady and he loved that about her, too.

But Lexa was also the most insightful woman he'd ever known. She 'got' him and she never expected more of him than she expected of herself when it came to their marriage. She paired female intuition with a strong need to communicate, to talk things out. That wasn't always something he'd choose to do, but in the long run it worked.

When he'd first met her and they clicked right away he had taken her out. She had been the first woman that piqued his interest since he and Rick were doing it. They had called each other and met more frequently over those first couple of weeks and before he knew it he’d realized he was well on his way to falling in love with her. He had told her about his sexuality on their third date because the subject had come up during a conversation and she hadn't freaked.

One day, several weeks after he'd broken up with Rick, he decided that, since she was already aware about his history with guys, he'd go ahead and tell her about Rick. He had probably needed to talk about this to someone and there'd been no one else he trusted enough to share this with.

She had stared at him. “Seriously, you and MacGyver have been fuck-buddies for three years?”

“Yep. And no paperclips or duct tape kinks were involved,” he had joked it off. “It's no big deal, really.”

“It's over, right? Those STD tests were taken after...”

They had been seeing each other for three months at that time and they'd had sex, but never unprotected. He had gone into this relationship being honest and offered to do any STD test necessary to prove that he was clean. She had done the same in return because, as she had pointed out, they both had the right to know this about each other.

He had taken her hands in his. Such small, delicate hands, so much femininity. Her softness combined with the scent of her perfume – Lexa considered herself a perfume whore – touched a very different string inside him than Rick. But it wasn't in any way less exciting or arousing.

“It's over. And yes, the STD tests were taken after he and I stopped doing it, so the results will be valid. It was over as soon as I knew you and I...”

He had suddenly been afraid he'd gone too far by telling her about Rick. That the vague knowledge of him liking guys, too, was one thing, but that the fact of him actually being with a guy until recently might be a deal breaker. She'd been understanding and tolerant in ways he had never experienced in a relationship. But he'd almost expected her to snap and leave after all.

She had struggled with that new development. But then she had swallowed hard and said, “Okay, this is... None of my exes have ever been this honest with me. So... I trust you. When you say it's over, it's over. This was before us. Or... it was... at least before...”

“I left him for you, hon. And that's not even what it was like. It was just sex.”

“And that happens, I know. I'm way beyond believing the guy I am falling in love with should be a prince on a white horse who has been waiting just for me all his life in an ivory tower. But I need to know it's over for real. I need to know you won't go back on set and continue this 'just sex' thing with him behind my back.”

“That's not going to happen.”

“Michael, I'm not talking about you cheating on me deliberately, just because you could. If you do that I'd be a very bad judge of character and you'd be dead or dismembered.”

He had snorted, then winced when he'd seen the glare she aimed at him. She had continued more softly, “I'm talking about the need and for how long you can stand seeing him every day without... We need to... we need to talk about this. About what he was able to give you, even if it was just sexually. Because I want to know if I can somehow compensate for what you've done with him. For what you need from a guy.”

From there on out they had started to 'figure it out' together in playful, joyful and downright dirty ways.

That was Lexa. His Lexa. That, and a tenfold more.

Michael didn't even plan his next steps. Before he knew it he was standing in line at Starbucks. He bought four large Coffee Latte to go and headed back to the hotel in time for that photo shoot.

He found Julie pacing the lobby and it occurred to him he hadn't told her he'd headed out. Apparently some helpful fan had informed her of his escape and the minute he was through the door she was all over him, hustling him out of the public's focus into one of the less crowded corridors.

“We need to hurry,” she snapped. “Fans are already lining up. I just hope they won't let anyone enter until Mister Anderson gets there and we can start. He’ll be late as usual.”

“Is he still signing?”

“He was five minutes ago. Michael, you know damn well you need to tell me when you're leaving the hotel... or at least have your phone on.”

“It's on.”

She gave him a stern look. “Set on vibration, right?”

He shrugged. “If Rick's still signing where's the rush?”

“Again, as you very well know, you need to be at the location before all the fans show up and you didn't even know where you were supposed to be.”

“I was counting on you to get me there in time. It's...” He checked his watch, “Ten to eleven. Plenty of time.”

They headed down one of those emergency exit corridors only the staff and official con guests had access to. Julie went on about how the time schedule was way too tight and how Richard wasn't helping things by taking his own sweet time for every single person he signed for like there wasn't a schedule to consider at all.

Michael let her vent, knowing she needed this to unwind. Suddenly she registered the cup carrier in his hands. “What's that?”

“Oh, that. Coffee.”

“I can see that.” She scowled.

“I happened to find Starbucks and thought Rick and Amanda would like some.”

“Since when is it your job to get coffee?” Julie asked, eyebrows raised.

“We used to get each other coffee back when we were on the show.”

Julie snorted. “For old time's sake? Really?”

Michael shrugged. “There's one for you here.” The fourth Latte had actually been for Paul who'd looked like he needed one, but Michael thought it wise to give it to Julie to get her off his case.

“Oh, I can't take a coffee break. I have to talk to Dirk about those paintings they want you and Amanda to sign. So I'll just drop you off at the photo shoot and head right out again. Give it to Paul. I bet he needs one.” But there was a hint of a smile on her face and he was out of the dog house.

They reached the conference room the con people had prepared for the photo shoot via a stairwell in the back. Amanda was already there. She leaped at the coffee and rewarded Michael with a peck on the cheek. “That's heaven sent! The hotel's coffee is awful.”

Julie made sure there were con people around and available to answer questions or take care of any problem that might occur before she headed out again, all business-like as usual.

“She was all over the place searching for you,” Amanda grinned.

“I did some shopping over at the airport.”

“Something nice?”

“Gifts for the wife.” He showed her the small plastic bag with the boutique's logo printed on it in shiny purple letters.

“Ohhh, lucky wife!”

They drank their coffee and she asked about the upcoming season of Saving Hope. He told her he was going to direct this season. It had been years since he'd been behind the camera and he was looking forward to it, but also a bit nervous. She assured him he was going to be great. “Your first time directing was fantastic and you even had to deal with two Jacks,” she grinned.

“Rick was a big help. Everyone was,” Michael recalled.

When he had directed “Double Jeopardy” everyone had been spectacularly supportive. It was just the way the cast and crew of SG-1 had worked together. He'd never experienced that kind of family-feeling on a set again.

“Oh my god, remember when they told you which episode you had to direct?” Amanda laughed. “And none of us envied you for it. We all felt kind of sorry. But we all were sure you'd ace it.”

“Oh, yeah. Of all the episodes they could have given a rookie director, that one was the most fucked up, awful one,” Michael groaned.

“Someone... I think it was Martin... once said that Rick had the last word on it. Apparently they had another one picked for you and he insisted you'd do Double Jeopardy...” She stopped short and blinked. “He never told you?”

“No-oh, he didn't.” It was clear that Rick, as one of the executive producers, had known and signed it. Hell, they had talked about it and Rick had patted his back – well, actually he hadn't exactly patted his back - and said he'd be fine. But he had never, not once, indicated that he had been the one throwing Michael headfirst into cold water.

That had happened years and years ago and wasn't worth mulling over now, but he couldn't help wondering why? To teach him a lesson? To challenge him? He'd gotten a damn steep learning curve directing that particular episode. There had been a lot of action, shoot-outs, vicious aliens, and multiple computer generated visual effects. And the damn twinning where each of them had to play dual roles - themselves and their robot doppelgangers. Michael had hoped for something more character based and less techy. He'd lost a lot of sleep and sweat. He’d chain-smoked and – more than once – wanted to just bang his head against a solid surface or be zatted three times.

But when he'd pulled through after weeks of living hell he'd been proud. Exhausted, but proud. Put through the wringer, but happy. He'd done it. And everyone – including Rick - had said, “Told ya so.”

Most of the time during their years on SG-1 Rick had simply passed forward to them what he'd learned, in a non-invading and easy way. He'd given them room to play and grow as actors and if he got bossy here and there it had little to do with them being less experienced and more with him wanting to get the job done faster. They had always been on the clock and while goofing around and having fun was one of Rick's and Michael Greenburg's priorities on set, another one was to get it right and done on time.

And that had basically been the only thing Rick and Greenburg had restricted him about. Keep with the time frame as much as possible and don't get bogged down in too many details, use smaller sequences instead of wide shoots etc etc. Everything else had been nothing but support. Help had come from every department and crewman/woman.

Sure, it hadn't always been easy to listen to all the different voices giving well meant and sound advice. He'd been at the helm and, yet, surrounded by people with far more experience. The strategy had been to find the most viable alternative while still keeping as much of his vision as possible. But Michael had felt safe. Still like a rookie, but not weighed down by too many opinions trying to pull him into all kinds of directions. He'd taken away a whole lot from that experience.

Yep, steep learning curve.

Paul joined them, towels under one arm and his bag slung over a shoulder. “Is that coffee?”

Michael handed him one. “Probably cold by now.”

“I don't care. It's the best thing that's happened to me all day,” he said, taking a sip. “Ahhh, very good, thank you. Richard will be here soon. He's taking a shower.”

“Oh, to be the shower gel,” Amanda sighed dramatically.

“Oh, to be his towel,” Michael moaned.

“Oh, no, wait, I want to be the towel.”

“Too late,” Michael laughed and she stuck his tongue out at him.

“He married me once. I win.”

“But he was only ever gay with me.”

Amanda sniggered. “He wanted to do a Ghost pottery scene with Teal'c in 'Windows of Opportunity'.”

“That doesn't count. Chris chickened out of that one,” Michael said, all victorious. What he didn't say was; I had him up my ass more times than I can count. Try competing with that. And he was slightly perturbed by the childish satisfaction that thought gave him.

“Chris chickened out of what?” Rick stepped between them, grinning from ear to ear. He was dressed in a dark blue shirt, the first two buttons open, and pants of the same color.

“Chris didn't want to play gay with you,” Amanda said.

“Yeah, well, his loss.”

Michael held the last Latte out to him. “Your coffee, hon.”

“Thanks, snookums,” Rick said without batting an eyelid as he took it.

“I'm staying out of that one,” Paul said dryly, then added, “You should have called or texted me. I was about to come and get you.”

“Some very nice young lady collected me, no worries. Apparently I'm late.” He squinted at his watch. “By... what... fifteen minutes. Oy. Sorry, guys.”

“Never mind that,” Paul said. “I will let them know you're all here.” He pushed through the double door to inform the photographer and the assistant.

Rick quickly downed his coffee and some attentive staff member took the cups from them.

“How do I look? Got anything between my teeth? My hair okay?” Amanda bared her teeth and rolled her eyes and they all burst out laughing.

“You look marvelous, ma'dear,” Rick said.

“Gorgeous even,” Michael added and they each offered her an arm.

“Oh, lucky me,” she chirped and they waltzed in, leaving their 'real mes'' behind and putting on their public personas.

The whole photo shoot was a blur of people. The photographer barked out orders (“Smile – action – next”) to the fans. Michael, Amanda and Rick were moved around like pawns. Some wanted to stand between Rick and Amanda, some wanted to be hugged by Michael and Rick, one gal didn't want Michael in the picture at all, some didn't care one way or another. Some pics they had to re-take and some people brought plush toys or SG-1 props to pose with.

One hour and thirty minutes later it was over. The fans were – hopefully – mostly happy and hurried off to stand in lines for other actors or roam the dealer's rooms or visit a panel. The photographer asked them to pose without anyone else and they moved to stand together, Amanda sandwiched between them. The whole time while they had actually been working Michael had stayed focused on his job and the fans, but now when it was just them he noticed the faint whiff of Rick's shower gel and how close they were even with Amanda in the middle. It was distracting as hell and he was glad he wasn’t a hormone driven rookie in his twenties anymore.

Finally the photographer had packed up and they were told to wait until their handlers escorted them to their next assignment. Paul had rushed out to clear something with someone and Julie, who had showed up at some point during the shoot, was by the door talking on the phone.

“What's next for you?” Amanda asked.

“I've got a meet and greet. They're probably already waiting for me.” Rick had a towel slung loosely around his neck and dabbed at his temple with a corner of it. He looked pale underneath his grin and Michael noticed how he leaned against a table to take weight off his knee or to support his back.

“I have autographs now,” Michael said.

“Yeah, me too.” Amanda checked her phone for her schedule. “Want to grab some lunch after?”

“Sure, why not. Rick?”

“No can do. Meet and Greet, then autographs again. Seeing how long that line was earlier I suspect I'll be doing that for a couple of hours. Oh, and I have another photo shoot this afternoon.” Rick grimaced. “At least I don't have to be on stage today.”

Neither of them suggested he should take it easy or get some rest. They had worked long enough with the guy to know he would neither listen to them nor appreciate them telling him to take it slow.

“I have a panel tonight,” Amanda said. “You're both very welcome to join me.”

Michael grinned. She was actually nervous going out there on her own. Even after all these years. “No Rick ribbing and no dancing with me, huh?”

“You'll have them eating outta your hands,” Rick said. “At least you remember all the shows and episodes and the people you worked with.”

“Like you don't,” Amanda laughed.

Rick sighed. “My brain's like Swiss cheese, I swear.”

“More like selective, I think,” Michael said dryly.

Rick threw up his hands. “I remember you... two... and the big guy, that's something, eh?”

“I feel flattered.” Michael and Amanda high-fived and he was about to yank Rick's chain some more when his phone vibrated. He pulled it from his jeans pocket to take a look, but it wasn't anything important. Just someone sending him a tweet.

Amanda raised her eyebrows. “Everything okay at home?”

“Yep, just twitter stuff.”

“How is Sam's arm?”

“Oh, he's on the mend. Just takes time. He's the hero of his team. Everyone wanted to sign the cast.”

“Guys,” Amanda said, rolling her eyes.

Rick stopped rubbing his face with the towel and frowned. “What happened to your kid?”

“He broke his arm in two places. Hockey.”

“Awww, I'm sorry to hear that. What position does he play in?”

“Defense. But obviously not anymore this season.”

“Thankfully they bounce back easily at that age. He's, what, ten?”

“Eight. But, yeah, he'll be fine. He's bored and cranky now, but he'll be fine.”

At that moment Paul returned and whisked Rick away to his 'Meet and Greet' and a minute later Julie ended her phone call. Michael and Amanda were ushered downstairs to the autograph tables which had been put up in the main hall.

Another two hours later Michael handed a signed SG-1 Season Five box back to a guy who looked like he spent most of his life in a gym or a Jaffa training camp instead of watching Sci-Fi shows. Which proved, once again, that fans came in all shapes and sizes. The guy thanked him and carried away his SG-1 box like a fragile treasure. Well, it had been signed by most of the cast already so it was probably special.

The last fan in his line was a brunette in her thirties who looked nervous as hell. First timer, he concluded as he greeted her with a cheerful, “Hi there.”

She smiled. “Hi, um, how are you?”

“Pretty good, actually, thanks.” He looked at the picture she wanted him to sign. It was from “Tin Man”, not 'Double Jeopardy” - but it still kick-started the trip down memory lane again as he signed it with a flourish “To Sonja” complete with his name and a smiley face. She thanked him and he thanked her back for coming, just a tad distracted by flashes of...

I'm so gonna blow this up big time,” he panted.

Rick slowed down, but kept driving into him, fingers digging into his hips. “Wha...?”

Double Jeopardy is fucking HUGE.”

Can we focus on the fucking right now?” Rick groaned.

Am not gonna ma... oh god, do that again... am not gonna make it.” He'd read that script. He was doomed. Dead. Toast. And why the hell had he just said that? He hadn't even shared his thoughts... his agony, his doubts, whatever... with Chris. It had just fallen from his lips... as if Rick's thrusts were pushing the words out.

Shanks...” Rick wheezed.

So many scenes to choreograph, too much stuff happening at once, that twinning thing... I don't even know where to start with my storyboard. All I have is a couple of stick figures.”

Rick came to a staggering halt and Michael felt the shift of his lover's cock inside as Rick bent over him and kissed his right shoulder. “Stick figures are cool. Nothing wrong with that. Stop fretting. You'll be great.”

