Written for Don't Ask Me Why: A Chris-centric Challenge.
The worst part of clichés, Chris thought, was when they turned out to be true. Ireland really was cold, wet, and miserable, just as everyone had promised him it would be. Of course, part of that might have been due to the fact that he'd decided to take his vacation in April, but he refused to take responsibility for that.
If the others had been acting at all normally, he wouldn't have had to leave America in the first place. But it was like they were all in some strange collusion, cheerfully extending and re-extending the hiatus, and Chris was in the weird position of feeling just as close to each of them individually while wondering when exactly the group had disappeared. Small wonder that he'd decided to set out on a journey of self-discovery--at least, that's how he referred to it in his head--when 'N Sync had gone AWOL.
It had even seemed like a brilliant idea, when he'd driven carefully on the wrong side of the road out of Dublin into a world as Technicolor green as a kid's crayoned drawing. Or when he'd arrived at the out-of-the-way-but-close-to-decent-medical-care village Lance had insisted on helping him find, almost too rustic to be real, and dropped his bags off in a room above the pub, which did double-duty as the town's only inn.
Of course, there was nothing to do in town, and the closest thing to a tourist attraction was the movie theater two villages back, but he'd been expecting--even anticipating--that. He changed from his sneakers to hiking boots, humming It's a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and set out on a brisk walk. The slight pull at his chest was another reminder that he might want to get in better shape before the hiatus finally ended, but it was a good, invigorating discomfort. The air smelled as green as the landscape looked. He thought he might not mind just living like this for the indefinite future.
And then it started to rain.
It wasn't a deluge, but it was persistent, and cold, and he'd walked farther than he'd realized. The hiking boots were a blessing as he squelched his way back to the inn, until eventually even they got soaked through and he started cursing everything indiscriminately.
By the time Chris got back to the pub, he was actually grateful to be too blinded by the rain in his eyes and the wet hair straggling in his face to see the expression on the sullen, twenty-something kid who'd helped him with his bags earlier, now tending the bar. He stumbled up the stairs to his room and peeled off his sodden clothes. Of course, there couldn't be a dryer on the premises, so he draped them artistically around the room and prayed that the humidity would go down before they got moldy.
Then he toweled off, put on some dry clothes, and went downstairs in search of hot food and lots of alcohol.
It was early afternoon, and the pub was nearly empty. On the far end of the bar was a single man staring into his mug with a mournfulness that suggested either a deep personal trauma or a lack of beer. He didn't even look up when Chris clattered down the stairs and settled himself on a stool midway down the bar, near to where the bartender was wiping some glasses.
"Hey," Chris said. "I'll have a plate of...do you serve fish and chips here?" The kid nodded unsmilingly. "And a pint of bitter." He glanced down at the end of the bar again, figured what the hell. "And another of whatever he's having," he said, jerking a thumb in the man's direction.
The man remained oblivious until the full mug was set in front of him.
"Did I order this?" he asked, puzzled.
"No," Chris said, "I did."
"Oh. Thank you."
"Don't mention it."
Apparently taking his words to heart, the stranger took a large swallow, then went back to staring at the counter in a contemplative silence.
Chris watched him for a long minute. He didn't look like a tourist, but who else would be drinking alone in a pub at three in the afternoon? Maybe more to the point, he looked lonely. "You from around here?"
The stranger looked up, brushing dark hair out of his eyes to peer at him. "You can never go back," he said.
So much for charitable impulses. "Go back where?"
"Anywhere. Back in time, mostly, I guess. The past is another world, you know."
"I think Einstein would disagree," Chris said, remnants of Physics for Poets--it wasn't actually called that, but everyone knew, anyway--filtering back through his brain.
The stranger waved away the idea of Einstein with surprisingly elegant hands. "I'm serious."
Chris arched an eyebrow at him. "Your Jedi mind tricks do not work on me."
The stranger smiled thinly. "No, I mean, that's my name. S-I-R-I-U-S."
"Chris," Chris said in response, and since he didn't really want to shake the potential nut's hand, he took a hasty drink.
When he put it down, Sirius was staring at him with wide, dark eyes. There was something creepily familiar about that stare, and Chris's mind worried at the feeling.
"You remind me a lot of my friend," Sirius confided abruptly. "Deep. He was, I mean. I don't suppose you're a professor?"
Chris choked. "No. I'm a singer."
"Ah." Sirius considered that carefully. "My friend's tone-deaf."
"Guess we're not really alike then, huh?" Chris said.
Sirius shook his head. "If I were searching for superficial differences, I could come up with bigger ones than that."
Something clicked in Chris's brain, then, and he said, "You're not Irish."
"Neither are you," Sirius pointed out. The bartender had an abrupt coughing fit and ducked out of the room.
"No, I just meant...everyone's got a different accent, and I didn't realize how different yours was until just now."
Sirius listened to his explanation with the polite expression of someone who didn't really give a shit. He said, "I was born in London," though, so either he wasn't as disinterested as he appeared, or he was willing to indulge Chris's ideas of a conversation.
