Chris spotted him right away when he first stepped into the bar. He turned at the noise of the door and his gaze caught on Karl’s, completely unreadable, before he turned back to talking out the scene with J. J. Karl took up a spot near the back, behind the video village of cameras and out of the flow of traffic, hoping that no one would tell him to go away. The bar was not that big to begin with, and it was even smaller with all their equipment piled into it.
Karl didn't even know why he was there. He wasn’t required for the scene at all. In fact, he wasn’t required at all today on the lot, and certainly not required at this bar that was twenty minutes down the road from the lot. He’d popped in to watch like they sometimes did during another actor’s scenes on the lot when they weren’t needed elsewhere. He was well aware that it was unusual for someone to show up to watch a scene when the shooting was done on location - but Chris hadn’t responded to any of his texts or calls for the last two days and Karl couldn’t keep sitting idly at home going crazy thinking about what Chris was thinking about. And with Chris dressed up in his leather jacket and smirk, he wasn’t going anywhere unless someone told him to leave.
J. J. eventually called for places and Chris, Zoe, and the other ‘cadets’ took their spots. It was interesting watching Chris turn his charm on Zoe. It wasn’t quite like Chris in real life – he was a little more cocky and assertive as Kirk, not quite the goofy, charming guy he usually was – but it was close enough to feel real. It probably looked great on J. J.’s monitor but it didn’t sit right with Karl. He knew they were only acting, that Zoe had a submissive and Chris would never act that way towards her in real life. He just didn’t like seeing Chris flirt with other people, no matter the situation.
With a shock Karl realized he was jealous of Zoe, and feeling completely possessive over Chris. He’d never expected to have that reaction – in fact, he’d always thought it was complete bullshit the way tops in Hollywood expected their subs to stop acting whenever they were collared. It was a minority group of collared subs that continued acting, which Karl had always thought was a senseless waste. What top couldn’t tell the difference between someone acting onscreen and being truly unfaithful? And who just demanded their submissive give up their career just because they’d been collared?
And yet here he was, irrationally jealous of a friend whom he knew had a committed collared sub and who would never betray his trust by hitting on his submissive. He should leave and let them work, stop watching so he could maintain some peace of mind and not torture himself with thoughts he didn’t want, but he couldn’t seem to walk away.
It was a relief when they finally moved on to the fight scenes with the other cadets. Chris looked fucking amazing while fighting. His shoulders were strong and broad while he blocked the blows from Cupcake and the other cadets, his hips and legs shifting his stance to duck and throw punches. He was strong and graceful, and there was a certain beauty in seeing him go from talking thoughtfully with J.J. to being the cocky bastard provoking a fight and getting his ass kicked. Karl had to admit that he winced every time one of the other guys laid hands on Chris or took a swing at him, though.
Chris had snuck glances at him periodically during his takes with Zoe but didn’t seem to pay any attention to Karl during the fight scene, too busy focusing on his choreography. While setting up for his scene with Bruce, though, Chris caught his gaze – and it was a heated, hungry gaze that had no place in the scene he was about to shoot.
His eyes lingered on Karl long enough for Karl to feel his body respond – fists clenching from the need to touch, posture straightening against the wall he was leaning on, gaze sharpening on his target. Then Chris licked his lips, a deliberate swipe of tongue that Karl tracked with his eyes, and turned back to Bruce. He widened the slouch of his legs under the table, and when it came time to give his lines his voice was pitched just the barest bit lower than normal.
Chris had the silly tissues stuck up his nose, but it didn’t even matter. Karl got hard from imagining what else that tongue could do. From imagining Chris with come and blood smeared on that pretty mouth, licking it off for Karl. Imagining that when he kissed Chris he would taste bitter with the tang of salt and iron – and Chris knew it. His mouth had a satisfied twist that he’d gotten under Karl’s skin.
Karl bit his tongue and made himself relax back against the wall. This wasn’t the time or place, and Chris needed to focus. He couldn’t relax, though. Chris kept glancing back at him at every opportunity, not even trying to hide it, and some of the crew were starting to look back at Karl, too. And it was impossible to hide Karl’s own responses with Chris draped over the table looking like fuckable bruise porn. Especially licking his lips while glancing over at Karl every other second.
“Cut!” J. J. yelled. “Chris, can you stop oozing sex all over my scene just long enough for me to get it in the can? If you wouldn’t mind, you know, we’d like to wrap this up and move on, yeah?”
J. J. looked pointedly back at Karl and Karl wanted the floor to open up under him in mortification. He nodded tightly and made his way quietly through the maze of lights, cables, people and boxes to the back of the bar. He stepped outside and took a deep breath. He had to get control of himself. Chris could parade in front of him naked and it shouldn't matter. He was a top, goddammit, and he was supposed to be able to control himself.
