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Between the Push and Pull - 8. Chapter 8

Warning: This chapter contains sexual content that is explicit and graphic. Reader discretion is advised.

Ryan tried to turn over in his own bed and groaned. Every muscle in his body ached. He didn’t remember the last time he hurt so badly—not even when he first took up boxing and had gotten beat up by the punching bag.

The worst of his aches was his asshole; it was bruised and tender. Walking up the stairs to his apartment had been brutal, and he had almost collapsed in a heap by the time he reached the fifth floor.

If he had it his way, he’d just curl up and never move again. But that wasn’t possible when his phone was exploding with text messages.

With extreme effort, he managed to reach out, grab his phone and flop back down on his bed.

Good morning!

Are you up?

OMG, this scene is better than the first one.

You’re so fucking hot!

It’s not edited yet, so you’d have to come into the office to see the raw footage.

You should definitely come in. It’s awesome.

Are you up?

Can I call you?

No sooner had Ryan read the last message than his phone started vibrating with a call. Who else could it be?

“Yeah?”

“You are up. Why didn’t you answer my texts?”

“Ugh…” Ryan moaned. “You’re worse than Amanda.”

“Uh, thanks?”

“It’s not a compliment.”

“I didn’t think so.” Erik’s laughter bubbled like a gurgling stream and had a strangely soothing effect on Ryan’s morning moodiness.

“So you want to come into the office? You’ve got to see this footage.”

“I’ll pass.”

“Come on, Ryan. It’s really good. You’re amazing. You should see it!”

“No, I hurt.”

“You hurt? Are you okay?”

“I’m fine.” Ryan sighed. “It figures you're a morning person.”

“Yep, and I love it. So what’s wrong?”

“Nothing, I’m just sore—everywhere.”

The volume of the laughter on the other end of the line had Ryan holding the phone away from his ear. He could just imagine Erik doubled over.

“Oh, my god, that just made my morning. Maybe my entire week. But I’m not really surprised. You should see the way you were fucking yourself. Shit. I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone go that hard.”

Ryan grunted, preferring not to remember the feeling of Erik’s cock driving up into his ass.

“It’s almost like you were trying to prove something—or punishing yourself.” Erik grew quiet. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

“I’m fine,” Ryan growled into the phone.

Silence on the other end.

“Really, I am!” Ryan insisted.

“Okay, if you say so.”

Ryan sighed and tried to think of a way to get Erik off the phone.

“Is your bar doing a Halloween thing?”

“Huh?”

“Your bar, you know, Halloween? Next week? Are you guys doing a thing for Halloween?”

“Uh…” Ryan honestly had no idea what the plans for Halloween were this year. He didn’t usually pay attention to these things; it didn’t help that he hated Halloween. “I dunno. Maybe. Usually.”

Erik sighed through the phone. “Okay, never mind. I’ll figure it out.”

“What? Why?”

“Don’t worry about it. Listen, since you’re probably not going to come in to see the footage, I’ll make sure Gary sends you the link once the video is ready. Watch it, okay?”

Ryan made a noncommittal sound and hoped that it would satisfy Erik.

“Okay, I’ve gotta run. I’ll talk to you soon.”

“Meow.” Caesar said good morning from his perch on one of the pillows. He padded over and settled himself on Ryan’s chest, head tucked up under Ryan’s chin.

“Hey, buddy.” Ryan scratched between Caesar’s ears and got a satisfied purr in return.

Erik’s suggestion that he bottom from the top had worked, sort of. Ryan had felt more in control during the scene and hadn’t quite blacked out from pleasure the way he had with the first scene. But it still didn’t feel right. It wasn’t just the bottoming, Ryan felt sure; he just couldn’t figure out what it was.

Ryan’s mind kept drifting back to specific moments from the shoot: the image of the camera guy hovering above Erik’s head, the camera guy kneeling between their spread legs, one of the assistants adjusting the lighting as Erik’s dick had hit a particularly deep spot in Ryan’s gut.

