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Five times Chris was a kitten ...

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Chapter 1: The first time Chris was a kitten.

Zach slumped back on the couch in his new house in L.A. and groaned. This was not how he’d envisioned filming the third movie. He’d been looking forward to it for months, had imagined the energy on set, everyone just brimming with creativity and companionship. It was supposed to be the time of his life. Now he sat in his new house, newly single, and all he could think of was how much he missed New York, how much he missed his dogs, how much he missed the cat. He reached for a sofa cushion and put it on his lap, reflexively stroking the fuzzy fabric.

“You could get one of those tribble things,” Chris suggested as he wandered back into the living room with a large glass of water. Zach opened one eye and watched Chris sprawl in the other corner of the couch. “Katie sent one to me as a gag gift to wish me good luck for the movie. It purrs every time I sneeze.”

“I don’t know about that. Sneezing fits to get my daily dosage of purrs don’t seem very conducive to relaxation.” Zach sighed. “I just miss Harold. And I’m not even that much of a cat person,” he complained. “Dogs are more fun.” But dogs didn’t curl up on your lap and purr at you when you were sad. Dogs were better at having fun. Which was part of the problem. During the last weeks in New York the dogs had always reminded him way too much of ... yeah, no. Zach tossed the cushion into Chris’ lap.

“I’m definitely a cat person.” Chris stuffed the cushion behind him, yawned and stretched, long and languid. Yawned again. “Curl up and sleep all day. Getting petted with no strings attached. Oh, to be a cat ...”

Zach couldn’t help smiling. “You’d love that, wouldn’t you? Everyone petting you, all the time.”

“Oh, no,” Chris said, “I’d be a proper cat. Purring only for my owner and scratching everyone else.” Suddenly his blue eyes sparkled with mischief, and his face crinkled into a smile. He toed off his terrible Crocs and got on all fours on the sofa. “Did you know that I can purr?”

Chris’ white Henley was so worn-out and stretched-out it offered glimpses of Chris’ nipples and belly button in this position. The ancient jeans he was wearing clung to his skin, ragged enough to show hints of lightly tanned skin through the tears in the fabric. Zach’s mouth went dry. He swallowed hard. To have Chris on all fours on his sofa was an unexpected development.

“Really?” he asked weakly.

Chris tilted his head back to look up at him. “Really. When I was little, like five or so, I always had to play a cat for Katie – mom is allergic, so she wasn’t allowed to have one of her own.” He grinned. “I bet I still remember how to purr.”

Zach didn’t get a chance to tell Chris how ridiculously cute that was (was spared from blurting out how ridiculously cute he still was), because Chris licked his lips, hollowed his cheeks, and started making sucking sounds that went straight to Zach’s groin. But before Zach could tell him to cut it out, Chris’ throat fluttered, and the strangest, gravelly sounds emerged, a kind of warm, throaty trilling.

Chris was purring.

Then he lowered his head and butted against Zach’s upper arm. Like a cat begging for attention. Zach couldn’t help himself – he reached over and scritched Chris’ head. He already had his Kirk cut, and his hair was more bristly than silky. It still felt good. Very good. Chris purred louder and inched closer. He put both hands on Zach’s thigh and started kneading. Zach let his hands fall to his sides, balling them into fists. But Chris carefully nudged his chin with a commanding chirp: Keep petting me.

For a breathless second, Zach thought Chris would lie down with his head in Zach’s lap. And that was not ... not at all where the face of a good, platonic friend should be right now. Of course a good, platonic friend also shouldn’t smirk at him like that while kneading his thighs and pretending to be a fucking cat.

What was he supposed to do or say now? Yell “Look, a mouse!” and throw Chris off his lap? Inquire “How about some tuna pizza, kitty?” and push Chris off his lap? Tell Chris to “Go play with your toys” and try not to think of the kind of toys he would like to play with right now?

Suddenly Chris did curl up against him. Zach gulped. There was no way in hell Chris could fail to notice just how hard Zach was in his jeans by now. But Chris ignored his bulge. He snuggled up against him and closed his eyes, pressing the palms of his hands against Zach’s chest in a soothing rhythm. He was still purring.

Okay, Zach thought. That’s ... that’s okay. Chris’ warm, heavy weight felt good on his lap, and the gentle, rhythmic pressure of his massage, that felt good, too. If Zach started petting Chris’ hair again, if he started rubbing his back, he was just playing along. Besides, they’d given each other dozens of backrubs over the years. Gradually, Zach began to relax. After a while Chris’ hands slowed down and the purring faded. Glancing down, Zach realized that Chris had dozed off. He looked oddly vulnerable like that, already clean-shaven to be Kirk, pink lips parted, eyes closed. A strange, warm feeling spread through Zach’s stomach. He yawned. A nap was a good idea. And there was nothing to it. They napped together all the time when filming or on press tour. Maybe not on each other’s laps, but still. Close enough. Protectively, Zach wrapped both arms around Chris – just to make sure he wouldn’t roll over and fall off the sofa, obviously – and allowed himself to fall asleep, too.

Chapter Text

Finally they had a weekend off, and Chris invited Zach to stay over. He needed to get some shit done in the garden, and since they’d hung out at Zach’s place last time, it was his turn now. Their castmates might joke about how married they were, but there was really nothing to it. They were both single and they were good friends – brothers in arms. Spending the weekend together was logical. Also, Zach simply wasn’t ready to join the party circuit again.

So Saturday morning Zach was standing in “Ye Olde Gardener’s Shoppe”, trying to figure out a gift for Chris. For some reason he didn’t want to fall back on the old standby of a bottle of wine. There were a couple of plants on display. A purple passiflora caught his eye, and he almost grabbed the pot. But wouldn’t that be too much like bringing flowers? Well, it was a flower, so that probably counted as bringing flowers. Why was he even worrying about that? In the end, he settled on gardener’s soap and gardener’s hand cream to pamper the Princess. As he was getting ready to pay, he noticed two baskets with pet toys. Of course; “ye olde gardener” would have a faithful dog at his side and a fat cat watching from the window. There were balls to throw and hanks of rope to chew on for the dogs, and feathery things and felt mice on strings to play with for the cats. Grinning, Zack picked up one of the mice. A mouse for the kitten – if that wasn’t the perfect gag gift, he didn’t know what was.

At Chris’ place he had to ring three times before Chris gasped a greeting into the speaker and the gate slid open. Walking up to the front door, Zach wondered if he’d woken Chris from a nap or if he’d actually been in the garden. When the door opened, Zach sucked in a sharp breath. Chris had been gardening, indeed. Wearing a fucking straw hat. And damn, if he didn’t look hot today. Flushed and a little sweaty, slightly scruffy. He was obviously celebrating the weekend by neither shaving nor brushing his hair. His tank top was too tight and too short, but the ragged shorts were too large, riding sinfully low on his hips. The fabric was so thin it left nothing to imagination, including the fact that Chris was freeballing it today. Or maybe he just enjoyed semi-naked gardening.

“Hi,” Zach managed, trying not to stare. “You ...” He swallowed. “... you have dirt on your cheek.”

Chris rubbed his hands over his cheeks and only succeeded in spreading the smudge more evenly. “It’s dirty work, man, gardening,” he said. He waggled his eyebrows and lowered his voice. “Real dirty.”

Zach had to swallow again. Chris really shouldn’t be flirting like that with him. “Good thing I brought this, then,” he said, very much aware of how hoarse his voice sounded. He held out one of two packages to Chris.

“Oh, presents!” Chris beamed. Gleefully, he tore off the green, leaf-decorated giftwrap. But when he saw what was inside, he blushed. Looking up, his blue eyes shimmered, and his smile was almost too soft. “Thank you,” he said quietly. “I ...” Chris helplessly shook his head, and Zach melted a little inside. He hadn’t even thought of it that way, but he knew how much Chris hated gifts obviously bought for the famous actor Chris Pine, and not for the person (the book nerd, the gardener, the would-be interior decorator). “I guess I better try that right away, huh?” Chris joked, turning to the hallway. “Get yourself something to drink, I’ll be right back – and don’t think I haven’t noticed that other box ...”

