Wrap parties for Darkest Night could generally be counted on for a few things. There would be food and beer, and although Mason and a few of the others might complain it was cheap shit, Tony didn’t give a damn about that. Free food was free food, and if it came with free beer that was even better, even if CB always made sure there was a drink ticket system to keep anyone from going too crazy on his dime. Mason always had a date - always a different girl, always the kind of leggy and unmemorable type that made Tony wonder if they all looked the same to straight guys, too, or if they were only indistinguishable if you didn’t have any interest in getting them back to your trailer. The rolled eyes from Amy, Kate, and Zev did not exactly enlighten him. And Lee always had a date, too. Other people - Saleen, Mouse, Amy, whoever - went on and off. In and out of relationships, or in and out of their significant other being willing to put up with a room full of TV people for a whole night. For some dates it was an exciting novelty. For others, it was torture. But Lee always had somebody.
What Tony couldn’t get used to was that this time, that somebody was him.
It just... didn’t seem right, somehow.
Not that he was complaining. Oh god, not at all.
But it was weird. It was weird letting Amy and Zev drag him out shopping for clothes, watching them argue over what he should wear as if he was some kind of over-sized special edition Gay Pride Ken Doll (comes with rainbow flag and an exciting line of up-to-the-minute male fashions!). He swallowed his pride, and tried not to look too hard at the price tags. Scratch that, he thought he caught a glance while they debated the merits of Diesel versus Lucky versus True Religion jeans - he didn’t want to look at the price tags at all. At least they weren’t trying to put him in slacks. Or, he shuddered, Chinos.
Jeans, shirt, shoes, leather jacket (his protest that he was more of a denim guy being ignored by both of them for whatever inscrutable fashion reason of the moment)...
Amy regarded him critically, tapping one traffic-cone orange fingernail against her black lipstick. “You need a haircut.”
He looked over her shoulder at the overpriced salon just on the other side of the mall causeway. A guy walked out of it with his head shaved all over except for two long pieces that hung down either side of his face all the way to his chin. “Oh, no. No. That is not happening.”
“Tony, you’re dating the star!”
“Co-star, and he agreed to date me while I looked like me. I think he might be a little confused if I showed up looking like a totally different person.” At least Tony hoped he would. He really, sincerely hoped he would... He looked down at the bags in his hands. Screw ths shit, I’ve already blown almost a whole paycheck on this. I am not adding on an overpriced haircut. Besides, Amy would probably bully the stylist into dying his hair black with purple stripes or something, and then it would be months before he could go out without a baseball cap. Which would mean buying a baseball cap. “Not happening, guys. Sorry.”
Amy bitched the whole way back to the car, but Zev seemed to get it, so maybe that was a sign he’d made the right decision. Either that or a sign that Zev had already given up on fixing him a long time ago, and wasn’t about to go to any more effort than regular old friendship required, anymore.
“Don’t forget to bathe,” Amy told him as they dropped him off at his apartment. “And use deoderant.”
“I’m not twelve, Amy.”
“No, you’re worse. You’re a guy.” She leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek, then swatted his butt. “Go on, get in there and get ready. We’ll see you in a few hours. And for god’s sake, put on a clean pair of underwear!”
It was a good thing his neighbors already thought he was terminally weird.
* * *
Everybody was already at the warehouse when Tony arrived. That was intentional - CB refused to pay for extra help to do the setting-up, so all that would happen if he showed up early was that he’d be press-ganged into setting out food or folding napkins or something, and somebody was bound to take a crack at him for breaking the stereotype that gay men were supposed to be good at entertaining. As far as Tony was concerned, he was as good as any guy at entertaining - buy pizza, set out paper towels, buy beer, set out red plastic cups. Done.
Fortunately, that was about the level of class at Darkest Night’s wrap party, regardless of the fact that the office girls had done most of the organizing. Every year they tried to suggest more expensive options, and every year CB said they could have extra money if they could personally wring it out of the budget papers. They couldn’t, so pizza and beer it was.
“The stars get wine,” Amy’s voice told him. Tony tried to turn the way he’d nearly jumped out of his skin into a greeting. From the way she rolled her eyes, he was pretty sure he’d failed. “You should see if your date will get you the good stuff.”
Tony lifted his red plastic cup. “Already got beer. Anyway, I don’t think I like wine.”
“You don’t think?”
He considered, then shrugged. “Never had it.”
“What, your writer ex didn’t introduce you to it? I’d have figured him for the type.”
Tony considered the obvious Lugosi reference, and sadly let it pass. Mentioning vampires and Henry in one sentence was too dangerous, with how obsessed Amy got about so-called ‘weird shit.’ Even if she was apparently quite happy with Constable Jack Elson, who was over chatting up CB - or possibly being grilled by him, Tony couldn’t tell - by the makeshift bar.
Amy frowned, causing her glittery dark orange lipstick to flicker unusually. Tony wondered how the hell she planned to eat with that stuff on. “You should try new things, Tony. You’ll get boring.”
“I like beer,” he protested. “Beer has been good to me. I’m loyal.”
“And while I appreciate that statement,” said a velvety voice by Tony’s ear, “I think Amy might be right.” Lee’s hand - definitely Lee’s, nobody else’s hand had ever looked that inexplicably sexy to Tony - raised a glass of wine in Tony’s view while its mate settled companionably on his far shoulder. “Sometimes, you just have to try new things.”
Tony swallowed. Innuendo laid heavy on Lee’s words. “You think?”
“I like trying new things. Sometimes I really like what I find.”
With a slightly ragged breath, Tony took the glass, followed by a cautious sip.
“Don’t just swallow it,” Lee told him, almost in his ear, now. Amy watched, an amused smile playing at her lips and one eyebrow slightly cocked. “You have to roll it on your tongue for a minute. It’s not like beer, it’s not the same all the time. You’ve got to let it open up to you.”
Innuendo overload. The wine made an attempt not so much at opening up as at going down the wrong pipe and killing him. Tony coughed, but managed - barely - to keep from spitting it up. “It’s... different,” he sputtered.
Lee laughed, one hand solid and warm on his back as Tony recovered, and took the glass back. “You can try again later, if you want. You never know, it might grow on you. Nice jeans, by the way. New?”
“Yeah, I guess.” Tony shot Amy, who was giving him a grinning two-thumbs-up, a dirty look. “Just... trying a new look. Less TAD, more... I dunno. Something else.” Something with more money than he made in a year, but if Lee liked it, maybe the bill wouldn’t be too terrible...
“It’s a good look.” Lee circled around to regard him from the front, and offered the lopsided grin that almost never showed up on camera. “You didn’t have to, though. It’s just us. Everybody here knows you’re more than a TAD.”
“Yeah.” Tony shuffled awkwardly in his new shoes. “I just, y’know. Thought I’d give it a shot.”
Lee slid a solid arm around Tony’s waist, pulled him close, and kissed him soundly. “Like I said. I approve of trying new things from time to time. Just don’t get so caught up in it that you change, huh?”
Tony, too boggled to say anything, only grinned back.