It's too big,” he said gloomily. Now that he'd started voicing his fears it was crystal clear that he was panicking. And telling the executive producer of the show you didn't feel up to the task was such a major no-go. Especially while he was trying to fuck your brains out. Which was most likely the reason he'd just spilled it. Rick had turned his brain into mush.

Don't DO this to me,” Rick moaned. “Not now!”

Sorry. I just...” Despite Rick being in him he felt his erection dwindle, which was a first. And not a pleasant thing to happen.

Oh, for...” Rick pulled out carefully and let go of his hips. “You just killed the moment.”

Michael flopped over on his back and his eyes met a scowl.

Are you telling me you want to quit?”

NO. Well, I don't know.”

The reason they gave you 'Double Jeopardy' is because they believe you can do it. So do I.”

Hey, no pressure then,” Michael growled.

Do you WANT to direct or not?”

YES, I want to direct. You know I do!”

Then do it.”

But this is...”

Michael, my dick is going to explode any moment now and I'm kinda fond of it. So can you stop freaking out just long enough to let me get off somehow?”

Michael's eyes traveled down Rick's body and settled on a beautiful erection. He couldn't help but lick his lips at the sight and he suddenly noticed how open he was, how vulnerable. And that, if they stopped now, he'd have to go back on set soon being horny and pissed all day, which would probably lead to drinking with Chris, which would lead to being hungover and equally as pissed tomorrow because he couldn't afford to be hungover until he was done with this freaking director job.

He had to get to work because his prepping time was limited. Who knew when or if he and Rick would be able to meet again this week or next...

Okay. Get back in there,” he ordered hoarsely, taking himself in hand to get fully hard again.

You sure about that?”

Just do it.”

Rick sighed. “Look, if you need to talk about this right now we can...”

NO. I'm good. Not gonna let you go before you've done what you're supposed to do.”

Oh, I'm at your service,” Rick smirked and positioned himself as soon as Michael pulled up his legs.”And look at that, you're SO ready for me.”

Been at it for a while.” He released his breath when Rick slid back in with one long, smooth move, then stilled. Michael hooked his knees over his lover's shoulders. Rick bent over him, hands coming to rest to either side of his head.

Wanna pep talk?” Rick asked, a wicked gleam in his brown eyes.

Got some sound advice?” Michael murmured, loving the feeling of being doubled over this way and Rick filling him to the hilt.

No. Just this; you will not quit.”

He realized he'd never really thought of quitting. He wasn't a quitter. “I won't. I was just... mmmh.”

They kissed. Rick moaned into Michael's mouth where their tongues stroked and licked. And finally Michael's overactive mind shut down and he was back in the game. Sex proved to be a far better distraction than booze.

Rick started moving, slow and deep. For someone who'd just been on the verge of erupting his body control was incredible. But it wasn't enough, it wasn't what Michael needed right now. He needed to blow up, burn and crash.

Gimme some action here,” he demanded sharply.

You already getting into director mode?” Rick huffed, laughter dancing in his eyes. “Go on, direct me. Practice's good for ya.” He started circling his hips. “Action, you say?”

Thought you were so cl... ose... wait!” When Rick stopped immediately, Michael unhooked his legs from his shoulders. There was a short moment of limbs and bodies rearranging – with Rick staying firmly connected to him – until Michael wrapped his legs around Rick's middle, pulling him forward. The resulting jolt of Rick's cock hitting home had them both hiss and growl.

Nail me,” Michael ground out. “Now!”

Rick complied, hard and fast, just the way he'd done before the earlier interruption. Michael went with it, everything else forgotten and out of focus for the moment.

That's much better, baby,” Rick panted.

Oh, yeah... keep it up... don't slow down...”

Listen...”

Wha...?”

You... will... not... blow... it. You... will... be...FUCKING BRILLIANT!” Each word was hammered into him with powerful thrusts and when Rick came with a howl on the 'brilliant' it brought Michael to the edge and over it with full force.

...”Michael? Earth to Michael?” Amanda's hand on his arm made him drop the pen he'd apparently still been holding. He almost bolted from his seat, startled out of his little memory-fest.

Holy shit.

He couldn't do this. Not here of all places, out in the open.

“Are you okay?”

He grabbed the glass of water from his table, relieved when his hand didn't tremble, and took a long swig. Pouring it out over himself would have helped with the hard-on he currently sported, but it would also be a bit awkward.

“Fine,” he said. Voice was steady. Good. “Just tired, I guess. Still kinda jet lagged.” He rubbed his eyes and took a couple of calming breaths, still cursing himself for letting his mind wander down THAT road.

Geez, like a teen with a porn movie. What the hell was wrong with him?

“I'm done,” Amanda announced. Michael glanced over at her table which was set up next to his. Her con assistant, a Sam Carter look-alike, was packing up the various pens and post-its. “Lunch? There's an Asian restaurant at the airport. They told me it's good.”

“Sure.” He got up, carefully adjusting his jeans – thankfully his erection had been startled along with him enough to recede rather quickly – and thanked his own assistant before they headed out of the main hall. They kept walking swiftly in order to avoid raising too much attention.

“I let Julie know we're going out. I asked her to join us, but she has other plans,” Amanda said as they dodged groups of people and hurried out of the hotel.

They only had an hour and as much as they liked their fans they both needed a break now. But they got lucky. No one really tried to bother them on their way to the airport and a moment later they found a nice table at the Asia Gourmet.

Lunch was fun and took his mind off Rick. He and Amanda stayed in touch more regularly via phone and e-mails and sometimes they met for lunch or dinner. But it had been a while since they'd last done that because Michael was in Toronto most of the year, shooting SH, while Amanda worked mostly in the Vancouver area.

Over sushi rolls and Canton duck they caught up on each other's families, took a dip into business gossip and who was in touch with whom of the old SG gang. They chatted about Sanctuary and how she wanted it back, about upcoming projects and whether or not she could imagine being on SH for an episode. He told her about working with Erica and Daniel and how the dynamics of the cast was very different from Stargate. The whole franchise was very different, actually. With SH he'd left the Sci-Fi genre and he loved the new challenges and the more character-orientated work even though he missed the action from time to time.

He moaned about having to stand ten to fifteen hours at an operating table splattered in fake blood and gore, playing with body part props, which had her in stitches.

Somehow they ended up talking about Rick again, though, but at least it was her who started it.

“I know yesterday I said he seems to be coping and all. And he is. But now I'm actually a bit worried. He was so pale and exhausted after that photo shoot.” A shadow crossed her face. “I guess none of us are getting any younger.”

“No, we aren't. But he's okay. Take it from Doctor Harris – the patient needs some rest, a massage, a spa day and he'll be back like this.” He snapped his fingers and she snorted.

“Do you think he's lonely?” she asked thoughtfully.

“No clue. He seems to have everything he wanted. A house, a kid, dogs, sunny California, no worries about money. He's worked his ass off to get all that and it paid off. If you're talking about relationships... I guess he's just not made for that kind of commitment. Now he has to live with that.”

“Wow. Nice summary,” she said, giving him a cool look.

“Well, what do you want me to say? That I feel sorry for him? Maybe there's no reason to. I haven't seen him – aside from that Comic Con in 2008 and Calgary – in years. He might well be happy like a clam with his retirement and despite being old. I don't know.”

“In twenty years we'll be where he is now,” she said gloomily. “Career wise I'm not sure what that means, how things will develop. And everything else... I hope I won't be sitting in a big house, divorced and too old to play anything but the mother-in-law bitch, the hard-nosed business woman or the mommy of the nation.”

“Don't forget the botox treatments and the pains of keeping up with your personal trainer who'll be young enough to date your kid.” Joking was good. It took the edge off.

“Oh, god.” But she laughed and they ordered coffee.

Michael didn't want to think about Rick being lonely or getting old right now. He had just gotten him back into bed after all these years. He wanted to pretend – at least for a little while – that they could pick up where they had left off. He could accept the fact they were both older and that Rick didn't have the same stamina Michael was used to. The bodily changes were no issue whatsoever for him, but he was afraid that if he gave in to thinking about Rick's troubles, he might discover that he still cared way too much.

And he couldn't. He had to take this weekend as what it was. Borrowed time. A gift. A very precious gift. But he had to return the 'toy' in the end and get on with his life. And he could do that. As long as he kept it simple.

Simple and fun. Yep. That's the way to do it.

And while he was making this vow to himself, to keep this weekend light and easy, he knew he shouldn't have raised that argument about Lexa this morning either. There was no point in opening old wounds. He didn't want to fight and argue over spilled milk.

Simple and fun had always been their way of tagging the 'friends with benefits' relationship. “Let's keep it simple and fun,” they used to remind each other whenever they'd entered territory that threatened to take them beyond simple and fun.

And, oh boy, there had been moments.

When you worked together so closely and basically lived in each other's pockets, when you weren't just fuck buddies but also friends and colleagues, the boundaries would eventually blur a little – in good and bad ways.

Like when they'd both had their kids with them on set and had taken turns looking after them. Sometimes they had met on weekends and taken the girls to the playground or spent an afternoon at Michael's place watching a game while the kids were napping or playing. Michael had kissed Wylie's owies better and Rick had tried to feed Tatiana broccoli (with very little success). They had mostly avoided meeting at Rick's place in Vancouver because there was always a chance of paparazzi hanging around, trying to get pictures. The press was much less aggressive towards Rick in Canada as opposed to California, but you'd never know.

Of course there had been no way they'd end up in bed or even necking on the couch whenever the girls had been with them. Especially not once their babies had reached toddler stage. Little ears and eyes and out of babe's mouths could be worse than public media.

Domestic stuff. Something that had felt like they were a happy little family with two dads. They'd done that. Not all the time and not during hiatus – they'd rarely ever seen each other during hiatus. Sometimes Rick had called and they had actually engaged in phone sex once or twice - but they'd done domestic stuff, yep.

Sometimes when it felt like they had gotten too close they maintained a certain distance for a while. Never for long, though.

Then there had been issues about personal boundaries like Rick being on Michael's case over partying and drinking – mainly with Judge – and Michael griping about Rick's tendency of being jealous and going alpha on him in a not-so-subtle way whenever he'd felt Michael had gotten too cozy with one of the guest stars. And then, of course, Rick had accused Michael of over reacting and being 'out of line' when he'd been pissed about Rick ogling J.R. Bourne during those early Tok'ra episodes. Rick had been Covert Ops about it, but Michael had known him too well and seen the signs.

So, they'd had rows. And moments of crossing certain lines and acting stupid and pig headed. But they'd always managed to reach the common ground of 'simple and fun' again. Until Michael had met Lexa and things had changed in a big way.

Not right away, but slowly and steadily.

Chapter Text

II

Despite being occupied with another (single) photo shoot and signing those 75 pre-ordered paintings the day was dragging and Michael found himself with nothing else to do around 5:30 pm. He had a light dinner with Julie and Amanda in their private lounge, coordinating their activities for Sunday and talking about their day. Amanda was a bit nervous about her panel and the language issues she might run into with no Rick or Michael there as distraction. Of course she didn't have to be nervous because she was a pro and she was funny, caring and entertaining. Everyone loved her.

They had just finished dessert – a sinful concoction of hot chocolate fudge with whipped cream, something neither of them should eat, but it was too good to pass up - when Michael's phone vibrated in his pocket. Leaning back into the couch cushions he pulled it out and found a text message blinking at him.

'Where are you?'

He grinned and replied quickly. 'Dinner. You?'

'Signing. Wish my name was short-er.'

'How can u text while signing?'

'Ancient gene here, genius.'

Michael snorted. Memory loss his ass. He typed, 'Bet u wish u could ascend & escape 'em'

'Show me how?'

'Nope. Offered once, u declined.'

':p Gotta go, break's over.'

Michael was about to reply when another text appeared. 'Paul left someth. for you @ front desk.'

Raising his eyebrows he sent a quick, 'Ok' and, after a moment of thought, deleted the chat before he put his phone away and tried to get back into his conversation with Amanda and Julie.

When they parted he hugged Amanda and told her to call him if she needed moral support on stage. She threatened to take him up on his offer and rushed off to get ready, followed by Julie.

Michael waited a couple of minutes but couldn't curb his curiosity much longer and made his way down to the lobby. That, however, didn't turn out to be as easy as sneaking out of the hotel for lunch. The large atrium was packed with people and Michael found himself swamped by groups of fans the moment he left the elevator.

He smiled and said, “Hi,” but didn't pose for pictures or shake hands. He fell into a fast pace to make sure people understood he didn't have time to stop and chat. He ducked his head and kept moving, not reacting to the snippets of, “Isn't that Daniel Jackson?” “Hey, I think MS just walked by.” “Look, oh, look, it's Michael...” “There's Daniel...”

Damn, he should have sent someone from the staff down here. But then he really didn't want anyone to peek into whatever message 'Paul' had left for him. He was probably being unfair assuming the con peeps might snoop into his privacy, but you could never be sure.

The young man at the front desk greeted him with professional politeness, went to look for a message from Paul Brown and returned with a white envelope that had Michael's name scrawled on it – in Rick's distinctive handwriting. He had to show his ID – the guy was nothing if not thorough in his job – and the envelope was handed to him.

Michael slipped it into the inside pocket of his well-worn leather jacket and left as quickly as he'd arrived, briefly wondering if Rick had actually sent Paul to deposit that here or if he'd managed to make it to the front desk himself without being recognized.

General O’Neill on Covert Ops. The thought was amusing.

In the safety of his own room he ripped the envelope open and found a key card to Rick's suite and a note that said, 'Let yourself in early if you can, shower & open the gate for me.'

“What are you up to, Rick?” he asked his empty room.

He had always known Rick to be eager to play with him, opening him slowly and driving him crazy in every way. On those occasions when they'd only gotten away for an hour tops during the day they hadn’t bothered with long foreplay anyway, but whenever they'd had more time they had engaged in trying to draw it out, exploring each other's happy spots, finding ways of heightening the sensation.

Rick wanting him to be ready and prepped in advance was new.

Open the gate...

Snorting with laughter Michael placed the key card on his nightstand and went to flush the balled up note down the toilet. He wondered if this was probably the most daring thing Richard had done in a while and if he was sitting in his signing room right now, getting all excited over imagining Michael following his 'instructions'.

He dropped his hat and jacket on the bed and picked up his phone again to check for messages. There was one from Lexa he'd missed over dinner. It blinked at him when he opened the chat window.

'Hi. Having fun? :)'

She was still online so he wrote back. 'Yeah. Just remember this is all your fault. <3'

'Can you talk?'

'Yup.'

A moment later he had her on the phone. He kicked off his shoes and flopped on his bed. “Hi. How's the home front?”

“All clear and dandy. We miss you.”

“Yeah, missing ya'll too.” And right now as he was hearing her voice, he really did. He wished he was home with them, on the couch with a glass of wine and Lexa snuggled up to him. He wished he could kiss his babies good night. For a moment he wondered what he was doing here... with Rick... when he could be there, with her. “I love you,” he added softly.

“Love you, too,” she replied and he could hear relief in her voice.

“Nothing will ever change that,” he said from the bottom of his heart.

“I needed to hear that,” she replied. “I know I said you should go and do the deed. And I still think it's important you did. But I don't want you to think I don't care. Or that I want to get rid of you.” There was a nervous little giggle and his heart clenched.

“Why do you think it's important I'm doing this with him?” he asked. “I know what I am. I don't have any hangups. I don't get why...”

“Do you love being with him? Is being with him the same as playing with toys?”

He closed his eyes briefly. “No. It's not the same.” Suddenly angry he snapped, “Of course it isn't the same, what do you think? Toys are never the same as doing it with a real partner, you know that. What are you trying to prove here, Lexa? That I need a guy as much as I need you? What?”

“Are you going back to be with him tonight?” she asked calmly.

He almost told her 'no', but he would never lie to her and to his own dismay he was too well aware that he wasn't going to cancel his night with Rick, no matter how awkward he suddenly felt about it. “Yeah.”