And all the while, Erik’s arms around him, Erik’s whispers in his ear, the words of sincere encouragement echoing through Ryan’s mind. Like Erik had said: what they had done felt very real and yet so very fake. It was a sharp juxtaposition.

Ensconced in his duvet, with Caesar purring away happily on his chest, Ryan struggled to put a name on what he was feeling. Why did this feel wrong, feel invasive, like a violation? He’d filmed dozens of sex scenes; he knew and was comfortable with the idea of people watching him carry out the most intimate physical act with a stranger.

And yet the idea that what he and Erik had done yesterday had all been caught on film made Ryan nauseous. It made him simultaneously want to turn himself inside out to wash away the shame and smash the cameras so they could no longer be subjected to such indignity.

Maybe… an idea started to form in Ryan’s mind. Maybe it wasn’t the fact that he’d had sex on camera; maybe it was that he’d had sex with Erik on camera.

The idea sparked a visceral reaction and sent Caesar scurrying with a screech as Ryan sat up abruptly. He felt that familiar restlessness in his limbs, the itch for a couple of good rounds with his punching bag.

Ryan thought back to several of his old scenes with partners whose names he barely remembered. He felt no reaction; he was fine. But he and Erik on camera? Ryan tested the thought. Yes, there it was, that deep sense of desecration that bordered on revulsion and disgust. 

Ryan jumped out of bed and changed into his workout gear. His punching bag in the corner wasn’t going to cut it today. No, he needed some live action with a sparring partner to clear the troubling thought from his mind.

***

It was Halloween before Ryan heard from Erik again—or rather when Erik showed up at the bar.

Ryan’s bar did indeed do a Halloween thing each year—usually an extended happy hour and one free drink for anyone in a costume. The place was packed with sexy versions of everything one could think of: nurses, vampires, cats, construction workers, even a sexy Olaf, which Ryan found quite disturbing.

Ryan himself was dressed in black jeans and a black t-shirt; when he was asked about his costume, he responded that he was dressed as a bartender. No amount of pleading, cajoling and threatening from Amanda had worked, not even for a simple wig.  

Amanda was dressed as a Siracha bottle. She’d found a red t-shirt with the bottle’s labeling printed on the front and back and used a lime-green beanie as the cap. Ryan could tell even from his side of the bar that she was getting a lot more tips than he was because of the costume; he didn’t give a shit.

“Ryan!”

The familiar voice had Ryan turning, but a quick scan didn’t reveal the person he was looking for. Upon a second scan, he did a double-take.

It was the same smile, the same dimple, and the same twinkling blue eyes. But rather than that gorgeous head of thick black hair that Ryan often fantasized running his fingers through, in its place was a poorly cut, straw-like, blond wig. Erik also wore a white sweater over a blue dress-shirt ensemble complete with an orange scarf tied around his neck.

Ryan walked over with a strange sense of amused dread.

“You like it?” Erik held up his arms to show himself off.

“Uh… sure?”

“Oh, come on, you know who I am, right?”

“Uh, Donald Trump?”

Erik glared at him. “Not funny.”

“Sorry.” Ryan couldn’t help but laugh.

“I’m Freddy! Fred Jones? From Scooby-Doo?”

“Oh, right…”

Erik shook his head. “It’s more obvious when you see the whole group together.”

“You came here with people?”

“Yeah, they’re over there.” Erik pointed to a table surrounded by Shaggy, Velma, Daphne, and Scooby himself.

“Oh.”

“I hope that’s alright.” Erik’s smile died. “Sorry, I should have asked if that was okay. They’re friends from school.”

Ryan shook his head quickly. “No, it’s fine. No worries.” Then he grinned, “So who’s nerdy hot, now?”

Erik’s dimple flashed again. “So you do think I’m hot.”

Ryan rolled his eyes. “What do you guys want? It’s on the house.”

