Title: After The Max
Rating: R (or possibly higher)
Author: Jen
Series/Sequel: Takes place after 'After The Match'
Disclaimarama: I own nothing, not even the computer on which I'm typing
Author's notes: As much as I love the thought of Zack/Slater slash, the show gives us very little to go on, except a few obvious anti-queer jokes which could possibly be read as Slater flirting with Zack. So I'm having to draw on my own story for inspiration for this. Someone asked if I could write a sequel to my earlier fic, 'After The Match', possibly rated NC-17. I'm writing these notes before I actually write the fic: all I have at this moment is an embryonic plot bunny, which might give me a lead into something higher than a G-rating. If I'm lucky, I'll push it up to NC-17. Otherwise, it will probably peak at R or PG-13. We'll just have to wait and see.

The great thing about hanging out at The Max was that anyone could go there. It was less than a five minute walk from the high school, and so everyone who counted had drifted there after the match for drinks and a chance to be seen with Bayside's star de jour.

The not so great thing was the fact that the place closed at eight. Max himself had still been kicking people out at eight-fifteen, while his staff busied themselves cleaning up after the hordes of teenagers who'd been packed inside, trying to get near Slater and his friends. They'd found themselves out in the street, too hyped up to go home, desperate not to lose their post-match buzz.

Someone Slater barely knew had announced that his house was empty that night, and an impromptu party had somehow sprung into life there after they all drifted away from the diner. It was a house he vaguely remembered from previous parties, big enough to contain everyone who'd been at The Max and then some. Even now, after ten o'clock, there were still newcomers trickling into what had become a full-blown event.

Slater had tried, at first, to be pleased that so many people wanted to celebrate his victory in the championship. It had soon become apparent, however, that people would use any excuse to party, and if anyone had noticed him slip out to the kitchen, they didn't call him on it.

Normally he would have been right in the middle of a party like this, and he knew that some of his friends would eventually want to know where he'd gone, which was why he hadn't left the house altogether. The kitchen was quiet enough that he could gather his thoughts and hopefully try to raise his spirits enough that he could rejoin the crowd, but allowed him to keep his dignity if anyone accused him of being a party-pooper.

As much as he wanted to be out there dancing and having fun, his head just didn't seem to be in the right place for a party. He just wanted some time alone to think about the past week. Okay, maybe not so much think, as beat himself up over things he should have done. Regrets were too comforting to ignore.

He hadn't told his father about the scholarship, and that had worked itself out eventually. Was it too much to ask that all his regrets would solve themselves?

With the perfect timing that normally only came in a TV script, Zack stuck his head around the kitchen door just as he thought it. Slater's head snapped up at the noise, filling him with a sense of déjà vu. The blonde was still smiling. Slater couldn't hold back a flash of resentment: didn't he ever stop? Everything came easy to Zack Morris, even when he worked himself into the most insane messes imaginable.

It didn't last. Zack's smiles were infectious, and Slater quickly found himself breaking into a grin too. For a brief moment, the warmth of Zack's smile was enough to make him forget about everything that had made him leave the party.

"Hey, buddy!" The happiness in Zack's voice was mixed with curiosity. At least he'd had the decency to wonder where the wrestler had disappeared to, Slater mused. If Zack had noticed his absence, maybe things weren't all bad.

Allowing the door to close quietly behind him, Zack crossed the room to where Slater stood, and helped himself to one of the bottled beers that had been lined up on the counter top, before commenting, "it's wild out there, huh?"

In spite of himself, Slater was pleased that that Morris had chosen not to ask him why he was hiding in the kitchen. Maybe his luck was holding, and Zack was being considerate enough not to bring up anything that had been bothering him. At first, he'd wondered if Zack was going to try for another heart-to-heart, the way he'd started to do back in the locker room, because a conversation that heavy seemed way beyond his capabilities at that moment. He was glad, therefore, that Zack knew better.

Glad that Zack knew anything, really, and glad that Zack had allowed Slater a glimpse of his own family problems, no matter how briefly. His way of saying, I know how you feel. No need to drag it all out for everyone else to see. I know.

If he'd had to explain it to anyone else, he doubted he could say for certain why he'd rather Zack know than anyone else, but really, who else could have sympathized? Jessie, no doubt, would have lectured him on the importance of honesty. Kelly would have been nice about it, but what could she possibly know? Hers was the perfect family, happy just as long as she was. There was little chance that Lisa would have been interested, and as for talking to Screech about it...