“That's good. I don't want to prove anything, hon. I just want you to be able to live that other side of your sexuality. And I want it to be with someone who cares about you. I know you'd never cheat on me, but I also know there are certain things me and Bob can't do for you.”

He sighed. “Lexa...”

“Am I right?”

He thought back to last night and what they had done, how he had been putty in Rick's capable hands. How much he had wanted to go all the way. How he had CRAVED it.

He closed his eyes. “Yeah.”

“And you've been riding Bob a lot lately.”

“The dildo gets me off just fine,” he said. And it did. It served its purpose when he needed it. “Especially when you're the one using it on me. You know that.”

“I know. But you've been... playing with yourself more since Calgary.”

“I was in Toronto...”

“Not just in Toronto, Michael. Look, I don't even have a problem with that. This isn't about me. This is about you and what you need.” Her voice was tender and soft and he realized she wasn't making accusations. He didn't have to be defensive because – apparently from her point of view - there was nothing to defend.

He was what he was. She had accepted that about him right from the start. And while he had never strayed – never even felt the need to stray – in all these years, he realized she was right.

“I want you to enjoy this, honey,” she went on. “I want you to savor every moment of it. And when you come home we'll talk. Because doing this on the phone is really... weird.”

“Talk...” he echoed.

“Yeah, talk. You know, communicate – when two mature people talk about feelings and stuff.”

“Uh, yeah, I heard about it, it rings a bell,” he said dryly. “And now I'm really scared.”

“I love you,” she said firmly, “and nothing will ever change that either, Shanks.”

They talked a couple more minutes about normal things like the kids and the Leo Awards and just before they hung up he asked her about something Rick had said to him this morning and asked her what she thought about it.

“Do you trust him?” was her response.

“Absolutely.”

“And if I told you not to...”

“Then I won't.”

There was silence, then she said, “I must be crazy to agree to this, but... okay.”

“You're amazing.”

She sighed. “Maybe stupid is what I really am.”

“Never.”

They said good-bye and for a moment he sat on his bed, trying to wrap his head around their conversation. He had a feeling she was trying to tell him a lot more than she actually had, but right now he was too riled up to get to the bottom of it.

He could still return the key card to Rick's room and end this right here and now. He was calling the shots here. It was up to him.

Maybe it wasn't too late to turn his back on whatever he had started here.

Except he still wanted it.

Maybe even more so now.

And if he wanted the gate to be open in time he'd better start dialing it ASAP. Still chuckling over the analogies he grabbed the key card and hurried out again.

Chapter Text

III

The first words out of Rick's mouth when he entered the bedroom of his suite and stopped dead in his tracks, were, “Holy... you really did it.” And then, as his tired eyes lit up and transformed the man into a much younger version of himself, he drawled, “I could get used to this.”

“To coming home to a naked, horny guy in your bed?” Michael stretched leisurely as if he had just woken from a nap and not worked on 'opening the gate' – he still got a kick out of that.

“To coming home to a naked, horny you.” Rick's eyes traveled up and down Michael's body. “God. This is nuts. Look at you... you're...” He started working on the buttons of his shirt with nimble fingers, gaze still lingering.

“Nuts, yep, got those right here.” Michael nodded and cupped his sac.

Rick bit his lower lip and dropped his shirt. “I need a shower.”

“No, you really don't,” Michael said, suddenly eager to have him right now, right here, sweat soaked and all.

“Yeah – I really do.” Pants were dropped, followed by white boxer-briefs.

“We can shower together, later,” Michael insisted. “Let's get messy first.” He patted the bed. He had been busy with himself, but he'd also put towels in all the right places and the lube was in reach.

Rick pursed his lips, considering. Then, with a shrug and a, “Ah, what the hell...” he was all over Michael, devouring his mouth. Their tongues re-connected happily in a very intense dance for a while. When Rick pulled back he said, “I've been sitting through hours of signing pictures of a younger-dashingly-handsome-me mocking the now-me, thinking about tonight. About you. About all the things I wanna do to your body... and all the things you hopefully want to do with mine.”

“Then lets! Playtime!” Michael bumped against Rick. They were groin to groin. Rick rubbed against him, his breath speeding up. They kissed again and again. Kisses turned into mouthing, nibbling and gentle biting of bottom lips. Michael got hold of Rick's skull. His fingers brushed through the gray strands of hair. He'd always loved how soft Rick's hair was.

He pulled Rick's head back a bit and went for his throat, licking, then sucking on the skin just so...

“No visible marks,” Rick panted harshly, but made no move to stop him.

“I know... too bad though.” He let go of Rick's hair and they immediately engaged in another round of kisses.

“Somewhere else,” Rick said when they came up for air. “Later.”

“I know just the place,” Michael murmured, his hand trailing down Rick's back and cupping one butt cheek possessively.

Rick thrust against him with more force. “Sooo... you started without me.”

“Am ready for you.” Michael grinned. “Gate's all open.”

“Yeah? Lemme check.” Rick grabbed his biceps and rolled them over so that Michael ended up on top. He quickly took his weight off the man underneath, planting one knee to either side of him. He felt Rick's thumbs run down the crack of his ass and pushed back into the touch. He was loose and lubed up and let out a low moan when one of Rick's fingers entered him easily.

“Niiice. How'd you do it?”

“You want me to draw you a storyboard?” He laughed at the scowl that met him.

“Tell me. I want to know. And what you were imagining while you did it.”

“Fingers and,” he bucked and grunted when another finger was added, probing and stretching him some more, “you won't... want... to use your hairbrush anymore.”

“What?!” The fingers stilled.

He grinned at Rick's 'ewww' face and shrugged. “There are no toys in your closet.”

“You've got to be kidding...”

“No bananas in your fruit basket...”

“Shanks!” Rick looked disturbed enough that Michael felt compelled to stop teasing. After all he didn't want to kill the mood.

“Relax. Fingers only. As for imagining...”

“If you tell me you were thinking of how many bananas you'd be able to shove up your ass you're dead,” Rick growled, which led to a laughing fit and the removal of those two fingers. THAT wasn't helping to move things along the way Michael wanted them to go.

“I was gonna say...” He tried not to have a visual of bananas, but he just couldn't stop laughing. “You... you're killing me!”

“You started it!” Rick erupted in fits of chuckles and snorts. Suddenly his eyes widened. “Oh my god, do you remember those crystal thingies we took from the prop department... the blue ones?”

“Rick! Stop it!”

“We had to soften the edges with... what was it? I know we tried melting it, but it just turned black.”

Michael buried his face into the hollow of Rick's neck and just howled, caught between hilarity and frustration. He was still hard, but not for long if they couldn't get back on track.

“Sandpaper! That's what we used on the edges.” Rick bumped against him. “It made a pretty good toy, eh?”

Actually, it had. And they'd had a lot of fun with that sometimes... maybe he could get past the banana visual and stop laughing eventually. Michael straightened up into a sitting position, and wiped tears off his face. “It took some macg...”

“Aht! Don't you say it!”

“...macgyvering...”

Rick slapped his left thigh. “I said, don't!”

“What? Mac-gy-ver-ing?” Michael laughed even harder. “Hey! It was a work of art. I wonder what happened to it.”

“I took it home,” Rick said, sobering. “After you left.”

Michael blinked and coughed. “You … you did?”

Rick nodded. “Rule number one; leave no evidence behind.”

He reached out and trailed a single finger down Michael's chest to his abdomen and further down. The featherlight touch left goosebumps and the urge to laugh turned into something else that started in Michael's gut and spread out all through his body; excitement, anticipation, but also a bone-deep heat.

Rick's voice was like velvet, his eyes warm liquid chocolate. “It was... something to remember you...us.”

“We were pretty good together.” Michael bent over Rick, capturing his mouth in another kiss and Rick's hands were back on him, pulling his buttocks wide apart, teasing him again.

“I don't want fingers tonight,” Michael warned. “You better give me cock ASAP, because I went to great lengths to prep without coming all by myself just thinking of how you'd fuck me like there'll be no tomorrow. How you'd bury yourself into me so deep... just like that, taking total advantage of how open I am.”

He was caught in Rick's gaze as it morphed from warm to dark with the returning hunger.

“I like that you did it for me,” Rick whispered. “Wasn't sure you would.”

“I need to feel you in me, need you to draw it out and keep us both just on the edge...”

“Michael, drawing it out might not...”

“Don't give me any of that 'I'm too old' yadda, Richard. You're hard and hot and just waiting to get in there.” Michael moved down Rick's body. He licked and nibbled a trail from chest hair to navel and further down to the groin where he kissed Rick's cock and swirled his tongue around the tip. The taste was exquisitely familiar and musky. He was almost tempted to suck him again... just a little bit... but, no, not what he needed. Not what he ached for now.

“What happened to... condoms?” Rick moaned, his voice a nuance higher than usual.

“I chose to return the trust you have in me. One night, that's all we got. Let's make it last for a lifetime... or at least as long as we can.”

“Good... keep talking.”

Michael moved up again and breathed into Rick's ear, “Draw it out, take me slow... and then you're gonna shoot into me and I'll shoot all over you, showering you with my come.”

“...licking it off me later?” Rick drawled, humping him.

“Want to smell myself on you, want to claim you. God, I wish I could make you go on stage wearing my come like...”

“Eau de Michael?” Rick laughed wickedly.

Michael snorted. “I know you can't.”

“Yeah,” Rick sighed wistfully, “it's a shame.” Suddenly changing his demeanor he got a firm hold of Michael's left buttock and squeezed. “Getting back on top-ic here. Last time I checked this was mine.”

“Been a while. You sure you still know what to do with it?”

“Some things I actually do remember.” He squeezed harder, then let go. “You think you can stop bitching long enough to show me more of your... imagination?”

Michael raised his eyebrows. “By that you mean...”

“This is your show. Where do you want me?”

“Inside me?”

How? And keep in mind my knees are shot...”

Michael grinned. He loved that edge to Rick's voice when he was on the verge of being irritated. Teasing him had always been fun. However, there was a time for teasing and a time for action. He climbed off Rick, trying to ignore the suppressed wince of the older man, and stood. He had actually given this some serious thought while he'd been alone with just his own hands.

“You good with standing?”

“Standing's better than kneeling. Can't bent backwards though,” Rick said.

“Okaaay,” Michael replied with a smirk. “Trust me?” He held out an inviting hand.

Rick licked his lips and nodded. He rolled over his side and got up, grabbing the lube as he did.

Michael watched as Rick lubed up, taking in the full length of what would soon fill him. He swallowed hard as his own cock seemed to swell even more, if that was possible. He remembered exactly what Rick had been like, what he had felt like... how Rick had reduced him to puddles of goo and a craving he had never fully understood. It wasn't just about being penetrated.

Rick had done things to him... had made him feel...

“So gorgeous,” Rick breathed, touching his shoulder. He caressed the skin, stroked down his arm as he moved to stand behind Michael. “I never wanted anyone like I wanted you. Never before, never...after.”

... like he was the most wanted man on the planet, the only one who mattered...

Kisses were dropped on his neck. Rick's nose rubbed against his hairline. There was warm breath and more murmured words of appreciation. “Still beautiful.... same smell... so you.” Rick's lips ghosted over his shoulders, first left than right, “Gonna make you fly, babe.”

Rick's voice, husky and low, strained with lust, mellow and calm, had always reached him everywhere. Arms wrapped around his middle, fingers cupped Michael's balls ever so gently as Rick's body pressed into his, a solid, heavy weight. Rick's tongue flicked into Michael's ear and he tipped his head back so their mouths could fuse.

“You have no idea how much I want this,” Rick murmured. “No idea.”

“I'm here,” he heard himself say over the rushing in his ears and the boiling of his blood. “Take me, give it to me... make it happen.” He turned around and took Rick's hands. “Living room.”

Rick arched his left eyebrow, the one that used to be 'scarred' on the show, but complied without comment.

Yep, Michael had been busy.

“The fucking couch?” Rick blurted out a moment later.

“The fucking couch,” Michael confirmed with a smirk.

The black leather couch was covered in pristine white towels and gray throw pillows. He had closed the drapes of the floor-to-ceiling windows to make sure no one could peek in. They were at the seventh floor, but the hotel was surrounded by other high buildings and Michael didn’t feel the need to give anyone out there a porn show.

It was not completely dark since the drapes still let strips of light into the room, but he had moved a candle holder from one of the sideboards to the table. He let go of Rick’s hand and lit the three silver candle sticks with the lighter he had found somewhere in the room.

Rick seemed to notice all of that only now. He'd probably been too eager to get to the bedroom when he'd come in here earlier.

“Romantic,” he drawled.

“Was in the mood for a little candlelight. Didn't order champagne though, too suspicious.”

“Don't need any,” Rick said with a smile. “I got you, that's better than all the champagne in the world.”

Michael parked his butt on the bulky armrest of the couch, facing the room. He spread his legs and Rick was there immediately, pushing between Michael's open knees. They held on to each other for another moment, kissing, but eager to get more explicit.

Supported by Rick Michael lowered himself backwards until his head and shoulders rested on a mountain of pillows. He turned his head to watch his reflection in a full-length mirror by the door and grinned at how his body was so artistically draped over the couch's armrest. He pulled his legs up and wide apart, exposing himself to his lover in ways he'd never done with anyone before he'd met Rick.

That was another affect Rick had on him. He brought out the slut in Michael, inspired him to do things with his body he'd never thought he'd been capable of or would enjoy.

There were Rick's hands on his hips, pulling him forward until he was balancing on the edge, ass in the air.

“This...” Rick's voice was hoarse and thick with want. “This... I need to...say yes, please?”

“Yes... by all means... do it.”

Michael quivered and gasped when Rick lowered his face and mouthed the perineum, licked a hot wet stripe down to his hole and started teasing it until Michael thought he was going insane. Rick's tongue slipped in and out, rimming him with quick stabs.

“Ri...ck,” he cried out. “Oh, guh-oh-d...” He writhed, his hands opening and closing. He grabbed a pillow or towel, he couldn't tell what, and didn't care, as he pushed into Rick's face.

Just when he KNEW he wasn't going to last long enough for Rick to get his cock in there, his lover pulled back and straightened up, licking his lips. “God, I love your ass, you know that? It's the best I ever had.”

“It's yours,” Michael panted, caught in a feverish haze of want want want.

He closed his eyes and held his breath, waiting, waiting...

Finally, he felt blunt hardness nudging his entrance. Inch by precious inch Rick worked himself in, deliberately drawing it out. Michael savored every moment of pushing and pulling back until Rick slid all the way in, plastered against him, buried deep inside, exactly where they both wanted to be.

There were lights dancing in Rick's dark eyes when they held each other's gaze, not moving, not talking, their joint heavy breaths the only sound in the room until Michael moaned, “YES, oh, yes!” as he wrapped his legs around Rick's middle

“Tell me 'bout it... Jesus, you're so hot, I fit right in there... all snug and... perfect.” Rick closed his eyes briefly. “Michael, I need to...”

“Don't rush it,” Michael ordered.

“Not rushing here.” Rick started moving gently, circling his hips the way Michael loved it.

He countered him, pushed into the long thrusts until they were in sync, taking it slow slow slow. Rick pulled almost all the way out, then slid in again, brushing the happy button, pulled out again, slipped in... then stopped altogether, hovering over Michael, breathing harshly. They changed the angle a little bit and Rick sank down on him, balancing himself on his hands somewhere on the mountain of pillows.

Michael's nipples were lavished teasingly by warm lips, every lick and nibble electrifying the nerves of his body.

Rick whispered, “Ready to move again?”

Michael bucked and grabbed Rick's shoulders, clawing at them in his need to anchor himself even more to the man. They started again, faster now, no more pulling all the way out. Small thrusts, hitting home stroke by stroke, driving them close, so close, to orgasm.

Rick let out a sudden hiss and stiffened. He straightened up a little, hands grabbing the armrest for support. “Crap...”

“Your back...” Michael managed. “Do we have to...?” He tried to scramble upwards, but was pushed back onto the pillows immediately.

“Stop fussing, 's okay, am good,” Rick growled. Sweat trickled down his face, dripping on Michael's skin, mingling with his own. “Wish I could suck you while I'm in here.”