"I'm from Pittsburgh, originally."
Sirius's polite expression changed slightly to one of incomprehension.
"Pennsylvania," Chris clarified.
Sirius continued to appear out at sea, and Chris gave up.
"I live in Florida."
"Ah." Sirius's face cleared. "It's hot there, isn't it?"
"Most of the time, yeah."
"Must be nice. I'm thinking of going to Egypt for a bit, myself. As soon as I've got a bit more money saved, though that's likely to take a while, considering what my job pays."
"What do you do?"
"Oh, this and that. Mostly I dig ditches."
"There's really a demand for that? It sounds so...19th century."
"People always need ditches," Sirius said philosophically.
There wasn't much to say to that besides, "I guess so." Chris took another sip of his drink.
Sirius watched him. "D'you want a blowjob?" he asked suddenly.
"Do you want--"
"No, I heard you. I just..." He looked at Sirius, who was looking back at him expectantly. "Why the hell not?"
A flicker of a smile crossed Sirius's face. "There's a washroom in the back."
As soon as the door had closed behind them, Sirius whirled around and pinned him to the wall. Adrenaline surged through Chris's veins. He almost kneed Sirius in the groin, but then Sirius dropped his head to nuzzle Chris's neck and Chris relaxed, tipping his head back.
Sirius licked a line up to Chris's earlobe and bit it gently.
"You smell good," Sirius said. "Do you mind?"
"Um...no, not really. You could even say I do it on purpose. I shower every day, use deodorant... It makes it harder to pretend to be French, but then, so does the fact that I don't speak any French."
Sirius chuckled. "I meant, do you mind me taking my time?"
"Oh, that. Go right ahead."
"Much obliged." Sirius went back to trace the whorls of Chris's ear with his tongue, breathing carefully through his nose. Chris shuddered.
His hands had been dangling at his side; now he brought them up to clasp Sirius's waist, to slide them under his shirt along the smooth planes of his back.
Sirius murmured his approval and arched slightly into Chris's touch. He traced Chris's collarbone with his own fingers, then followed them with open-mouthed kisses. His tongue lapped at the base of Chris's throat.
Chris gasped and pulled his hands free of Sirius's shirt to cup his face and tilt it towards his own. "This all right?" he asked softly, leaning forward to brush Sirius's lips with a kiss.
The next kiss was open and wet. They licked each other's lips, tongues, teeth. They bit each other's mouths. Sirius's heart beat rapidly against Chris's chest, and his erection pressed firmly into Chris's stomach. When Chris thumbed the hollows of Sirius's hipbones, he felt it twitch.
They trailed caresses along the lengths of their arms, the curves of their chests and backs. Sirius was in a T-shirt, like half the people Chris had seen on his trip who couldn't seem to understand that an Irish April was still winter, and Chris tugged it up to get better access. He brushed his fingers across tight, pink nipples, and the feel of them under his fingertips made him echo Sirius's shiver.
The near-violence of their kiss had gentled and deepened, their tongues gliding inexorably against each other as they breathed mouth to mouth. Now Sirius pulled back slightly to press a series of soft kisses to Chris's mouth and throat while his fingers went to work on the buttons of Chris's flannel shirt.
His mouth trailed slowly after his hands, suckling a long time at Chris's nipples with lips and teeth as Chris gasped for breath above him, until he knelt at last on a floor that...well, Chris was glad his pants weren't touching it.
Sirius dipped his tongue briefly into Chris's navel. His hands were careful not to linger as he unbuttoned Chris's jeans and unzipped his fly, and more careful still as he tugged pants and shorts down. There was an odd sense of ceremony about it. They both stared at Chris's cock, flushed and hard, glistening with pre-come.
"You ever done this before?" Sirius asked, looking up at him through thick, black lashes.
"What? Had sex in a public restroom?"
"Not with a stranger."
"I've only ever done it with strangers," Sirius said. He looked at Chris's cock as though he'd just remembered that it was there, and leaned forward to touch his tongue to the tip.
"Nnngh," Chris said, which was almost as embarrassing as the length of time it had been since he'd last gotten laid.
"You don't say," Sirius murmured, and licked slowly up the underside of Chris's cock.
Sirius's messy black hair was surprisingly clean, slipping through Chris's hands like warm silk, and his mouth was hot and wet and fucking perfect. One of his hands grasped the base of Chris's cock. The other crept around to cup his ass, and Chris gave himself up to the sensation of being held and pleasured, cradled in a blazingly human warmth against the chilly restroom air.
His legs trembled under the soft, relentless pressure of Sirius's lips and tongue, breathless moans tumbling from his mouth, which cut off with a half-surprised cry when the heat and suction suddenly became overwhelming and Chris came.
Only the wall at his back kept him standing as Sirius rose to his feet and helped Chris straighten his clothes, and then Sirius drew him into a loose hug, breathing meditatively into Chris's hair while Chris clung to him for balance.
It was surprisingly comforting, even a bit touching. By the time Chris had regained his equilibrium he'd decided fuck the pants, he could always throw them out and buy a new pair and sank down in front of Sirius.
