Title: Hold Onto the Night
Pairing: Chip/Jeff, mention of Colin/Brad, Greg/Ryan & unrequited Chip/Greg
Rating: I don't know. PG or a slight PG-13.
Summary: Chip watches the sun set and then he and Jeff share the night together.
(i saw you smile and my mind could not erase the beauty of your face)
(i don't know how to stop feeling this way)
los angeles, california. spring, 2007.
Outside of the their hotel room window, just beyond some streets and a few buildings and a couple of pedestrians, the sun was going to bed. And Chip thought that it was absolutely gorgeous. The sky was a mixture of soft pinks and soft yellows and the sun itself, the brilliant artist behind such a magnificent piece of creativity, was orange and tired and resting low in the sky.
He liked to watch the sunset like this sometimes.
He figured that, given a city such as Los Angeles, California, every now and then it was nice to just sit back and forget and just watch the sun rise or the sun set because, like a can of Campbell's Chicken Noodle Soup, it held in its rays something therapeutic, something comforting. Something warm and familiar, like a lover's sweet embrace.
Some time ago, probably because it was close to 100º Fahrenheit in their room, Chip had opened the window quite a bit and the warm air flowing in smelled so sweet and so stale all at once. He hated the way cities smelled. Dirty and cold but, at the same time, inviting and enticing. Addictive in their own way. Chip thought that, maybe, it was one reason why people liked to live in cities so much...forgetting, for a moment, the fact that there's endless shopping and a never ending sea of faces to meet and either greet or leave behind. Perhaps, like alcohol, it was a comfort, however bad. And, like gambling, it was, at its worst, inevitable and insatiable.
Chip shifted uncomfortably and sighed. The air conditioning at the hotel was on the fritz and their room was uncomfortable and increasingly hot. Greg and Ryan had left about a half an hour ago to try and find some sort of relief and Chip didn't quite know where Jeff had wandered away to. Wherever he was, though, it had to be cooler than where he was, and Chip was slowly growing more and more jealous of the younger man. The heat was making him feel sticky and sweaty...and he'd just barely stepped out of the shower, too. Over all, bottom line, Chip was annoyed and he was hot but the sunset, as predicted, was helping to calm his nerves.
The sun slipped even lower toward its bed, the horizon, and he was almost grateful, however disappointed, for such a wonderful show to have to end so quickly. But once the sun was completely set it would, more than likely, cool the room down a little and that would be absolutely wonderful.
Chip could always watch the sun wake back up tomorrow morning anyways.
Jeff flashed the obnoxious cashier a very fake, very forced smile of sorts before hurrying to gather his purchases and then turning and all but running out of the small liquor store. He heaved a quiet sigh and shifted the bags in his arms.
“Fucking prick,” he spat and rolled his eyes. Ordinarily he wouldn't be so irritable but, at this stage of the game, he was hot and tired and the sweat on the back of his neck was moist and horribly uncomfortable. No matter how often he wiped it away with his hand, the Los Angeles heat only brought more and more out, and the only thing he wanted to do now was get back to the hotel as quickly as possible and shower like he'd never showered before.
“Jeff?” Jeff started and whipped his head around to face the sudden voice. He smiled sheepishly at Greg and Ryan and turned to face them properly.
“Hi,” he said, “where're you two going?”
“Bar,” Ryan answered with a slight grin, “if we can find a decent one, anyway. Haven't yet.” He gestured to the brown paper bags Jeff was holding. “What'd you buy?”
Jeff blinked down at his purchases. “Shit load of alcohol. You know.” He replaced his eyes on Ryan's and grinned mischievously. “The usual.”
“'The usual,'” Greg reiterated with a small, amused smile. He pulled away from Ryan long enough to light a fresh cigarette and then nudged back against him. Ryan obliged and replaced his arm around Greg's shoulders. “Well, have fun then, Jeff. We'll be back late.”
“Yeah. You too, guys.” Greg nodded his head and Jeff watched he and Ryan walk away before continuing on in the opposite direction.
The last couple of months had been interesting and, for lack of better wording, they reminded Jeff of high school and high school crushes and high school drama. Somewhere in there Ryan and Greg had become a couple and, last he heard, Colin and Brad were either fucking openly this week or fucking in secrecy whilst claiming that, no, there's nothing going on the next week. Chip had apparently fallen for Greg at one point or another over the years and had, on the night that Greg and Ryan hooked up, refused to talk to anyone and had sucked more than usual during Jeopardy. All in all, Jeff had found everything horribly amusing and had been scolded for laughing at it all on more than one occasion.