“Oh, holy shit.” The vision of that was almost too much. He fumbled for his dick and squeezed the already oozing tip. He pumped, the up and down of his hand in harmony with Rick's thrusts. “Close...“

“Feel that? Me inside you? All the way in?” Rick's hands clenched, fingers digging into Michael's hips, leaving bruises.

“Everywhere,” Michael answered. “Feel you every-where... move! Harder! Split me in half! Make me feel you MORE!”

“Oh yeah! You'll remember... you are...” Rick gave him what he wanted, thrust by thrust, “mine,” he ground out. “Making you mine... again...now-oooh!”

That did it.

That last guttural claiming, those words... wrong on so many levels... and yet, a truth he faced with sudden clarity. As they spiraled away and came together Michael was torn apart by the realization that they had unleashed something they couldn't put back in the box again. But still he was coming and yelling Rick's name at the top of his lungs, riding on a fire tail.

He felt hot tears on his cheeks.

Oh god, what have we done?

Rick collapsed on top of him and they hugged, clinging and panting. “Michael, Michael...” he moaned brokenly. “I can't let you go... not again.”

“No!” He wanted for it to come out harshly, but it sounded more like a plea to his own ears. “You can’t... say that. Just... no.” His racing heart thudded in his chest. His bones felt like jell-o and as the buzz of his orgasm faded slowly he closed his eyes. He wanted to sleep and wake up with the realization that all this had been a wonderful, magical dream...

“I need to move. Bed,” Rick said quietly after a moment of heavy silence.

Michael rubbed a hand over his damp face when he felt Rick's spent cock slipping out. The towels underneath got damp and sticky immediately. “Right. Give me a moment...”

With some effort of pushing and pulling they got off the couch. Rick wobbled on his knees and leaned heavily onto Michael as they made their way back to the bedroom where Rick dropped on the bed and closed his eyes. “Never gonna get up again.”

Michael looked down at him, trying to fight the overwhelming urge to run. “I... ah... um... I should...”

Damn, he sounded like a school girl afraid of getting pregnant from kissing her prom-date. He was too edgy. He had to reach that place inside him where he'd find calm. It was the well he drew those emotions from he needed for acting. Anger, sadness, fear, laughter, humor, grief... but also peace and catharsis..He controlled his breathing until his pulse and his mind slowed down.

Better. Much better.

He cleared his throat. “I'll hit the shower. I'm dripping cum all over the damn floor.”

Not waiting for an answer he made his way into the bathroom, hoping Rick was too zonked out to follow.

They'd have to clean up before he left. His thoughts circled around things like, had he put enough towels on the couch or would there be stains on the leather? If there were stains he hoped they weren't recognizable as anything related to sex. Maybe they'd think Rick spilled his drink or whatever.

The warm water and the dropping adrenaline level helped to put things in perspective.

Which didn't exactly make it better.

Words echoed in his still foggy head...

' That thing between me and him... just sex.'

And Lexa saying, 'But if things had been different it could have been a lot more than sex... prove that you still carry a torch for each other... Calgary was some kind of eye opener for me regarding what it had been like. Had to be like. What it might have meant to you. Both. Of. You...'

Lexa had known.

Just from observing them and putting two and two together she had known, or sensed, what neither Michael nor Rick had ever acknowledged. Had never admitted, not even to themselves.

It wasn't just about the sex.

They had MADE it about the sex, but it hadn't been like that, not really.

It probably had been purely about sex in the very beginning, but somewhere down the line things had changed. Michael couldn't even pinpoint what exactly had changed, or when. But at some point in those years they had shared the bed Rick had become more than a fuck buddy. He had made Michael his. Over and over and over again.

What they’d had ran far deeper, had gone way beyond what fuck buddy arrangements should be like. Simple and fun had only worked because they had made the effort to keep it that way.

And they had failed time and again, but never once considered just stopping and going their separate ways when things got complicated. Instead they had back-pedaled a bit, carefully shoved jealousy and other issues under the rug and mended fences – and gone back to bed together. Because that's what had felt good and safe and right.

Very early in their 'relationship' they had taken all the necessary health tests to make sure they were both clean. They had wanted to do it bareback and vowed to start using condoms again if either one of them went with a third party. One thing they had agreed on was honesty at all times. After all they hadn’t been a real couple. No hard feelings, no strings. But responsible handling of things had been a must, the only rule written in stone.

Yet, they had been exclusive in those years. Neither one of them had strayed, there hadn't been anyone else. Apryl didn't count. She had been what Rick had called Lexa. A beard. A cover up.

He knew Rick had been forced – most likely through the 'morals clause' in his contracts during his 'General Hospital' and 'MacGyver' days – to act 'straight'. To date girls and have relationships with the pretties and the famous. To stay in the game.

MacGyver had been one of the Eighties’ icons. But no one wanted a gay TV hero. Not even a bi one. Michael wondered if Rick had found male bed partners on set back then or if he'd gone out to find small clubs to hook up with someone. Hollywood tolerated almost everything - as long as it stayed behind closed doors, hidden from media and fans.

Michael wasn't sure what Rick's contract had been like when he worked on SG-1, but he assumed it had been less tight. Going by his own contract he guessed the only clause regarding sexuality had been to keep quiet about any orientation that wasn't 'straight'. In other words; Do whatever you want, but don't come out in public. Keep it low key

He recalled the heated argument when he had ended it with Rick. How they had hurt each other with the things they'd said. Rick had accused Michael of throwing away his freedom for a beard, that he was building his future on pillars of sand. Michael had countered that Rick had been doing the same for years and Rick reminded him harshly that he had broken up with Apryl because he had finally 'come to his senses'.

Michael realized, now, that maybe Rick had been trying to tell him something back then. That 'coming to his senses' hadn't just been about his sexuality in general. But Michael hadn't heard him.

All he'd heard was that Rick insulted the woman he intended to marry. The woman who accepted and loved him the way he was, including his occasional craving for guys. Because that's all it had been. A craving which had been satisfied by Rick because Rick had made himself available whenever the need occurred. But Michael had lived without cock before and enjoyed himself with the opposite gender. He didn't need just one or the other. There was no confusion there; he'd known about his sexuality since his teen years.

When Rick had attacked Lexa, Michael had clenched his fists, gritted his teeth and ground out that he didn't give a rat's ass about Rick's opinion of her or their relationship. And Rick had told him to go ahead, be a fool and live a lie.

...And what is it you are doing? Are you going to come out to the press, letting them know you're gay or bi or whatever?” Michael snarled.

You know damn well I can't do that anymore than you could. We have to protect our kids from that kind of fallout. But at least I won't be fooling around with fake girlfriends any longer. Been there, done that for way too long... not anymore. I'm done pleasing my agency or the industry. And you shouldn't go down that road. Or, if you think you must, date her, be seen with her, but that's all you have to do.”

I am NOT lying to myself!”

Have you told her you like taking it up the ass, Shanks? And is she willing to buy the toys to do that to you?” Every snidely word felt like the crack of a whip, but Michael was too mad to even flinch.

Actually, I have. And she's cool with it. Not that it is any of your fucking business.”

I thought you are my fucking business,” Rick snorted, oozing bitterness.

It ends here and now. I told you, right from the start, I wouldn't do this anymore if I'd become serious with someone else,” Michael replied coldly. He was too furious about Rick being a jerk to feel anything but rage at this point. Which was good because it was making this much easier than it actually was. “Looks like you need to find someone else to get laid.”

Thank you, Michael. I'll print some flyer, do an online search,” Rick spat. “You think Chris likes cock?”

The thought of Rick getting it on with Chris fueled his anger even more. “I don't know. Maybe he likes ass. You could ask him... but you know he's huge, right?”

Fuck you!”

Nope, not anymore, sorry.”

They glared at each other across the room and Michael wondered if his own eyes were as cold and stoney as Rick's.

If you're throwing this away now, that's it. Don't even think about crawling back to me if it doesn't work out with your girlfriend,” Rick snarled.

Fair enough.”

Shanks...”

It took some effort for Michael to regain his calm at that point, but he did. “Look, I hope that we can be friends again some day. We always said we wouldn't let this get between us when it's over. We both knew this was only temporary anyway.”

Finally the older man took a deep breath and nodded. “Fine. It's been great. Have a nice life.”

Rick stalked out of Michael's trailer.

The sound of the slamming door boomed like thunder in his ears and echoed tenfold in his head...

They had tap danced around each other after that, trying not to let their breakup interfere with work. They had channeled some of the anger into their acting, but for the most part they had managed to keep a lid on it. He'd been grateful for the small mercy that it had been very late in shooting the second half of season 4 and they'd gone into hiatus a couple of weeks later.

Distance and time had taken the edge of it.

That, and Michael had been occupied spending time with Lexa. Had cherished the freedom of having a 'real' relationship. One he didn't have to hide. They could go out together; dinner, movies, concerts. They could meet at their places and have sex in an actual bedroom, have late night snacks and then go back to bed – not caring about having to leave in the middle of the night or stealing away at dawn. They had stayed in bed and talked for hours about nothing and everything, discussed religion, politics, the business... anything. They had quickly built a foundation he had never found with another woman before.

Once he'd told her about Rick and the whole break-up mess he'd opened up to her even further, revealing his issues about going back to the show. This was something he'd been mulling over even before he and Rick had quit.

There had been a kind of weariness about where SG-1 was going and what TPTB did with Daniel Jackson. Michael had suspected he'd only stayed as long as he had because of his 'thing' with Rick. And because they had let him direct in season 4. After the fallout with Rick Michael had felt the need to move on in more than one way. And again Lexa had been a well of inspiration and insight. They had emptied a bottle of wine and talked through another night.

He'd known then that he hadn't just found a woman. He had found a friend for life.

Somewhere close to the end of hiatus Michael had called Rick in Malibu. It had been awkward and strained, but Rick hadn't hung up and agreed to meet. Michael had been scheduled to go to L.A. for several small auditions the coming month so they had set up a time and place.

Michael remembered the sparse though not sleazy furniture of the motel room they had chosen to meet in. Rick had arrived in a rental car, his face hidden under a ball cap and sunglasses. Michael had been there first. He'd made reservations and paid for it, too.

Rick had slipped in, closed the door, pulled off his cap and glasses and flashed him that crooked little grin Michael always tagged as sexy. They had automatically moved towards each other like magnets. Michael had stopped short in front of Rick and resisted the urge to brush a hand through that tousled salt and pepper hair. Resisted the need to hug, to touch, to reconnect.

“I brought Chinese,” Rick had said, holding up a white bag.

Michael had raised the six pack of Buckler Alcohol free – a brand from Heinken - and they sat down to eat at that cheap plastic table with the scratched surface. They'd gone through the mindless polite small talk of 'How are you' 'Great, you?' 'Fine. How's Wylie?' 'She started kindergarten and ballet dancing...' and Rick had been off about his little angel for a while. Michael had let him talk and thrown in bits and pieces about Tatiana's doings.

Over their second beer he had said it.

“I'm gonna leave the show.”

Rick had taken a swig of his beer, then fiddled with the label of his bottle...

You sure about that?”

Yeah. My current contract covers one more season, then I'm out.”

You called Michael or Brad yet? Robert?”

No.” He pursed his lips. “I wanted you to be the first to know. I kind of... think I owe you that.”

Nope, you don't owe me a thing.” Rick stared at the wall behind Michael, avoiding eye contact. His hand was gripping the bottle so hard, his knuckles were turning white.

I just wanted you to know... first.” He shrugged. “I have a cover story for the fans and media. Artistic disagreements, character becoming a wallpaper, yadda. Well, that's actually true, if not the driving force.”

What's the driving force, huh?” Rick asked softly.

I need space. Distance.”

Is this about having to work with the guy you shared the bed with for over three years and feeling awkward about it, or is it about you not trusting yourself.”

Michael grimaced. “Ahhh, ummm, a bit of both, I guess. We're just so used to... It'll be kind of... difficult to...” He groaned and buried his face into his hands. “Awww, fuck.” Before Rick could make any smart remark Michael lowered his hands and sniped, “Don't start with the living-a-lie bullshit again.”

Rick placed the bottle on the table like it was a precious object. He leaned back and gazed at the ceiling. “Maybe it's for the best.”

Yeah.”

Though you do know I'm planning on leaving after six, right? If you'd stick with it for two more seasons and the show gets renewed again, you'd get rid of me and keep the job.”

It's not just about you. I really need a break from Daniel. From Jack and Daniel. From the gate... It's time to move on. I want to go back on stage, do some movies, spread my wings. See what's around the next corner.”

To his surprise Rick didn't accuse him of making up reasons. Instead he actually smiled and said on a sigh, “Five years is a long term commitment. I get that. Most of my shows were long term commitments. After this one I might park my butt in Malibu and just raise my kid in peace. She needs me there and Apryl... let's just say she has her own problems and I don't want her to be the main influence in Wylie's life right now. Am thinking about building a new house. Doing more charity work, using my name for doing some good , something that matters to me.” He paused, apparently caught in his own thoughts for a moment.

Then his eyes focused on Michael again. “But you've got a lot of possibilities. And I think you've just scratched the surface of your own potential.”

I might come back to L.A. for pilot season, see what happens.”

You're young. And you're a fine actor.” Rick opened his arms in an all-embracing gesture. “Go out there, kick ass, take the world.”

Michael snorted, but Rick shook his head. “I'm not kidding. You're one of the most hard working and talented young actors I've met and worked with.”

And had sex with,” Michael said dryly.

That's a very different animal and has nothing to do with what I think of you as an actor,” Rick said. “And I didn't have sex with as many young, talented actors as you may think.”

You were too busy with the talented young actresses,” Michael couldn't help pointing out.

Building a reputation. Keeping up the appearances. But then I never exactly hated women either. And Mr. Right hadn't come along at that point in my life, so I was kinda free to do what was expected of me. It was...”

Complicated, I know. But that's not me. You can't compare yourself to me or my situation.”

No, I guess not.” Rick looked like he wanted to say more, but then he just shook his head and took another sip from his bottle.

They finished their beer in companionable silence. This was more than Michael had hoped for after their nasty breakup and he felt relief wash over him.

Finally Rick said, “Listen, if you need anything...”

Thank you, but I'd rather not...”

Rick grinned. “Thought you'd say that. But don't be an idiot. If things don't turn out too rosy for you and you need a favor, call. I'm not Brad Pitt or George Clooney, but I can make some folks listen.”

Yeah. Thanks.” He wasn't going to call and they both knew that, but it was still a nice gesture.

Rick checked his watch. “Gotta go. Daddy duties.”

They stood, facing each other, and for a split second the awkwardness was back. Until Rick took the first step and Michael the next and they hugged hard. Rick buried his nose against the side of Michael's neck, whispering, “I hope she knows how lucky she is to have you.”

They kissed then, one last time, gentle and tender. It was good-bye. A parting gift. And when Rick pulled back and donned his cap and glasses... when he walked out that door... Michael felt the ridiculous urge to cry...

He'd stood in that motel room with tears trickling down his face and an ache in his chest that almost made it impossible to breathe.

There hadn't been anger to veil the pain then.

And yet he still hadn't grasped the full meaning of what he'd lost. Of what he'd given up. He hadn't analyzed it, hadn't talked about it with Lexa when she asked how things had gone. He had made a choice and lived with it.

Life had gone on. He had returned to the show for season 5 with very mixed feelings, but found he and Rick could still work together. No more anger issues. What had been left was a strictly working relationship.

He stepped out of the shower and mechanically dried himself, his thoughts still occupied with the past. He remembered when, during the shooting of season 5, he had shared with his friends and colleagues that he was going to marry.

Everyone had congratulated him. Amanda and Chris had hugged the stuffing out of him. Rick had plastered a smile on his face, given him the thumb's up and clapped his shoulder. Michael hadn't been fooled by that. Rick was a far better actor than he claimed to be, but they knew each other too well. Later that day Rick had come to his trailer and told him he wasn't going to 'make it' to the wedding.