He realized too late that he'd actually laughed out loud at that thought when he caught Zack frowning at him. He cleared his throat hastily, a hand over his mouth hiding his smile until it had faded properly. Only when Zack refused to stop staring did he worry that he hadn't gotten away with not talking about everything.

"What's your problem, preppy?" Which was just typical of him, really. Always wasting the best opportunities. Although he wasn't sure he'd know what to do if ever he utilized an opportunity either.

Just how was that supposed to go? Zack might understand about the family thing, but there was no way on earth he'd be okay with Slater explaining that it wasn't the only thing he regretted. If he could actually get the words out.

Come to think of it, he wasn't even sure what the words were. He knew there was something there: why else would he have gotten so flustered at something so innocuous as Zack's arm brushing his when they'd sat together in the locker room earlier? He just couldn't put a word to the way he felt. Not love, certainly not: half the time he couldn't even stand to be in the same room as Morris. Lust? Possibly: Zack's smile wouldn't be the first to make him feel so weird.

'Want' seemed as good a word as any right then. Zack would smile, and Slater's immediate response would be, I want you. For what, he couldn't say. He just knew he wanted Zack. Kind of already felt like he had a claim on the blonde anyway. They kind of skirted around each other, flirting with other girls out of habit and competing over Kelly, but always coming back to each other. His own interest in Kelly had waned, and even Zack had looked elsewhere, but ever since his first day at Bayside, the rivalry he and the other boy had shared had blossomed into something else that had always been their constant. I may fight with you, but it's only ever with you. I don't do this with just anybody.

Zack still leaned against the counter, shaking his head in response to Slater's question.

"Just wondering why you're still avoiding everyone." Zack sipped his beer, still looking thoughtfully at the dark-haired boy over the top of the bottle.

There it was again. A perfect opportunity. Just the right question, and that damn concerned look on Zack's face that said why can't you tell me what's wrong? Almost like Zack was daring him to come right out and say it.

How hard would it be, anyway? Surely it was better to say something and know he'd tried than to let another opportunity pass him by, wasn't it?

But it already felt like it was passing, and Slater simply could not find the words. He wasn't into words anyway: they made things complicated. So instead he settled for grabbing a fistful of Zack's shirt and pulling the blonde towards him before either of them could say anything. He tried to ignore the confusion on Zack's face, choosing instead to close his eyes as his lips pressed against the other boy's.

It was certainly a lot easier than trying to explain, and he felt pretty certain that an explanation would not have allowed him to kiss Zack Morris afterwards. At least this way, he got to see what it was like. Even if Zack wasn't kissing back, he'd be able to say he'd got what he wanted.

A hand on his shoulder told him he'd pushed his luck just a little too far, and he allowed Zack to pull away. His lips tingled: he'd kissed hard, trying to compensate for the lack of effort on Zack's part. The blonde's face looked just as he'd imagined it would. Dazed, and shocked, and perhaps just a tiny bit disgusted.

He waited in silence for the inevitable 'what the hell are you doing?' that always came when he thought about this moment. For the scenario to play out any other way was simply impossible.

Slowly, the sounds from the next room began to filter back in, drowning out the whoosh of the blood pounding in his ears, and still Zack stood there, just watching him. After a while, his features shifted from shocked to puzzled, until he was questioning Slater without having to say a single word.

The dark-haired boy wondered if he could possibly hope to explain himself. He still had a hand on Zack's shoulder, and couldn't help feeling secretly pleased that the other boy made no move to shrug it off. More to the point, Zack didn't seem in any hurry to get away from him. With his head still reeling from the first kiss, and from the beer he'd had earlier, he took it as a promising sign, and pulled Zack against him once more. This time Zack made a half-decent show of resistance, a surprised sound escaping his throat before Slater quieted him with another kiss.

He almost felt as if the ground might give way beneath them when he realized Zack was reciprocating. Not with as much enthusiasm as Slater put into it, but there was a definite pressure against his own lips this time. He allowed himself to slide one hand down the other boy's back, pulling him even closer, fingertips just grazing the waistband of Zack's jeans.

When Zack pushed him away roughly, enough that he staggered back half a step, he realized that maybe that had been a little too far. Kissing had been bad enough: why'd he have to try and grope the guy?

Cursing his lack of restraint, he forced himself to look up and meet Zack's gaze. The blonde still looked as though Slater had just smacked him. He was stupid! He could have left it the way it had been in the locker room, with Zack choosing to open up, giving Slater a privileged glimpse at a side of him few people ever saw. But no, he had to try and take the things he knew he'd never have, and look where it had gotten him.

