After Gail left, the director spoke to Ben and Frank about a couple of small changes. Frank scribbled madly on his script.
They then left the set together and got into the elevator. Frank finished the notes he’d taken and glanced at his partner.
"Did ... did we kinda kill it today?"
Ben nodded. "Yeah, with Gail at least. But it won’t matter if we don’t get the ratings."
"Yeah, you’re right, but she’s a hard sell."
Ben pondered that and other things that niggled at him for the remainder of their ride. I was wrong about Frank. He really wants to do this, really cares about it. I’m his fucking partner. Maybe Gail was right. I need to get over myself. It's a good job.
They walked together down the hall. Frank opened the door and held it as Ben moved inside. Frank sat at his desk and booted up his computer. He didn’t notice Ben grab two Cokes from the little fridge and open them both.
"Here Frank; this is for you."
"Oh, hey, thanks." Frank took the can. Ben reached out and held his arm so he could not drink. "Um—?"
"Just a sec." Ben pulled a chair close. "I’ve been ... difficult. I want to say I’m sorry—"
"Ben, buddy. There’s no need, really."
"Yeah, there is, Frank. I pushed flying solo on you. I sulked. But you know, I like working with you. I want you to know that. So, if you’re willing, I’d like to drink to us." Ben held out his can.
Frank grinned and tapped his can against Ben’s. "Partners!"
"Yeah." Ben took a drink then put the can down. He cracked his knuckles. "All right, partner. Fuck it. Let’s do this!"
After agreeing, Frank watched Ben slide over to his own desk. Wow, I never thought I’d hear that from him. If he means it, we may be able to pull this off!
"Let me take you home, Ben." Frank smiled at his partner. "We got a lot done. I’m feeling good about it."
In total, they had put in a ten-hour day. The scenes were flowing well for them, and neither really wanted to stop. Though the reasons for that were complicated.
"Yeah." Ben nodded. "We did." He was still in his seat and looked around at the darkened windows. "I never thought I’d dread going home."
Frank sighed. He pushed his chair over next to Ben. "Yeah. I know what you mean."
Ben turned to him. "For what it’s worth, I’m sorry."
Frank laughed bitterly. "Well, whatever they're doing, they're the ones responsible. It’s not your fault." Frank shook his head. "But yeah, I’m sorry too."
Ben smiled slightly. He stood. "I guess it’s time." He retrieved his coat and put it on, his shoulders slumped.
He turned to see Frank staring at him.
"Uh, you all right, Frank?"
Frank cocked his head. "You don’t want to go home?"
Ben shrugged. "No. Not really."
"Well, me neither." Frank nodded. "Let’s go to The Coxswain’s."
"Wh-what?" Ben gazed critically at him. "Really?"
"Yeah. Fuck ‘em!"
Ben considered it. "They really have been dicks to us." Frank nodded when Ben spoke. Ben laughed. "All right. Let’s go!"
Two hours later, Frank snorted at his phone. "Ike again." He lay it back on the tabletop and leaned on his elbows toward Ben. "That’s four times now. Think he might be worried?"
"Fuck them." Ben tossed back the remnants of his third rum and coke.
Devin had also been texting and calling Ben. Ben had steadfastly refused to respond at all.
Frank couldn’t quite take it that far. "I’m just going to let him know I’m ok." He picked up the phone and typed. ‘I told you, we’re hanging out at the bar. I’ll be late. Don’t wait up.’
Before he could put the phone down, another text appeared. ‘You’re fucking him.’
Frank set his jaw and his thumbs flew over the keyboard. ‘No. I’m not you, Ike.’ Frank turned off the phone with a disgusted sneer and slid it away.
"What? What is it?" Ben’s lips were drawn into a thin line. "What’d he say?"
Frank shook his head. He stood. "I’ll get the next round." Ben didn’t press him, and nodded in response.
After threading his way through a strangely packed weekday crowd, Frank leaned on the polished wooden bar. The bartender quickly noticed him.
"Two rum and cokes?" the fellow asked.
Frank was impressed by his great memory, but he had a different drink in mind. "No. Two Long Islands."