“Wow. I didn't know you were psychic. We don't even have a date yet,” Michael had said, not sure if he was actually hurt by Rick's flat-out refusal to accept an invitation... or relieved...

Does it matter? You really want me to show up there?” Rick, still in his BDU, stuck his hands into the pockets of his pants. He looked uncomfortable and tense, on the verge of being angry.

Look, you're my friend...”

Rick shook his head. “I don't want an invitation. If people start talking, I don't care. You'll be outta here soon. We go our separate ways.”

It felt like a gut-punch despite the fact that he had made the choice to leave the show for this very reason – partly at least. “They are going to ask, though. What do you want me to tell them?”

'Them' being Amanda and Chris. Martin and Brad. Robert and several others he and Lexa wanted to share their special day with.

I don't...”

At least let's agree on the same story,” Michael cut him off sharply.

Fine. When is this supposed to happen?”

Our schedules leave us with a time frame of early to the middle of August. We are leaning towards early.”

There you go. Pick the 2nd. Wylie's birthday is on the 2nd. There's no way I'm gonna make it to your wedding on my kid’s birthday. I'm sorry. I'd love to be there and all, bring you a dildo as a wedding gift...”

You're an asshole,” Michael said, disgusted.

Rick sighed and scrubbed a hand through his hair. “I know. I'm sorry. That was...”

Yeah, it was. I thought we were over this.”

Rick nodded. “Yeah. Sure. We are. It's just...” He opened his arms in a 'I don't get it' gesture. “Why marry? It's not even part of your contract with MGM or whatever. It's not like you have to.”

But I WANT to. You have to stop thinking I'm ruining my life. I'm a big boy, I don't need your blessing and I sure as hell don't need to stand here listening to your bitching. I chose Lexa because it's what I want. Not because I have to for whatever reason. ‘I’ am not ‘you’.”

You're right. I'm an asshole.” Rick looked contrite, but not the way he used to whenever he'd given Michael the puppy dog eyes in the past. This was real regret. “I hope you get everything you're looking for. I really do. But you know me and weddings, marriage, that whole...” He winced.

You don't want to come. I get that. Okay.”

...Rick had actually thanked him for understanding.

Except now Michael suspected he hadn't understood it at all. He'd still thought it had been about Rick channeling his own anger over missed opportunities into Michael. Because in his eyes Michael had committed himself to something he'd never be able to live up to. Something that would always prevent him from living out his real sexuality, even if it was just inside his own closet.

It didn't matter that the policies about gayness in TV Shows had slowly started to change somewhere in the Nineties. Even today it was okay for a straight actor to play a gay character, but you'd still be advised to not come out as actually 'being gay' in real life. The theory still was that actors would alienate their audience if they were gay and it'd cut box office takings in half. While things regarding LGBT had changed considerably for the better in the industry you were still stuck with certain restrictions.

So, yeah, he'd thought – or made himself believe all those years – it had been about the industry and Rick thinking he was a fool for burdening himself with marriage.

Now? Now, with perspective and distance, all the pieces his memory had just summoned created a different puzzle.

Another memory suddenly surfaced, seemingly disconnected to his current train of thought, and yet so poignant in its own right. He remembered how they had swapped pictures of their new born baby girls one night in the early fall of 1998.

How they had both marveled at the wonder that was a tiny new life. Their flesh and blood. So precious and beautiful. There had been actual tears in Rick's eyes and they had hugged and sniffled a bit, overwhelmed by their discovery of how deeply you cared for such a small human, but also because it was frightening; the responsibility, the not-knowing what the future held for their daughters. They felt they had to protect them from any harm out there – and what an impossible task that seemed to be.

So many little things that had brought them closer together as friends in those years. The sex had been like the icing on the top. It had been easy to call it a 'non-relationship' or 'fuck buddies'. What if they had allowed it to go further? What if they'd been brave enough to consciously let go of all the 'rules' and made up boundaries?

What if he'd never met Lexa? If he was honest with himself he hadn't even been looking anymore back then. If he hadn't met her and if he hadn't been curious enough about her to take her out...

Where would they be now? Would they still be doing it, he and Rick? Would they still pretend it was all about simple and fun and sex? Would they still try to hide from their friends and families and the public world?

Not that it really mattered. It had ended and until now they had never crossed that line again.

Michael had left the show – guest appearances notwithstanding – and done other things for a while. He and Lexa had grown even closer as an item after their wedding. They had done some nest building and started talking about kids.

But only a year later he'd been back with his old cast for season 7. And Rick had decided to stay for another two years. There had been lots of different and unrelated reasons for their choices of coming back/not leaving. When he'd left TPTB had already kind of kept the door open for him with the way they'd written Daniel 'out' of the show. And with increasing pressure from the fanbase – they wanted Doctor Jackson back and they moved heaven and earth to get him back – MGM had knocked at his door again.

Michael had missed the show, the people, the positive working environment. The SG-1 cast and crew had been like a dysfunctional big family and he had always felt like coming home when he'd returned for his guest appearances during season six.

Furthermore he hadn't been too thrilled with the work he'd done in the year he'd taken 'off' from Stargate. It had put food on the table and paid the bills, but it hadn't been overly exciting. SG-1 beckoned with good story ideas and a raise in salary as well.

Rick had been part of that first interview. They hadn't seen each other once outside the studios in the year Michael had been gone, but to his surprise it had been easy and smooth. No lingering awkwardness. They’d discussed Rick's decision to stay under the condition that his screen time was cut down and therefore Michael had been offered more screen time and more action, more involvement.

It had been an offer he couldn't ignore.

He and Rick had found their way back to a comfortable level of working together very quickly. Much more relaxed and easy going than it used to be during the shooting of season 5. They had never talked about their fuck buddy years, It had almost been as if that never happened. And if there had been occasional moments on set of being too close and having physical reactions, they never acknowledged that either.

They had moved on. Because, as Rick used to say; Life's too short.

But had they really? Had they ever really moved on?

This weekend had proved to him that maybe they hadn't.

'Making you mine again... I can't let you go.'

But Rick had to let him go. There was no other choice.

Except Michael didn't want to let Rick go again, either.

And Lexa had known. Maybe it was female intuition or whatever. Her view wasn't clouded by denial and the need to MAKE it just about the sex.

Michael dropped the towel at the bottom of the tub, shaking his head at his own rambling thoughts. Being Daniel might have rubbed off on him a bit too much. Then again, he'd made Daniel what he was... and this would always be a paradox and wasn't worth being analyzed.

Bottom line was...

“Are you hiding away in here on purpose?”

Startled by the quiet voice he spun around to see Rick leaning against the open door, lips pursed, one eyebrow quizzically raised.

“I'm not hiding. I took a shower,” Michael said, hearing how defensive he sounded and hating it.

“Ah-ha.”

“Ah-ha, what?”

“Nothing.” Rick strode past him to the toilet and took a leak. “Took a while, that's all.” He shook himself off and proceeded to wash his hands. “I called room service for snacks. And I dumped all the towels and stuff in the bedroom for now.”

“You called room service? Are you nuts?” Michael groaned.

“Hey, they won't get to see you. Besides, look at me. They’ll have no problem believing I'm capable of eating two plates of tapas on my own.” Rick smirked and nudged Michael with his hip. “Back to bed with you.”

“I was going to...”

“Aht! Tapas.” Rick put a firm hand on the small of Michael's back.

“What if I’m not hungry? And aren't you going to take a shower?” Michael grumbled as he allowed Rick to walk him out of the bathroom, across the living area and into the bedroom.

“You wanted me to wear your come, remember?” Rick murmured huskily.

“You just want me to lick it off you,” Michael muttered, but couldn't stop the grin forcing its way on his face.

“Maybe later.” A hand settled on Michael's shoulder and he was pulled around. Rick was serious now, all teasing stopped. “Don't leave.”

“I can't stay...”

“...all night, yeah, I know that. Just don't leave now because you're freaking for some reason. You talked me into this yesterday, remember? You said we can have this and that it's okay.”

“I know and it was. It is. Was.”

The palm of Rick's hand cupped his cheek, fingers stroking tenderly. “What happened? What'd I do? Because whatever it was, I'm sorry.”

Michael leaned into the touch for a brief moment. “We need to talk.”

Rick stepped back. “Could you be a bit less cryptic here?”

“You said you won't... can't... let me go again,” Michael said.

“Oh. That.”

“Yeah, that.”

“I say a lot of things when on the brink of orgasm. There's no need to over think this.”

There was a knock at the door.

Rick's hand was back on his shoulder, squeezing it. “Go back to bed,” he coaxed. Then he left, grabbing a white bathrobe from a chair on his way out.

Michael slipped back under the covers, realizing with some resignation that his bolting to the shower had been a knee jerk reaction. He had freaked a little. But when it came down to it he'd never really intended to leave.

He heard Rick talking briefly to someone from room service, thanking them for being so quick. A moment later the door was shut loudly and Rick returned, wrapped in that bathrobe, carrying a tray laden with several small covered plates and bowls.

“¡Que aproveche, mi amor!”

“If I was wearing those glasses, I'd say Gracias, cariño mío. But since I'm Canadian and my second language is French, I'll go with, Merci, mon ourson,” Michael said dryly.

“My teddy bear?” Rick growled.

“Oops. I guess I forgot you're not that stupid colonel guy.”

“I'm close, though. And, oh, those glasses. How I loved to take them off you.”

“Glasses kink?”

“I think it's more of a Michael kink.”

“That's unsettling on all kind of levels.” Michael took the tray from Rick and held onto it until his lover had ditched the robe and joined him under the duvet.

Then they placed the tray between them and uncovered the plates.

“Ahhh, la oliva, el queso.” Rick rubbed his hands at the sight of olives, cheese, peppers, small meatballs covered with red sauce, shrimps in aioli and slices of warm bread.

“Something to give us gas and bad breath,” Michael observed.

“Who cares? We can stink up the bedroom together,” Rick snorted.

“'s long as you don't fart while I have my nose somewhere down there...”

“Fart kink?”

“Um...pervert?”

They burst out laughing and Rick threw an olive at him.

Michael made an effort to catch it with his mouth and almost toppled the whole tray over. Rick grabbed it and kept the food from being splattered all over the bed.

Oh, god. They hadn't grown up at all.

They dug in, feeding each other bits and pieces of the very delicious meal. By the time they had emptied most of the dishes the edge from earlier was gone and finally they licked their fingers clean and fell back into their pillows after depositing the tray on the floor.

They looked at each other and there was the most dazzling genuine smile on Rick's face. Michael had to lean over and kiss him.

“Mmmm, aoili,” Rick homered.

“And fish,” Michael added, smacking his lips. “Disgusting. And yet...” they kissed again, lazily but deeply, “I don't care.”

“Has to be love,” Rick quipped.

“Has to be... something.” Michael pulled back just enough to see the older man's brown eyes in the dim light of their bedroom.

Rick returned his gaze calmly, openly. He was... vulnerable. Not even the flippant words could hide that. “So this is where we... talk? As in talk-talk, the talk, pillow talk...?”

“Richard.”

“Just to clarify...”

“I'm not gonna talk about this unless you take this seriously.”

The silence between them grew louder with every second.

Until Rick said, barely above a whisper, “Yeah, okay. I'm in.”

This was followed by another stretch of silence as they lay on their sides, facing each other. Rick's fingers carded through the long-ish hair behind Michael's ear. Michael drew invisible circles on Rick's chest.

“I never apologized to you. For what I said about Lexa. She seems to be one hell of a woman,” Rick said, the words halting, almost shy.

“She is. Always was.”

“I thought she...”

“You... had valid reasons to believe she was. In fact I didn't give you any reason to think I liked anything but cock.”

Rick snorted softly. “You can say that again.” He sobered and shook his head. “But most of all I wanted to be right about her because I... I couldn't stand letting you go. Not with her. Not with anyone. That's the truth right here. Pathetic? Yep. But I'm too old to keep beating around the bush … now that you're here... with me. Again.”

Michael's heart gave several hard thuds. This was a first. Rick had never, in all those years they'd been doing it or after, admitted to anything but 'simple and fun'. Sure, he'd said the things guys said when in bed together. Complimented Michael on his eyes, his ass, his dirty mouth, his cock, his 'many talents'. But this was different. It was huge.

“Why didn't you want to let me go? Because you had claimed me as yours? Your personal sex toy?” Michael dug a little deeper. He knew the answer, but for some strange reason he needed to hear it.

Rick's eyes widened and he sounded taken aback, hurt even. “Is that how it felt to you? That you were my... toy?”

Michael didn't need to hesitate. “No. Never felt that way. Besides, I never did anything I didn't want to do. I just don't want to get our wires crossed here. I need to know your side of this.”

“My side of...?”

“Of us.”

“I never wanted there to be an 'us',” Rick blurted, trying to roll on his back. But Michael grabbed his shoulder to keep him in place. To not lose the eye contact.

“But you realize there always was an 'us'.”

“Well, I did my best not to,” Rick grumbled, then let out a long breath. “God, Michael, what we had was so freakin' perfect. At first it was all hormones and... you have no idea what kind of effect you had on me. Every word outta your mouth, every flutter of your eye lashes, every pout... watching you sucking your cigarette was like torture.” Rick wrapped an errant strand of Michael's hair around the tip of his finger and gave it a playful tug. “I knew one thing pretty soon. I had to have you. You'd given me all the right signals.”

“I was trying not to.” Now it was Michael who snorted and Rick gave him a lopsided grin. “But you were equally hard to ignore.”

“Was a damn stupid thing to do. I was your boss, we were colleagues. Not a good place or time to have a... thing.”

“We both knew that going in,” Michael said.

“You know, that show had a pretty laid back attitude about some things and if they'd found out no one might have said anything. Not out loud. But you were so damn young. People could've jumped to wrong conclusions. The one thing I never wanted was to be tagged as your sugar daddy by certain... individuals.”

Michael nodded. “Mallozzi?”

“He never particularly liked me.”

“He's too much in love with himself to like other people,” Michael said dryly.

Rick moved in and they kissed, as if they needed the physical connection. When they parted, Rick cleared his throat. “You were this young, promising guy. Class-A acting, passionate. And you were ambitious. You wanted to learn, to grow. You, of all people, didn't need someone like me to pave the way for you.”

Michael was sidetracked by that for a moment. “Is that why you made me direct 'Double Jeopardy'? Because I was ambitious?”

Rick blinked. “What?”

“Someone told me you had the final say on that. No luck of the draw.”

Rick continued to look blankly at him for another moment, then dropped the act and shrugged. “I might have... nudged them a little. They thought I was being a dick to you, but we all knew you'd been hanging out in the cutter room in your spare time and kept pestering writers and directors in between shots. Thought you needed the challenge.”

“You do know I nearly had a heart attack over that challenge, right?”

“Yeah, but you did it.” Rick looked suspiciously smug. “And you did damn good. I remember that.”

They fell silent again for a moment until Rick said, “I'd gotten so used to you being available. No, that's not true. I'd gotten so used to us being an item. I think it was in our second hiatus when I realized I missed you. Not just the sex, but... you. I missed you. No clue how or when that happened, but it did. And I kept shrugging it off because I knew I'd see you again and we could just keep going. I'm a lazy, selfish bastard when it comes to relationships. I'd never have asked for more than what we had because it was easy... simple.”

“And fun,” Michael added with a little smirk.

“Yeah. When you started talking about Lexa after the Sea Quest job I didn't get where it was heading. When you started dating... I thought she was just a fling, maybe you needed to prove to yourself you still got off on girls, too. Whatever.” Rick sounded bitter now, his face hardened. “I was a fool. I waited too damn long. By the time I had balls enough to make some choices about my life, it was too late.”

Michael felt a strange flutter in the pit of his stomach. Had he been right? Had Rick tried to tell him something the day they’d broken up? “What choices?”

“Doesn't matter.”

“Yes, it does. Are you telling me you ditched Apryl...”

Rick chuckled quietly. “Ahhh, Apryl. The perfect solution to my management's nagging about finally settling down, finding a girl, shutting up those rumors about whether I liked to play in the wrong sandboxes or was just a sexist dick who wouldn't commit.”