Erik and his friends stayed for most of the evening, chatting and laughing at their table. Every time Ryan glanced over, he’d catch Erik staring at him. And every half hour or so Erik would come up to the bar for refills and chat for a few minutes.

Throughout it all, that nagging idea would not leave Ryan alone. Erik was just another scene partner, he kept telling himself. Sure, Erik was charming, smart, driven, and had an uncanny ability to read and understand Ryan, but Erik was just another scene partner. There was no reason he should feel any differently about working with Erik than with any other person.

And yet, that feeling—that dark, dirty feeling—would bubble up whenever Ryan tried to think about himself and Erik naked in front of a camera. Even thinking about it now, Ryan had to pause in the middle of making a cocktail and calm himself. When he looked up, Erik was grinning at him, and Ryan couldn’t stop the wisp of sadness that tainted his own grin.

Nearing last call, Erik was up at the bar but shook his head when Ryan offered him refills.

“We’re going to head out. Thanks for the free drinks all evening. I thought only the first one was on the house.”

“Yeah, well.” Ryan grinned and shrugged.

“Listen, we’re uh... going to head to my place and hang out some more. You should swing by when you’re done here.”

Ryan detected a slight hesitation in Erik’s voice and saw a little crinkle around the eye. Was that nervousness from the usually confident Erik?

“Um…”

“No pressure, just… you know, if you feel like.” Erik smiled. Their eyes met and held for a second too long before Erik turned away. The split second was enough to send a certain restlessness through Ryan’s system, one that he had begun associating solely with Erik.

“Did Erik just proposition you again?” Amanda sneaked up on Ryan.

“What? No,” Ryan answered.

“Are you sure?”

“He invited me over, but a bunch of his friends will be there,” Ryan explained.

“Oh, so you’d rather he invites you over alone.” Amanda smiled knowingly.

“No.” Ryan frowned. “Shut up. You have customers.” And he nudged her toward her side of the bar.

Swinging by Erik’s was not something he particularly felt like doing. He’d rather have gone home for a date with his punching bag. If it’d just been Erik, that was one thing, but having his friends as an audience?

Ryan paused with a margarita glass upside down in a tray of salt. They weren’t putting on a performance, he reminded himself. This was drinks and hanging out with normal people, talking about normal things. There would be no scrutiny, no examination of something best kept private.

Not that there was anything to be kept private. He and Erik were colleagues, granted unusual colleagues, but colleagues nonetheless. And sometimes colleagues become friends and hang out outside of work; there was nothing else to it. There was no reason why Ryan shouldn’t go.  

But he still felt uneasy as he knocked on Erik’s door later that night. He’d been dwelling on this ridiculous idea for too long, and he wasn’t sure how to act normally around Erik anymore. He didn’t really want to be there, didn’t want to test his theory for fear that it was true.

He was about to turn and go home when the door was yanked open by a very authentic-looking Shaggy. Ryan couldn’t tell if there was really a costume or if this was just the guy’s normal everyday hipster look.

“Oh, hey! You’re the bartender. Come on in!” Shaggy was obviously drunk.

“Hey! You made it!” Erik rushed over and gave Ryan a big bear hug. Even drunk, Erik smelled like that intoxicating musk that got under Ryan’s skin and ignited something strange inside of him.

“You made it!” Everyone else joined in the chorus. There was more than just the Scooby-Doo gang there, all costumed in some way, all quite drunk.

“Here.” Erik pressed a cold bottle into Ryan’s hand and proceeded to go around the room introducing Ryan. Ryan knew he wouldn’t remember any of their names, but he smiled and nodded at each person as they were introduced.

They all seemed nice enough, and Ryan found himself entertaining the cheerful chatter of a girl with bright-purple hair. She was quite far gone and seemed content to regale Ryan with tales of all her friends getting married and popping out kids and how that offended her modern sensibilities. Ryan listened while watching Erik chat and laugh with his friends, blue eyes twinkling and dimple flashing. Every once in a while Erik would glance over with a shy little grin, and Ryan felt his heart beat a little more strongly in his chest.

