LPfiction

Category Linkin Park

Going the Distance by MissDomho

Three years later

AN Hello to you all?! How are you all doing tonight? Today? Whatever it is! So I want to say thank you so much for the love and support on my first story Behind the Lens I really appreciate all the kind feedback and the overwhelming love that I received for it, my heart is swelling from all the love, haha<3 As promised here is the first chapter of the sequel! Didn't want you all to wait for too long :) <3 Please let me know what you think as all of your feedback means a great deal to me <3 Thank you xxx


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Going the Distance


Three years later




The small room in the conference room was at full capacity, a mix of young and old, business attires and ripped jeans. Chester was surprised at the size of the turn out today, nervously thinking to himself now, were they aware of the kind of film that he was promoting today?




"If everyone can grab a seat, please?" Scott, the event host, waved Chester over to his chair at the front. Once Chester slowly lowered himself into his seat, the host began with his introduction. 





"I want to thank everyone that is here attending this Year's Columbia University alumni event tonight. I'm happy to introduce our very special guest, Chester Bennington, who holds a Master of Fine Arts from Columbia's School of Arts. Chester is the producer on a documentary film called 'Push and Pull' which is debuting at the Toronto International Film Festival this year. And he has been gracious enough to take the time to come out and speak with us while he's here promoting the film. Would you all help me by welcoming Chester Bennington." 





Chester gave his obligatory wave at the light patter of applause. Most heads in the audience were bowed, some over plates piled high with food, others over the glowing screens of phones. The few eyes pointed in his direction looked indifferent or skeptical that this was a good use of their time. Chester wondered, not for the first time, why he had agreed to do this talk in the first place. 





"So, Chester-" Scott started the interview, clearing his throat as he said it, grabbing the hold of the attention from others in the crowd. "-You have obviously been to many film festivals over the years. How do you think Toronto International Film Festival compares to other big names that are on the circuit?" 





"Well, Scott, that's a good question." Chester launched into his prepared speech about the holy trinity of a good film festival; just the right mix of film distributors, media attention, and audience interest. He tried throwing a joke or two in to see if he could get a rise from the crowd- but all he got were a couple of under-the-breath chuckles and sympathetic 'nice try.' smiles.



He turned the floor back to Scott for the next question. As Scott began reading from his list, the door at the back of the room eased open, and a latecomer slipped through, falling behind deft ears- but not to Chester, as he was quick to notice the slight movement stirring in the background. Chester caught a quick glimpse of him before he dropped into the last row as he blended into the audience. The sighting was brief- but Chester could have sworn that he recognised the width of the shoulders and the tilt of the head. 





The stagger of seats in the audience made it impossible for Chester to get a second glance at the latecomer. It was so unlikely that it was 'him' that Chester dismissed the unexpected idea as soon as it popped into his head. 





Scott had sent him the list of questions over email, so Chester had answers prepared for each one. He presented the canned responses at Scott's prompting, no longer trying to splice in jokes as he went. Instead, he debated with himself over the identity of the latecomer. 





When Scott asked for questions from the audience, Chester blinked hard, rendered into complete shock at the number of hands that had shot up into the air. He never would have thought that all those people were interested in his opinion, never mind had actually listened to what he had to say for just over an hour. Chester was even more surprised when Scott wrapped up the interview and a significant number of people approached him to talk. 





By the time Chester exhausted all of his answers as the crowd thinned to a only a stammering few, he had almost forgotten about the latecomer with the familiar shoulders.



"Thanks again for coming to speak with us, Chester." The interviewer, better known as Scott, earnestly said as Chester was seen smiling politely, gathering his own bag, before strapping it to his shoulder. 





"You are very welcome." Chester said, his smile never once leaving his features.





"It was a good turn out, eh? Some really interesting questions thrown in there." 





"Yeah, great questions." Chester agreed and let Scott usher him out of the room and into the lobby. 





They managed to get a few steps in before Chester stopped mid-way in his tracks. His eyes had not been playing tricks on him. The hair was darker from what he could remember the last time he saw it. Almost bordering on raven as if it had been died a darker shade, with his curling into a faux hawk over the top of his scalp. He still wore the same matte-black earrings that Chester remembered so fondly of. As he had the same beard from the last time Chester saw him. It didn't hide that cheeky lopsided grin and those teasing dark eyes that somehow always got under his skin many years ago. 





