“I’m glad you just wanted to stay in tonight,” Karl said, handing Chris a beer and flopping back down on the couch with his own bottle and laying his head back. “I’m totally beat.”
“Getting too old to handle the schedule?” Chris teased.
Karl turned his head to glare over at him. “Don’t pull that, I know you’re just as tired as I am.”
Chris laughed ruefully. “I must be getting old, too, if a little make believe has me worn out after a few months.”
“This is not an easy life, by any means. Don’t let them fool you.” Karl said, and Chris hummed a bit. “Anyway, fourteen hour days spent doing anything will wear a person out.”
“It has been crazy lately. I do like how things are going, though. It was absolutely amazing to start working with Nimoy, wasn’t it? He and Zach are so much alike, the fans are going to go crazy with that!”
Karl smiled, remembering the silence that had fallen when Nimoy had come on set, and the absolute reverent eagerness everyone had displayed, including J. J. “It was surreal. I’ve been watching Trek since I was a kid and Mr. Spock always seemed so larger than life. In a weird way Leonard is too, even though he seems like a nice guy. I cannot believe we get to spend the next few months working with him. It’s like every actor’s dream, to work with someone they idolized growing up, and it’s actually real for us.”
Chris grinned over at him. “It’s utterly stupid that they pay us to get to do this job, isn’t it? I mean, I know I complain sometimes, but seriously, we are so lucky compared to what we could be doing.”
“I know, it’s why I keep doing it. Being part of movie magic is amazing. I wouldn’t want to do anything else.”
Chris rolled his eyes. “You are the sappiest geek I’ve ever met.”
Karl shoved at him good naturedly, then considered his next words carefully. It may be intrusive, but he decided to ask anyway since they were sharing and all. “You seem to be pretty positive about work lately. Things must be going well for you personally?”
Chris tapped his fingers for a moment before answering. “I’m doing alright. The Gaila scene went well and so did our away shooting. Thanks for your help.”
“Any time,” Karl said.
Chris eyed him. “You actually mean that, don’t you? I didn’t think you were the type to step outside of your marriage.”
“Yes, I mean that. Otherwise I wouldn’t have said it. And we aren’t completely monogamous. Mostly, but not completely.”
“Really? You don’t strike me as the type.”
Karl quirked an eyebrow. “Why is that?”
“Dunno, just don’t.” Chris looked away and shrugged one shoulder. “I guess you just seem like a one sub kinda guy.”
Karl considered how to answer that before deciding on the truth. He’d brought up the topic after all, and Chris hadn’t completely cut it off. “I’ve had one other submissive before, sort of separate from my marriage with Natalie. He and I were together for some months while I was away filming, but Natalie did visit and was also involved with him. It’s rare for us, but it has happened.”
“So Natalie was okay with you being with him?”
“Of course she was. I talked to her about it first, I’d never just start something with another submissive without her consent.” The other penny dropped, and Karl saw what Chris was talking around. “She knows about you, too, you know. We talked about you before anything happened that night and she was fully in support of me helping you out.”
Chris looked a little relieved, and Karl wondered if he’d been worrying about that.
“We should call her sometime, let you talk and get to know her a little,” Karl said. “I think you’d like her.”
“Yeah, all right,” Chris said. ”We can do that sometime.”
Karl took a sip of his beer to cover his smile. Chris looked about as eager for that conversation as he did about going to the dentist . He might need a little time to get used to the idea of talking to Karl’s submissive, so Karl let him off the hook by changing the subject.
Several hours and beers later Chris was sprawled across the couch laughing his ass off while he attempted to tell Karl the story of how Zach had once tried to make homemade tomato soup but the blender had exploded and coated the ceiling in red. It had come out all garbled, though, and Karl couldn’t understand half of it because Chris had gotten sidetracked on how amazing grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato and fresh spinach were and hadn’t quite finished the story.
He hiccupped a last couple of laughs and then rolled over onto his back to look up at Karl, his legs dangling over the armrest. “Anyway. You didn’t think that was very funny.”
“I still haven’t figured out exactly what went on, but I think it’s hilarious that you obviously find it funny.”
“You’re a good guy, Karl.”
“Thanks,” Karl said, curious to see where Chris would go with that.
“Why would you want me and Natalie to talk?”