Zach got himself a glass of ginger ale. It was some kind of organic olde worlde looking brand, and he reflected that Chris was turning into the worst hipster hippie, with his garden, and how invested in wholesome living he was lately. But the ginger ale was actually good, spicy and sparkly, with just the right kind of bite. And if his heart was fluttering, that was just the fizz of the ginger ale.

Ten minutes later, Chris appeared again, his hair wet, a blue V-neck and white yoga pants clinging to still damp skin. Zach gulped. Still no underwear. Christ. And Chris was rubbing his hands, smoothing cream into his skin, thrusting his fingers into his fist one at a time. But before he could accuse Chris of doing that on purpose, Chris leaned on the other side of the bar. “That cream rocks. Thanks. Gardening is hell on hands. Maybe makeup won’t be mad at me on Monday, after all.” Then he fluttered his eyelashes at Zach, blue eyes sparkling. “Now where’s my other gift?”

“Not at all greedy, are you?” Zach asked wryly. “All right. Close your eyes.”

Chris obeyed without question. If Zach’s heartbeat sped up at Chris’ ready submission, that was just because he was wondering how his gag gift would be received. He rustled with the paper to heighten the anticipation and almost laughed out loud as Chris leaned forward instinctively. Keeping the end of the string in his hand, he put the mouse in the middle of the breakfast bar.

Then he waited a heartbeat – two, three – before he whispered, “Open your eyes.”

Chris’ eyes flew open and widened almost comically as he took in the little blue mouse in front of him. Then he lunged for it.

But Zach was faster. Taking a step back, he dangled the mouse in the air. “Come and get it, kitten.”

With three steps, Chris was around the bar, but Zach was already running into the living room. Good thing he’d been here often enough to know the layout of the place. Chris hot on his heels, Zach burst out onto the terrace, and raced down the path to the orange grove. Tossing a “here, kitty, kitty” over his shoulder, he sped through the garden. It was a hot day, and Chris had the home advantage. The chase almost ended under the orange trees. Chris was in excellent shape. But Zach was no couch potato, either. With the demands the new movie made of his character, he couldn’t be. Still, he only made it back to the house ahead of Chris because Chris was laughing so hard that he was in stitches and needed to stop and catch his breath. Safely on the other side of the pool, Zach taunted Chris, waving the mouse back and forth over the water. He was back in the house and trying to reach the guestroom he always stayed in when Chris caught up with him. Suddenly the only route of escape was Chris’ bedroom.

That turned out to be a tactical mistake. In front of Chris’ bed, Zach froze. With a triumphant yell, Chris tackled him from behind, and suddenly they were both on the bed, Zach pinned down under Chris’ body. They were both gasping for breath, their hearts racing. Zach could feel Chris’ heartbeat pounding against his back. And he could feel something else, too. Given the ridiculously thin fabric of Chris’ yoga pants it was impossible not to feel it. Chris was as hard as Zach was, his dick throbbing against Zach’s ass.

“Fuck,” Chris panted and rolled off, giggling and gulping for air at the same time.

Zach couldn’t think, what with his blood being otherwise occupied and unable to keep his brain functioning normally. That was the best explanation for what he did next. He sat up and pulled the string with the mouse toward him, away from Chris.

“You cheated,” Zach accused him, breathless and giddy. “Kittens don’t run on two feet.”

He should have expected Chris’ reaction. At the foot of the bed, Chris got on his hands and knees. Tilting back his head, he regarded Zach with an intense, slightly cross-eyed blue gaze. Then he mrrped at Zach and added, “Some kittens do.”

Zach couldn’t help staring at how Chris’ hard cock strained against his pants. He shook his head and met Chris’ eyes. Eyes that were impossibly blue and positively hypnotizing. Therefore he couldn’t be held responsible for what came out of his mouth next.

“Kittens,” Zach said, his heart hammering in his chest, “don’t talk.” He forced himself to look away from Chris’ face. But looking at Chris’ shirt didn’t help. With Chris on all fours right in front of him, he could not avoid noticing his nipples, round and hard with arousal. “And kittens,” Zach said, swallowing hard, his stomach fluttering with nerves and desire, “don’t wear clothes.”

“You know what?” Chris licked his lips. “I think you’re right.” He sat up and quickly pulled off his shirt and pants, before getting back on all fours, his cock jutting out heavy and full against his stomach.

This time, when Chris lunged for the mouse, Zach let him have it.

Chapter Text

Zach couldn’t quite wrap his mind around the idea of Chris naked and willing on the bed before him. But there he was, buck-naked, ass in the air, his cock hard and beautifully flushed and leaking fat drops of pre-come. Propped on his elbows, Chris was clasping the blue felt mouse between both palms. Like a kitten. An oversize, Chris-shaped, naked kitten. While Zach remained dressed and obviously human. It was enough to give him a pause, to make him take the mouse away from Chris. He opened his mouth to ask what Chris wanted, secretly hoping to hear only two words: Fuck me.

But Chris just grinned at him, an impudent, crinkly grin with blazing blue eyes, and swiped at the hand holding the mouse. Still in character, still a kitten. Zach reacted completely by instinct. A bizarre, inappropriate instinct. He scruffed Chris. Put his hand around the nape of Chris’ neck and dug in his fingers, the way he’d discipline a kitten. With a soft huff of surprise, Chris went limp, slumping face-down onto the mattress, utterly submissive under Zach’s touch. At that reaction, Zach experienced a rush of power that left him breathless, his temples and his dick throbbing.

“Good kitten,” Zach whispered. “Good kitten.” He held Chris down a moment longer. Then he traced the groove of Chris’ spine, pressing down hard enough to feel every vertebra under the warm, smooth skin. Chris shifted, turning his head to the side. Zach could see how his throat worked, but he didn’t say anything. He just groaned. For a moment, Zach hesitated. But the next series of sounds, though muffled by the duvet he was lying on, were recognizable: Chris was purring again. The strangest softness spreading through his stomach, Zach resumed stroking Chris’ back. Gently, vertebra by vertebra. When Zach reached Chris’ ass, he wanted nothing more than for Chris to beg: Fuck me, fuck me, fuck me, Zach, please.

But Chris didn’t break character and just kept up those strange trilling sounds of pleasure, so Zach trailed his hand back up to Chris’ shoulders, stroking and caressing the hard muscles of his back. When his hand rested just below Chris’ neck again, he rubbed circles into the base of his neck with his thumb. Drawing his fingers downwards across Chris’ back once more, Zach hoped with every inch of skin he covered that Chris would finally fucking say something.

But Chris didn’t speak. Intermittently purring and pressing his cock into the mattress, he stayed this strange half-human creature he’d turned himself into. And for some reason, Zach couldn’t bring himself to ask Chris for sex himself while he was like that, even though he was aching for it by now, even though Chris was basically dry-humping the mattress.

This time, though, Zach couldn’t keep his hand away from Chris’ ass. He cupped a perfect, round cheek with his hand and squeezed, as tightly as he could. Zach barely resisted digging in hard enough to hurt, and he couldn’t help himself, he had to press his other hand against his dick. His jeans were almost unbearable tight and hot now. He slid his hand to the other side of Chris’ ass, marveling at the smooth, almost hairless skin, the firm, fleshy muscles under his palm. Pressing his thumb at the very top of Chris’ crack, he paused once more. He was breathing hard, and Chris had stopped purring. With a smirk, Zach slipped his index and his middle finger between Chris’ buttocks. Stroking his fingers up and down, up and down, he reveled in the hot press of Chris’ butt around his fingers, the fine fuzz he felt under his fingertips. Finally, he slid his fingers all the way down to the soft pucker of Chris’ asshole, and pressed in. Just the tip of his index finger, barely breaching the muscle. Growling, Chris tried to thrust up against his finger, and a mewling noise spilled from his lips.

That helpless, wordless cry unleashed something inside Zach, an indescribable surge of feelings. Without undressing, he rolled on top of Chris and bit him into the shoulder, hard, sinking his teeth into the web of muscle between shoulder and neck. Chris yelped and gasped and shuddered, as if he was about to come undone. Zach soothed the angry red marks his teeth had left on Chris’ skin with soft, quick kisses.

“You’re such a naughty kitten,” he panted, roughly rubbing himself against the round swell of Chris’ ass, “and naughty kittens don’t get to come. Do you hear me?”