Scott was still babbling to him about a new project that he had been working on for week, as Chester realised belatedly. 





"Huh? Oh, sorry Scott." It was rude- but Chester couldn't quite tear his eyes away, afraid that the vision would disappear on him. "Listen, thanks for organising the whole thing, it went great. Enjoy the rest of the festival." 





"Oh, okay? You, too." 





Chester was vaguely aware of the confused glance Scott shot his way and the sound of the heavy front door opening as Scott departed, quickly. 





"Hey." The latecomer's voice was the same, deep and rumbling, his infamous smirk was now tugging along his lips once he realised Chester was now looking his way.





"Michael Shinoda." The name felt strange on his tongue, like a language that had grown rusty from lack of use. Chester never would have thought he'd mutter it out loud again. Yet the bearer of the name stood- but a few feet away. 





And then Mike's smirk turned into a genuine grin as it had melted Chester's insides, feeling his heart skip a beat. 





"What the fuck are you doing here?" Chester blurted out. 





Dark eyebrows shot up- but the grin didn't waver. "Um, I was invited?" 





Chester frowned; he was sure he had never invited Mike, trying to wrack his brain at the simplicity of it all now. 





"Columbia's alumni office sent an email chain to everyone that's living here in Toronto." Mike explained nonchalantly with a slight shrug to the left of his shoulder. 





"Oh, right?" Now he felt silly for even asking in the first place, feeling the slight burn to his cheeks. "I didn't think you would come out? And Toronto of all places?"





"I wasn't so sure myself?" Mike's grin had only grown. "But I'm here now." 





"Oh." 





A million questions lined up on Chester's tongue: 'How did Mike end up here?', 'how long had he been living in Toronto?', 'What was he doing here?', And most importantly, 'Why hadn't he bother to keep in touch with him for the past three years?' But his usually prolific brain couldn't string together the right words, as he stood there with his mouth gapping and a puzzled look seeping his brow. 





"Um, I don't know what your schedule is like right now? But if you've got some spare time, it'd be nice to catch up again?" Mike tilted his head in the way Chester recognised from back in the day, as if he wanted to say more- but his natural reservation wouldn't let him. 





"Yeah, I'd like that a lot." Chester sneaked a quick glance at his watch. "I've got some time now, if you'd like to grab a coffee?"





"Sure." Mike led the way out into the brisk September air.


---



"Thanks for coming out today." Chester murmured softly into the breeze as they strolled shoulder to shoulder down the busy sidewalk. 





"Yeah, sure." Mike shrugged, his gaze focused on the pavement in front of them. 





Chester let a beat pass in silence before glancing over with narrowed eyes. "So... why did you come? I mean...I'm glad you did- but I wouldn't have been the wiser." 





Mike hesitated slightly, his eyes fluttering as if he was trying to think of something clever to say as the began by speaking. "It just seemed like the right thing to do?"





"That's it?" Chester let his voice take on a teasing tone. "No ulterior motive?" 





That earned him a sidelong look. "What do you mean by 'ulterior motive'?" 





"Well-" Chester began with a shrug. "We haven't seen each other, what?, In like three years now? Maybe you were just curious to see if I was still as good looking as I was before?"





Mike couldn't help the light chuckle slipping between his slightly chipped lips, that disjointed sound that seemed more like a broken exhalation.



"Yeah, uh, maybe I was a little curious myself?" He sounded nonchalant- but there was a twinkle in his eyes. "Or maybe I was just trying to be a good friend, you know? In case no one else bothered to show up, at least you wouldn't be talking to a completely empty room." 





"I see how it is now? I am glad that you have such confidence in my ability to attract an audience." 





"Oh, I have no doubt that you can attract an audience, without a doubt. But usually you aren't wearing so much for the camera."



Mike's tone was so deadpan that Chester almost didn't realise that he had been joking. It was the slight crinkle around the edges of Mike's eyes that gave it away. Chester chuckled. "Touché." 