No matter the age, love's feelings, and games, are all the same, he had concluded.
Makes everyone, male or female, act a fucking fool at one point in their lives.
Jeff sighed and shifted the bags once more. The material and feel of them was starting to irritate the already irritated skin on his arms and he was almost certain he'd have at least minor heat rash later that night.
The room, upon Jeff's return, definitely felt cooler but not cool enough (he was still willing to bet $20 that the temperature still hadn't fallen below 100º) and he sighed again as he closed the door behind him. He threw his key down on the nearest table and frowned when he realized that the room was completely dark, save for the moonlight and artificial light pouring in from the opened window. Jeff set his bags down on the floor against the wall and, rubbing his reddened arms lightly, ventured the rest of the way into the room.
They had opted for the hotel's suite: meaning, two beds, one bath, one kitchen, one living room and a balcony and, thus far, had been pleased with everything the package had to offer them...minus the lack of air conditioning, of course. But the individual rooms themselves were comfortable and mellow and decorated to the T with a beach-like feel of tans, light blues, pastel yellows and dull pinks. The kitchen was well-stocked and probably large enough to fix quite the Thanksgiving feast and the beds, as per the norm with any hotel or motel, were decked out with sheets that were printed with cheesy patterns and designs.
Over all, it worked.
Besides, the mini bar that was snuggled happily somewhere in the kitchen helped to make it work quite nicely.
Jeff found Chip asleep slumped down on the window seat and shook his head in amusement. Leave it up to Chip, he thought, to be able to sleep in the same conditions as the inside of an oven. He watched him a moment or two in silence, smiling slightly around the corners of his mouth (though he'd never admit to such an action), before going off to the bathroom to finally be able to shower.
Chip blinked at the closed bathroom door. He knew that somebody had come back, but who? Judging from the fact that there was a bag of alcohol resting against the wall, Chip was leaning toward Greg, but he knew that he might be wrong. Ryan and Jeff drank, too. Either way, however, whomever was in the shower, Chip didn't care and he really, really needed to pee. Hesitating only very slightly, he lifted one of his hands to knock at the door; starting horribly when he realized that it was already opened a crack. Chip dropped his hand back down at his side and poked his head in the room.
Jeff, in the midst of rinsing the shampoo from his hair, jumped at Chip's sudden voice. He scowled lightly and peeled back the shower curtain just enough to glare at him properly.
“No, not Greg,” he answered. “What?”
“I'm sorry,” Chip responded sheepishly. “I... —Mind if I pee real quick? Won't take long.” He smiled playfully. “In an' out, you know? Literally.”
Jeff cracked a small smile and nodded his head. “Yeah, all right.” Chip watched him disappear back inside of the shower curtain and licked his lips slightly. “Just be quick, though. I'm almost done.”
He nodded his head and fully entered the bathroom. There was a small window above the bathtub and, judging from how the room smelled, Jeff had to have opened it. The smell of his shampoo was mixing with that odd, sweet and stale smell of the city and, for whatever the reason, Chip found such a smell incredibly arousing. It smelled like Jeff, he thought idly, how Jeff must smell after a show but before a shower. Real and alive and...enticing and comforting.
Inviting and inevitable.
“So, I saw your bags,” Chip said dumbly. Jeff snorted and he chuckled quietly. “What'd you buy?”
“Booze. From some random liquor store and some random, incredibly annoying cashier.” He paused. “They're like children, you know? Most cashiers. So...temperamental. Like, I didn't actually hand the guy the money, right? And he pitched a fucking fit about it.”
Chip shook his head and undid his pants, pulling himself out. He watched the stream of urine hit the water below. “Really now?” He smirked. “How he'd do that, exactly? Pitch a fit, I mean.”
“Mostly just glared at me a lot. Waited until I did hand him the money to do anything.”
Chip's smirk only widened. “But, Jeff, I mean... —That is the polite way to do it. Actually hand the person the money, I mean.” He heard Jeff snort again and chuckled quietly. Jeff never failed to amuse Chip...both on the stage and off. And he was grateful to him because of that. Like the sunset, Jeff had a way of calming even the angriest of moods and not a day went by that Chip wasn't thankful to have such a person, such a friend, in his everyday life.