He bit Chris again, even harder than before, and shoved his cock against his ass. Chris whined and tried to spread his legs for him. That was enough to push Zach over the edge. His mouth pressed against Chris’ neck, he came, in stuttered, awkward spurts of bliss, painfully constrained by much too tight jeans.

Eventually, he got up and went to the bathroom of the guestroom to clean himself up and change into pajamas. When he returned to Chris’ bedroom, Chris hadn’t moved. Zach had to turn him on his back with his hands. His mouth went dry as he saw that Chris had obeyed him. His still flushed cock was softening against a stomach smeared only with sticky, clear fluid of pre-come. Chris remained strangely pliant under his hands, apparently beyond words. Zach had to get a washcloth to clean him up and then he had to help Chris put on his pajamas. Sliding under the covers together, Chris whimpered, a small confused sound that tugged at Zach’s heart.

“Chris,” he said uncertainly, worried. Then more firmly, “Christopher. Talk to me.”

“Zach?” Chris whispered. He sounded hoarse, and kind of dazed. “Zach.” He sighed. “I’m tired.”

Because he didn’t know what else to do, Zach pulled Chris into his arms and held him tightly. “Then sleep.”

*

For weeks later, Zach wondered what the hell had happened that weekend. How a gag gift and fooling around with his good, platonic friend had suddenly turned into ... whatever it had turned into. Also, if he wanted something like that to happen again. And if it were to happen, what exactly he’d want to happen.

Late at night, he found himself browsing websites he’d never looked at before, until he shut off the computer, almost ready to swear off sex – and definitely the internet – forever. Or at least until two days later, when Zach found himself jacking off next to his laptop, staring at a picture of a man in a tux, a cane in his hand, and a naked golden-haired boy on a leash curled around his feet.

Fuck, Zach thought. Fuck.

But Chris didn’t say a word about anything that had happened, not about the kitten play, not about Zach getting off on his naked body, not about the way they had spooned all night and spent the better part of the following morning cuddling in Chris’ bed. He behaved as if nothing had happened, filming their scenes together with his usual verve and perfectionism, hanging out at lunch or going out after dinner with Zach and their castmates, as cheerful and awkward and endearing as he always was. Only sometimes Zach caught him looking a little lost, almost forlorn. Zach had no idea what to do, and he was getting bitchy enough in his frustration that people were beginning to notice.

Then Chris sent him Star Trek fanart on his iPhone.

Spock was reclining in the command chair, with Chris – with Kirk – on his knees in front of him. Naked. Adorned with a plush, orange tail. And fluffy, feline ears, also orange. And ... Zach swallowed hard. With a black collar around his neck. To which a leash was attached. Spock was holding the end of the leash in one hand, while he was reaching for Chr— for Kirk’s butt with the other hand. Spock’s expression was almost unbearably smug.

Fuck, Zach thought. Fuck.

*

A few days later, they had another rare weekend off, and Zach invited Chris to his house. Chris agreed eagerly, and Zach couldn’t help hoping that Chris wanted more than pizza, beer, and a movie. This time, their castmates didn’t even try to persuade them to tag along to a party.

“Let us know when the honeymoon is over,” Zoe joked.

To Zach’s shock, Chris didn’t deny or confirm anything. He just lowered his head with a bashful smile and rubbed his shoulder under his shirt, leaving Zach to come up with a suitable retort.

“Baby,” Zach said, his heart pounding. He really needed to make Chris use words to tell him what he wanted. This was getting ridiculous. “We haven’t even picked out the cake yet. But don’t worry, Zoe, when we go testing, we’ll invite you.”

Zoe just laughed, and told them to have a good time. Her soft look, however, conveyed clearly how glad she was that Zach was in a better frame of mind. And he was. The sharp grief of separation had faded to a dull ache. And today he could only think of Chris, hoping he’d want to play again, hoping that perhaps he’d want to do even more than play.

But when Chris finally stood in front of him that evening, Zach could only burst out laughing. “Whatever happened to you?!”

Chris, bizarrely attired in black jeggings and a black-and-white cow pattern t-shirt, rolled his eyes. “Comfortable clothes happened to me, Zachary,” he said. “You know, like clothes suitable for ...” He stretched luxuriously, like the human version of a blue-eyed tuxedo kitten, but trailed off as he took in Zach’s tight white jeans and his metal-studded, leather-adorned designer sweatshirt. “... having fun,” Chris finished the sentence and winked at Zach.

Fuck, Zach thought. Fuck.

The pizza was good, and the movie was fun, but Zach couldn’t help noticing how Chris was just a bit antsy. Now and again he seemed on the edge of saying something, opening his mouth and raising his hands. But in the end he always just licked his lips and pulled and picked at the soft fabric of his cow-pattern shirt.

“That’s how you stretch out your shirts, Christopher,” Zach said, stacking their empty plates together. “That, and your glasses, always stuck in your collar.”

“You do that, too, asshole,” Chris complained and abruptly fell silent again, obviously preoccupied by whatever was going on in his mind.

Come on, Chris, Zach thought. You gotta give me something to work with here. I can’t just ...

In the kitchen, Zach leaned against the counter and almost groaned in frustration. Chris had to talk to him before they could take this any further. But maybe, maybe Zach could provide an opening for the conversation they needed to have ...

“Want some ice cream?” he yelled in the general direction of the living room.

“Sure,” Chris replied. “Vanilla?”

Zach almost snorted. If things went his way, “vanilla” was not on the menu tonight. Still, he got out a pint of Vanilla Caramel Fudge for Chris, and Greek Cherry Garcia for himself. While he filled up an elegant, triangular bowl for himself, he plopped Chris’ scoops on a simple, flat plate. Next, he pulled a long-stemmed ice cream spoon out of the drawer and stuck it into his ice cream. For Chris, however, he didn’t get a spoon.

When he returned to the living room, he hesitated in the doorway. Was that too much, too soon? But even as he wavered, Chris was sliding down from the sofa, relief clearly visible on his face. Zach walked around the coffee table and put the plate on the floor with shaky hand. When the porcelain clinked on the hardwood, he heard Chris heave a huge sigh. The sound triggered the strangest flurry of butterflies in his stomach. His heart pounding, he went to the sofa and picked up one of the fat pillows.

“Here.” He placed the pillow on the ground in front of Chris. “Be ...” He swallowed hard as he brushed a hand through Chris’ bristly hair. “Be a good kitten for me.”

Zach sat down on the sofa and watched Chris licking up his Vanilla Fudge in fascination, while his own ice cream slowly melted. Chris was kneeling with his palms flat on the floor left and right from the plate, his head dipping down to the plate and coming back up in an eager rhythm. His pink tongue darted out and slid across the ice cream. Then he raised his head a little and licked his lips. Only to lower his head again, licking daintily at his dessert once more. As a cat, Zach realized, Chris was an incredibly neat and unbearably cute eater. And the way his ass bobbed up and down in the same rhythm as his head ... Zach had read that pet play didn’t necessarily translate into sex play. But damn it if he wasn’t hard already. Fuck. To cool down, Zach turned to his own ice cream and quickly gulped it down. When he put his bowl away, he realized that Chris was done and had turned around on the pillow, facing Zach, his hands flat on the floor again, next to each other, and right in front of his knees. The position made his biceps bulge and emphasized the width of his shoulders. He was gazing at Zach with a strangely tranquil expression in his too blue eyes. Zach’s stomach fluttered, and he took a deep breath. Time to talk.

“Christopher,” he said firmly. “I need you back here with me now.”

Chris blinked slowly, almost as if he was coming out of a trance and shook himself. “Okay,” he whispered. His posture relaxed and tensed at the same time.

Nervously, Zach raked his fingers through his too short hair. “Chris,” he said, pitching his voice low and hopefully calming, “you need to tell me what you want here before we do anything else. With words. I need to know what you want and what your limits are.” Chris stared at him in silence, and Zach could see that his eyes were brimming with tears. Zach couldn’t tell why from his expression, if he felt humiliated or just exposed or ... “Chris,” he repeated softly. If he’d taken one thing away from his research it was that this conversation had to happen before anything else could happen. If he lov— if he cared for his partner. “You need to talk to me.”