Ryan wasn't sure how long they all hung out for, but at some point everyone started getting up and filtering out. When Ryan grabbed his jacket to head out with the crowd, Erik not so subtlety took it from his hands and held on to it until he was the last one left.

"Um, my jacket?"

"You don't need it, you're not going anywhere." Erik grinned at him and threw the jacket over the couch.

"I'm not?"

"No." Erik crossed to the kitchen and started filling the kettle. "Haven't gotten a chance to talk all evening. Of course, you're not going anywhere."

"Okay," Ryan replied, taking a seat on the stool behind the breakfast bar. "What do you want to talk about?"

"How was your evening?" Erik turned on the kettle and settled his elbows on the counter opposite Ryan, chin resting on his hands.

Ryan grinned. "You're drunk."

"Yup." Erik grinned back. "But don't worry. I won’t take advantage of you."

"And how can I be sure of that?"

"Because you work out, and you box, and I might be bigger than you, but you're strong."

Ryan had absolutely no idea what to say to that. "Your friends are nice," was the only thing he could think of.

Erik laughed that bubbling-brook laugh. Ryan’s heart thudded, and much to his dismay, he felt light and tingly all over.

"Yeah, they are."

"They're all from Columbia?"

"Yep." Erik turned to the whistling kettle.

"Do they know about... what we do?"

Erik half turned with a grin. "You mean, do they know we're porn stars?" Erik laughed and pulled mugs from the cabinet and tea bags from a drawer. "A couple of them do."

"Really?"

"Yeah, it's not really that surprising. They're all post-modern, relative-truth, express-your-sexuality types. They're more likely to dissect themes and social commentary found in gay porn than anything else."

"I'm not sure I understand what you just said." Ryan took the mug set before him and sniffed—chamomile.

"I'm not sure I understand what I said." Erik held his mug cradled in both hands and blew on the hot liquid with pouty lips.

Ryan looked skeptical. "I think I should go."

"No, don't go!" Erik exclaimed with much too much enthusiasm and reached out to grasp Ryan's wrist. "You have to stay."

"Why do I have to stay?" Ryan asked with the warmth of Erik's touch radiating up his arm.

"Because…" Erik frowned, but couldn’t seem to find a reason. "Just, because."

"Persuasive argument." Ryan grinned. Erik was still holding onto his wrist, and now his thumb was tracing little circles on the sensitive skin.

"Mock me," Erik said smugly, “but you're still not going anywhere."

Ryan didn't bother pointing out that a simple hand on the wrist was hardly enough to keep him from leaving—except that he found it difficult to pull his wrist from Erik's loose grasp.

The moment felt easy and simple, Ryan admitted to himself. It felt uncomplicated when the reality of their relationship was very complicated indeed.

But at that moment, the rest of it didn’t seem as important; all that mattered was the two of them sharing tea over the kitchen counter, gazing into each other's eyes with shy, knowing little grins—comfortable, natural.

Erik's lips parted, and he leaned in a fraction. Just when Ryan was sure he was coming in for a kiss, Erik seemed to catch himself. His clear blue eyes lost a bit of that drunken haze, he let go of Ryan's hand and stepped away from the counter. Ryan felt the loss, a strange feeling of having missed an important opportunity.

"What are you doing for Thanksgiving?" Erik asked, sounding a lot soberer than he did just moments ago.

"Um... not sure."

"Does your family get together?"

"Not in November."

"What does that mean?" Erik asked, now nursing his tea from the opposite side of the small kitchen.

"I'm from Montreal."

"Really? You're Canadian?"

"Yep."

"Do you speak French?"

Ryan couldn't help laughing. "Oui."

"Say something in French."

Ryan paused before saying, "Que faisons-nous ici?"

"What does that mean?"

"Thanks for the tea," Ryan replied.