The bartender grinned. "Getting serious!" He began to mix the powerfully strong drinks. "You guys aren’t driving, right?"
"Nope." They had walked to the bar from the office, and Frank had planned on calling Ike to come get him. Though that plan might need additional scrutiny after the texts they had exchanged.
"Good." He expertly poured the drinks.
Frank paid and took his prizes back to their table.
Ben had loosened his collar and tie, and smiled warmly at Frank as he approached. He seems relaxed, and happy. Frank grinned like an idiot.
Ben pointed at the glass Frank set before him. "That's not a rum and coke. What is that?"
"A Long Island." Frank took a sip from his beverage then sucked air through his teeth. "Whew! That’ll do it!"
Ben laughed and lifted his glass. "Okay then." He turned it up, took a surprisingly long drink, then set it on the table, his eyes watering.
"Ben!" Frank laughed in shock. "That has four shots of liquor in it!"
Ben coughed, and then chuckled as he wiped his mouth. "Well, I drank half of it, so now there are only two shots to go!"
They spent another forty minutes sipping, talking, and slowly falling into a drunken, numb, happiness.
"Come on." Frank laughed as Ben staggered out of the bar’s door. "Oh, God, you’re so drunk!"
Ben giggled. He reached and clung to Frank, who was steadier on his feet. "Maybe."
Frank’s arm went around Ben. Ben was taller, so Frank’s hair was against Ben’s cheek. Without thinking, Ben turned and smelled the pine scent of the shampoo Frank had used that morning.
Frank’s voice snapped Ben back to his senses. "Uh, yeah. Yes! Yes, ready."
The partners walked under the streetlights in the cold, late-October air. They made good time, considering their condition, and soon entered their office building.
"God, I need a Coke." Frank laughed as they stumbled into the elevator.
"Yeah." Ben smiled. He stepped close and slipped his arm back around Frank’s shoulders. His partner responded with one around Ben’s waist.
The elevator let them out, and they made it to their office door. Frank clumsily unlocked and opened it with one hand, as it didn’t seem to be an option for him to release Ben.
They entered. Moonlight flooded the place and made everything appear different and maybe just a little magical.
Ben watched Frank, who was still comfortably under his arm. The shorter man stared up at him.
"I had a good time." Frank’s voice was low.
Ben nodded. He shifted and pulled Frank into a hug. "Me too."
Ben enjoyed the way he tightly held him. Then the way Frank's hands traveled down his back to grip his ass. And finally how Frank ground his pelvis into his own.
Ben groaned. Frank's stubbled chin nuzzled at his face, willing Ben to kiss him, and without thought, he did.
The pair kissed and continued to rub their covered erections against one another. Frank tasted amazing, and the way his moans vibrated in Ben’s jaw was maddening. Ben's tongue snaked into Frank's mouth, while Frank's did the same to him.
Then it ended.
"Wait." Frank pulled back and stepped away. He rubbed his face and swore. "Fuck. This is what Ike accused me of." Frank chuckled bitterly. "He said we were fucking."
Ben licked his lips and tasted Frank there. "Yeah? I’m sure they both think it." God I’d love that. "It's not like they're angels or anything."
"I know, but ..." Frank shook his head. "I’m sorry. I'm not like this. This was, ah ..." He stared at Ben, confusion, desire and regret all vying for victory.
Ben feared which emotion would win. He cleared his throat. "I’m gonna walk home."
Disappointment marred Frank’s features. "Oh. Yeah, okay." He motioned to the couch in the office. "I’m gonna sleep here. I’ll shower in the gym downstairs tomorrow."
Ben nodded. "All right." He stepped toward the door. "So, goodnight."
Ben turned and almost ran out of the room. Once he was through the door, he put one hand over his mouth and the other over his heart.
"Where were you?" Devin stood in his boxers as Ben drank a glass of water at their kitchenette's sink. Ben had just gotten home, and though it was late his arrival had not gone unnoticed.
Ben finished with his water and laughed. "Like you don't know. I know you and Ike talk."