“I just,” Chris started and shrugged. Nervously, he scrubbed his palms over his thighs. “I just I kind of like being a cat, okay? Sometimes being me – being human fucking sucks. Sometimes I just need to get the hell out of my head.”

“Okay,” Zach said. “What else?”

Chris licked his lips. Such a perfectly feline gesture, Zach thought. Adorable. He smiled. For some reason that was the wrong thing to do. Chris’ tears suddenly spilled over. But he didn’t look away. Chris kept staring at Zach, his cheeks wet and flushed. “I just,” he said, his voice barely audible, “I just want to belong to you.”

Based on his research and Chris’ behavior the last time they spent the weekend together, Zach had almost expected something like that. But reading about um, power exchange in kinky relationships was one thing. Having a friend kneeling before you and begging you to ... own him was quite another matter. At the same time, Zach experienced again this crazy rush of ... of something. Power. But also devastating tenderness. Fear, too. And lust. In that second, Zach wanted Chris more than he’d ever wanted another man in his life.

“And if you belong to me, would you ...” He hesitated. For as long as they’d been friends, he still didn’t know for sure if Chris had any desire for or experience with gay sex. “Would you want to have sex with me?”

Again Chris licked his lips. More slowly this time. “Yes,” he said softly, dropping his gaze as if whatever he’d glimpsed in Zach’s face was too heavy for him to bear. “I want you so much, Zach,” Chris whispered. “You have no idea.”

Heat pooled low in Zach’s stomach. Their last weekend together and the bulge visible in Chris’ pants right now provided at least some clues. He wanted nothing so much as Chris in his arms, naked. However, there were a few more questions he needed answers for, before the rest of the night could unfold. Zach suspected what the answer to his next question would be, but he still had to hear it from Chris. “Have you ever had sex with a man before?”

Chris flushed even more, down his neck, probably down to his nipples. He shook his head, his shoulders slumping. As if his inexperience was a personal shortcoming. “Once, almost,” he said, his fingers digging painfully into the tight fabric of his pants. “But it didn’t work out.”

Zach already knew that Chris didn’t do casual sex – hence the string of random girlfriends – and that he’d been a very late bloomer. Add to that the constant pressure Chris was under regarding his image and his sexual orientation pretty much since the very beginning of his career, Zach was not surprised at his lack of experience. If anything, his heart ached for Chris.

“Two more things,” Zach said, trying to focus. “Limits. You need to tell me what you don’t want to do. And you need safewords.”

“I do?” Chris gasped. His head jerked up, his expression giddy with relief.

“You most certainly do,” Zach said. As if he’d ever say no to Chris ... well, within reasonable limits.

Chris blinked. It was painfully obvious that this was not the outcome of this conversation he’d expected. He sucked in his lips thoughtfully for a moment. “Nothing gross,” he said with a grimace. “No, um...” He fluttered his hands uncertainly. “Cruelty against animals?”

“As if I’d ever.” Zach rolled his eyes. “Safewords?”

“Noah for no, Skunk for slow.”

Zach couldn’t help laughing. “So you’ve given this some thought,” he said. “Good. That’s good, Chris.”

Chris ducked his head, his lips quirking with that surprised, bashful smile he always got when someone whose opinion mattered to Chris said something positive about him. Oh, baby ... Zach thought. You really do need someone to take care of you, don’t you? Zach took a deep breath. “Oh, and – if I need you to come back to the real world, I’ll address you as Christopher. Is that okay for you?”

“Yeah,” Chris nodded. “I mean, that kind of worked already, didn’t it?”

“Yes, it did,” Zach said, smiling. “Is that enough for today? Or do you ...” He hesitated, not quite sure of the new vocabulary yet. “... want to play a little?”

Chris stared at him again, blue eyes incredulous. “You’re really – you’re really into this?” he asked. And very softly, almost as an afterthought, he added, “You really want me?”

“Oh, come on up here,” Zach said, pulling Chris to his feet and into his arms. “What do you think?” He nudged Chris’ chin up. “I would very much like to kiss you now,” he murmured.

“Go for it,” Chris replied, his eyes fluttering shut.

Chris’ lips were warm and firm and just a little rough from all that nervous licking he’d subjected them to tonight. He tasted sweet, of course, like vanilla fudge, but also spicy, and Zach couldn’t tell if that was the lingering aroma of the pizza or just Chris’ natural taste. It was good, though. Delicious. Zach put his hand around Chris’ neck to guide and deepen the kiss, and Chris melted into him with a sigh, as if he could barely stay upright just because Zach was kissing him. That was too much temptation to resist. Zach nipped at his lower lip, then sucked at it, before he licked into the corners of Chris’ mouth, before he pushed in, and Chris just opened to him, let him have his lips, his mouth, his tongue. Until Chris moaned, and then purred. The vibrations tickled Zach’s lips and his tongue with the strangest sensations that seemed to travel straight to his cock. They ended up laughing against each other’s mouths. When they finally broke apart, they were breathless and thrilled.

“That was ...” Zach shook his head, smiling. We should have done that years ago, he thought. Why haven’t we done that years ago? How could I exist not knowing the taste of your laugh? The sound of your— how can you even purr?!

“Yeah,” Chris said, still winded, his eyes slightly crossed. “Yeah. That was ...”

“And that’s enough for today,” Zach decided. Chris looked wrecked, overwhelmed. The way he got when he was spaced out with jet lag.

“But ...”

But we can cuddle,” Zach said firmly. He drew Chris down on the couch with him. “Look, this is new for both of us. And the way you get ... We have to take it slowly.”

Chris frowned at him, as if he couldn’t decide if he liked Zach taking charge like that or hated it. Zach laughed softly. That made Chris only frown harder. Of course: kittens were not exactly known as the most obedient pets in the universe. But definitely as some of the sweetest. Because that trick had worked so well before, he placed his hand around the back of Chris’ neck again. This time, Chris’ reaction to his touch was not quite as pronounced, but Zach could still feel clearly how a measure of agitation and tension drained from Chris’ body.

“Come on,” he murmured, tugging Chris closer. “Curl up, kitten.”

That was apparently the right thing to say, because Chris did just that, snuggling into Zach’s arms with a contented purring sound.

“How do you even do that?” Zach asked. “Purring, I mean. It sounds so real.”

“Hmmm.” Chris sighed. “Easy. That old movie with Louis Gossett Jr. Enemy Mine. If you watch it like, twenty, thirty times when you’re five or six, you learn how to purr – without any effort at all.”

Chapter Text

Zach didn’t know who’d come up with the idea of having an “unwrap” party. Probably Simon. While Zach was waiting for Chris to show up, he had stationed himself at the bar. From that vantage point, he surveyed the room.

Whoever had declared the “unwrap” party had also instigated an “appropriate” dress code to go with the motto. As a result, Simon was dressed in a kilt made of Saran wrap. Cho was wrapped into a bathrobe he’d accessorized with bunny slippers, and Alice was swathed in a fluffy yellow towel. Zoe, almost conservative in a sari-style gown, pushed a margarita in Zach’s direction. Next to her, Anton had armed himself with tequila shots, one for each hand. His statement concerning the party, life, the universe, and everything was black latex, and Zach couldn’t help appreciating the view. His own outfit – a play on Roman togas with white pants, tunic top, and a crimson, pallium-like wrap – wasn’t half as enticing.

“Cheers,” Zoe said and emphatically raised her glass of orange juice. Zach was a little surprised that she’d come to the party at all. He knew the baby had been difficult lately, waking Zoe half a dozen times each night. But maybe that was why – all new moms needed a break sometime.

So Zach took a deep swallow and groaned with appreciation at the chilled, sour bite of the drink. “Cheers indeed.”

The fact that they had somehow managed to survive the first half of shooting the anniversary movie without actually shooting someone was definitely worth a celebration.

Principal photography under Orci was a pain. The man was proving himself to be a paranoid perfectionist. He was getting on everyone’s nerves that way, but he was especially prone to taking those tendencies out on Chris. That dynamic didn’t surprise Zach – birds of a feather do flock together – but he didn’t like it. Chris already put too much pressure on himself without undue assistance. He didn’t need anyone else harassing him. Zach still wasn’t sure if Orci was doing it on purpose. But Zach was paying even more attention to Chris now than before, and Orci was definitely pushing all of Chris’ most sensitive buttons on a daily basis. Zach scowled at the sycophants gathered around the table at the back of the room where the director held court.