He knew all too well that Jeff's type was few and far between.
Chip didn't know, though, that Jeff thought the same of him.
A light, warm breeze trickled in through the window and Chip closed his eyes, inhaling deeply. It was always the little things, he'd come to realize, that made the bigger things hurt far too badly...such as remembering an unrequited love. Sometimes he wondered why, exactly, that was and then quickly came to the conclusion that, not only did he not care enough to know, but that he didn't want to know, either. They just did. It just was. Searching for a “Why?” never, ever worked and Chip had spent about two months doing exactly that. Virtually the whole entire spring of 2007.
Chip hadn't noticed Jeff climbing out of the shower and jumped in surprise when he felt his hand, warm and still slightly damp, against his arm. He whipped his head around to stare at him.
Jeff's frown deepened. “Hey, you all right? Seriously?”
“Yeah, I'm fine.” Chip frowned as well. “Why?” Jeff shrugged and Chip couldn't help but study his bare chest. He'd wrapped a towel about his waist, so he could see nothing there, but Jeff's chest was still wet and the beads of water were deliciously illuminated by both the moonlight and the artificial light dancing in from the bathroom window. He licked his lips and Jeff removed his hand from Chip's arm.
“I don't know,” Jeff answered finally, “you just... —Thinking about Greg?” Chip eventually nodded his head and Jeff sighed in understanding. “It's okay. Hey,” he offered Chip an encouraging, soft smile, “just let me get dressed, all right? And then we'll drown our sorrows in the liquor. You'll feel better.”
Chip managed to return the smile, though just barely.
Jeff shifted in his position across from Chip and smiled slightly. “All right,” he said, the smile growing, “biggest...you know... —What really turns you on, Chippy? Like, what gets you so hard and so bothered that you've just gotta fuck someone, something, there and then?”
Chip snorted in response to Jeff's question and sighed quietly. They'd been talking and drinking for a good thirty or forty minutes and the window seat was beginning to feel uncomfortable and hard beneath his butt. Not to mention the fact that it was nearly one in the morning and the temperature in the room had yet to drop below 90º. “I don't know.” He paused. “People...fucking... —The wall? Being fucked against the wall's a lot of fun.”
Jeff seemed pleased and took a sip of his wine cooler. “The wall, huh? So you're a kinky bastard, then.” He grinned. Chip scoffed and sighed. He slumped down a little lower and idly started to rub at the back of his neck with his hand, grimacing at the sweaty, sticky feel of his skin.
“No, not kinky. I... —Well, maybe. I mean... —Is that even considered kinky in this day and age?” Chip smiled slightly at Jeff's expression. “I mean, seriously. Think about it. Forty years ago maybe, but now?” He shrugged his shoulders and took a quick drink, relishing in the feel of the cool liquid against his hot, dry throat. Jeff watched him in contemplative silence a while before shrugging his own shoulders in his defeat.
“You've got a point,” he admitted, smiling at Chip in slight admiration. Chip blushed and averted his eyes.
The window seat was pale blue in color and large enough to easily, and comfortably, hold at least one other person. Pillows had, at one time, been delicately placed on either end but Chip and Jeff had since strewn them about the floor, save for two or three. It was comfortable and relaxing with the window opened but Jeff was starting to think that, with the window closed, it would probably feel sort of lonely and detached.
Outside still smelled so good and so bad all at once and the light rumble of the Los Angeles traffic, mixed with the slight buzz that he was beginning to feel, was causing Jeff to think about some things that he'd never really thought of in great detail before. Like, for instance, the moonlight. The moonlight was stunning and sort of pale but, yet, it was able to illuminate everything with such precision and the way that it was washing over Chip's silhouette...his eyes, his hair, his sweaty skin...was starting to make Jeff want to lean forward and kiss him and then fuck him and then maybe make him blow him.
But he didn't move.
And then the moonlight started to remind him of Chip.
Admittedly, out of everyone in their little group, Chip wasn't the best at what he did but, at the same time, he also seemed to fill a certain void. He held somewhere in his clutches a contagious, enticing energy that overflowed when they were all on stage and it always helped the show go smoothly and effectively. It ensured that, not only would they walk away smiling and laughing and not yet tiring of the day-to-day grind, but that the audience would walk away completely satisfied with a show that they had, quite easily, forked out over $100 bucks on. And Jeff admired his friend greatly for such an ability.