“Because you’re my friend, and I generally want the people I like to get along. Also, if I’m going to Dom you some more I’d like you to know her at least a little.”
“That’s fair,” Chris said softly.
“Am I going to Dom you some more?”
Chris’ reply was slow. “Maybe.”
“It feels weird, like I’m somehow getting in between you two or something.” He reached up and grabbed Karl’s left hand, bringing it in front of his face and tracing the outline of the heart on his ring finger. “I don’t get involved with married people.”
“You aren’t getting in between us,” Karl said. At least, not in the way Karl actually wanted him in between them. “That’s why I want you to know her a bit, so you can be comfortable. I don’t like getting involved with people who aren’t comfortable with me.”
Chris snorted softly. “It’s not you I’m worried about.”
Karl turned his wrist so he could squeeze Chris’ fingers. “Do you trust me?”
Chris fell still and looked up at him. “Yeah.”
“Then let me know when you’re ready to talk to her. It’ll be fine.”
“Promise?” Chris whispered.
“Promise,” Karl said, letting go of Chris’ hand before he did something unforgiveable like lace their fingers together.
Chris tucked one hand under his head and seemed to stare out into space a little before saying, “Well, we might as well get it over with. Call her up.”
Karl chuckled. “Great attitude there, buddy.” But he went and got the laptop and sat back down beside Chris, who was sitting up and straightening out his hair and shirt. Not that it did him any good; he still looked tired and drunk and obviously anxious. Karl squeezed his knee before booting up the machine and program.
“Karl!” Natalie grinned at him through the screen and he grinned back. “I wasn’t expecting you tonight, weren’t you and Chris hanging out?”
“Hey, love. Yes, we are.” Karl turned the laptop so she could see Chris, who waved awkwardly at her. “I thought it might be nice to finally introduce you.”
“It’s good to meet you, Chris,” Natalie said. “Karl talks about you all the time, I feel like I know you a bit already.”
Chris eyed him sideways and Karl had to work not to squirm in embarrassment.
“Karl talks about you a lot, too,” Chris said, then put a hand up and stage whispered, “You’ve got him wrapped around your little finger. I’m pretty sure you could get him to dance naked in the middle of Medical if you asked him to.”
Natalie grinned wickedly. “Oh, that’s no secret. It gets used to great effect, trust me.”
Karl groaned and dropped his head back on the couch. This was a bad idea already.
“We don’t really do much bondage,” Chris said out of nowhere.
Karl looked over to where Chris was sprawled out on the other end of the sofa, watching the game. “I didn’t think it was something you much wanted to do,” he said. “You’ve only ever brought over the leather cuffs.”
Chris shrugged faux-casually. “That’s usually as far as I go, but I wanted to try rope bondage sometime. I brought some with me this weekend.”
Karl raised an eyebrow. This was the first time Chris had asked to introduce something new to their evenings together without Karl prompting, and it pleased Karl that he had. Especially since the way Chris was studiously avoiding his gaze meant this was something that had made him nervous in the past, and probably still did at least a bit. “I like Shibari, too. What did you have in mind?”
“Something lighter to start off with,” Chris said to his lap. “Maybe just the hands?”
Karl considered this. “I think you’d look great with your arms tied behind back. Have you done that before? Would that be too much?”
“Yeah, I’ve done that. I like it.” He paused, then said quickly, “We can do it.”
Karl smiled. “Now?” When Chris nodded he said, “Get the rope and your kneeling pillow.”
Chris hustled over to his bag fast enough that Karl was pretty sure he’d been thinking about this for a while now. Karl liked the idea of Chris fanaticizing about Karl tying him up for hours or days before getting the nerve up to ask. It made him feel warm that Chris had felt like he could ask.
Chris brought him a medium length of blue rope and Karl ran it through his hands. Hemp, very soft, very well broken in. Possibly something Chris had had a long time. He pointed to the floor in front of him and Chris dropped the pillow and knelt down.
“Tell me what makes you nervous about bondage.”
Chris’ eyes cut to the side quickly before he looked back up at Karl. He shrugged a little. “I don’t know, just the immobility?” Karl waited quietly and Chris eventually added, “I just worry about getting out.”