Michael snorted. “Sounds like celestial choirs to me.”

“Oh, it was perfect. We'd been friends before we decided to give it a go as a couple. There was nothing shady about it because the relationship was a means to an end for both of us and we were very comfortable with each other. There was attraction, too, just not that bone-deep devotion on the emotional side you look for in a real relationship.”

“Did she know...?”

“That I have a thing for guys?” Rick shrugged. “I guess she suspected. When we started talking about some kind of living arrangement contract her points of interests were mostly financial and pragmatic.” Rick paused and a pensive smile crossed his face briefly. “We were good together, Apryl and me, back then. Not in love, never that, but good.” He shrugged. “In the end she got out of that relationship contract with a house, paid debts, a life without worries... I got the shorter stick, money wise, and there was some nasty stuff going on towards the end on both sides. But she gave me Wylie and for that I’ll be always grateful, no matter what.”

Michael wondered if Wylie had been part of their contract or if Apryl had tried to tie Rick to her by getting pregnant because he was starting to slip away and she feared he might end up finding someone else in Canada, someone ‘real’, someone who might threaten that cozy life she had built for herself around Rick. But he decided that was water under the bridge and he didn’t need to know.

When he and Rick had talked about going bareback and taking STD tests in 1998, Apryl had already been pregnant and the only thing Rick had told Michael in regardsto his other relationship was that he and Apryl hadn’t ‘shared a bed’ for quite some time.

“You seriously left Apryl to be with me.” Michael tried to digest that. But speculating about it and hearing it as a fact were two different things and he had a hard time wrapping his head around it.

“Well, we were going downhill anyway, but... yeah. You were the straw that broke the camel’s back. I knew I had to choose or I’d lose you for good.”

“You and I would never have worked,” Michael said gloomily. “Not as a real relationship, not even as a closeted one. You've got too many issues with commitment and we'd always have to keep it under the wire. It'd be like DADT.”

“I think I was willing to give it a go. Took me weeks to sort out of my own head and make that choice.”

“And then I broke up with you.”

“Ain't that a doozie?” Rick gave him a wry grin. “And then you went ahead and married her... and you're still married. Seems you made the right call.” He shook his head. “I probably deserved that. I’m usually the one walking away.”

“And yet I'm here. With you.”

“And she knows. What exactly did you tell her?”

“Back then? That we had a thing, that I liked guys, too. I needed her to know who she was hanging out with. I was determined to get it right from the start. She didn't run. She didn't even freak. We got a dildo and called it Bob.”

“Holy crap,” Rick muttered. “Being replaced by a sex toy... that hurts.” Then he snickered. “Bob?”

Michael coughed. “Battery Operated Boyfriend.”

“Oh my...”

“I think the reason we are here now, in this bed together, is that Lexa realized long before I did that the dildo could only replace you for so long. Or… only to a certain level. She pretty much gave me a free pass on you.”

Rick gaped at him. “She told you to get into my bed? It was her idea?”

“Well, it was your idea in the first place.”

“It was a joke!”

“Was it? You said you hoped I'd bite.”

“Hoped, yes. Believed it, no. You're a married man. A happily married man for all I'd learned the hard way.”

“I am. And I intend to stay happily married,” Michael said.

Rick rolled on his back, away from him. “Yeah. I figured that. So what's this about? I got a little emotional earlier. It happened, it doesn't change anything. I know that. Why talk about it?”

“Because I don't want to let you go again either.”

The words hung in the room like a growing bubble and Michael knew he couldn't take them back, now that he had said them out loud.

The words were out there.

Scaring the crap out of him.

He didn't know what that meant. Didn't know if it meant change... what kind of change... where to go from here... if they were going anywhere at all...

Rick turned to face him again. “Okay. What does that even mean? Now that we've clarified that there's definitely an 'us'... where does it leave us? ”

“I...I don't know.”

“What DO you know. Because you’re the one in a relationship... marriage... proposing... what exactly to me? I need a little help here and the ball's in your court.”

Michael took a deep breath. “I can't tell you, yet. I need to talk to Lexa. Because wherever... whatever... happens, I'm not going to do anything behind her back. But I'm getting the... the impression she wanted me to do this for a reason. Like...” He licked his lips. “As if she wanted me to find... to figure this out. This thing with you.”

Right now he wasn't sure whether he was mad at her or still grateful. Probably a bit of both.

Rick shook his head and pushed the covers away. He stood and stretched, wincing a little as he did. “I need coffee. You?”

What Michael really needed was sleep, but he was too wound up. So he followed Rick to the living area and looked out the big windows. Rick had opened the drapes while Michael had taken his long shower. It was dark, but the airport and the Duesseldorf skyline were pools of yellow, white and red lights.

He could see Rick's reflection in the mirror as he prepped and switched on the coffee maker before he started pacing the room restlessly, fluffing up the couch pillows, putting the candle holder back on the sideboard, fiddling with the lighter and tossing it back on the table.

Michael waited for his lover to say something, anything. Because he had definitely put the ball back in Rick's court now.

“And what if we're wrong,” Rick's voice finally cut through the heavy silence.

Michael turned around to face him. “Wrong?”

“Yeah! About this whole 'us' thing. What if we've just been a bit desperate after all these years and too horny to think straight... what if you're going to make some deal with your wife and it turns out we really only have the sex to build on... whatever it is we're aiming for here.”

“You just said you don't want to let me go again,” Michael pointed out. “That feeling is very mutual. But it requires some... planning. Thinking.” He wished Lexa was here. Somehow she'd had an inkling if how this would go down. She should be here to help them get through this.

“I like you, Michael. I like you a hell of a lot. I would love to have you in my bed for the rest of my life, yes! Because we've always been comfortable together and we fit like pot and kettle in all our needs. But beyond that... I don't know.”

“You said you were ready to give it a go. You broke up with your very comfy living arrangement for me. Isn't that what you were saying just five minutes ago? That you'd been ready to actually have a real relationship? With me.”

“And didn't you just say it wouldn't have worked?”

“Not back then, nope. Not in the working situation we were in.” He strode over to the couch and slumped onto it, but was too edgy to sit, so he got up again immediately and just stood there, at a loss for the right words. He pinched the bridge of his nose and shook his head. “It would be different now.”

“How?”

“Because we're not working together anymore, that's one thing. If this goes awry we can just close the door on it and lick our wounds. Then there's the distance. You're in California, I'm in Canada. Usually that's a relationship killer, but in our case it might be perfect. Because it gives you the space and freedom you need. And it gives me a way of maintaining a normal marriage and family life. This relationship could be an add-on, an enrichment.”

“Sounds just like being fuck buddies to me,” Rick said with a snort.

“Well, it is. And yet, it isn't.”

Rick rolled his eyes. “Michael.”

“I know, I know... I'm sorry... this is just as weird for me as it is for you,” he snapped.

A cup of coffee was offered to him and he grasped it and held onto it like it was a life saver. “Maybe we should... I don't know... make a list or something. Of things we expect from... this.”

“A list? What are you? My shrink?”

Michael blinked. “You have a shrink?”

“Not at the moment, but maybe I should start seeing one again if I'm truly considering writing lists and getting involved in some freakin' love triangle.”

“Aha! That's your main issue. Having to share me with my wife.”

Rick, who had just taken a sip of his coffee, spluttered and coughed. “Share... with... oh, yeah, right. I didn't even...” He put the cup down on the table. “Look, this is just totally nuts. Are we talking about … what are we actually talking about here? What? Are we talking contracts, dating arrangements, schedules? Because I've gotta tell ya, that's a bit...”

“Creepy?”

Rick let out a hollow laugh. “Ya think?”

“Yeah, I know. But... just out of curiosity, since you've done this kind of thing before... how is this more creepy for you than having a living arrangement contract with Apryl?”

“It just IS.”

“That's not an answer.”

“You and Lexa are in love and I’d rather not get in the middle of that. Apryl and I never were. It was mostly business, a deal. And that's not the point right now.”

“It's part of it. We need to talk about whether we're even willing to give this a go. Whatever that involves. Then we need to talk to Lexa...”

“No! No way. YOU need to talk to Lexa. She's yours. And she actually got us into this whole mess, by the way.”

Michael had to bite back a grin at how similar their minds worked. Hadn't he just thought the very same thing about Lexa being somehow responsible for this whole mess? But he also knew she'd just been the one waking the sleeping dog.

“Okay. I'll talk to her. But there's no point in talking to her unless I actually have a reason to. If you're balking at the whole concept of having a relationship with me under the circumstances there's no need to bring it up with her. It's not like I'm looking forward to having that talk with my wife.”

Rick looked like he wanted to kick the table, but he managed to restrain himself. Instead he suddenly blurted out, “For heaven's sake, Michael, will you get dressed? This is confusing enough without having you naked right in front of me!”

“Look, who's talking,” Michael said dryly.

“Oh, for...” Rick stomped out the room and returned, wrapped in his bathrobe. Michael half expected to have his clothes tossed at him. Instead Rick muttered, “There's another robe in the bathroom. This suite is set up for two for some reason.”

“You could've just gotten my shirt...”

“Didn't want you to think I want you to leave.” Rick strode past him into the bathroom and came back with a robe matching his own.

Michael took it and slipped it on. “Thanks.”

They both sat down, finally, just staring into space for a moment.

Michael registered he still felt kind of loose and there was a faint throbbing and a bit of an ache inside; a reminder he'd been well fucked by the guy sitting next to him. He loved that feeling. The fullness you could somehow still feel an hour or so later. And when they’d been doing it; the hard and yet soft pressure of a real cock inside him, finding his prostate, filling him. He felt connected to Rick in that special way he used to feel back in the day... when they had done it regularly enough to feel that connection a lot.

He quietly mused that he felt it, too, when he made love to Lexa. Being inside her moist warmth and feeling her contracting around him gave him all kind of buzzes. They did anal, too, which was yet another experience. But it only lasted while he was actually inside her, no matter where. When it was over that physical connection was obviously gone on his part. On the other hand, when she used the dildo and her fingers in him, he still felt it later on. He liked being penetrated, it was his favorite position. But even with the dildo that aftermath didn't quite have the same intensity as when Rick had been in him. It didn't have the same lingering deepness.

“Penny for them,” Rick inquired, giving him a quizzical look.

“Huh?”

“Thoughts?”

He shrugged. “Was thinking how much I love you,” he made a deliberate pause and grinned at how Rick's eyes widened, “fucking me.”

“Yeah, I love that about you, too. How much you love being fucked by me, that is,” Rick chuckled. He leaned back against the couch cushions and stretched his legs, waggling his toes. Michael noticed fine white lines on his feet. Scars from surgeries he'd had a couple years back.

“You ever topped?” Rick asked out of the blue.

“In the early days. Just wanted to try it all. Now I'm only topping my wife.”

“Well, yeah, that's not what I...”

“We're doing anal from time to time, actually.” He wasn't sure if Lexa would be thrilled to know he was discussing their sex life with Rick, but he felt it was important to open up. She had taught him that. Opening up to people you trust. It wasn't always easy for him to do that, but he'd learned a thing or two in his marriage. And if he was sure of one thing then it was that he could trust Rick.

“That's... TMI.”

“You asked.”

Rick sighed. “Okay, fine. Do you like it?”

“Actually, I think she likes being topped more than I like topping her.”

She was so small and tight and at first he had worried too much about hurting her to fully get into it. And even now that they were experienced he enjoyed the foreplay immensely, but not so much the actual topping. He always took his time to loosen her because that's what he loved doing the most. Lexa had acquired quite the taste for it. One night she had told him she believed she understood now why he loved being a bottom so much. “It's so totally different from regular sex. And, omg, I can still feel it, I can still feel you inside me, even later.”

That. Exactly that.

Rick eyed him with a look of curiosity on his face. “You really love being on the receiving end, eh?”

“Yeah. What about you? You ever bottomed?”

“Couple of times. Went on that bike trip when I was just a kid of 17. Minnesota, Canada, Alaska... had a friend with me who popped my cherry. We switched for a while, but I kinda liked being the one inside someone more. There's nothing quite like that. Over the years I was lucky enough to have some girlfriends who'd let me in the backdoor, too.”

They had never talked about this stuff before. They’d just clicked in all the right ways and they had done almost everything in equal measures. Except switching. And neither one of them had questioned that or offered to switch. There hadn't been a reason to.

“I met someone at the academy who taught me the fine arts. Turned out he preferred bottoming, too, so we parted ways after a while of trying to make it work. We were both not really interested in topping, but we had a lot of fun doing all the other stuff,” Michael elaborated a bit more.

Rick grinned. “He taught you well. Never had a partner like you before. You put the bar up for sure. And I had a couple of years on you in that department. Most of my male partners used to be a lot more... passive. Less verbal, too. Some of the girls were quite aggressive, actually. But you... boy, you're bossy and dirty and loud and you have no shame whatsoever.”

“Actually, it really depends on who I'm with and how comfortable I feel letting go,” Michael said, returning the grin.

“Sooo... what you're saying isss...” Rick made a whirling motion with his hand.

“What I'm saying is, that you're capable of bringing it out in me. Somehow you're my perfect match. On the male side of things, anyway.”

“And Lexa is your perfect match on the other side?” Rick's eyebrow climbed upwards.

“Yes. Like... Ying and Yang. Or like... the two matching sides to my... ka, my soul... and that's sappy, I know, so don't even start...”

“You mean the two matching sides to your needs. This isn't about your soul, Michael, this is about your brain's connection to your dick. And your dick wants the best of both worlds now.”

“Yes, but it's also all about whom I want this with. It's not just about a real guy doing me versus a dildo. It's about YOU. You being the one I want this with. It was okay as long as we didn't see each other, but somehow Calgary opened that box again and...”

“What about that Comic Con? San Diego, was it?”

Michael blinked. “Huh?”

“The one where Browder stuck his tongue down your throat. On stage, I might add.” Rick actually glared at him.

“That was entirely his idea. And he didn't stick his tongue anywhere. Much. Though the look on your face was priceless.”

“The look on his face would've been even better if I'd punched it,” Rick deadpanned.

“You were remarkably calm for someone so jealous,” Michael said. They had signed autographs together at that con, at the same table. He remembered wondering if Rick would comment on that impromptu kiss, but he hadn't. The subject of their 'simple and fun' arrangement and anything that might lead to talking about it had been a total taboo.

“I'm an actor. Sometimes I actually can act like one.” Rick grimaced. “I was dying to know, though, if Ben and you...”

“Ben is a great guy. A funny guy. He was a hoot to work with. But, no. Not even on my wish list.”

“Sweet.” Then. “Wait... you have a wish list?”

Michael rolled his eyes and decided not to get into the banter. They could go on like this forever. It was what their characters on the show had been so good at. “I don't know what was different about Calgary. Maybe having that panel together. And dinner. It just...”

“Re-sparked?”

Michael nodded.

“Yeah. Nuts.”

Michael nudged Rick's left foot with his. “So, what now?”

“Oyyy, you're worse than the guy with the glasses.”

“What is it with you and those glasses?”

“They were sexy. They did something to your face....” Rick leaned in and framed Michael's face with his hands. “I don't know... they just suited you very well.”

“I'm not going to wear glasses for you.”

“Not even in bed?” The puppy dog eyes were back and Michael had to laugh.

But he shook his head. “No. And you are changing the subject.”

“Awww, c'mon, Michael. Can't we just go back to bed and play some more?” There was an air of panic barely concealed by the little-boy pout and the stagy whining.

Michael suppressed a sigh. He knew one thing about Richard Dean Anderson very well. The man didn't like to be cornered or pinned down and forced to make decisions. And if he was honest with himself, his own courage was dwindling down a bit as well.

What was he thinking? An open relationship? And if he was the one having two partners, wouldn't that give Lexa the equal right? Of course she had never expressed any interest in women herself. And this wasn't about multiple partner choices. It was about his bisexually, right?

It was about sex.

And it wasn't.

His head started hurting.