He pulled the pack of Marlboro’s and lighter out of his back pocket and sighed. He'd stopped years ago when he’d collared Natalie, but he may as well admit that he’d started again. It was either try and focus everything on the smoke on his tongue and the burn of the cherry in the dark, or pace like a maniac while his mind whirled through images of Chris on his knees in front of him. Or Chris wearing his collar with a lead attached. Or Chris licking Karl's come off his lips with that hot swipe of tongue.
Christ. His fingers tapped a tense rhythm on his thigh, and the distraction of another smoke wasn't working.
"You still smoking that shit?" Chris stepped casually out into the alley, eyeing Karl's Marlboro Light critically. He still had his stage blood on, but at least he didn’t have the tissues up his nose anymore.
He was absolutely the last person Karl wanted to see. Especially in this alley with no one else around as he pulled his pack of American Spirits out of his back pocket.
"Doesn't J.J. have you redoing that scene again?" Karl had counted on the endless retakes to give himself at least a while out here alone to cool off.
"Nah, he called print on that after two more takes. Didn't take as long as usual, but you've been out here a while." Chris bent his head and lit up. "You know that shit's got rat poison in it, right?" Chris pointed, the pristine tobacco cigarette dangling from between his lips an uppity dig at Karl's choice.
"Fuck you, Pine. It's what they had." And just like that the tension was back.
Chris took a slow drag, eyes locked on Karl's, the dim light casting a shadow across his face that outlined his nose and the smirk on his lips. "Fuck me, huh? Yeah, unfortunately there isn’t any of that going on here.”
Karl had a sudden urge to wipe that smirk off Chris' face that was so strong that he actually took a step towards him before he realized what he was doing. He deliberately lent back against his part of the wall.
"Don't push me, boy," he said in a low voice. "You've got no right to provoke a top you don't plan to get involved with." He meant to turn around and leave, to leave Chris alone entirely, but he couldn’t pull his gaze away from the brilliant blue of Chris' eyes in the glare of the streetlight.
"Who says I don't plan to get involved with you?" The smirk was gone, replaced with open desire as he looked Karl up and down. "And what gives you the right to come sniffing around like some alpha male if you aren't gonna do anything about it?"
Karl took a last, long drag on his Marlboro, the space between them taut with sizzling energy. Chris barely seemed to breathe, cigarette forgotten between his fingers as he watched Karl exhale. Karl dropped the butt and snuffed it out with his heel and stepped over to Chris, reaching out to grab his short hair and jerk his head back to expose his neck. He bent to brush his lips across Chris' throat, and Chris' indrawn breath above his ear sent a thrill through him.
Chris smelled like cologne and warm leather, and Karl had to taste him. The soft skin just under his jaw was salty and warm, and Chris' pulse jumped under his tongue. Breath dragged through his throat as Karl bit and sucked lightly, just enough to bring pink to the surface, for long enough that Chris's breathing sped up and he had to be feeling the strain of his head being forced back. Chris whined a little, and Karl moved his mouth to his ear and bit sharply.
"Is this what you wanted, Chris?" He whispered.
"Yes, Sir." Chris' reply a breathy moan that went straight to Karl's cock. He pulled back, rubbing his cheek against Chris' in a bright rasp of stubble, to swipe his tongue over Chris' bottom lip, biting at it before pulling back.
The pupils in Chris' eyes were blown so wide there was barely any blue left, and he was sucking on his lip like he could taste the bite Karl had left there. "Say it again, boy," he growled, one hand tightening in Chris' hair and the other sliding possessively down the leather of his jacket to grip his hip.
"Please kiss me, sir." He looked so, so good with his mouth begging and his head tilted just right, and Karl did.
He licked inside, fucked Chris wide open with deep swipes of his tongue. He bit and sucked, and Chris tasted like tobacco and gum. Karl relaxed his hand in his hair, slid down to cup the back of his head so Karl could hold him like he wanted, while he slid the other hand up under Chris' jacket and t-shirt. His skin was warm and firm, and the muscles of his back flexed under his palm as Chris thrust against his hips.
Chris whined sharply against Karl’s mouth and thrust again against him, his arms coming up frantic and urgent around Karl’s shoulders to drag himself closer to Karl’s mouth.
“Easy, boy,” Karl whispered, pulling Chris to him more firmly with the hand on his back and licking deeper. Chris slowly settled down and opened up under his grip. It was sweet and thrilling, and after a time Karl realized that he has a hand under Chris' thigh pulling his leg around Karl's hip, and the other hand holding him steady while he devoured him.
But they were still in public, and Karl shouldn't be doing this. It took every ounce of his control to take his hands off Chris' body and place his palms on the wall behind Chris. He pushed away from Chris', but Chris lent forward to follow his mouth and Karl just couldn’t break the kiss. His lips lingered even after he was no longer touching Chris anywhere else, just nibbling on Chris’ lower lip.
He didn't want to stop at this, goddamnit. The desire to push Chris to the ground and open him up was coursing through him like his body might do it anyway even without his permission. The soft little moans and the way Chris went pliant beneath him just added fuel to the fire.
Karl made himself focus, think - he needed to turn around and leave right now. With a growl he bit hard at Chris' bottom lip. Chris gave a breathy little gasp and jerked back.
