i.

Christopher ends up working the new Clandestine account. It's a big campaign; lots of money, lots of interest, and he's running primary this time – actually choosing the make-up designs himself, bringing the photographer's vision to life, and all that jazz. He's got plenty of underlings running around under him, and he likes to think he's fairly terrifying. In reality, he's probably more like a mix of Steve Carrell from The Office and Frasier – meaning that all his underlings think he's adorable and have a disarming tendency to try and fix him up with blind dates like he has no clue on how to go about it himself.

Case in point being tonight, in which he has been tricked into having dinner with David Levin. David fucking Levin. The supermodel. Jazz hands! Okay, Christopher added the jazz hands in his head, but David could totally have people who are paid to stand around him and do that all day long. Celebrities are like that.

And yeah, he's definitely been on worse dates. David is really gorgeous, for one, which isn't as much of a given as people might think. Plenty of models are just flat-out freakish looking. Seriously. Freakish. All pointy cheekbones and extra long limbs and strangely colored eyes. Call him crazy, but Chris likes to make out with people from his own species.

David's… well, yeah, gorgeous. Muscled. Dark hair and dark eyes and a tan – a real tan, not one of those sprayed-on monstrosities that Christopher normally has to work with. Worst of all, he's got this way of looking up at Christopher from under his hair that makes Christopher think, yeah, he can see himself falling for this guy – falling hard.

That really never ends well for him.


ii.

People make David nervous. You think he wouldn't get nervous, being in front of people all the time, but a lot of this is terra incognita for him. He normally doesn't do anything like this – date the help, date a guy, hell, date at all. He hasn't gone out with anyone since last year. Since Senna. He was just so sure she was the one, you know? The One. Forever and forever, fairy tale happily ever after The One. Which just goes to show how wrong a person can be, because their life together wasn't anything but a nightmare towards the end.

This guy – Christopher. Christopher Hitchcock, who clocks in at barely 5'8" with shaggy blond hair, cute green-hazel eyes, and dimples people would kill for – is nearly everything Senna wasn't. David's not sure if that means he's avoiding the problem or taking a step in the right direction. Six of one, half dozen of another.

Which isn't to say David doesn't like the guy. He does. Christopher is funny – pretty relentlessly funny, in a dry, sarcastic way that makes David want to smile. He's smart, if a little cutting, and he flirts outrageously with the bartender and the girl he accidentally bumped into sitting down but he hasn't done more than brush his knuckles up against David's hand. That shy little gesture makes David's heart bump up against his ribcage.

Oh yeah. He's sunk.


iii.

Christopher is kind of a starfucker – or at least used to be fucked by the stars, which, all right, not the same thing. But when you're the little person around big people who are used to getting whatever the hell they want, it's practically in the job description. Luckily not literally in the job description, because he's pretty sure that's all kinds of illegal, but you either deal with it or get very good at refusing without bruising over-inflated egos, because you take the chance of some asshole complaining and getting you blacklisted. And Christopher has worked too hard, goddamn it, to end up working the make-up counter at Macy's.

It's not like he's a huge slut, or anything. Getting hit on is pretty standard, but most of the time he just gets asked out for a drink, or to a club, or something. Sometimes he says yes, mostly he doesn't. He's only made one mistake. One big one, and that was more than enough. It all started with this girl – because c'mon, there's always a girl, isn't there? – named Hel, who would have been too beautiful for words if she hadn't had massive scars up and down her whole left side, but there was something about her that was still beautiful anyway. She'd been involved in a bad scene, and to say she fucked Christopher over would have been an understatement. She fucked him over, she'd fucked with him, she'd fucked him up. And even though she'd dragged him through it kicking and screaming, part of him had never stopped loving her.

Christopher recognizes this as partly his own fault. He tends to get obsessive in relationships. Not in the creepy, crazy way that ends in restraining orders, but in a way that inevitably ends with his heart broken and him moping around the apartment half-naked, eating Cheetos and watching John Cusack movies until he falls in love with the next person and does it all over again. Ganymede delights in constantly telling him how very fucked up that makes him – usually while covering his eyes and picking up empty Cheetos bags – but Christopher can't help it, honestly.

But Hel was years ago – years and years ago, when he was young and really stupid, is what Christopher tells himself – and he's got a handle on it now. He's been working this job for six years. He's practically got a built-in asshole radar. He knows what's what.

David, for the record, appears to be an appallingly good guy.


iv.

David isn't the kind of person to judge much of anyone. His first modeling gig wasn't exactly kosher. What can he say? He needed the money. He hadn't found work for a while. He was in a foreign city where he didn't know anyone, he barely spoke the language, and he was a little too close to starving for comfort. He ended up in a club down by the docks one night, thinking maybe he could at least get a few drinks out of it. Just to not be so cold.