Devin reddened. "Well, yeah. We're friends. Of course we talk. I just wanted to hear it from you. What's going on."
"What?" Ben faced him. "You want to hear that Frank and I are fucking as soon as we get out of sight? Huh? Like you and Ike are? Is that what you want to hear?"
Devin swallowed. "I ... we're not .…"
"Don't lie! Don't you fucking do that." Ben stepped close and towered over his short husband. "At least respect me enough to tell the truth."
Devin flinched. "You smell like booze."
"Yeah, well, at least I don't smell like Frank's cock." Ben's eyes were afire with his anger. "I wanted to though. I wanted to, and do you know why?" Before Devin could respond, he continued. "Because he cares. He fucking cares, and it's the first time someone has in a long time."
Devin appeared wounded by that. "I do care." He reached up, then stopped short when Ben's eyes narrowed. Devin dropped his hand to his side. "It's just ... I'm not getting what I need from you."
Ben hated himself for it, but tears started. "Because I can't fuck you into next week." He turned so his back was to Devin. "Because I'm just a bottom." Ben wiped his face. "Why did you marry me? Why?"
"Ben." Devin put a hand gently on his shoulder. "I married you because I love you. Because you're not just a bottom. That's not how I think of you."
Ben let himself be turned. Devin hugged him. "I want to talk about this, but not right now. We have a lot to discuss, but I want to do it when you're sober, and when I'm not exhausted.
Ben had his head down against Devin, and he couldn't help himself. "Ike has kept you busy, huh?"
Devin sighed, then laughed. "Let's just talk about it tomorrow, okay?" He pushed back and smiled at Ben.
Ben nodded. "Okay." A deep sense of loss settled in Ben's bones, but along with it was a relief that they had finally spoken about the elephant in the room.
The two went to bed. Ben turned toward the wall, and after a pause, Devin put his arm around Ben to spoon him.
"I'm sorry, Ben. I never wanted to hurt you," Devin whispered, and gently kissed the back of his neck.
Ben squeezed his eyes shut, and he slid off into a dreamless sleep.
Frank frowned and made an irritated noise as his phone rang and awakened him. Without thinking, he picked it up. "Hello?"
"Frank, let me in. I'm outside." Ike's tone was clipped and irritated.
He sat up, his head swimming from the alcohol he had consumed. "How ... how'd you know where I am?"
"Because you're not home, and you have nowhere else to go in the city. Let me in. I'm taking you home."
Frank hung up. He sat on the couch, his head hanging down as he breathed. After a few moments, he pushed himself to his feet. The LED on the microwave read just past three a.m., and he was still fully dressed in his wrinkled clothes from the day before. He even still wore his shoes and coat.
He made his way downstairs, and sure enough, Ike waited beyond the thick glass doors outside the building lobby in the dark. His arms were crossed over his chest, and he glared at Frank.
Frank sighed and let himself out. "Hey."
Ike shook his head. "Come on." The big man's voice revealed that he was upset and angry.
Frank followed Ike to the car in the parking garage. They got in, and Ike pulled onto the road. "I can't believe you fucking did this to me."
Frank slowly turned his head to regard Ike. He stared at his husband in profile, and when they stopped at a light, Ike glared at him and then frowned. "What? You're not going to say anything? Too worn out from pumping a load into Ben?"
The laugh that barked from Frank's throat surprised both of them. He sadly shook his head. "No, Ike. We had the chance, and we didn't. We're not like you and Devin."
Ike drove through when the light turned. "Sure, yeah. You guys are fucking angels."
"You wanna know why you think I'm a cheater?" Frank leaned close. "Because you are. You can't imagine that I could be anything else, because you can't be." Frank hoped Ike would deny it.
Instead, Ike chuckled darkly. "Yeah. Whatever. At least I haven't put my cock in his ass. I know Ben's a bottom, something you always wanted. Did Ben enjoy that? Did you at least use a fucking condom?"
Frank cocked his head at his husband. He began to respond then realized the futility. He turned to gaze out of the window at the street lights as they drove. "Believe what you want. It doesn't matter."
"I guess it doesn't."