“Why didn’t you also bring me your safety shears?” Karl asked gently. “I know you have them, I’ve seen them in your bag.”
Chris’ gaze cut away again, and when he didn’t answer after long moments Karl reached out and turned his chin back to face Karl.
“We don’t have to do anything you aren’t comfortable with. Even if you want to at some later point, if you’re too anxious about it right now we can wait. But you have to talk to me, otherwise I could make a bad choice and hurt us both.”
Chris fidgeted for a few moments before saying in a hoarse voice, “I had a Dom ignore my safeword while I was bound. Full body Shibari immobilization. I couldn’t get out until he let me out.”
Fury rose in Karl and it took all of his self control to not let it show on his face. The idea that anyone would violate their submissive in that way – would violate Chris in that way – made him angry beyond words. He took a couple of deep breaths until he was sure he could control his voice.
“Listen to me, Chris. I will always respect your safeword and never knowingly do anything to harm you. Never. You are safe with me, but I will understand if you don’t feel that way at any point. Just talk to me.”
“I know I am,” Chris said, and his gaze was direct enough that Karl believed him. “I wouldn’t have brought the rope if I didn’t feel safe. It’s just… hard, sometimes, to get past that.”
“I understand,” Karl said, and reached out to squeeze Chris’ shoulder. “Thank you for telling me. I can tell it was hard, and I appreciate you doing it.”
Chris nodded and smiled a bit. He looked a little tense still but he’d lost that anxious look. Karl slid his hand around the back of his neck so he could massage some of the tension out of his neck, and he was gratified when Chris seemed to instantly relax and tip his head forward at the touch.
“We don’t have to do it today. Anything you want is fine.”
After a while Chris said, “I want to. I’ve wanted to try it with you for weeks now. Just maybe not anything extensive.”
“Sure. We can do your wrists and forearms only if that’s a good place to start. Hands in front or behind?”
“Behind,” Chris said after a pause.
“Tell me your safeword,” Karl said. He hadn’t made Chris recite his safeword at the start of an evening for weeks, but he felt it would help Chris be more comfortable.
“Baseball,” Chris said promptly, and he smiled a little. Karl smiled back.
“Anything I need to avoid?”
Chris fidgeted, but didn’t look away when he said, “Just nothing harsh right now.”
“Works for me,” Karl said and squeezed Chris’ neck. He hadn’t ever done anything harsh with Chris, but he figured the request had more to do with this past Dom than with himself. “Turn a little bit,” he said, directing Chris to turn to the side so he could get up and get the scissors. He put them to the side so Chris could see them and then knelt behind him.
Chris put his hands behind his back, crossed at the wrist and palms open. Karl ran his palms down Chris’ arms, squeezing gently just above the wrists. He untied the knot in the rope keeping it neatly coiled together and found the black stitching that indicated the center of the rope.
He squeezed Chris’ crossed wrists again before saying, “Still sure about this?”
“Yes, Sir,” Chris said, softly but confidently, and Karl couldn’t help the smile that broke out across his face.
He positioned Chris’ hands how he wanted and began the process of binding them together, the blue a beautiful contrast to Chris’ golden skin. The rope felt good, smooth through his grip as he pulled it over and around and through, and Chris’ palms remained open and relaxed. Welcome toppy headspace welled up and pushed out the previous anger. He checked the tightness of the rope, satisfied it wasn’t too constrictive and happy with the knot and the look of the rope winding up Chris’ forearms.
“That isn’t too tight, is it?”
“No, Sir. It’s good,” Chris said after flexing against the rope to test it.
Karl stood and squeezed back around to sit on the couch. Chris looked alert, not exactly anxious but not as relaxed as Karl would have liked, either. “Want to just kneel for me for a bit, get used to the rope again? We can just watch a bit of TV.”
“Okay,” Chris said, settling back on his heels and shifting a bit so he could see the screen better.
After long minutes Chris still hadn’t relaxed any further, so Karl reached out and pulled him closer so he could rest his shoulder against the couch and lay his head on Karl’s knee. “More comfortable?” When Chris nodded, Karl said, “We don’t have to do anything else unless or until you want to. Just relax.” Karl rubbed his palm through Chris’ hair, scratching lightly with his nails. He smiled when that last bit of tension went out of Chris, and settled in for a relaxing night.