Erik narrowed his eyes but didn't dispute the translation. "Right." He pushed off the counter and walked around to the couch, flopping down all limbs and muscle with a big yawn.

"You're tired. I should go and let you sleep." Ryan moved to get his jacket, only to have Erik commandeer it and use it as a blanket.

"Stay for a while longer."

Ryan sighed. The rational part of his brain told him that he really should wrestle his jacket from the half-drunk Erik and find his way home. Instead, Ryan settled himself into the empty space beside Erik and felt his heart do a little flip when Erik snuggled up against him with no hesitation.

"Where are you from?" Ryan asked.

"Mmm, Salt Lake City."

"Really?" Now it was Ryan's turn to be surprised. "Are you Mormon?"

"Do I look Mormon?"

"I dunno, what do Mormons look like?"

Erik twisted to glare up at Ryan. Ryan grinned and shrugged.

"My family's Mormon."

"They're okay with you being gay?"

"It's more a don't-ask-don't-tell kind of situation."

"Oh, I'm sorry."

Erik shrugged. "It's fine. I know they love me. I think it just makes them uncomfortable, so I don't bring it up."

"So, are you going home for Thanksgiving?"

Erik nodded and stifled a yawn by turning his face into Ryan's neck. "Mhmm. They'd come track me down and drag me back if I didn't go."

"I'm guessing they don't know about...you being a porn star?" Ryan ruffled his fingers in Erik's thick silky hair; the blond wig had disappeared at some point in the evening.

Erik chuckled sleepily. "I’m pretty sure one of my cousins does. I went home once, and he couldn't look me in the eye anymore."

"Oh..."

"No worries. He won't say anything because then he'd have to explain to his wife and three kids why he was watching gay porn."

"That's terrible."

Erik shrugged again and sighed. "He wouldn't be the only one like that in the Mormon church."

Ryan tightened the arm that had found its way around Erik's shoulder, and Erik snuggled himself a little closer. A few moments later, Erik's breathing settled into that slow, steady rhythm that came with sleep. Ryan grinned to himself; somehow he didn't mind being Erik's pillow.

Being careful not to disturb the man sleeping in his arm, Ryan wriggled himself into a more comfortable position, leaned his head against the back of the couch, and let his eyes drift shut. 

Good? Bad? Love it? Hate it? Let me know what you think! Leave a review or join the discussion over here!

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Chapter Comments

I hate morning people who chatter at me before I'm awake. :angry::pinch: And Erik makes me :pissed: when he keeps nagging Ryan about watching the scene. WTF, dude, will you lay off ! Ryan said no, so respect his limits. Oh and Amanda is still an annoying B.... who doesn't know the meaning of No either :fight: You'd expect a woman to respect the right so say No to unwelcome propositions.
Ryan's instincts about his relationship with Erik are spot on, including the danger of getting himself involved in the guy's normal life. That's something for a friend or a boyfriend, and right now Erik is neither. But both of them suck at making rational conclusions about what is happening, which I guess is understandable considering the short time they've know each other.

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On 02/18/2017 04:24 AM, Geemeedee said:

I'm impressed Ryan remembered to use Erik's screen name. :0) Great chapter. I am loving this story.

Thanks so much!

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On 02/18/2017 04:00 AM, Timothy M. said:

I hate morning people who chatter at me before I'm awake. :angry::pinch: And Erik makes me :pissed: when he keeps nagging Ryan about watching the scene. WTF, dude, will you lay off ! Ryan said no, so respect his limits. Oh and Amanda is still an annoying B.... who doesn't know the meaning of No either :fight: You'd expect a woman to respect the right so say No to unwelcome propositions.

Ryan's instincts about his relationship with Erik are spot on, including the danger of getting himself involved in the guy's normal life. That's something for a friend or a boyfriend, and right now Erik is neither. But both of them suck at making rational conclusions about what is happening, which I guess is understandable considering the short time they've know each other.