"Oh, you don't have to do that," Sirius said, though his voice was a bit higher and breathier than usual.
"You don't like having your dick sucked?" Chris asked. Sirius opened his mouth, shut it. "Then stop being an idiot and let me do this."
Sirius chuckled. "You really are...a hell of a lot like my friend."
"I'm starting to wish that my friends were more like him, if this is his and your idea of male bonding," Chris muttered.
Sirius's reply was garbled when Chris stroked firm hands up his thighs to his crotch, measuring the hardness and warmth through an unyielding layer of clothing.
Chris was tempted to answer You don't say, but instead rubbed his cheek against Sirius's trapped erection, feeling it move within the confines of his jeans. There followed a moment of absolute silence, and Chris opened his eyes to see Sirius looking down at him wide-eyed, his chest heaving soundlessly. Chris smiled.
He licked along the waistband of Sirius's jeans, and Sirius's stomach quivered with either pleasure or suppressed laughter, Chris didn't bother to check which. He just opened up the jeans and drew them down Sirius's slim hips.
No underwear, and Chris traced the delicate skin of Sirius's cock with gentle fingers. Sirius groaned softly. Chris tasted the sweetness of soap at the crease between thigh and hip, kissed Sirius's balls before cupping them carefully in one hand, and slowly, slowly slid Sirius's hard cock into his mouth.
The taste was more bitter than Chris was used to--all those root vegetables, probably--the sharp flow of saliva to his tongue sweeter in contrast. He wasn't even the one getting his dick sucked, and yet his whole body felt over-sensitized. Warmth flooded his face and tingled in his fingers and spine.
Sirius moaned, his hips twitching restlessly, and Chris rubbed a soothing hand along his hip, then stroked it purposefully up his inner thigh. He paused, but Sirius only spread his legs further, so he slid the hand between them. The first glancing touch along the cleft of Sirius's ass drew another breathless moan from him. With the second, Chris lingered, teasing his hole with one finger, and Sirius came with a choked sob.
It wasn't entirely unexpected, but Chris hadn't really thought it would happen that fast. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand as he stood up.
Sirius was leaning against the wall staring at him dazedly. He didn't make even a token gesture of help as Chris refastened his jeans for him and tugged his shirt down, and only watched in silence as Chris washed his hands and face in the small sink, but he caught at his arm before Chris could open the door. "Thank you," he said quietly, and kissed him on the lips.
Chris brushed the hair out of Sirius's eyes and kissed him back.
By the time they returned to the bar, Chris's plate of fish and chips was laid out and rapidly cooling. He pushed it midway between them and gestured for Sirius to eat, too.
"So, whatever happened to this friend?" Chris asked, when they'd polished off half the plate in a matter of minutes and ordered another. "The one that I remind you of."
"Oh, he's gone. They're all gone. Or, no, actually, I'm gone. But it comes to the same thing, in the end."
Chris reached out absently and picked up Sirius's hand, ignoring the bartender's disbelieving stare. "I'm right where I always was. It's everyone else who's changing. And it's not like they're leaving me behind, or anything, but...things are different."
"That's not so bad," Sirius offered. "At least you're still together."
"Not like we used to be."
"This isn't exactly the life I'd have chosen for myself, either. But even knowing that all of my friends--and most of my enemies--are likely dead...well, I'm still alive. You'd be surprised at how good it feels, once in a while, just being alive."
Chris shivered; he hadn't realized that gone actually meant dead. Of course, Sirius was a gay man and older than Chris by at least a decade, and even Chris had lost friends to AIDS. He squeezed Sirius's chilled hand. "'Once in a while'?" Chris asked, not sure if he really wanted to know.
"In between the times when I want to slit my wrists," Sirius clarified.
Sirius shrugged and snagged another potato with his free hand. "I haven't done it yet, and the more time passes, the less I want to. It's not like it would do anyone any good. And I've always wanted a meaningful death."
"Well, that's certainly...morbid."
"Is it?" Sirius asked unconcernedly. He looked at Chris with untroubled eyes, and suddenly Chris knew where he'd seen that expression before. His sisters had looked at him that way when they were younger, with absolute trust and a similarly absolute weariness with the world.
He gazed back at Sirius. Startled, he realized that he wanted to sleep with him that night on the inn's soft, flannel sheets, to hold his body close and warm in the encroaching dark.
"How long are you in town for?" he asked abruptly, his nerves singing.
Sirius glanced at his watch, and disappointment bloomed in Chris's chest. "Not long," Sirius said, unnecessarily, then explained, "I've got a job lined up for a couple of weeks, and I should really head out this evening."
Chris forced his voice to sound casual. "I'm here until the end of the month. You could look me up then, if you like."
"Yeah?" Sirius searched his face. "Yeah, I'll do that. Maybe even come this weekend, if I can manage it."
"I'll be here," Chris said, the vision of Sirius's dark hair spilling across the inn's white linen sliding easily back into his memories, not forgotten but deferred.