He had no degree in psychology and he'd never had the same insight and complex understanding of feelings Lexa seemed to have. Sure, he got feelings. He had no problem expressing them and as an actor he had a certain empathy, a gift to put himself in different shoes and convey feelings his character was supposed to have. But he didn't always analyze feelings. Especially not his own.

This whole situation was as screwed as it could get in his own book.

He'd save himself a lot of headaches and complicated brain acrobatics... and probably a dramatic change of his life in the long run... if he just dropped it and buried it somewhere deep.

He felt a large hand squeezing his neck gently. “One night. Let's make the best of it.”

“And then what?” Michael asked flatly as they stood and walked back to the bedroom, losing their robes on the way.

“Then real life happens. This is a nice memory to make.”

They burrowed under the comforter. Their arms came around each other and they clung tightly, forehead against forehead, chests against chest, groin to groin, legs entwined. Like this they stayed, quietly savoring the moment. Michael had the sinking feeling that this was the beginning of another good-bye and he wanted to draw the moment out, cling to it, seek comfort from it. He felt his own feelings echoed in the way Rick tightened the hug.

The night was far from over, but morning would come way too soon.

“Let me accommodate you,” Rick whispered after several long minutes of just holding onto one another.

“Can you go again?” Michael asked, closing his eyes and surrendering to the huskiness in the older man's voice. And to the fact that he would lose this again tomorrow. But he could moan the loss on his flight home.

If he could only have this one night he better made the very best of it.

“I can try,” Rick said, dropping feather light kisses all over his face. Brow, nose, eyelids, lips.

“Then let me be the one accommodating you.” Michael opened his eyes and his mouth found Rick's for a deep, long kiss. When they broke it, he gently freed himself from the full body hug and slid out of bed. “I'll be right back.”

He found everything he needed in the bathroom, including a large bowl probably intended for footbaths. When he was done preparing he carefully carried everything back into the bedroom. Rick, propped up on one elbow, watched him with raised eyebrows but didn't comment.

“Curious?” Michael asked with a little smile as he placed the bowl on the floor and tossed everything else on the bed. “I need you on your front for the first part of this.”

Rick complied readily and Michael picked the small bottle of scented oil he had found among the bathroom supplies the hotel provided. The label read; a sharp, oriental, masculine scent possesses a blend of woody, citrus notes.

Michael knelt on the bed beside Rick and poured a dollop of oil into his palms.

Once he had warmed the liquid in his hands he started on Rck's neck and, from there, made his way over broad shoulders, working out the kinks. He alternately massaged and stroked with the back or palm of his hand.

“Getting you all relaxed and mellow,” he promised, running his palm down one of Rick's arms and taking his hand, entwining their fingers briefly. Then he did the same on the other arm. When he reached the hand he picked it up and kissed the knuckles, suckled on the fingertips a bit.

Finally he lowered himself into a sitting position over Rick, legs folded to either side of him. Under Rick's pleasant hums and sighs Michael massaged the man's back, taking his time to reach deep tissue and loosening the tautness.

He back-walked on his knees and continued to show off his massaging skills on Rick's butt and the back of his legs.

“Spread 'em a little,” he crooned.

Rick obliged immediately and Michael rubbed his well oiled fingers down the butt crack.

Rick purred deep in his throat.

Michael leaned over and kissed one buttock, then the other. “Was going to mark you, remember?” he murmured and sunk his teeth in. Not too harsh, but enough to feel Rick tense and hear him groan. He nibbled, then sucked.

“Geeez,” Rick ground out and Michael felt him grind into the bed sheets.

“You're gonna feel that tomorrow,” Michael promised as he moved to his next target, the other side of Rick's ass, to deliver another hickey. “That's even better than wearing my come on stage.”

“Son of a Bitch,” was Rick's not-so-polite response.

Michael eventually went back to the sensual touching. He stroked the back of Rick's legs and inner thighs. As his fingers ran up and down he occasionally brushed up against Rick's balls, but didn't linger.

“Tease,” Rick grumbled.

“Patience.”

He continued his massage on Rick's legs, wandering further down to his calves. But the moment he touched a foot, Rick started laughing and curling his toes in. “You know damn well I'm ticklish down there! Stop it!”

“Oh, yeah?” Micheal traced the sole of Rick's left foot with one slick fingertip.

“Shanks! Stoo-oop it!”

“Listen to that, you're squealing like a girl.” But he didn't want this to turn into hilarity so he stopped and nudged Rick's leg. “Roll over on your back. Relax. This is gonna be good.”

Michael got up from the bed and checked the water in the bowl on the floor. It had been hot when he'd carried it in here. Now it had a nice temperature. He fished for the washcloth he'd put in there and wrung out warm, slightly soapy, water.

Rick let out a soft moan of pleasure when Michael started rubbing the wet cloth all over his arms, shoulders, chest and belly.

“I'm gonna fall asleep like this,” the older man muttered, gazing at him with heavy lid eyes.

“Oh no, you won't, don't worry,” Michael said with a chuckle. He mounted his lover again, settling on his waist, remembering to keep the weight on his own knees. The washcloth moved over sternum and abs, teased the love handles, wiped around the navel and back up to Rick's nipples which had turned into hard knobs under the sensation.

He loved the intimacy of this, how close they were and how relaxed.

“Gonna clean you up,” Michael murmured. “You're covered in spunk. Mine and yours. Gonna wash it all off you and then...”

“Then?” Rick's breath hitched a little.

“You'll see,” he said with a wicked grin.

Moving backwards he carefully wiped the cloth over Rick's groin, washing away traces of more dried semen. Rick opened his legs wider and started breathing heavily when Michael wet his balls with the cloth and gently washed them before he proceeded to clean Rick's half erect penis.

That done, he bent between Rick's open legs and started lavishing his balls and the base of his cock with his tongue until he felt it harden further. He spent some time nipping at the sensitive skin of the inner thighs, licking Rick's slightly hairy sack, nuzzling the warm, musky spot behind his balls.

“Mmmmm,” Rick murmured. “Keep doing that.”

“Getting an appetite?”

“God, yes.”

“Am not done washing.” He gave the tip of Rick's penis a parting kiss before he gently wiped down thighs and knees, traced some of the scars with the cloth and kissed them.

“Michael,” Rick moaned, sounding just a tad needy, when Michael left the bed to drop the washcloth in the bowl and get the fluffy towel he had brought with him from the bathroom earlier.

“Soon...” Michael smirked. But he toweled Rick off rather quickly. He had other plans. “How do you feel?” he asked when he was done and Rick was lying splayed out on the bed, legs flopping open, his cock clearly standing at attention.

“I want you,” Rick said darkly. “Get over here.”

“You up for a bit of 69 play?”

“I'm up all right. But if you don't hurry, it might go away again.”

Michael climbed over Rick again, facing his groin, and positioned himself on all fours. Immediately Rick's hands grabbed his hips and pulled him backwards. They shuffled around a bit until Michael was kneeling over Rick's face, ass in the air, chest almost touching Rick's stomach.

“Did I mention you have no shame?” Rick muttered. He started fondling Michael's balls playfully. “Come to daddy, babies. God, I love how they feel.”

“Mmmm, yeah... love your fingers on them.”

“They're made for my fingers. You are made for my fingers and my mouth.” Rick started salivating him, tickling his frenulum, circling his head...

Michael zeroed in on his own target and, after some teasing and licking of his own, engulfed Rick's shaft. He started suckling slowly and almost lazily. Then he felt Rick's warm lips closing fully around his own penis and for a moment he lost his rhythm. He had to let go and revert to just burying his flushed face in Rick's groin, deeply breathing in the familiar scent, while he was stimulated. It had been years since they'd done this and it was a bit of an overload...

Rick's tongue did wonders to his dick and his mouth gave such exquisite pressure...

“G...g... ahhh... that's... that's...” Michael felt his knees turn into jelly. Then the pressure lessened and he was just tenderly licked and mouthed.

“Hey, you okay down there?” Rick asked after another moment of delicious playtime.

“I’m not sure... anyone ever died from too much stimulation?” Michael whimpered.

Rick stroked the insides of his thighs with his fingertips. “Too much?”

“No-ooo... don't you stop... I'm with you... ” Michael swallowed and tried to focus on Rick's straining erection again.

“Together,” Rick's raspy voice came from somewhere.

“Been awhile...” Michael moaned.

“Give it to me,” Rick urged him on. “Feed me, baby, and I'll feed you.”

With a low grunt Michael took Rick into his mouth again just as Rick was doing the same. They paused, then started together. Slowly at first, then more frantically in their need to get release. Michael's head bopped up and down as he gave head to Rick and at the same time he felt himself being pumped, milked, electrified by Rick's mouth. His guts turned into hot lava, his balls tightened and with a gargling shout he came.

He had to let go of Rick's cock or he would have choked. He managed to stay in position and not collapse on top of his lover, but he tried to push down into Rick's face. Two strong hands kept him in place and Rick let out a low growl that Michael more felt around his dick than actually heard.

Everything after that was a blur. He registered that Rick kept him in his mouth and lightly slapped his leg to spur him back into action. With a deep staggering breath Michael took Rick's leaking hardness in again and gave it several long sucks until Rick let out a string of moaned curses. His whole body seemed to vibrate when he tensed up and shot.

Michael's throat worked furiously as he swallowed and swallowed, afraid to lose even a single drop of the precious load. Rick tasted different these days. Still creamy but a little less fruity and a bit more on the salty side. Still familiar, though.

Still yummy.

Michael supported himself on his elbows, hands resting on Rick's thighs, and took his time to get every bit of semen off the spent, soft penis. He smiled as he felt Rick mirroring his own actions on the other end. Rick wasn't just cleaning him either; his tongue was on his balls now, circling them with just the tip.

Michael shivered with pleasure.

“I died and went to heaven,” Rick murmured. “Seriously, this is pure bliss.”

“Tell me 'bout it... we should've done this last night...”

“You taste so good. Sweeter than I remember. Richer.”

“No smoking and less junk food does that to a guy,” Michael grinned, then winced. “I think I need to move. Legs giving out... ow...” Rick's hands steadied him until he found the energy to move his wobbly limbs and finally roll over on his side. He rested his cheek on Rick's left thigh and closed his eyes.

Rick tenderly stoked his hip and butt, ran a finger down his leg, then up again. “C'mon, up here,” he said softly. “Lemme hold ya.”

Michael wanted that. To be held. It was a craving so strong that he made the effort of moving his jell-o bones and scrambling around until Rick was spooned up behind him and he was wrapped in those arms like in a familiar cozy blanket that kept him warm and sheltered.

Rick nuzzled his neck. “Sleepy now.”

“Oh yeah.”

“Don't walk out on me. Before you leave... wake me.” After a pause. “Please.”

“Okay.” Michael yawned and his eyes drooped closed. He dozed, spent and sated, but real sleep wouldn't come. He felt Rick's breath against his ear and was half convinced that at least one of them had fallen asleep.

He let himself drift in this feel-good afterglow for a while.

“It's funny.” Rick's quiet voice almost startled him.

“Huh?”

“I know you so well physically. I know all the buttons to push to get you excited. I know where you like to be touched and nibbled. I know all your ticklish spots. I know all the ways of turning you on.” Rick kissed him behind the ear and Michael let out something that sounded suspiciously like a meow. “See? Like this.” He kissed there again. Then he said, “But I don't really know much about you. At all. Not anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“It's been so long ago since we worked together, spent all this time together on set and... I don't know what you're doing these days, aside from your work. I don't even know the names of your younger kids or how old they are, what they're like. I don't know how you live and … do you have a dog?”

“Cats,” Michael said. “You're the dog lover.”

“Huh, cats,” Rick muttered.

“You still have a dog, right?” He couldn't imagine Rick without a dog.

“Two.”

“Still your favorite people then?”

“Oh, yeah.”

“Remember when we used to eat dog treats?”

Rick snorted. “They were great. Much healthier than junk food snacks.”

“That's what you said. I'm still not sure about that.”

“They are.”

“You still eating them?”

“I'm kinda addicted to blueberries these days,” Rick confessed.

“Blueberries, huh?”

“Yeah. They're supposed to be one of the healthiest food. Antioxidant and all that. You still into Sushi?”

“Yep. Love sushi.”

“Shrimps,” Rick said, smacking his lips.

“You getting the munchies?”

“Are there leftovers from earlier?”

Michael yawned again. “Dunno. You haveta get up and look. Just don't trip over the water bowl.”

But Rick yawned, too, and tightened his arms around Michael. “Too lazy. Need to cling to you a little longer.”

They fell silent and Michael tried to ignore the idea that started nagging at the back of his mind. He was tired. He wanted sleep. But the idea festered and as he mulled it over he grew more awake. Finally his eyes popped open and he gently nudged Rick with his butt. “You asleep yet?”

“Nope.”

“Wanna do something crazy?”

“Define crazy.”

“Let's go out.”

“Out?” Rick echoed dubiously.

Michael wriggled out of Rick's embrace and sat up. “Yeah. It's the middle of the night, no one will notice. No one outside this hotel will recognize us. Well, if we're careful anyway.”

Rick scrubbed a hand over his face. “And where would we go?”

“I don't know. Dinner? Late night snack? We could take a walk.” He hopped off the bed and went to find his phone.

“We can't take a cab. Too risky,” Rick muttered. “And all there is around here is the airport as far as I can tell.”

Michael pulled his phone from his jeans' pocket and started googling for close by restaurants. “There's an Italian and one Greek close to the airport. There's also a pub not too far from here. Small location, live music.” He turned and tossed the phone at Rick, who caught it.

“Irish folk?” Rick muttered.

“Might be fun.”

“Might be loud.”

“Okay. You suggest something.”

“Remind me why we wanna do this?” Rick asked, but started tentatively touching the screen.

“Because this is something we can't do at home. Over here no one's going to recognize us. Not outside this hotel.”

“Only takes one person to know us and we're outed,” Rick pointed out.

“Ah, we don't have to walk down the street holding hands. We'll be friends going out. Not awkward.”

“I like this one.” Rick handed him back the phone. “Looks cozy. Has darts.”

“Pool table,” Michael said with a grin. “I'm in.”

Chapter Text

IV

They took a quick shower – not together this time – and got dressed. Michael slipped into his room to get his jacket and wallet. He left first, making sure the front was all clear. There was another party going on somewhere. He could hear loud music, chatter and laughter. But the lobby was almost deserted and the couple of people there didn’t pay attention to him as he slipped out through a side exit.

He texted Rick and headed to the bus stop across the street.

Google Maps was his friend, yep.

He had to wait ten more minutes before Rick finally showed up, bitching about drunken idiots hanging out in front of the elevator just when he'd wanted to go down.

The bus arrived and, much to their relief, it was empty.

Michael, who hadn't taken a bus in years, but had his acting skills to make up for it, asked how much he'd have to pay for two tickets into the city. With a bit of sign language and the driver's broken school English he finally paid and received two white paper slips.

He and Rick squeezed into the last row of narrow seats.

“Oh, god. I don't even remember the last time I took a bus,” Rick grumbled. “You sure you know where we going? And how to get back?”

“Uh, yeah, sure. Relax.” He patted his jacket's pocket where he'd put his phone. “I'll get us home.”

Of course Daniel Jackson had said that, too, on Abydos. And then they had been stuck. But that had been the other, Spader's, Daniel Jackson. Didn't have anything to do with him. He was confident.

They watched the city go by. Darkness, patches of light, bus stops, stores, restaurants, apartment buildings. The bus took two different freeways and they were in another part of town.

“When do we have to get off?” Rick asked after several long minutes of silence. “Wasn't it supposed to be close by?”

“Next stop,” Michael said after a look at his phone. “Aaand, here we are.”

The location Rick had chosen turned out to be a bar offering warm and cold snacks even this late at night and a large variety of beer. There was a dart board and a pool table. It wasn't a big place, but it was clean and seemed decent.

A group of guys had occupied the dart board and another gang of young men hovered around a pin ball machine in one corner.

Rick and Michael chose a table for two at the back wall of the room as opposed to sitting at the bar and being the center of attention.

“This is on me. Time to celebrate,” Rick said as soon as they had taken a look at the menu and decided they wanted beer and a small plate of chicken wings. To their surprise the menu was in German and English which made things significantly easier.