Ryan's a reserved guy, so he needs a little push to come out of his shell. Sometimes a little push is a good thing :)

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Loved it. :) I'm glad that Ryan finally figured out what made him so uncomfortable about being filmed with Erik. These two are smitten, that's for sure. I thought it was cute how Erik snuggled right up to Ryan. :wub: I can't wait to read more. :)

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You really know how to leave us hanging! Another fantastic chapter and its good to see that Ryan has figured out what he is feeling. Can't wait to read more.

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On 02/18/2017 11:47 AM, Valkyrie said:

Loved it. :) I'm glad that Ryan finally figured out what made him so uncomfortable about being filmed with Erik. These two are smitten, that's for sure. I thought it was cute how Erik snuggled right up to Ryan. :wub: I can't wait to read more. :)

I think I love drunk Erik. I need to get him drunk more often so he can do more cute stuff. :)

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On 02/18/2017 11:53 PM, azaroth said:

You really know how to leave us hanging! Another fantastic chapter and its good to see that Ryan has figured out what he is feeling. Can't wait to read more.

Thanks!!

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I like how you continue to unfold the mystery of Ryan with little pieces at a time. I don't need to know everything off the bat, I enjoy the unfolding. And I'm looking forward to learning more about Ryan, and, hopefully, more about Erik, too, as we go along. I'm sure Erik has more in his past and in his personal life to be revealed. I'm intrigued by this connection that is slowly forming between the two. It's strained yet sweet. Your writing style is very tight, very controlled. You don't mince words or add a lot of fluff, which mirrors the characters themselves.

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On 02/19/2017 02:24 AM, MacGreg said:

I like how you continue to unfold the mystery of Ryan with little pieces at a time. I don't need to know everything off the bat, I enjoy the unfolding. And I'm looking forward to learning more about Ryan, and, hopefully, more about Erik, too, as we go along. I'm sure Erik has more in his past and in his personal life to be revealed. I'm intrigued by this connection that is slowly forming between the two. It's strained yet sweet. Your writing style is very tight, very controlled. You don't mince words or add a lot of fluff, which mirrors the characters themselves.

Thanks for the encouraging words!

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Loved the French connection, I thought that maybe when Erik said "...You're Canadian?" he would have replied Québécois, but I guess being a man of few words, he wouldn't want to get into all that. They're getting quite comfortable together, little by little.

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On 02/24/2017 05:53 AM, William King said:

Loved the French connection, I thought that maybe when Erik said "...You're Canadian?" he would have replied Québécois, but I guess being a man of few words, he wouldn't want to get into all that. They're getting quite comfortable together, little by little.

Good point about the Quebecois :) Spoiler Alert: Ryan's technically only half French Canadian, the other half is just plain Canadian, unfortunately.

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I love the way Ryan and Erik are becoming more comfortable with one another -- even if Erik was drunk! I loved the way he just snuggled up to Ryan, and then Ryan started running his fingers through Erik's hair. The scene was very domesticated and boyfriendy. (Yes, I just made up that word. lol)

 

Great chapter, HB! :)

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Loved it! Your pacing is excellent. Revealing their pasts in small instances is like us getting to know them as they're getting to know each other, and I love seeing Eriik and Ryan thier connectedness even more.

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On 03/03/2017 06:41 AM, Lisa said:

I love the way Ryan and Erik are becoming more comfortable with one another -- even if Erik was drunk! I loved the way he just snuggled up to Ryan, and then Ryan started running his fingers through Erik's hair. The scene was very domesticated and boyfriendy. (Yes, I just made up that word. lol)

 

Great chapter, HB! :)

Thanks, Lisa!!

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On 03/03/2017 07:11 AM, Defiance19 said:

Loved it! Your pacing is excellent. Revealing their pasts in small instances is like us getting to know them as they're getting to know each other, and I love seeing Eriik and Ryan thier connectedness even more.

I'm glad you like the pacing. That's always something I worry about :)

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