A growing grin was all the response Mike gave.



When they had finally arrived at the small coffee shop, Mike was quick to hold the door open, as their eyes met once Chester brushed past. Just inches away from each other, Chester could see the playful guardedness in the way Mike regarded him. It was the same look Mike had the few times they hung out in New York, when the pressure of sex didn't loom and they could just be themselves. A quick zing of chemistry flashed between the both of them and sizzled as they moved inside. 





It took a while for them to grab cups of coffee and settle at a table by the window. In those moments, Chester pulled his thoughts together. 





"So how long have you been living here?" He asked. 





"Coming up to two and a bit years now?" The half Asian seemed preoccupied with his coffee, twisting the mug around in circles on the table. 





"Almost immediately after you took off from New York, right?" 





"Yeah, about five months after?"




Chester nodded. "And your sister, she is here right?" 





Mike chuckled, abandoning his mug and folding his arms across the table. 





"What's so funny?"



"I almost forgot about your unending questions?"




Chester sat back in his chair, arms crossed in mock arrogance. "I wouldn't have to ask so many questions, you know? If you'd volunteer the information yourself?"





"True." Mike agreed- but didn't offer up any voluntary information. 

Chester cocked his head. "And?"



A chuckle escaped Mike before he spoke. "I've got a job here. I'm now the chief editor at the 'Canadian Journal of Psychology'."





"Wow, that's so great! That's in your field. So all that money you gave in to Columbia wasn't an entire waste after all?"





"Yeah, exactly." Mike scoffed. "And my younger sister and her husband live here. So..." He shrugged as if the rest was self-explanatory. 





"And your mum is still in L.A.?" 





Mike nodded. "What about you? Mr. 'Hot-shot producer' now?" 





"Ha!" Chester cackled out loud, stirring the attention of a few onlookers now sitting close by, as he would blush, once he lowered the volume of his voice. "I wish. No, this is an indie project that I had made, made on a shoestring. If you really want to know, we almost didn't make it into the film festival. We were turned down initially- but got squeezed in when one of the other films had to pull out." 





"Still, you made it in. That's an accomplishment in itself, you know?"





"Yeah." Chester couldn't help- but smile. "We're really proud of our work." 





"'Push and Pull', huh?" Mike asked with a grin. 





"Yeah." Chester twirled his tiny spoon in the cooling coffee so he wouldn't have to meet Mike's dark gaze. He had been wondering whether Mike would remember where the phrase had came from in the first place, which the title had been pulled out from one the first ever sex scene they had filmed together on screen. "I hope the title doesn't bother you?"





"Why would it bother me?" 





He snuck a glance up to assess Mike's reaction and was greeted by a carefully crafted mask, just polite curiosity, nothing else. Nothing more.





"Well, the idea of it all was born out of our work together. You remember all those discussions about go-go dancing that we had filmed together during the scenes? You know, the ones where we were really talking about being porn actors?" 





Still no noticeable reaction from Mike. 





"I wanted to know if anyone else felt the same way as what we did?"





"And?" 





Chester wondered if Mike was taking this all a little too smoothly, especially given how distraught he had been by the end of their project. 





"Some did, yeah." Chester proceeded with caution. "But others hadn't quite given it as much thought to it at all." 





"You mean they were all too high at the time to have given it much thought?" This was said with an amused tone, no real condemnation or judgment on Mike's behalf. 





"Yeah." Chester smiled, sadly. "Or too much in desperate need of the money." 





They shared a look, there were many reasons why people choose to do porn, if they were even given a choice. God knows, both Chester and Mike had their own different reasons. But at the end of the day, Chester considered them to be the lucky ones, not everyone had the luxury to get out whenever they'd pleased.





Mike returned Chester's smile, and in the moment of silence that followed, they seemed to mourn the part of themselves they had lost. The silence lingered, comfortable and intimate, one that didn't demand to be filled. It was nice to just sit and be and have the other person understand exactly what was going on. Chester couldn't think of a single person,friend or family, that he could do that with, no one except with Mike. 





The buzzing of Chester's phone against his pant leg startled them both out of their thoughts, snapping them both away from their daze. 