“What's to celebrate?” Michael flipped peanuts into his mouth from a bowl on the table.

“The L.A. Kings bringing home the Stanley Cup,” Rick said with a megawatt grin. “They're going to knock the Hawks on their asses tomorrow and go into finals to bring that thing home.”

“The Hawks won the Friday game,” Michael pointed out. “Barely, but they did.”

“What's your point? Tomorrow they won't,” Rick insisted.

Their Guinness was put in front of them and they raised their glasses.

“To the Kings,” Rick toasted cheerfully.

“Yeah. To the Kings,” Michael grumbled. “They only got this far because the Canucks had a crappy coach this season.”

“Ex-cu-se moi? The Kings have sacked the Stanley Cup twice already. And they're gonna do it again this year.”

“Maybe. But three years ago around this time the Canucks were starting their march to the Final. Two years ago they put the finishing touches on another President's Trophy...”

“Yeah, well, that’s in the past, obviously.”

“Hey, knock it off, dude. The Canucks will be back with bells on next season.”

“Ye-ah, riiight,” Rick drawled with glee and took a long swig of his beer. “How long did they last this year? A week?”

Michael grimaced. “Just keep poking at open wounds here. One fucking week, yeah. You could call it an unfortunate series of... crap. Their power play has totally sagged under Tortorella, he was a bad choice right from the get-go.”

“He's a guy who talks much and says nothing,” Rick agreed. “Big words, little action.”

“Yep. And there were injuries...”

“Every team deals with injuries to the point that it can't be used as an excuse. Look at the Penguins – and they had injured players en mass.”

Michael flipped a peanut at Rick, “You're enjoying this, you jerk. Tortorella's gone. They'll be back. Mark my word.”

Rick smirked, then scowled. “My L.A. Kings will wipe the floor with the Hawks tomorrow and I'm at the other end of the world and can't watch it. Not fair.”

Michael nodded. “I know! And Mr. Hockey is nominated in 12 categories for the best TV movie at the Leo Awards this weekend. We already won in cinematography, sound editing, production design and costume design. They'll announce the winners for best supporting performance and male/female leading performance on Sunday. And I won't be there.”

“Whoa. That means the next round goes on you,” Rick grinned.

“Deal.”

“So... you're going to get the Leo and won't be there? It's a shame.” Rick shook his head.

Michael snorted. “There's no guarantee I'm actually going to win.”

“Sure you are. You nailed Mr. Hockey. And I bet Robertson and Playfair are nominated, too.”

The chicken wings were delivered and Rick immediately picked one and started nibbling.

“Yeah, and they should win, they were awesome. If I win Lexa is going to take it for me. Continuum is nommed, too. And she's on the list for the supporting female performance award. Wait...” Michael put down his beer, “you watched Mr. Hockey?”

“Sure I did. It's hockey. And...” Rick licked chicken wing glaze off his lips, “I have to admit to watching your stuff.” After a pause he added almost defensively, “Occasionally. You should try these. They're good.”

“You are a master of distraction,” Michael observed with a little smile.

Rick's eyebrows shot upwards. “What?”

“Yeah. Right. So... you're watching my stuff, huh?”

Rick raised the nibbled-on chicken wing. “Occasionally.”

“You missed me.” Michael pushed on gently.

Rick continued eating for a moment, seemingly unfazed. Then he dropped the gnawed bone on his plate and wiped his hands on his paper napkin. “I never said I didn't.”

“No. No, you didn't.” Michael remembered Rick telling him he'd been thinking about calling since Calgary. “I missed you, too. More than I ever realized.” He went out on a limb once more. “Maybe we could figure out a way to see each other more often. Regularly even. We could make it work.”

Rick shook his head. “How? I don't see how. This whole triangle idea... I don't see that. I won’t be responsible for crashing your marriage if things go down badly.”

“You won't crash my marriage. Not a chance.”

Rick rolled his eyes.

“No, you don't get it. Lexa and I are solid. If she says she's in on this – and I have a feeling that's exactly what she was up to in the first place – she knows what she's doing. She's way ahead of us here. I just wish she had talked to me about this before... I got here.”

Except if she had he might just have refused to do this con. Because it was so out there. Something he'd never even have considered if she had confronted him about it while he'd still been sane and far away from one Richard Dean Anderson.

“It's a hell of a...” Rick cringed and started taking apart his napkin. Always the need to fiddle with things, that was Richard.

“Commitment?” Michael knew he was walking on thin ice here. If he pushed too far, too hard, he'd lose him for sure.

Rick shrugged. “It would change things. Look, I'm quite happy being a single dad and 'Uncle Rick' to my daughter's step sister. Apryl and I are okay with each other for the most part and her SO is a decent guy. He's good for her, keeps her grounded and happy. I'm an add-on to their lives with Wylie being the bridge. We're patchwork, but we're family. It's not always cozy and easy, but it's okay. I'm lacking a sex life, but I was okay with that, too.”

“Okay.” Michael tried one of the chicken wings just to get rid of his nervous energy.

Rick drank from his Guinness and then stared into his glass. Finally he said, “What I'm trying to say is... I have a good life. I don't know if I want to change it. I don't know if I want to be the one sitting in Malibu, waiting for you to fit me into your schedule.”

“Sooo... it's not enough commitment?” Michael thought this was what would work best for Rick. Because Rick needed his space. Rick had always backed away whenever things had gotten too cozy between them. Well, they both had, but Rick had always been the driving force in keeping it 'simple and fun'.

“I don't know. All I know is that I don't want to be your call boy... man... whatever. And that confuses the hell outta me because, yes, that would be the perfect deal. You coming around for a couple of days, we'd be going at it like monkeys, and then you'd leave and we both do our thing.”

“It won't be like that. You'd have the same right to call and come see me when you can.”

“Yeah? When? Christmas? Birthdays? While you're on hiatus? And when are you going to spend time with your wife and kids, which always should come first as far as I'm concerned. Or are we going to be one big happy family in Vancouver?”

Michael chewed on the chicken without tasting it, his thoughts racing. “I was more thinking of when I'm not on hiatus. You could come see me in Toronto.”

“When? After a ten hour shooting day?”

“Weekends. I'm only going home every fortnight while I'm shooting. But Rick – these are finer points we have to work out together. You have to make up your mind about giving it a go first.”

“Together, as in you and me and Lexa?”

“Uh, yep.”

Rick rubbed a hand over his eyes. “I'm not going to discuss visitation rights with your wife, Michael. It's hard enough to keep up with Wylie's schedule and when she wants to be with whom and fitting it all into her huge overall timetable of dancing, theater, school...”

“Okay. I hear you.” Michael took a deep breath. “You don't want to compromise and you're not willing to fit ME into YOUR life. I get it.”

“Sheesh, it's not a question of who wants to fit whom in. It's just not...”

Michael leaned across the table and seized Rick's wrist. He kept his voice low, but he couldn't keep the frustration out of it. “Richard, if you have the nerve to tell me it's not worth the effort I'm going to walk out of here. Right now. And that's the end of it. You get that? I'm TRYING here. Because it MATTERS to me. YOU matter. And I believe you feel the same. But go ahead, prove me wrong... tell me what we had isn't worth more than a weekend of sex. Say that to my face and I'm gone.”

They glared at each other for agonizing long seconds that felt like minutes or hours.

“You've got so much to lose over this,” Rick said finally.

Michael nodded. When it came down to it Rick was right. They couldn't tell where this was going. How much this relationship on the side would grow. He could very well end up being torn between the two sides of his sexuality and even more so between the two people he... between Lexa whom he loved unconditionally and Rick... Rick who was... Rick.

Yet, he couldn't let this go.

“Maybe. Maybe this is a very bad idea. But we'll never know if we don't try.”

Rick turned his hand upside down and their fingers looped. “You shouldn't risk everything you have... for me.”

“I wouldn't take this kind of risk for anyone else. Never.”

Rick pulled his hand away slowly.

Michael's heart gave a painful lurch. “It's a chance. It's not perfect, but it's something we could have.”

“A part time relationship.”

“Yes.”

“With your wife's blessing.”

“Yes.” At least he hoped he had read the signs right and listened well enough between the lines to make this huge assumption.

“Nuts.”

“I know!”

“Will you walk now if I say I need time?” Rick asked, sounding almost timid. He raised his hands. “I'm not... I'm not saying no...”

Michael released the breath he hadn't known he'd been holding and sat back in his chair. “Take all the time you need.” Then he frowned. “Unless you're just trying to stall and then leave for good.”

Rick gazed at the small strips of paper on his plate that had once been his napkin, then looked sharply at him. “No. Not stalling. Just... thinking about it.”

“Okay.”

Rick pointed at the green table behind Michael's back. “Pool?”

Michael grinned. “Sure. I'm so-o-o gonna wipe the floor with you.”

“Oh yeah? Let’s see about that, pal.”

They played pool for an hour, both winning and losing some. They talked about their kids, Rick's ongoing passion for Sea Shepherd and his moaning about not being able to do any sports. They discussed Sam's hockey training and Michael told Rick about the upcoming charity walks he and his family were planning to do for the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada. They whined about their 15 year old daughters having turned into teenage monsters and then agreed they were still great kids and not quite bad enough to send them to Boot Camp.

“As long as it's only boy crushes, shopping overload and giggling fits I won't complain. Much,” Michael said. “Could be worse.”

“Oh, god, yeah. So true, that.”

“So it's puberty, it'll pass. That's what Lexa says and she has a great connection with Tati.”

“Yeah, but do you get why they always have to show up in gaggles, raid the fridge like the plague of locusts and then when the friends have left she needs to be on the phone or the computer with the very same girls for hours? Or why they are giggling and being cheerful and dancing on air and five minutes later they hate everyone and everything and their life is hell and no one has ever truly loved them?” Rick sighed.

“Beats me. I guess it's a girl thing.”

They finished their fourth game with Michael hitting a pretty high score and then decided it was time to call it a night.

It was chilly outside and Michael was grateful for his warm leather jacket. Rick was wearing a warm, black hoodie which was a nice contrast to his gray-silver hair. The white cargo pants were a tad too baggy for Michael's taste, but suited him well. Rick had taken a liking to all BDU-style pants ever since he'd been on SG-1.

After hanging out at the bus station for twenty minutes – Rick texting back and forth with his kid and Michael browsing through his twitter page – it dawned on them that something was up.

“Try making sense of the timetable,” Rick ordered absently, still focusing on his phone.

“But, Ja-ack, it's in a language I don't speak,” Michael whined.

“And here I thought you were a ling-u-ist, speaking hundred or whatever languages fluently.”

“Oh, you remember that?” Michael laughed at the indignant glare aimed at him.

Rick pocketed his phone and got up from the small wooden bench he'd been sitting on. “Five bucks that we missed the last bus.”

“Nah, we didn't.” Michael stared at the time table. Reading the times wasn't a problem, but it took a moment until he understood that there were three different timetables for different days. One for Monday till Friday, one for Saturday and one for Sunday.

He checked his phone for the time, then the time table. “Uhhh...”

“Uhhh – what?” Rick groaned.

“Um, you just won five bucks.”

“I don't believe this!”

“We could take a cab.”

“Do you SEE a cab anywhere?” Rick opened his arms and turned on the spot.

“Nope. No cab. No stargate and no spaceships,” Michael confirmed with a sheepish grin. He consulted his phone once again and opened google maps. “Actually... we can walk.”

The bus had taken two freeways and several side roads. The bar Rick had chosen was at the corner of a small mall and at this time of night everything but the bar was closed and the streets were dark and quiet, except for the rushing sound of traffic coming from the freeway. According to google maps there was a bridge crossing both freeways. And it would lead them straight to the airport.

Rick leaned into him and studied the map. “Looks easy enough.”

“Yeah. Sorry we missed the last bus.”

“You owe me,” Rick murmured into his ear. “Five bucks and a kiss.”

“I don't remember anything about kisses.” Michael turned his head and their lips met, soft and gentle.

“Awww, you're so kissable,” Rick whispered and they did it again, tongues involved. Rick wrapped Michael into his arms and Michael hugged Rick's middle tightly.

“Never made out with a guy at a bus stop,” Michael said a moment later.

“We're too old for this,” Rick agreed. His hands roamed through Michael's hair, cupping his skull, tilting his head to one side as he dove in for another kiss. “This is a reckless, stupid...”

“I know.” Michael pulled back and licked his lips. “We should...”

“Yeah.” Reluctantly they let go of each other and started walking, away from the bus stop and down the road.

Rick griped and moaned about the long flights of stairs they had to climb until they stood on the bridge, looking over the freeway which was a strip of moving lights in the dark. In the distance they could see the skyline of the city – sparkling dots – and to the other side was the airport and the hotel, brightly illuminated.

“Wylie would probably... understand,” Rick said slowly when they had walked in silence for a couple of minutes.

Michael searched and found Rick's hand in the dark. He squeezed it gently to encourage his friend. There was a short, but firm, tightening of Rick's fingers around his.

“All teenage mayhem aside she's pretty mature and open minded. And she...” Rick took a deep breath, “A couple weeks ago she said to me... and that was creepy because she's just 15 and she's got such an insight of... anyway, she said to me; 'Dad, I want you to be happy. Find someone. I don't care if it's a guy or a girl, just be happy.'”

“They surprise you sometimes, don't they?” Michael said thoughtfully.

“And I didn't even... I didn't ask her what made her assume I might not want 'the girl'. I was just baffled. So... if I'd tell her there's a guy... she might just take it in spades. She grew up so fast, I keep forgetting she's not my baby girl anymore. Most of the time anyway.”

“Would you tell her? I think you could keep it under wraps. She wouldn’t have to know.” Michael hadn’t thought about what, or if, to tell his kids. He hadn’t come this far in his exploration of the concept to be with Rick.

Rick said quietly. “Hollywood is full of people living the lie I used to live. Travolta does it, Clooney does it, hell, I think Tom Cruise does it. Am pretty sure his wife couldn’t run fast enough once their five year contract was over and he’s probably in a relationship with his bodyguard or agent or pool-boy or whoever for years. I grew up enough to know that I don’t want to live that kind of lie anymore. If … and I’m stressing the word ‘if’ here... we’re doing this, I need to be straight about it with my family at some point and that includes my daughter, my mom and even Apryl. And that’s a huge, big deal of... oyyy.”

Michael took a deep breath. “Maybe it's only as much of a big deal as we make it to be. We are what we are. Maybe it's as simple as that. You don't walk around anymore pretending you're dating half of Hollywood and I...”

“You're a married man with a relationship on the side? Best of both worlds lucky bastard?”

“You tell me. Am I?” He felt Rick's warm hand in his as they took a left turn and followed the bridge over another freeway.

“Maybe.”

They snuck back into the hotel like kids who knew they'd be in big trouble if they got caught not minding the curfew. The party was still in full swing even at 2 am, but the lobby was empty and they made it into the elevator unseen.

Rick leaned back against the wall of the car and smiled. “This was fun.”

“Yup. We should get a couple hours sleep now, though.” Michael yawned.

“Sleep's overrated,” Rick said. “I can't possibly get it up again tonight, but... wanna snuggle?”

Michael was tired and he knew he'd have to sneak out of Rick's room at 5 or 6 latest, before there was too much traffic on the corridor. But... “Snuggling sounds good.”

A moment later Rick stuck his head out of the open elevator, looked left and right for straying fans or even con staff members, and whispered, “Clear.”

They hurried down the corridor and Rick swiped his card through the slit at his door. Seconds later they were inside, leaning against the wall, chuckling.

“C'mon.” Rick took his hand and they found their way into the bedroom without switching on the light. They dropped their clothes on the floor and fell into the soft, inviting bed. The covers and sheets smelled of massage oil, sex and sweat, but it was their own personal odor and they didn't care.

They fell asleep leisurely nuzzling and caressing and Michael's last conscious thought as he drifted off to dreamland was that he'd do whatever he could to win Rick over. Because he wasn't prepared to give him up again. Not for good.

 

Cont. Part III - Abyss