There it was again. That utterly bewildered and definitely unhappy look on Zack's face that he'd always been able to picture so clearly, and just as he'd expected, he couldn't deal with it. He hesitated briefly, his fists clenching and unclenching by his sides, before he turned and left the kitchen by the first door that caught his eye.

Which turned out to be a closet door. Shit. Well, it wasn't like Morris was going to follow him, so with any luck he'd be able to hide out in there for a while, before slipping back out.

Before he could stop himself, he'd punched a nice big dent in the plaster by the door. It barely even sounded in the tiny space, and he half wished it had echoed through the house, so everyone could know just how bad he felt. He was so stupid! Of all the things he could have done, he'd picked the worst. He wondered if Morris would be kind enough to keep it to himself, or if the blonde was already out there telling everyone that AC Slater was a fag.

He leant back against the wall he'd just dented, pressing the heels of his hands to his eyes, and asked himself again why it was so hard to say out loud how he felt. Not just to Zack: to his dad, to his friends, to everyone who thought he was nothing more than some dumb jock.

With his eyes shut, and his hands over his face, he almost didn't hear the soft snick of the door as it opened. He did however catch the sliver of light that widened as the door was pulled back to allow Zack to enter.

He had to take a step back to let the other boy inside. Zack fumbled for a moment to find a light switch, flooding the tiny space with light before he closed the door behind him. Slater found himself anxious for a reason he couldn't quite place: he knew he could take Zack in a fight, if the blonde was stupid enough to try and hit him, but what he feared more was the possibility that Zack was there to threaten to tell everyone else what he'd done. As much as he'd grown to love Bayside, it wasn't a welcoming place for anyone who stood outside the popular crowd, as he would no doubt do if anyone else found out.

Zack looked for a moment as if he were about to speak, but from what Slater could see, the words wouldn't come. He wondered what he'd say if he were Zack, and realized he probably would have been lost for words too. Slater sincerely hoped that the other boy wasn't about to try and convince him to join the party.

He wondered if perhaps he should say something, apologise maybe, or ask the guy just why he'd followed Slater into a closet. But Zack was watching him, looking like he was trying to figure something out. Slater was suddenly struck with the possibility that maybe Zack had known all along. While he was certain he didn't come off as gay, or whatever the hell he was, there had been times when he'd been around Zack and just blurted out whatever was on his mind, without stopping to think about it. Stuff like that usually just sounded like a joke, but now he was beginning to worry that Zack, and maybe everyone else, had seen something else there.

As he watched, Zack appeared to reach some sort of decision. At the very least, he looked like he actually knew what he was doing in a closet with Slater, even if Slater didn't. The blonde took a careful step forward, making Slater feel even more closed in than the tiny closet did. He watched Zack falter for a moment, before the blonde laid a hand on Slater's shoulder, not quite meeting his gaze. He was fairly certain that Morris wasn't about to hit him, but that only left one other reason why he would have moved so close, and there was no way that was going to happen. Especially since it seemed that Zack was suddenly unable, or unwilling, to move those last few inches that still separated them.

So Slater did it for him, leaning forward just enough to touch his lips to Zack's. Apparently that was all the encouragement Zack needed. He snaked one hand around the back of Slater's neck, pulling them closer as his lips moved against Slater's. He kissed as if he'd been waiting years to do it, and although Slater could not explain why it was happening, he responded gratefully. His arm wound around Zack's waist, and this time the blonde made no move to escape Slater's embrace when his hand brushed just under Zack's belt. Remembering where they were, he managed to reach out with his other hand to push the closet door closed, before Zack pushed him up against the door and he felt himself stop caring about anything else.

From the sound of Zack's muffled moans, it was pretty obvious that he didn't have a problem with Slater being...whatever he was, and suddenly Slater found that he wasn't wrestling with his conscious for the first time in weeks. What was the point in worrying anyway, when Zack was trying to pull him even closer and thrusting minutely against him?

Through the fuzz that seemed to fill his mind and prevent him from thinking rationally about anything except the way Zack was kissing him, he slowly became aware of the growing hardness pressing into his own groin each time Zack's hips bucked forwards against him. When he slipped a hand between them to press his palm against it, the shock caused Zack to pull back with a gasp, allowing Slater to draw a lungful of air before he opened his eyes to look into Zack's face. The blonde looked just as surprised as the first time Slater had kissed him, but he made no attempt to move away. He watched Slater for a moment, and the wrestler wondered if Zack was waiting for him to do something else, or maybe move his hand away altogether. When Slater failed to respond, Zack pressed forward against his palm, his eyes widening fractionally with need.