Then this guy tries to pick him up. Big guy. Not fat, not a lot of puffed up gym bunny muscles. Just big. David tries to play it off like he doesn't speak Russian, but the guy speaks English too. So David figures what the hell, he'll at least spend some time talking to him. To Loki. He buys David a few drinks and dances with him just the way David likes, giving space and then taking charge, so when Loki asks him if they can head back to his apartment, David says yes.

When he gets there, half of the apartment is filled with photography equipment. David gets a little freaked out inside, thinking that maybe Loki's some kind of psycho killer who likes to take pictures of his victims, shit like that. He watched entirely too much TV as a kid.

("Story of my life," Christopher says honestly. "My father thinks I'm gay because I watched Dawson's Creek, I swear to God.")

Of course, it just ends up that Loki's a photographer. Mostly that artistic, abstract shit people pay thousands and thousands of dollars for a single print of. Very talented, by all accounts, though David couldn't tell a Michelangelo from the graffiti on the street corner. Anyway, that next morning Loki asked David to stay. And the morning after that, and the morning after that, until David stopped pretending he had anywhere else to possibly go. He even got used to Loki snapping his picture around the apartment. Loki eventually ended up sending some of those pictures to photographer friends of his. One of them thought David had "a face" and the rest is, as they say, history. And so was Loki.

All these years later and David still can't pin down exactly how he feels about that. God knows he's tried. David's got one of Loki's photographs still sitting in the back of his closet at home. In it he's sitting at the kitchen counter with a tumbler of vodka at his elbow, making a face at the cabbage-based monstrosity Loki was trying to feed him. There's a flesh colored blur on the left edge of the picture, where Loki's fingers slipped over the edge of the lens because he was laughing. It's everything that was ever good about their relationship and David can never bring himself to throw the photo away.

He even still sees Loki now and again. Whenever he goes to Russia, actually. Sometimes he even sleeps with him, and he's not sure if that makes it more or less fucked up, but sometimes he just gets nostalgic for it all. For the way Loki would take care of him. For being just Loki's, instead of the world's like he is now.

This is, granted, something he should not be thinking about with Christopher right here.


v.

David orders a very expensive red wine to go with dinner. Christopher has water.

It's always been his issue. He's pretty sure his parents are alcoholics. Highly functioning alcoholics, but alcoholics nonetheless. He doesn't know what else you call people who come home every night to margaritas and mojitos and martinis or whatever-the-fuck-else drinkers have decided is currently in. His mother will toss a few back at lunch with the partners. His father will empty a few six packs with some buddies while watching football games. And he remembers all his parents' drunken ramblings, drunken mistakes, their drunken fights. He remembers being scared when he was little. Then just. deadened to it all.

Christopher drank a little in high school, but during college he started puking enough, waking up in enough places he didn't remember being for it to start to freak him out. For him to see where it was going. Because it's true, right, that most kids of alcoholics either become teetolers or alcoholics themselves? And Christopher could try to limit himself, but frankly, with him it's usually all or nothing, yes or no, Wild Turkey or cold turkey, if you know what he means. So Christopher just doesn't drink anymore.

When he was younger he played it off as being straightedge. Very scene. It still works with some of the younger interns and artists he hangs around with. It probably won't play so well with David, so Chris figures he'll tell him mostly the truth – that alcohol doesn't really agree with him.


vi.

Christopher asks about Senna once. Once and only once, because when he does David tightens like someone just stabbed him in the back, and since so far David has proven himself to be a stoic motherfucker indeed, Christopher deduces that he has obviously hit a nerve. With a sledgehammer.

But it's not like he couldn't ask, at least the first time around. He was there, after all, at the epic meeting on the Vogue shoot, and he's really, really wants to find out what could have possibly made such beautiful, amazing people hate each other so much that its now in contract they won't work together or even endorse the same company.

Christopher is, however, respectful of boundaries, and David has more than obviously set one up when it comes to Senna.

He can wait.


vii.

David surprises himself by coming up with the courage to ask Christopher out again. He doesn't know if he should – he doesn't know if he should be dating anyone in the business. He doesn't know if he's ready. He's pretty scared, he'll admit it. But he also likes Christopher more than anyone he can remember in a long time – he's had more fun tonight than he has in a long time.

Maybe he's not that scared after all.


viii.

When David asks him out again, Christopher surprises himself by saying yes. It's probably a mistake. He's already halfway in love with this guy – a guy who's used to the best of everything, who holds all his secrets in his eyes because no one looks there, who probably doesn't give a damn about the problems of a stupid kid from the Chicago 'burbs. And he knows it won't take much to push him over the edge again, back to watching chick flicks and powdered cheese product and Ganymede threatening to move out yet again, but really, he thinks, feeling the slide of David's hand against the small of his back when they stand up to leave – really, he's willing to take the chance.