And of course Chris had managed to sneak into the club during the few seconds Zach had focused his attention on Zoe. Chris was standing in front of Orci’s table now, a charming smile painfully plastered on his face, his right hand nervously clutching his shoulder under his shirt. His shirt. His golden, Kirk-style wrap-around shirt. That looked like Zach would have to peel it off Chris’ body. His mouth went dry. Meanwhile, Chris nodded too often at whatever Orci was pontificating about. He dropped his hand from his shoulder only to rub both palms over his thighs. Thighs clad in tight, black pants. The fabric looked soft, like velvet. Like fur.

And if Chris didn’t come to the bar within two minutes, Zach would feel compelled to retrieve him. Zach frowned. He wanted to go and forcibly drag Chris away from Orci and his cronies. And that was not his style. Not at all. He’d never felt like that about a partner before they’d even had sex. No, he corrected himself. He’d never felt like that about any partner before, period. Not merely attentive, but protective. Possessive.

I don’t really want to own Chris, Zach thought, trying to ignore the thrill that surged through him at the idea. But of course that was exactly what Chris had asked for. To belong to him. It’s just because we haven’t had a chance to get around to fucking yet, he told himself. Orci’s crazy early and ridiculously late calls had made damn sure of that. And the dynamics between him and Chris were too complex for frantic, dirty handjobs and blowjobs in the trailer. At least at this stage of their new relationship.

With a start, Zach realized that both Anton and Zoe were staring at him. Zoe was smiling; Anton appeared mildly confused. And Orci was still talking down to Chris, whose attempts to maintain a bright and cheerful façade were visibly failing by now.

“Excuse me for a moment,” Zach snapped and put his half-empty glass down with a clank.

A moment later he was staring down his nose at Orci. “Roberto,” he said softly, trying not to grind his teeth, “I am truly devastated to interrupt your ... symposium? Confabulation? Powwow? Palaver? I know just how much you appreciate our input, but there is a beautiful lady waiting for our Captain over there.” He turned to smile at Zoe over at the bar while putting an arm around Chris’ shoulders in a sideways bro hug. “I’m sure you understand.”

Chris glanced at him for a second, relief and more intimate emotions too clearly and too painfully visible, before he averted his eyes with another forced smile. Not for the first time Zach wondered how Chris could even survive in Hollywood. When he was not in front of a camera or up on a stage, Chris couldn’t act if his life depended on it. Orci met Zach’s eyes with a sly smirk. “Of course, of course. Needs must, et cetera.”

“Indeed,” Zach said. He didn’t manage to keep his voice quite warm enough. At least he had resisted the increasing temptation to wipe that supercilious sneer from Orci’s visage.

He pulled Chris away from Orci and toward the bar. That Chris simply let him, without smiles and jokes or fist-bumping and shoulder-jostling was strange, and that – that lack of reaction – sparked a realization. If Zach was irritated at how little time they’d had together since that momentous conversation a few weeks ago, how must Chris feel? Who’d exposed so much of his innermost self that night. Left alone, Zach thought. Abandoned.

Zach stopped walking and drew Chris aside into window niche, where they could pretend to admire the view of L.A. at night. He had to be careful to keep his arm around Chris at a level appropriate for merely good friends and colleagues. But he could surreptitiously stroke his fingers up and down Chris’ side in slow, intimate movements. Chris’ shuddering sigh went straight to his cock.

“My beautiful kitten,” Zach murmured. “Ready to go home?”

“Oh god.” Chris closed his eyes and sucked in a tight breath. “Please.”

*

The drive back to Zach’s house was quiet. The flickering lights of the city and the traffic around them seemed to illustrate the flashes of anticipation that surged through Zach. They had three days to themselves now, and he’d done his best to prepare for the occasion.

Finally they were inside, and Zach had Chris in his arms. After years of friendship, Chris’ body was familiar in so many ways. Zach had measured the solid strength of his back with hugs. He’d tested the resistance of his muscular arms on film sets and with friendly tussling. Dancing together in dark clubs, he’d framed his narrow hips on more than one occasion. Even his scent was familiar. But now the barely explored intimacy between them turned Chris into a stranger whose body he had yet to learn. Because now Zach was allowed to taste his lips and his mouth. Now he was permitted to grip Chris’ ass with both hands and to slide his palms over hot skin and to thumb over hard nipples. He had Chris against the door, their hard cocks pressed together, before he stopped to take a deep breath.

“What do you want, Christopher?” he asked. “Shall I take you to bed the way we are now, or do you want to play?” Gently, he stroked Chris’ temples and cupped his face to kiss him lightly. “Whatever you want, baby.”

Chris’ eyes were almost black now, only a thin circle of sapphire blazed around his dilated pupils. His lips were red and swollen; at this time of the day stubble burn was inevitable. But Chris didn’t seem to mind. He licked his lips as if he was savoring the burning sensation. His scent, musky with sweat, woodsy with perfume, only spiked Zach’s arousal.

“Play,” Chris begged. “Please. Zach, please. I ... The last two weeks—” He shook his head as if in a daze. “I need ...”

“Okay,” Zach murmured, petting Chris’ hair from temple to neck. “Hush, it’s okay.” He kissed Chris tenderly on the mouth before drawing back. “Your safewords?”

Chris licked his lips. “Noah for no. Skunk for slow.”

“Good.” Zach smiled. “Now,” he added more firmly, “I think we have already established that it’s best if kittens don’t wear clothes. And that they don’t talk.”

Zach took a step backwards. He straightened his shoulders and crossed his arms in front him. Waiting with a pounding heart and his stomach fluttering.

Chris was still leaning against the front door with his back, as if his knees were almost too weak to keep standing. A shudder passed through his body. Then, with trembling hands, he reached for the hem of his golden shirt. Zach had been right. The shirt was so tight that Chris had to peel it off inch by inch. The velvety pants were no better. At least the black boxer briefs were quickly pulled off, and Chris stood naked in front of him. His cock was flushed in the same hue as his nipples, almost strawberry red with arousal, and already pre-come was spilling in thick, pearlescent drops from his slit.

His own dick pulsed inside his pants. Making out with Chris pinned under his body against the door, and now watching Chris strip like that left Zach so hard he ached. But he’d promised Chris to play with him, so he’d have to endure a while longer.

“So beautiful, little one,” Zach said softly. “Come here, be good for me.” He held out his hand. At shoulder level – he didn’t think he could deal with Chris on all fours on the floor. Not yet, at least. On the sofa, or on the bed, yes. But not on the floor. Thankfully, Chris didn’t seem to object to remaining on his feet. He stepped forward and pressed his forehead against Zach’s palm. “Oh yes,” Zach murmured. “Just like that.” He brushed his fingers through Chris’ hair.

Chris swallowed hard and cleared his throat. He tried to purr, but apparently he was still too tense to produce those relaxed, rolling sounds of pleasure. All he managed was a harsh, breathy rasp. “Oh, sweetie.” Zach nudged Chris’ chin up and kissed him gently, while he rested his hands on his hips. He kissed Chris on the forehead, on the nose, on the lips, on the chin. He smiled when he could feel Chris softening under his touch. “Kitten kisses really are the best kisses.”

Then he steeled himself, inhaled – and picked Chris up. Thankfully, Chris was too startled to flail, and he was a good deal thinner than he’d been for the last movie. Still, by the time Zach reached his bedroom, he was breathing hard and sweating profusely. He dumped Chris on his bed, switched on the light on the nightstand, and collapsed next to him. He needed a moment to catch his breath before he could brush damp strands of hair away from his face and turn to Chris. His new kitten looked so shocked that Zach burst out laughing.

“People do that with kittens, you know,” he said solemnly. “People pick kittens up and carry them around and put them down wherever they want.” Then he groaned and stretched, popping the kinks in his spine. “Though perhaps not so much with heavy giant monster kittens like you.”

At that, Chris flushed all over, a full-body blush. Beyond cute. That made it easier to stay in character, to tickle Chris’ belly button and scritch the sparse trail of body hair on his stomach below it. “Maybe we’ll have to come up with another solution for how I can put you where I want you,” Zach said softly. He was watching Chris carefully. “If you need Noah or Skunk at any time, just say so. It’s fine.” He raised his hand to cup his face to emphasize that reminder. “Just fine.”