In spite of his surprise, Slater didn't have to be told twice. As Zack moved back in to kiss him again, Slater tugged eagerly at the zipper on his khakis, until he could slide a hand inside. As he located the blonde's penis and wrapped a hand around it, Zack responded by increasing the force of his thrusts, and his breath hissed loudly in the small space, or so it seemed to Slater.

It was far too tempting to try and think about just why Zack had followed him, or even pull back and ask the other boy what he was doing. Slater suspected, though, that thinking too much about it might jinx it, and the last thing he wanted right then was for Zack to change his mind. After all, it was more or less what he'd wanted, and he wasn't about to start questioning that.

Besides, he was fairly certain that Zack was doing something he'd never done before, which meant he was more likely to decide it was too much for him to handle. The blonde had more or less let Slater take over, and although he kissed eagerly and didn't complain about what Slater's hand was doing, he didn't seem ready to reciprocate that action. Slater's own erection was beginning to prove something of a distraction, however, and he had a feeling that trying to get Zack to do something about it would bring back that shocked and disgusted expression he'd seen after their first kiss.

Reaching a quick decision, he ceased his ministrations long enough to spin the two of them around until Zack was pressed against the closet door. When Zack stared back at him with that same surprised look, Slater took advantage of the break in kissing to slide down to his knees in front of the blonde. He made quick work of Zack's belt, then allowed himself to glance up at the other boy once more. Zack was watching him as though he couldn't believe what Slater was doing and so, feeling a sudden rush of confidence, Slater winked slyly at him before taking the end of Zack's cock into his mouth.

He heard the blonde stifle a groan and couldn't help feeling smug at the knowledge that he was the one making Zack do that. He was making Zack pant and buck his hips, and he was the one blowing the most popular guy at Bayside. His mind seemed clear enough to wonder just how many of those who'd come to the party wanted to be where he was right now.

As he picked up a rhythm that seemed to make Zack happy, he somehow managed to unfasten his own trousers, and proceeded to take care of the ache in his own groin with a free hand. Just listening to the noises Zack was trying not to make had been enough to bring him close, and he had to steady his pace to keep from coming before Zack did.

Not that Zack was far off himself. His hips were thrusting faster than Slater could move, and his breathing sounded ragged and harsh. Sure enough, when Slater tightened the hand around the base of Zack's length, the blonde let out a startled grunt before convulsing against the door. Slater struggled to keep from gagging as his throat was flooded with wet warmth, but managed to swallow it all before he let himself go, spilling his own release into his hand.

When he'd caught his breath and opened his eyes again, Zack was already fastening his belt and smoothing his crumpled clothes. It took some effort for Slater to focus on adjusting his own pants. When he was done, he realised Zack was holding out a hand to help him back to his feet. He took it gratefully, and stood expectantly before the blonde.

He wasn't entirely surprised that Zack was having difficulty meeting his gaze, but he couldn't deny that he suddenly felt a little uncomfortable. What were people supposed to say after something like that.

He cleared his throat, sincerely hoping that there was no one on the other side of the door. He knew he ought to say something, but beyond 'wow', the only word he could latch on to was 'thanks', and somehow he doubted that was the right thing to say.

Fortunately, Zack seemed about to save him the trouble. He watched anxiously as Zack opened and closed his mouth a few times, before actually managing to speak.

"Slater, I..." Slater nodded, waiting for the rest. "Do you mind if we, uh... if we don't tell anyone about this?" Which was not what he'd expected to hear. Although he probably shouldn't have been surprised, he told himself. After the excitement of the evening, the last thing people wanted to hear was that their wrestling champ had celebrated by spending five breathtaking minutes in a closet with Zack Morris.

There was just something in the way Zack said it. Like it was more for his benefit than anything else. He could only nod mutely, and feel pleased that Zack looked relieved, and not about to tell Slater to stay away from him.

Slater waited as Zack carefully opened the door again and peeked around it into the kitchen. He felt his breath catch for a moment at the possibility that there really was someone on the other side of the door who'd heard everything, but when Zack breathed a sigh and stepped out of the closet, he exhaled loudly, relieved that they'd been afforded some privacy.

If Zack noticed that Slater held back while he made his way out of the kitchen, he didn't say anything. He reassured himself that he hadn't been expecting anything else, and that it was too much to ask that they at least talk about it. One heart-. One to-heart was all he could manage in one night anyway. He just couldn't shake the feeling that Zack was avoiding him as well as the conversation.

Shaking his head at his own stupidity, he closed the closet door again and stepped back out into the party.