"Oh God, Karl." Chris looked wrecked and needy, and Karl had made him look like that. Karl stepped back before he could change his mind, but Chris followed him. He dropped to his knees gracefully in front of Karl, and before Karl could do anything to stop him, leaned forward on his hands and rubbed his cheek across the front of Karl's trousers.
He groaned out, “Oh fuck” without meaning to. Chris looked up, nose rubbing up the ridge of Karl's cock, and god, he looked perfect on his knees for Karl.
Slowly, obscenely deliberate, Chris licked up the curve of his cock pressed against the zipper of his trousers, the press of his tongue through the fabric making Karl hiss. Chris went for Karl's zipper with his teeth and Karl realized he intended to unzip him and blow him right there in the alley. For one heartstopping moment Karl thought he might let Chris do it, might finally get that talented tongue on him. But then his sense kicked in and he grabbed Chris' hair and pulled him away.
Chris' mouth was open and he was panting, shaking his head a little like he wanted to get loose from Karl's grasp and go back to his cock.
"Stop it, Chris," Karl commanded. Chris fell still and looked up at him. "What are you doing?"
A flash of hurt crossed his face, then turned to frustration. "Throwing myself at you in a way you can't possibly miss, since apparently subtle doesn't work with you."
“This has been you being subtle this whole time?” Karl asked, and couldn’t keep the incredulity from edging into his voice.
“Yes, for all the good it did me. I may as well have just thrown myself at your feet on day one, it may have gone better. What did you think I was doing?”
“Being confusing as hell,” Karl said, giddy hope bleeding into his voice despite his continued need to guard his heart. Chris opened his mouth to speak but Karl pushed on. “Listen to me, Chris. I can’t be casual with you, not anymore. What I want is my collar on your neck, nothing short of that.”
Chris’ mouth slowly closed as his eyes widened.
Karl let go of Chris’ hair so he could slide his hand down to cup Chris’ jaw and rub his thumb over Chris’ cheek. “Exactly. You need to understand that it’s that serious for me before you make any more decisions.”
“I know you’re the possessive type, and that you don’t fuck around.” Chris said. “I’ve known that from the beginning. It’s why I didn’t throw myself at your feet on day one. I’m ready for that.”
Karl’s breath caught. Chris looked eager and hopeful and it took everything Karl had not to just take him back to his place. “Obviously we need to talk about this, but this is not the time and you can’t just make this kind of decision on impulse. Just know that if you come back to me wanting to sub for me everything we do would be leading up to that. If you want it. I mean, it wouldn’t happen right away, you’d have time to decide if it would work for you, and if Natalie is someone you could love too because I won’t do anything that doesn’t include her. But I’m done with casual with you.”
“I’m not being impulsive,” Chris said.
He reached up to grab Karl’s hand, but Karl stepped back out of the way, letting his hand drop from Chris’ face. Karl’s self control was strained to its limit and if Chris touched him it would all be over. He’d take him home and claim him, good intentions be damned, and Karl didn’t want it to happen like that.
“You need to go back to work and I need to go home and talk to my submissive,” Karl said as gently as he could. “I’m leaving in a few hours to fly home for a short leave, but when I come back we are talking about this. Okay?”
Chris’ hand fell to his thigh and he looked more uncertain than he had earlier. “All right.”
“I’ll see you soon,” Karl said. “Don’t do anything stupid while I’m gone.”
Chris rolled his eyes, but it was halfhearted. Karl made himself turn around and leave. He knew he shouldn't leave Chris like this, needing and vulnerable to the next top that came around. Every instinct he had was screaming at him to make Chris submit and make him his, and then take him home and care for him. He texted Zoe while he was walking back to his car.
Hey, look out for Chris. We just sort of talked and he may not be completely focused.
Her response was prompt, and Karl thought she’d probably been watching the back door since Chris walked out.
Everything go ok?
Nothing’s resolved, but I told him how I feel. I think it went ok but he’s likely to be a bit worked up. I’m leaving tonight for home, watch him while I’m gone?
Sure thing. Be safe, and Merry Christmas.
Thanks. You too.
Later, looking out the airplane window with the lights of the city spread out and falling away from him in a brilliant patchwork, the enormity of what had just happened with Chris hit him. Collaring Chris so soon would be a very emotional thing to do, and he was being every bit as impulsive as he’d cautioned Chris not to be. He was the plan-everything-out type. He’d known Natalie for over a year before putting a training collar on her, and had spent months developing their relationship further before proposing marriage. He’d known Chris for mere months by comparison and he didn’t know what the hell had gotten into him to even be thinking seriously about this. But the alternative – not even trying – was even worse than being impulsive. Karl turned his head into the pillow and tried to sleep.
Note: I stole a few things from Thalialunacy: the Pabst Blue Ribbon beer and American Spirits cigarettes, the Frat Boy comment, and the “My mom’s not here, I do what I want!” line. Much love to her for all the inspiration over the years.