Frank closed his eyes. They didn't say another word to one another on the trip home. Once they arrived, Ike stalked into their extra bedroom and slammed the door.
Frank sat heavily on the couch. Mechanically, he took off his coat, shoes, and then checked his phone's alarm. He lay down and mercifully slept moments after.
Later that morning, Frank walked into their office carrying two large coffees from Tim's and a box of Timbits.
Ben regarded his partner and smiled weakly.
Frank handed him a coffee. "Looking like I feel. Um ... how were things at home with you?"
"Never better. Nothing like your husband all but admitting he’s fucking another guy. Thanks for the coffee." Ben pried the lid off and sipped the steaming drink. "How about you?"
Frank sat on the hard-backed chair next to Ben’s desk. He opened the Timbits and popped a chocolate glazed donut hole into his mouth. He offered the box to Ben, who took a sour cream glazed morsel and chewed it.
After another sip of coffee, Frank said, "It wasn’t pretty. Ike came to pick me up, accused me. Pretty much admitted that he and Devin were messing around, but since you and I are penetrating, we are sending a clear message. It only got worse from there." He continued after another donut hole. "So do you think they are only doing oral or what?"
"Does it matter, Frank? Really?" Ben rubbed his face and pushed his hands through his hair. "I feel like shit about all of it. Them and us. We nearly ..."
"Nearly doesn’t count. We stopped before we became them."
"I guess. I just feel hungover and shitty." Ben studied his watch. "We're expected on set in thirty minutes. Here’s a list of changes that Allan wants in the next script. They are moving us to smut-vision later at night ... so dirty it up, they are saying."
"Oh, good. We’re writing supernatural porn now." Frank grinned. "I know. Let’s make Lupe omnisexual! Captain Jack Harkness style."
The pair opened their Google Docs and got to work.
As the Houseboat Floats
Scene: Inside the store. Lupe flicks on the lights. He adds the float to the cash register. Absently, he reaches up to a semi-pointed ear and tugs off some excess fur. He drops it into the garbage can.
He takes a clipboard from under the counter, and walks around quickly, noting some items needing restocking. He walks toward the rear of the store when he hears a crash from the storeroom. Lupe doesn’t really need it but he slips behind the counter and picks up a baseball bat. He approaches the storeroom, and turns the knob slowly.
There’s a soft glowing from inside as Lupe opens the door.
"Who’s dere?" Lupe peers around the shelving. "I don’t wanna hurts ya, but I will. Just comes out here."
"Oh ... okay. Please don’t hurt me." The voice is male and very timid. Soft zapping sounds can be heard as whoever it is moves.
Lupe is puzzled by the noise that sounds like a mosquito killing lamp. "I says I won’t. I’m lots of things, boy, but a liar ain’t one of ‘em. Come on and shows yourself."
Slowly, a young man with spiked hair steps forward. When he reaches out to the shelf, there is an electric arc from his fingers.
Lupe squints and cocks his head. "What da hell is you?"
- Commercial break -
Scene: Tom is inside the houseboat. He is sitting beside Gerry, who is in bed. Gerry is very grey, his lips are blue, his chest isn’t moving.
It is several minutes before Tom realizes that Gerry isn’t moving. And when he does, he panics.
"Oh my God. Gerry! Gerry! Wake up." Tom shakes his lover. He tries CPR, but gives up.
"Oh, I don’t even know if that’s right. Gerry!" Tom pulls his phone from his pocket. "NO BARS!!!"
He runs outside, glares at the phone and screams, "Nothing!"
He spies the open sign and runs up the dock and into the store.
Lupe spins around. "What’s all da commotions?"
"Gerry is dead! I need to phone 911."
Lupe ignores the request and grabs Electro-boy and pulls him along. The crack of an electrical shock startles Tom, but Lupe seems unaffected. "If he be dead, you can zaps him!"
"What? I’ve ... I’ve never …. "
They all leave the store and run down onto the houseboat. Lupe and Electro-boy enter first, followed by Tom.
Gerry is sitting up on the bed. He is still grey. He smiles broadly with his blue lips.