"Shit!" He muttered as he glanced down at the text message he had just received, once retrieving his phone from his pocket. "I'm sorry! I have to go. Our screening is tonight, and they need me to go and organise it." 





"That's okay, you go. It was really good catching up with you, Chester."





Chester slipped his phone back in his pocket- but made no move to stand. He had a sneaking feeling that if he walked out that door that they both came in before, he may never see Mike again. As that was something he wasn't ready to let go of, not this time. Not ever as he was determined to keep Mike in life once more again.





"Listen, are you busy tonight, Do you have plans?" 





Mike's eyebrows lifted in question.




"We have extra tickets to the premier. I can keep one aside for your name. Do you want to come along?" 





Mike's grin grew slowly- but when it reached full strength, his eyes crinkled at the edges. "Sure." 





"Great! I'll text you the details soon." 





As Mike pushed himself to his feet, Chester also bracing his weight to his own, Chester slipped on his parka jacket. He debated with himself for a second before he pushed all doubts aside as he hurriedly pulled Mike into a hug. It took a moment before the stiffness in Mike's frame softened and he slowly returned the embrace. But once Chester slowly staggered away, his nose twitched with the smell of sandalwood, warm and clean, reminding him of times past when he had found himself wrapped up in that very familiar scent. 





"I'll see you soon." Chester whispered, softly. 





Mike grinned and nodded in response.



---




Chester was seen standing at the very back of the theater as people filed in. He was too antsy to settle into his reserved seat, and too tensed to talk to any of the people he could recognised. The Toronto International Film Festival organisers had told him that the screening was all sold out tonight- but he was unprepared for the stream of people bursting through the doors. As the rows began to fill and empty seats grew fewer and far between, Chester felt increasingly nervous.



In Chester's head, the young indie producer knew the film was good, its acceptance into the festival surely must be evidence of that. But this was the first time ever that his baby would be shown to a public audience, one neither familiar with the nuances of the porn industry, nor informed by a discretionary artistic eye. The public audiences reacted with their gut, and porn often elicited poor gut reactions. 





On the big screen, once the film began to play, stretched across the screen now there were directors, actors, crew members, producers, private and public financiers of porn appeared one after another, each with a story of the relationship they shared with the industry that they all worked in. Some of the stories were light, frivolous and funny, while others were heartbreaking; no two stories were alike, just like no two people were alike. 





Chester didn't pay much attention to the big screen, his attention was on the audience. The entirety of the film's 78 minutes was spent trying to gauge reactions from the back corner of the movie theatre, as Chester felt his anxiety level spike and flow with the pacing of the film. Would the audience laugh at the funny story? Would they tear up at the sad one? Chester held his breath through most of the film that by the time the audience broke into applause, he was feeling lightheaded, almost on the verge of fainting. 





The question-and-answer session after the screening was all a blur to the young producer, and Chester couldn't remember any of the questions or any of his answers. His brain only started catching up to the rest of his body when he stepped off the makeshift stage and spotted Mike; who was casually leaning up against the wall, his hands were knuckle deep in his pockets, as his young features were plastered with that signature grin of his. Chester stood there in complete awe as he realised that his former work colleague was looking even more beautiful then he could remember the last time. With his large, shy eyes hidden behind his dark, thick eye lashes, with his hesitant smile and the way his his toned body deliciously filled out beautifully in his denim-smart-shirt-combination. He quickly snapped himself out of thoughts, knowing the night wasn't getting any younger now, mustering all of his will power now to make his way over.





"Hey!" Chester rushed over to say hello and noted the slight tensing in Mike's shoulders at his exuberance. 





"Hey." Mike smiled- but his greeting was much more subdued. 





"I'm so glad you made it. We've got an after party planned. You're coming, right?" Any attempts at reining in his own excitement were useless with the amount of adrenaline that was now running through his system. 





Mike looked like he was about to decline Chester's offer at any given moment- but surprisingly enough he shrugged before saying with that same hesitant smile along his lips. "Sure, where is it?" 





"No clue? But it's supposed to be close I think. Just follow the crowd." 





All Mike could do was nod his understanding just as someone shouted. "Chester!" 