“I wonder when Greg and Ryan are coming back.” Chip's sudden voice startled Jeff and he jumped, causing Chip to raise an eyebrow at him. Jeff smiled sheepishly and shrugged his shoulders in response.
“Sorry. An' I don't know. Late.” He watched Chip nod his head and sighed under his breath.
Greg and Ryan came stumbling back around 2:30, smelling heavily of alcohol, cigarettes and sex and laughing quite happily and loudly. Save for a quick trip to the bathroom or a brief rummage through one of their suitcases, they'd immediately claimed a bed and had fallen asleep, contented and wasted and holding each other, not far too long afterward. Their breathing was deep and even and Chip had watched for far too long with an unreadable expression that Jeff didn't like. After a while, after it was clear to Jeff that Chip was enjoying his new-found masochism a little too much, he dragged him away and told him that they were going to go outside.
Bathed in the moonlight and engulfed by the night air and the city.
“We should probably head to bed soon.” Chip said suddenly. Jeff turned his head to watch him speak. Chip wasn't looking at him. “It's getting late.”Both of them were standing and leaning against the faded, white railing. Below them the concrete was almost pretty as it sparkled in the moonlight, though not quite, not all the way.
“We will soon enough,” Jeff answered simply.
The balcony wasn't anything overly spectacular. It virtually consisted of a plastic, white table and a few plastic, white lawn chairs. At least two of them were dirty and one of them, Chip had unfortunately concluded a while back, wasn't really capable of holding much weight in its old age, so they had pushed it off to the side to get it out of the way. A potted plant of some variety sat off in one of the corners and there was an incredibly old ashtray full of dead bugs resting in the center of the table.
At first glance, both of them had laughed out loud at the display.
Though now it all seemed oddly, uncannily appropriate.
“All right,” Chip acquiesced as he polished off his fourth drink of the night. Like the great bottles before it, he turned to haphazardly toss it on the plastic table and then resumed leaning against the railing. “You win.”
Jeff raised an eyebrow at Chip's words. “'I win?' What in the Hell are you talking about, Chip?” Chip waved him off and seemingly grew distracted with something somewhere in the distance once more. He shifted his weight to his other foot and leaned his head against his right hand, elbow positioned uncomfortably against the cool, chipped paint of the railing. He was frowning and it was obvious that he was thinking of things and people and times that he shouldn't be but Jeff also knew that, like any other person, there was little to nothing that he could do for his friend. Chip would have to ride it all out and eventually, one day, watching Ryan and Greg interact wouldn't all but kill him and maybe even, one day somewhere in his future, he might even be able to laugh with Greg again on the outside and the inside.
But that, unfortunately, wouldn't be for a while yet. Was just the way of the world, more or less.
Jeff took a quick swig of his own drink (his third or fourth drink) and frowned.
“I feel like a Monday,” Chip said suddenly. Jeff sighed and raised an eyebrow once more, turning to replace his eyes on Chip's hunched over frame. He was smiling oddly and Jeff started to wonder who was talking to him then: Chip or the four bottles of alcohol? The lie or the actual truth lying somewhere underneath of the lie? “You know?” He continued. “Like, people hate Monday's. Can't stand them. Dread them and bitch about them and just, you know...don't... —Have you ever felt like a Monday?”
“I'm sure everyone has at some point in their life, Chip,” Jeff responded carefully. Chip made a slight face and shrugged his shoulders.
“I suppose.” He paused. “It seems, you know, like...like a requirement almost.”
Jeff frowned, bewildered. “A requirement?”
“Yeah,” Chip nodded. He shifted his weight from foot to foot for a minute or two before pushing himself away from the railing completely. “Everybody's gotta feel like shit sometimes. It's a requirement.” He started to rub the back of his neck with his hand once more, mentally thanking God that the night air had at least managed to rid the sensitive flesh of the sweat that had been choking and clogging it all evening long. “Get it?” Chip looked over at Jeff, managing a small, melancholy smile of sorts. He nodded and Chip continued. “It's ridiculous. I know. I shouldn't...it isn't...they're... —I'm 41. I don't understand why I'm so down about all this.”