"There you are, Tom." His words are a bit slurred.
Tom steps in and points. "He was dead."
Lupe grins and replies, "Well, he ain’t now!" Lupe pushes Electro-boy out of the doorway. "You and me needs to talk. Let’s go."
Tom sits with Gerry. "Baby? Are you okay?"
- Commercial break -
Scene: Inside the store. Lupe is talking to Electro-boy.
"So, why be yous in my store?"
"I needed a place to stay." The lad frowns. "How come my shock didn’t bother you earlier? Nobody can stand to touch me."
Lupe ignores the question for the moment. "Yous never hears of a motel? Better to break ins. Steal a man’s livelihood! What you take?"
"Nothing ... I’m no thief! I drank water from the tap, but I didn’t take nothing."
"Okay, so maybe Lupe believes you. What you be hiding from? I can’t helps but notice yous be a bit electrical, likes your name."
"That’s my stage name, Electro-boy. I ran away from the Freakling Brothers Freak Show."
Lupe smiles and licks his lips. "Yous be cute. I bet you be hot in bed. You owes me, if yous get my drift."
"My real name is William Weatherby. Look mister, I’m not like that, I like girls." He frowns. "Though I’ve only found one who can …."
"So do I ... girls, boys, aliens, wolves …." Lupe lay his hand on William’s chest. The air crackles with electricity. Lupe grins. "Pretty boy like you, never been touched by a man?" His hand slides down until he cups William’s balls through his cotton pants. Lupe licks his lips. "How yous know what yous like, huh?"
William’s eyes flutter. "I …"
"Yous just lay back now." Lupe pushes the crackling William down until he’s lying on the counter. Lupe peels off his own shirt, showing off his well-developed chest and abs, then climbs up to straddle the younger man. He grins. "Let Lupe handle tings today."
- Commercial break -
Scene: Tom and Gerry’s room.
Tom lays a gentle hand on Gerry’s still-gray face. "Baby? You don’t seem good. We should take you to the doctor."
Gerry turns his head. He opens his lips and sucks Tom’s thumb into his mouth, then moans suggestively.
Tom wets his lips. "Umm. Are you, uh, you okay?"
Gerry grips Tom by the back of his neck.
"Oof!" Gerry flings Tom onto his back with a startling strength. Before Tom can get up, Gerry crawls on top of him.
His gray, naked body presses Tom into the mattress.
"Gerry!" Tom pants as Gerry tears off his clothes. "What are you …"
"Sex." Gerry’s voice is a strange monotone. He manhandles Tom until he is stripped.
Tom struggles, at first. "But, you’re sick. We shouldn’t."
Gerry bends and they kiss. Tom seems to lose his inhibition, and Gerry smiles with a wide grin.
As Gerry presses his hips forward, and Tom’s back arches, Gerry repeats himself.
"And cut!" Allan Hamilton, the director, shouted. He spun around.
Gail met the director’s eyes and nodded. To Terrence she said, "We have a hit on our hands. I can feel it."
Terrence nodded. "Yes, madam. I believe you’re right." You're also wet. Terrence subtly positioned himself in front of Gail so no one else would see just how much she had enjoyed the scene. "Perhaps we should head back upstairs to discuss our new advertising campaign for the show?"
"Yes, that sounds like a good idea." Gail turned and much to Terrence's relief, they entered the elevator. They began moving up the floors, and soon the elevator slowed as they reached their destination. "First, I need to stop at the little network owner's room to freshen up." She moistened her lips with her tongue. "I'll probably be a bit."
The doors opened and Gail turned toward the restroom. As she entered, Terrence couldn't help himself.
"Wash your hands after you're done!"
"We're going to do this again? Really?" Ben sighed and lay back in his chair. "God, I don't know, Frank."
"Hey, we've got to talk. All of us." Frank's elbows were on his knees as he leaned forward in his seat. "Episode two … er one, is airing tonight, the one where the comet infects Gerry. We might as well do another watch party. At least this way, we can all get it out in the open. Everything." Well, not everything. Frank flinched at his thought.