Flashing his best smile, underlined with a hint of an apology, Chester reluctantly left Mike, who was still leaning up against the wall. Despite his best intentions, Chester didn't find his way back to Mike for most of what remained of the evening. 





Once they all made it the lounge, where the After party had taken off later the evening. Chester had found himself plied in with drinks as everyone wanted to celebrate the success of his film. From across the room, Chester would spot Mike with a drink in his hand, sometimes chatting with someone, sometimes observing with his typical quiet reserve. Every time Chester wanted to go over to him, someone new would stop him, refill his drink, and Chester would lose his sights on Mike once more again.



It wasn't until the late hours of the morning that the crowd thinned enough for Chester to finally make his move as he sauntered his way over towards Mike's dark, little corner. 





"You're still here." Chester gushed out in awe as he knew he had a silly, little grin playing along his face now and heard the slight slur at the edges of his words, once he would stumble slightly towards Mike's way. 





Mike's warm eyes were pools of chocolate brown in the darkness of the lounge. His beard looked soft, as Chester carelessly reached out to see if it felt that way, too. It did. The short hairs tickled the pad of his thumb as Chester ran it across Mike's soft jaw. He felt Mike sigh into the touch, his eyes drifting closed and his tongue slipping out to wet the lips so close to Chester's hand. Almost teasing him now just to have one taste. 





Just as Chester was about to lean in to taste those beautifully, supple wet lips, Mike grasped his hand, squeezed it gently and slowly removed it from his own face. His grasp still firmly in place of Chester's
.




"Ready to go?" His voice was slightly shaky as for a moment Chester couldn't help- but hoped that his touch had something to do with the way that Mike's erratic breathing was now coming out, as a fleeting feeling had soared right through him now. "I'll make sure you get back to your hotel in one piece." 





The warmth of Mike's hand on his own traveled up Chester's arm, as he felt himself sway a little toward the solid self-assurance that Mike exuded. With more restraint than he thought himself capable of, Chester pulled out his phone and showed Mike the address. 





With a nod, Mike murmured, softly. ""It's not too far. Do you mind if we walk? Should be nice night out tonight." 





"Sure." Chester slurred with a slight giggle. He didn't voice his disappointment that walking would delay their getting back to his hotel. 





The chilly midnight air hit Chester square in the face as they left the bar lounge as it had chased away some of the fuzziness that warmed his insides. Walking close to Mike on the narrow sidewalk, Chester let himself brush up against his shoulder every couple of steps. The warmth of Mike's body emanating through out his own as their feet would fall into a steady step, side by side.





"So what did you think of it?" 





"Honestly?" Mike asked with a furrowed brow. 





"No, I want you to lie to me!" Chester chuckled. "Yes, of course, honestly. I want to hear your expert opinion?" 





Mike scoffed. "I wouldn't call myself an expert?"





"Oh, come on. Don't tell me you've forgotten all those fucking a-amazing scenes we shot together? If you're not an expert, then no one is?"





Mike's eyes narrowed into a glare now- but he made no dispute. 





"Seriously, tell me, Mike? What did you think of it?"





"Seriously? I don't know how to tell you this?" The half Asian shook his head and sighed before shooting Chester an apologetic look. 





A mild panic tensed Chester's shoulders. He hadn't realised just how much Mike's opinion meant to him.





"But...I absolutely fucking loved it. It was amazing!"





Relief washed over him at Mike's teasing grin. "You're an asshole, you know that?" Chester gave Mike's shoulder a heavy bump with his own. 





Mike sniggered softly, the sound was bright and crisp in the cold air. "I really liked it. I did. It was truthful. Not just accurate...I mean, it was accurate. But there was a lot of truth being told in it, not just about porn- but life truths, if that makes any sense at all?"





"Yeah, it does. The film isn't really about porn if you think about it? It's about people who just happen to work in that industry that's considered taboo to most of the public." 





"How did you manage to get so many workers to talk to you? Working in porn isn't really something most people like to advertise." 




"I gave out a lot of blowjobs."



Mike's smirk said he didn't believe it.



"Honestly though? I was a little worried about it to begin with. But it wasn't as hard as you would have think."