For a long moment Chris stared at him, as if he was contemplating why Zach was reminding him of his safewords again. Then he rolled onto his back. Presumably that was his feline equivalent of a shrug. His cock, still hard and leaking, rested heavy on his stomach. Zach couldn’t wait to get his hands on him. But first things first.

“So there’s the problem of how I control a big a cat like you,” Zach repeated. “And of course the city council has regulations for that, too. If I want to keep you, I have to follow those rules.”

He trailed his fingers around Chris’ muscular neck. Then he leaned over and opened the top drawer of his nightstand. His heart was pounding and his hand was shaking. He was wondering if he was moving too fast, if this was too much, too soon. But he needed to prove to Chris that this was not, could not be, a casual arrangement for him.

Perhaps he also still needed to apologize. To show how much he regretted following the advice of their publicists years ago, when they’d agreed not to wear the bracelets they’d bought for each other as a gesture of friendship in public. They hadn’t worn the bracelets again. Not even in private. He knew he’d hurt Chris with his ready compliance at the time, and badly. Even though he’d done it much more to protect Chris than himself.

Maybe it was a test, too. To find out if he could really play this kind of game. Because of course he’d had doubts since the last time. Every time they kissed sweetly, almost chastely in the trailer after filming, every time they made out on the couch stopping just before going all the way. He’d wondered how much he really wanted this, how much Chris really needed this. But now, stretched out on his bed, still fully clothed, while Chris lay naked and needy next to him, he craved this all over again, this strange, intense intimacy.

“You see,” Zach said, “cats are required to wear collars here, too. Not just dogs.” Zach dangled the blue collar just above Chris’ face. “So are you going to be a good kitten and wear your collar?” He raised the collar a little higher and held it there, waiting for Chris’ reaction.

Chris shuddered. Again. He trembled all over, and his cock twitched and hardened even more. Zach expelled a shaky breath. His heart was racing, and he could feel beads of sweat forming on his forehead again. How could this – just this – holding a collar above Chris’ naked body – turn him on like that, turn him ... inside out, and his whole world upside down?

Chris stared at him, with the intent, unfathomable gaze of any cat. Then he licked his lips, raised his hand and batted the collar. Just like a kitten would cautiously nudge a new toy.

Oh God. Zach swallowed hard. “You’re such a good kitten,” he murmured. “So good.” Carefully, he petted Chris’ stomach, moved lower, stroked the hot, silky length of his shaft, cupped his balls for a moment and just held them. Chris didn’t move, but his breath was coming faster and harsher as more pre-come welled up and spilled over the head of his cock. When Zach looked at Chris’ face, his eyes were crossing and his lips were parted in a mix of pleasure and painful anticipation. Damn, he was already so close. His own dick stirred again, too, the respite of physical exertion apparently over. If he wanted to fuck Chris tonight, he’d better get a move on. Zach pushed himself upright until he was sitting next to Chris.

He opened the clasp of the collar. “I had it custom-made for you. It’s the softest leather I’ve ever touched. Feels more like velvet than leather, really. So soft. It’s cerulean blue, of course. There’s ... a ring on it for a leash, too.” He swallowed dryly. “Some cats do that, you know? Walk on a leash. There’s an internet famous kitten that does that. I’ve seen pictures.”

Carefully, he laid the collar out on the bed next to Chris’s neck. Then he slid his left hand under Chris’ neck. His skin felt hot to the touch, and for a moment he just held him, held Chris’ neck in the palm of his hand. In spite of still being fully clothed, Zach shivered now, too. To see Chris laid out for him like that, so naked and trusting. Heat rushed through Zach’s body. Power. Desire. And a tenderness so extreme he had to blink away tears. Steadying Chris’ head with his right hand, he pulled the closest end of the collar towards him.

“All right,” Zach whispered. “I’m going to put it on you now.” He picked up both ends of the collar and brought them together at the front of Chris’ throat. Chris stared at him, his eyes feverish bright, his lips parted. He lay completely still, unmoving, even holding his breath. Carefully, Zach slipped the end of the collar into the clasp and pulled on it, until the fit seemed right. Zach slipped two fingers between collar and neck to test the width, then loosened it a little bit again. He’d read that it was supposed to be tight enough that Chris would feel it. But of course it had to be loose enough that it wouldn’t chafe or affect Chris’ breathing. When he was satisfied, he fastened the collar.

He leaned back and drew a deep, shuddering breath. His fingers still rested on the collar and on Chris’ neck. Zach could feel his frantic pulse. His eyes were so wide and so dark now that he could barely make out the blue of the iris anymore. Zach lowered his head and kissed Chris lightly on the lips.

“Breathe, Chris. Breathe.” He moved one hand to Chris’ stomach and rested his palm just above his belly button. “Be a good kitten for me. My kitten.”

Chris sucked in a harsh breath, gasped, and shivered helplessly under his hand.

“Breathe,” Zach repeated sternly. For a while they stayed just like this, Chris on his back and Zach sitting next to him, reminding Chris how to breathe and gently rubbing his stomach. Finally Chris curled up on his side. He reached up and started stroking the collar and his neck, again and again. His expression was indescribable. Serene. Completely enthralled by that slim length of leather around his neck.

Zach used the opportunity to undress quickly. When he was naked, he slid into bed behind Chris and put his arm around his waist, pulling him close. He tried to avoid pressing into the hot crack of Chris’ ass. But just to feel Chris’ naked skin against his cock was nearly enough to make him come. He needed a few moments to get himself under control. Reminding himself that sex might not happen at all tonight if he wasn’t careful finally did the trick. He’d known already that Chris really lost himself in this game. His research had warned him that a collar could have a strong effect on the submissive partner in any case. It was his responsibility to make sure they didn’t do more than Chris could handle. That thought sent another flurry of excitement through him. How could responsibility be so utterly erotic? How could it be so devastating and delicious to hold all of his lover’s desires so completely in his hands? Zach shook his head. There’d be time enough to sort out all the psychological implications later. Now he needed to check on Chris.

Zach slid his hand down Chris’ stomach. Yes, he was still aroused, hot and hard, and slick with pre-come. For a moment he wondered if he should let Chris be for a while longer and then break things off like last time. He bit down on his lower lip, contemplating. But then he shook his head and gently rolled Chris onto his back. He reached for his hands and pulled them away from the collar. Zach wondered if he was doing this right. But just like a real cat, Chris came without an instruction manual.

“Chris?” he asked, stroking up and down his sides, rubbing his arms. “Can you hear me? Christopher.” After a moment, Chris blinked up at him. Zach could see the effort it took him to focus. He took Chris’ hands. “I need to know what you want to do now, Chris. If you want to just stay like this, and then we go to sleep, or ...” He shrugged and laid his palm on Chris’ cock. “... if you want more. If you want more, I need you to tell me that.”

“Zach.” Chris smiled at him. A blissful, peaceful smile. He looked as if he was just waking up from a deep, deep slumber. “I’m not supposed to talk.”

“When I call you Christopher, you are,” Zach reminded him. “We talked about that, remember? Sometimes I need to check in with you. Like now.”

“You need your own safewords,” Chris said. “Of course.”

Zach frowned. That had never occurred to him. But it made sense. And they’d already agreed on how to get Chris out of his headspace. “I guess I can use Christopher for slow – and talking – and your full name for stop?”

“Christopher Whitelaw Pine?” Chris laughed. “Are you serious? Isn’t that, like, a mouthful?”

“Since I won’t be the one on all fours in this scenario, I do think I’ll manage. But in a pinch I should think just ‘Pine’ will do.”

“True.” Chris’ face crinkled into a woozy grin. “I’m ... wow ... I feel so ...”

“Good?” Zach felt almost light-headed with relief. He lay back down, and Chris turned onto his side so that they lay face to face. He put his hand on Chris’ hip and let their legs tangle. It was good to have Chris back.

“Yeah,” Chris said softly. “Really good. I ... I can’t describe it.” He frowned. “I’ll try.” He reached out to brush his fingertips through the irregular patch of hair on Zach’s chest. “’m so jealous,” Chris grumbled. “I’m the kitten here, and you get all the fur.”