Jeff watched Chip drop his eyes away from his and sighed, placing his drink down on the table behind them. He covered the remaining empty space between the two of them and stopped just in front of Chip, watching him with a number of mixed emotions. This wasn't what he was used to. Usually, when one of them was unhappy (which was, honestly, quite rare these days), he mocked them and made good-natured fun of what was the matter. It almost always worked; the person, having been through the bad part of healing, the part that made them feel like shit, welcomed, with open arms, Jeff's behavior, who then served as the better, easier, lighthearted part: the gift of laughter. Laughing at the problem and everything to do with it; laughing so hard that it hurt like Hell. But this...Chip's current state, his current mindset, his current everything... —Jeff hadn't a clue of what to do or how to do it or when to do it at.
But God damn it if the moon didn't highlight Chip's frame absolutely perfectly...
Jeff sighed. “I don't think...I mean... —Chip. I don't think age matters. When it comes to something like this, I mean.” He licked his lips before continuing. “What happened sucks and you have every right to be, you know, angry and hurt and upset. Doesn't matter how old you get, sometimes you just have to feel like...like...a Monday, I guess.” Chip drew in a deep breath and replaced his eyes on Jeff's. His odd smile wasn't there anymore, Jeff noted.
“I'm tired of feeling like this, though,” he said quietly, “I'm tired of it being Monday. I'm tired... —Jeff, I want to be happy for him. For the both of them. Why's that so damn difficult?”
Jeff couldn't help a small, sympathetic smile and raised a hand, gingerly cupping one of Chip's cheeks in his palm. He'd never noticed before, in all the years he'd known Chip and worked beside him and toured with him, just how beautiful his eyes were. A true, genuine teal that reminded Jeff of the sky and the sea all at once. “You'll be okay. Soon, you know, it'll be Tuesday. And then,” he smirked vaguely, “Wednesday. Hump day! Just... —It'll pass, okay? It always does. Bad stuff lasts for a while...it always does...but it always goes away, too.” Jeff paused and then, laughing, added, “Sort of like constipation! This too shall pass...” Chip blinked and then burst out laughing, lightly shoving Jeff in the chest. He shook his head in sheer amusement.
“You're horrible at this, Jeff, you realize that, right?” Chip was smiling. Jeff shrugged his shoulders rather nonchalantly and nodded his head in agreement.
“Yeah, I am. But I'm trying.”
Chip's playful smile morphed into something a bit more genuine. “Yeah, I know.” He paused. “Thank you.” Jeff's smile and nod of acknowledgment were just as serious and true and friendly and, even though he didn't quite know why (just as Jeff's mind hadn't bothered to inform him, why, exactly, he'd wanted to cup Chip's cheek earlier), Chip, after hesitating for only a brief moment, covered the distance between them once more and kissed him. He could feel Jeff start at the initial contact and almost pulled away, clumsily preparing an apology in his mind, but then felt him returning the kiss and relaxed, shyly resting his nervous hands flat against Jeff's chest. The kiss deepened and one or the other of them moaned, but they didn't quite know who and both swallowed anyway, just in case.
There were no stars, Chip realized, there were no feelings of liberation, no “wow factor.”
Once they broke the kiss and pulled away from each other, Chip knew that he would still miss Greg and Jeff knew that, for whatever the reason may be, he would continue to think that the moonlight complimented Chip well. But none of that mattered right then and neither of them really even cared about any of it anyway. Because they had the moonlight and the city and the night air and, in a couple of hours, the sun would be rising and tomorrow night they'd have yet another show to do and yet more people who were paying them to make them laugh for an hour and a half.
Because tomorrow was, ironically enough, a Tuesday.
At some point in the early light of morning they had groggily pulled two of the good chairs close together and were now sitting and watching the sun rise together. The morning air was crisp and fresh and the sky was just beginning to wake back up. Very vaguely, in the deepest parts of the horizon, the very tips of the suns rays had started to poke their fingers through and it wouldn't be much longer until they were spreading and caressing and waking everything near and far. A bird chirped suddenly somewhere in the distance, followed by a second and, soon enough, what sounded like the whole flock started to greet the fresh, new day.
Chip let out a quiet, content sigh and leaned his head awkwardly against Jeff's shoulder. Jeff started but then smiled and placed a warm hand over his knee. Chip remained without a “Why?”...there'd been no epiphanies or moments of enlightenment the previous night...but figured, for now, for the time being, maybe the sunrise was enough and Jeff, for the time being, could fill the empty void.
Like once before, though, he wasn't aware that Jeff thought the same of him.
Inviting and enticing and insatiable...