"Really?"



"Yeah, I think it's because we were approaching the whole thing from a neutral perspective. No condemnation, no glorifying, no opinion on the value of porn itself. It's about real life people, a glimpse into this taboo industry that's lived primarily in the implied privacy of an internet browser. We wanted to bring those people out into the open. I think that helped them get comfortable enough to talk to one another and to others."



Mike nodded his agreement. "I don't think I would have agreed to be interviewed...Even with that approach."



"No, I can't ever see you sharing any of that stuff. I mean, that's not a bad thing?" Chester rushed to clarify. "It's just not who you are, which is completely okay."



The words hung in the air, and with them so many other words unspoken.



"You know, you don't have to keep everyone at arm's length?" Chester said, his voice was somber in the still darkness of night.



"I know. But people don't really get it." Mike sounded resigned. "It's just easier this way."



No explanation was needed for Chester to understand that Mike was talking about his past, a past that they both shared. It was true that few people could look beyond their former lives as pornstars, as sometimes it was easier to just live in isolation. Wasn't that what Chester had been doing these past few years?



Easier, perhaps. But he definitely felt more lonely.



"Is this your hotel here?"



It took a moment for Chester to recognise the generic, glass sliding doors. "Yeah, it is. You want to come up?"



Mike regarded for a second, hesitating for a short moment, as he finally made his decision by nodding.



Once inside the lavish building as the both stepped into the elevator. Running completely on autopilot low, his senses were now filled with the delectable smells bouncing off of Mike, the confidence booster made by the slew of drinks he had tonight, Chester found himself pushing towards the half Asian, until now he was crowding into Mike's personal space, forcing the half Asian back up against the wall. The heady scent of sandalwood mixed with the bitterness of beer on Mike's breath, a potent combination on his senses.



He ran his thumb across the fullness of Mike's lower lip, its softness highlighted by the hairs on his chin. At the touch, his lips parted, and Mike breathed a little heavier, the air hot across Chester's thumb. Across the steamy air emitted between them both, Chester could see Mike's eyes flutter from the haze, his large eyes smouldering in a darker shade now. Chester could almost taste the bitterness there from the alcohol he had drank earlier the evening between his lips.



Just as he was about to lean in for a taste, the elevator dinged and the door swished opened on his floor. He smirked; elevator sex was hot- but hotel-room sex was even hotter.



It took him a couple of tries before Chester managed to get the card reader on his door to work. All the while, Mike stood behind him, close enough for Chester to feel the warmth of another body next to his. When they finally got inside, he crossed his way towards the other side of the room as he began by raiding the mini bar for tiny bottles of vodka and the slightly larger bottles of beer. When offered the choice, Mike reached for the beer.



"You've got a great view." Mike moved to stand by the floor-to-ceiling windows below which sprawled the city of Toronto.



"It faces north." Chester said, remembering that day they had stayed up all night talking and watched the new day dawn on the roof of Mike's apartment, God to go back to that single moment in their life, as for the last number of years, that's all he ever kept thinking about. "Beautiful sunrises."




Chester downed one gulp of the vodka and left the half-empty bottle on the nearby coffee table. He moved behind Mike and slowly shimmied his hands up and along Mike's shoulders, massaging the tensed muscles he found there.



"This feels familiar." Chester husked into Mike's ear. He delighted in the slight shiver that ran through Mike's body. He was less delighted when Mike stepped away with a grin and dropped into the room's lone armchair.



"You must be proud of your film?" The change of topic was less than subtle- but Chester's semi-drunk mind chose to ignore it.



"I am." He took the only other seat in the room, the large bed. Stretching his legs out in front of him, Chester leaned back on his hands and spread out his tall frame for Mike's own perusal. Mike's dark eyes were however glued to the bottle in his hands.



"I think it gave me closure." Chester let his voice drop low. "My way of saying goodbye to that part of my life, you know, for good?"



Mike nodded, slowly- but didn't quite look up just yet, still fascinated with the beer perched in his hands, which only fuelled to Chester's sexual frustrations, holding back a groan of annoyance.



"And what about you? Do you feel like you have closure?"