Zach snorted. “But you’re doing all the mischief, so I think we’re even.”

Chris mrrped and winked at him, but he was still too dopey to be entirely convincing. “It’s like, I’ve been feeling so ...”

Then Chris hesitated, trying to find the right words to convey what was going on inside him. He didn’t really need to, though. His expression was completely unguarded, and as he was ruminating how to explain himself, an emptiness seeped into his eyes that Zach recognized from too many pictures of Chris during the last year.

“... kind of adrift, I guess,” Chris said finally. He shrugged, a strange gesture while lying down.

Lost, Zach thought. Not just adrift.

Chris raised his hands to the collar again, stroking it with uncertain fingers. He blushed, a beautiful crimson flush that suffused not just his face but his body, right down to his nipples, “It’s like it makes the world slide into focus,” he said slowly. “Like a huge weight’s suddenly gone.”

Zach shifted toward Chris and kissed him. Warm lips, firm pressure. He slid his hands up, trailing the collar with his fingers, then covering Chris’ hands with his palms. Heat pooled in his stomach. You’re mine now, he thought. Suddenly he knew he had to have Chris tonight, had to fuck him, and to feel his ass pressed against his body.

“I really want to fuck you,” he murmured into Chris’ ear. “I want you on all fours, and I want to fuck you.” He drew back so he could Chris’ face. “What do you want, Christopher? I need you to tell me what you want.”

Chris stared at him with feverish eyes, his lips swollen from kissing, wet and pink. “I want you. Want – want to be yours. Want you to—” He swallowed hard. “—want you to take me.” His blush deepened, and he flinched away.

But Zach cupped Chris’ face between his palms and forced him to meet his eyes. “Do not be ashamed, Chris. There’s no more shame in this than in any other sexual act. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to bottom. With anything you want.” He kissed Chris again, hard this time, teeth and tongue, taking his mouth the way he intended to take his body in the very near future. He hadn’t been the first for anyone since college, and at that time he’d had so little experience himself that he wasn’t quite sure that counted. To find himself in this position now with Chris of all people went to his head – and straight to his cock.

“Up,” he commanded, “on all fours. Lean on your arms. Yeah, like this.” He pulled Chris into position, spreading his legs a little further, making sure his stance was secure enough that he wouldn’t collapse at the first thrust. The low, warm light of the lamp on his nightstand was enough to showcase Chris’ balls, so heavy between his thighs, and to illuminate his cock, the way it strained against his stomach, hard enough to make the veins stand out, and beautifully thick.

Although he was tempted to rub himself into Chris’ ass, he forced himself to pause. With both hands he reached for Chris’ hips, gripping his waist and stroking his sides in firm reassurance. “Relax,” he murmured, and pressed a kiss at the top of Chris’ crack, before he pulled a bottle of lube, a condom, and a small towel from the top drawer of his nightstand.

When Zach spread Chris’ cheeks, he groaned. How often had he forcibly reined in his imagination when it came to Chris’ ass, so plump and perfect. Chris had also obviously extended his cosmetic attentions to his ass. He was perfectly smooth, his skin soft and clean. Appreciatively, Zach kissed down his crack, sucking and biting, greedy for the feel and taste of Chris’ ass. When he was licking circles around Chris’ hole, he noticed with pleasure that Chris was trembling with desire. Shame and nervousness had passed. “Fucking gorgeous,” he murmured into Chris’ ass. “That’s what you are.”

On another day, he’d gladly spend an hour just licking and teasing Chris. But by now he was so hard he could barely think. And this – he wanted it to be good for Chris. No, not just good. Gorgeous. Because Chris was gorgeous. A beautiful, wonderful, gorgeous man.

“Don’t move,” he ordered and squirted the lube directly over Chris’ hole. Chris jerked and squealed, but when Zach brushed his index finger over the rim, Chris quivered under his touch. Excellent. “You’re gonna be so good,” he murmured. “I just know it.” Slowly, he pushed his finger into Chris’ body. He smiled at how easily he slid inside, how Chris only sighed, and instinctively pushed back against his hand, begging for more. Chris took the second finger just as easily, and only groaned deeply at the third. Zach remembered dimly how taking a third finger had been difficult for him when he’d tried bottoming as a younger man, and he marveled at how relaxed and trusting Chris was. And silent – the only noises he made were whimpers and gasps whenever Zach rubbed the pad of a finger over his prostate.

“Okay,” he said finally, drawing back. He wiped his fingers on the towel, and took a deep shuddering breath. He was hard enough again that he’d come within seconds if he wasn’t careful. He studied Chris, on all fours on his bed, his ass raised invitingly, the blue collar bright around his neck, and reduced to desperate, mewling noises. That wasn’t helping him to stay in control at all. Zach brushed back the damp strands of his damn Spock fringe, and quickly rolled on the condom.

“Now, Chris, now.” He pressed against Chris’ ass. “Just ... relax. Trust me.” He spread Chris’ cheeks, added a generous squirt of lube, and lined himself up.

“I do,” Chris said, his voice hoarse, as if he barely remembered what language was. “Please, Zach.”

On an impulse, Zach reached for Chris’ neck and laid his palm over the collar, pressing it into Chris’ skin. “You’re mine,” he said, even as he pressed into Chris’ hole, slowly pushing in against the natural resistance of Chris’ body. He shuddered, his stomach twisting at this uncharacteristic streak of possessiveness. But he couldn’t stop himself. “You’re mine now.”

Zach leaned forward over Chris’ back and slid his hand around Chris’ neck. He was careful not exert any pressure. He just held the collar between Chris’ skin and his hand, keeping them both aware of its presence around Chris’ neck.

“Mine,” he murmured and bent to kiss Chris’ shoulder. And then he had to thrust. Had to thrust or explode. He couldn’t control himself a second longer. With a growl he ceded control to his instincts, to lust and desire and the need to possess the willing body underneath him. Holding Chris’ hips with a bruising grip he pushed deeper into his body, harder, until his balls slapped against Chris’, and Chris just took it, let him fucking own his body, just crying out with pleasure every time he got the angle right. Soon Zach was drenched in sweat, but he just kept going. The sensations of Chris, tight and hot around his cock, warm and smooth under his hands, were too delicious to stop.

At last Chris’ whimpers turned into words: “Zach – Zach – Zach ... please ...”

“Yeah,” he groaned, leaning low over Chris’ back again. “I’ve got you.” He shifted to the left so he could reach more comfortably around Chris’ body. He realized that Chris hadn’t even tried to touch himself. That knowledge sent a thrill through his body that pushed him to the point of no return. He closed his fist around Chris’ dick and started jerking. A moment or a century later, Chris cried out. Zach slammed into him one more time, before his balls tightened against Chris’ and he came, too, a heartbeat after he felt the hot, sticky spurts of Chris’ jizz all over his hand and arm.

Zach collapsed over Chris’ back, pressing him into the mattress with his whole body weight. His heart was thundering to the point he could feel every heartbeat pounding into Chris’ skin.

“Chris,” he gasped, “oh, god Chris.” He pressed a kiss against Chris’ shoulder, slick with sweat and trembling under his lips. But that wasn’t enough. He still needed more. He couldn’t help himself, Biting down, hard, he shoved his already softening dick deep into Chris’ ass once more, until Chris cried out again and his cock jerked one more time in Zach’s hand.

Zach felt dazed to the point of delirium as he pulled out of Chris’ body as gently as he could. He got rid of the condom, and pulled out the package with baby wipes from the top drawer of his nightstand. As tenderly as he could, he cleaned Chris up. And fuck, just looking at Chris’ swollen, flushed entrance made his dick twitch all over again. But he helped Chris to turn around, and gently wiped his cock and his stomach, too. The one drop of come that had somehow made it to Chris’ chin, he licked off.

Trembling with the effort, he pulled Chris into his arms and held him close. Chris was still too overwhelmed to speak, but he clung to Zach and nestled into his arms like an overgrown kitten. He also kept tugging at Zach’s hand, and at first Zach didn’t understand what he wanted at all. When realization hit, Zach flushed with a giddy heat. But he laid his hand over Chris’ collar again, and this time, he gently hooked his fingers around it.