Ben groaned. "I don't want to talk about it. I know we need to, I just don't want to."
"I get that." Frank smiled and laid a reassuring hand on Ben's knee. "Please? Come on, I just want to get this whole thing handled, one way or another. I mean, I'd like to save my marriage if I can."
Ben sat up. He patted Frank's hand and nodded. "Okay, yeah. Me too. Devin has to work late, but since they moved us to the ten-p.m. slot, that shouldn't be a problem." Ben frowned in thought. "I want to drop by the boat first. I've got a couple of bottles of wine there." He laughed. "I think we'll need them!"
Frank snickered and stood. "Okay. Let's go now. I'll take you there, and then I need to run to the store. You mind shopping with me?"
"Nope." Ben got to his feet and put on his coat. "Let's go."
Frank drove them over to the docks. Ben walked it every morning, so it wasn't far.
"There. Just pull into ... wait." Ben frowned at the back of Devin's car in their assigned parking spot on the dock. "He's here." Ben's face darkened. "He's supposed to be at work."
"Maybe he took the bus?" Frank drove past, and parked in the paid lot. The two men got out, and Ben jerked his head at Frank's heavy sigh. "Or, maybe not." He followed Frank's gaze to a black Hummer parked nearby in the lot.
"No. That's not Ike's, is it?"
Frank checked the plate. The grim set of his jaw told the story.
Ben felt his blood pressure rise. "Come on."
The pair strode across the street, then down the boardwalk. Ben held up a finger against his lips as they got close to the big, gently bobbing houseboat.
They carefully boarded, and Ben unlocked the door that led onto the vessel.
After slowly sneaking down the stairs, sounds they did not want to hear were coming from the bedroom. Frank began to move, but Ben pulled him back.
"My house. I’ll do it," he whispered.
Frank gripped Ben’s shoulder and nodded.
Turning the knob slowly, Ben pushed the door partly open. Frank was right behind him. Together they watched the scene unfold.
Ike was dressed in a gray and yellow, Lycra full-bodysuit. There must have been a strategic hole in it, so his important parts were free. Devin was in a red and black one, and writhed under the big man.
"Fuck, I love how much you want it," Ike growled, and hammered Devin forcefully—his glutes visible through the thin material, and contracting hard with each thrust. "Yeah. Tell me you want it." Ike gripped Devin's ankles, and spread his legs wide while the smaller man was on his back.
"God, yes. Fuck." Devin's voice was a needful whimper. "I love your bare cock. Give it all to me."
Frank had been bent slightly to get a better view. He now stood straight. Ben knew his partner wanted to rush in there. Instead, Ben silently closed the door. He motioned toward the exit. The pair left the boat as quietly as they were able.
They didn't speak at all until they had gotten back to Frank's car. Both men sat in silence for a full minute, then Ben sobbed.
"Hey." Frank blinked back tears of his own. "Hey, it's okay." He put an arm around Ben's shoulders.
Ben shook his head. "What the fuck?" He waved a hand toward the dock. "What were they wearing?"
"Lycra. Ike loves it. He's always trying to get me to wear it when we have sex."
Ben laughed, though tears continued to stream down his face. "Well, I guess Devin was willing."
"Yeah. I guess so." Frank leaned over so his head lay on Ben's shoulder.
They sat that way for a bit, then Ben took a steadying breath. "Okay." He wiped his face as a plan formed in his mind. "So let's go back in. I want them to know they've been caught."
Frank peered at him. "Okay."
They once again entered the boat. This time, they both sat quietly at the table in the kitchen. There, they waited.
About twenty minutes passed and the bedroom door opened. "You want anything?" Ike's voice came up the stairs from the room below. After a muffled response, there were steps on the stairs leading up.
Ike swaggered around the corner, still in his sweaty, semen-streaked bodysuit. His glistening, half-hard dick stuck through a hole in the material, and swung back and forth as he walked.
He stopped, eyes-wide, and stared at Frank and Ben.
Frank smiled. "Hi, Ike. I think it's time we talk."
Ohhhh ... caught in the act! How will our guys handle this fine mess?