Silence reigned as Mike continued to study the bottle and tear at the wet label. "Yes." He whispered before finally looking up, his dark eyes meeting Chester's with such intensity that Chester had to force himself not to look away. "On our very last shoot together."



There was no malice in Mike's eyes at the mention of their last scene together, the one where Mike had to resort to drugs to endure. There was only a straightforward acceptance of having moved on from that part of his life. At the time, Chester had thought he was the one who excelled at compartmentalisation, able to separate who he was with what he did to earn money. But Chester hadn't been able to just walk away like Mike had, no, he had needed a years-long film project delving into the psyche of porn-industry professionals to finally extract himself from its entanglements.



Chester sat up straight. Their smoky gazes locked from across the hotel room, as Mike's never once strayed to linger over Chester's body. There was something in those naive eyes, something that hinted at the connection they once had and perhaps could recapture. It fed the desire that was smouldering low in his gut. Chester let it propel him onto the floor, as he was kneeling in front of Mike now. He inserted himself between Mike's spread legs once he began by running his hands up the tightly muscled thighs until they rested on Mike's hips.



The advance didn't elicit the reaction Chester wanted. Mike tensed in his seat and removed Chester's hands from his hips.



"Chester." Mike's voice was more gravelly than usual. Beer bottle abandoned on the coffee table next to the armchair, Mike held Chester's hands in his own, a safe distance from any sensitive zones.



"Oh, fuck. Oh, god." Chester tried pulling his hands from Mike's grasp- but they were held tight, Still locked in place between Mike's spread legged position. "I'm sorry. I just assumed that you wanted me to-"



"-No, Chester, that's not i-"



"-But I shouldn't have assumed that's what you wanted? God, I hadn't even asked if you were seeing anyone else. Fuck! I'm so sorry."



"Chester!" The sternness of Mike's voice was accentuated by his tug on Chester's hands. "It's not that I don't want to? Because trust me when I say this 'I want to.'" He said more softly. "And no-" He continued when Chester wanted to jump in again, resuming his position. "I'm not with anyone. But we have only just reconnected." Mike paused with a long sigh. "And I promised myself a long time ago, after our last shoot actually, that I would save sex for a committed relationship."



Chester let Mike's words sink in before he sat back on his heels. This time Mike released his hands when he pulled them away. "Yeah, right. I guess you're right. We did just reconnect. And it's smart to save sex for someone that is important to you. I guess we've both had enough meaningless sex to last us a lifetime, huh?" Chester's chuckle was dry as he pushed himself up to standing and grabbed the half-empty vodka bottle from the coffee table.



"Chester...You are someone important to me."



The reflection in the window showed Mike standing from his chair. Chester stared resolutely out into the night.



"But if we have sex again, I don't want it to be because we're both a little tipsy and need sexual release. You're just way too important to me for just to be some quick fuck."



Chester's lack of response wasn't due to the way his throat tightened; at least, that's what he told himself.



"How much longer are you in town?"



It took a couple of breaths before Chester could speak. "I leave tomorrow afternoon."



"Shit. I'm taking Lily to the aquarium tomorrow morning." He paused and cocked his head to the side before continuing. "Would you like to come along?"



Chester hesitated for a short moment. Was it a date, or was he crashing a date? He turned to find Mike grinning up at him.



"Lily is my niece, by the way. She's just turned five a few days ago."



"Are you sure?" Chester was skeptical about interfering with Mike's uncle and niece bonding time.



"Yeah, she loves meeting new people." The way Mike's grin grew into a smile reminded Chester of that time when Mike snuggled with his cat. That man sure loved his cat.



Hanging out at an aquarium with Mike and his five-year-old niece, if this was a date, it was the weirdest date Chester had ever been invited to. But it also sounded like the most interesting. Oh, what the hell, what was there to lose?



"Okay, sure. I'll come along." If Chester didn't know better, he would have sworn that Mike's smile grew just a little bit brighter at his acceptance.


---

TBC


AN There you have it *hides* I hope it's okay? It's only the beginning of the drama and love between Mike and Chester. I hope you all will stick around, share your thoughts, and likes? To see the end of their story! Thank you all for reading xxx

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