“You’re mine now,” Zach promised, and for the first time that sentence didn’t feel wrong at all, but right – absolutely perfect, in fact. He held Chris close, their softening cocks smashed together, their heartbeats and their breathing in sync.

When Chris somehow managed to draw enough breath to purr, Zach couldn’t help himself, he started burbling, giggling, laughing softly, until he was reduced to pressing helpless, quivering kisses all over Chris’ face and body.

Minutes later, Zach had to catch his breath. For a long moment, he just stared at Chris’ face, speechless with happiness – at his eyes, even bluer than the collar around his neck, so wide and so happy, at his lips, so pink and plump, with a smile of utter bliss – and then he had to kiss Chris all over again.

“You’re purrfect,” he murmured at last. “Just purrfect. And now you’re mine.”

Chapter Text

Finally they were back in L.A. – if only for two weeks between legs of the press tour – and hanging out at Chris’ place. They’d had a week in New York not too long ago, but that had been essentially devoted to lavishing attention on Zach’s beasts. This was the first time in months they’d have some real downtime together, with only one event to attend the following weekend.

So here they were, stretched out on Chris’ enormous new sofa, watching some kind of cooking show Zach didn’t even know the title of. It was an episode about creativity in the kitchen, about experimenting with colors and textures and flavors. Chris was curled up in front of him – and the reason why Zach wasn’t paying attention to the TV show even though it was actually interesting.

Between filming, post-production, the premiere, the anniversary celebrations, and the press tour, they hadn’t had much time to process the development of their relationship. Zach’s normal policy was not to overthink things when he got together with someone new. However, the ... the special aspects of his relationship with Chris required more attention than he was used to. No; Chris deserved more consideration than Zach was used to investing at this stage.

Right now, Chris was worn out, stressed out, clingy, and cranky. And Zach didn’t blame him. For an introvert like Chris, the press tour was already a nightmare all on its own. But it was not just schedules that covered twenty-four hours each day, seven days a week, that were getting to Chris. It wasn’t even the fact that they hadn’t had a chance to play in over two months. No, the real issue was that they had decided to keep their relationship private for the time being. Their families and their publicists and managers knew, of course (and were less than thrilled). But apart from that, they’d kept it quiet. Zach still believed that had been the right decision at the time. Not just because of what the resulting media terror would have meant for Chris and for himself, but how the fallout would have affected the whole cast. It wouldn’t have been fair to steal the show of the anniversary tour with their private affairs. Of course it also wasn’t fair how much their current state of limbo cost Chris. He tried to hide it bravely, but Zach could see clearly how it was wearing him down – that he couldn’t hold Zach’s hand on the red carpet, that he couldn’t cuddle into his embrace on the plane, that he had to watch his reactions during interviews even more than during the previous press tours. Especially during the last week Chris had often looked unbearably lost when he thought no one was watching.

Zach wrapped his left arm around Chris’ waist. He didn’t know if he was trying to comfort Chris or himself with the gesture. The warm, solid presence of Chris in his arms definitely did help to ground him, and the comfortable cooking chatter in the background provided just the right amount of white noise to think things through.

So, while the bearded hippie cook on TV glorified organic burrata, Zach considered the inherent imbalance in his relationship with Chris. He had come to terms with his sexual identity a long time ago, Chris was still finding himself. He was already out, Chris was not even in the damn closet. He was used to managing a closeted relationship, Chris was not. At least neither of them had any experience with kinky relationships – so they were even on that account. But Zach was the one in this equation who was supposed to take care of Chris. Who hadn’t acknowledged his inner kitten in weeks now. Who was too stressed and withdrawn to even try and talk to Zach about his worries.

Unobtrusively, Zach studied Chris and wondered if their first evening at home was too soon to offer him the chance to play. Probably. Chris needed to get out of his head, but Zach had no idea if he was mentally in a good place for all-out playing. Maybe a compromise? They knew by now that Chris tended to lose himself more completely when he was naked and collared. Tonight Chris was comfortably dressed in an old, white t-shirt and black fisherman’s pants. The t-shirt was washed thin to the point that Zach couldn’t see just the outline of Chris’ nipples through the stretched-out fabric, but their delicious reddish hue. The pants were wide like a skirt and short, exposing Chris’ delicate ankles and slender calves. He should be comfortable enough to play even dressed. But how to get started? This was more awkward than Zach had anticipated. After the artificial distance they’d kept from one another during the press tour, nothing felt natural anymore. Thinking of Harold was not helpful; Harold was never stressed. Also, if anything, it was Harold’s job to calm Zach down when he was stressed, and not the other way around.

Zach suppressed a sigh. Well, after weeks of too much time together with never enough touching, a bit of cuddling was probably a good start in any case, no matter where it would lead. Zach spread his hand over Chris’ lean stomach. Secretly, he hoped that Chris’ next project would require him to gain a little weight, would allow him to be a little easier on himself.

“How’s my kitten?” Zach asked, a soft invitation.

For a heartbeat, Chris froze, didn’t move, didn’t breathe. Then, as if Zach’s question had finally sunk in, he sighed deeply, more like a moan, really – heavy with relief. With his palm resting on the warm skin and tight muscles of Chris’ stomach, Zach could feel how some of the tension drained from Chris’ body. Good.

“I think I feel like snuggling with my soft, sweet kitten tonight,” Zach murmured. “We haven’t been home in a while, so we need to make up for lost cuddle time.”

He slid his hand under Chris’ flimsy shirt. His fingers found the sparse curls of Chris’ happy trail. Tenderly, he stroked his fingertips up and down the thin line of fuzz that led from Chris’ belly button straight to his cock. But he didn’t go there yet. He wanted to make Chris purr first. So he thumbed along the waistband of Chris’ pants just long enough to acknowledge his straining erection with a brief caress ... and to notice that Chris wasn’t wearing anything but his skin underneath. Then Zach followed the narrow trail of coarse, curly hair upwards again. He circled Chris’ belly button with his index finger, pretending to paint a spiral on his skin. But he resisted the temptation to curl his fingers and tickle Chris. Instead, he mapped Chris’ stomach with gentle touches, from the hard edge of his hipbones to the softer curve of his ribs, over hard muscles and sensitive skin. Then he settled in for a good belly rub. He spread his fingers and pressed his hand against Chris’ stomach, warm and firm. With a regular, comforting rhythm he rubbed Chris’ tummy in endless, soothing circles.

“There,” he said softly. “That’s better. Such a good kitten. I swear, this is one of my favorite things. If cats allow you to rub their bellies, that means they trust you absolutely. To have earned that kind of trust means so much to me.” He lowered his head to press a warm kiss behind Chris’ ear. “I’d never betray such trust. Not ever.”

Chris whimpered under his touch, a small, stifled sound that said more than words and made Zach’s heart ache. At least he was certain now that this was exactly what Chris needed tonight. Tenderness, love, and care. Zach turned Chris around in his arms. At first Chris buried his face against Zach’s chest, breathing harshly, instinctively resisting even greater closeness. Zach waited patiently, holding Chris, and murmuring endearments into his hair. Finally Chris allowed himself to be tugged even closer against Zach’s body, until their legs tangled, until their cocks pressed against each other. They were both hard by now, aching for more.

They’d fucked during the press tour, of course. At first the thrill of the forbidden had added a certain frisson. Stolen kisses in elevators, making out in bathroom stalls, grinding against each other in dark corners. Of course they had also shared a bed now and again. But the paparazzi were more aggressive than ever – this was the anniversary tour, after all. Eventually, they’d mostly kept to their own beds because they were simply too worn out to even decide who’d have to hurry back to his room at some ungodly hour. So yeah, they could do with some sex. Lots of sex, probably. But not now, not right now. Perhaps not at all tonight. Because Zach realized that he’d been right on spot. They really needed to make up for lost cuddle time. Even when they were not playing, Chris was very affectionate. He was strangely awkward about it, as if he always expected rejection instead of acceptance (case in point, his hugs, clumsy and snuggly at the same time). And it was definitely not coincidence that kitten play of all kinks did it for Chris.

Yeah, more than anything, Chris needed to snuggle right now. So for the time being, Zach was pretty content to hold Chris in his arms, stroking his back, and petting his head. He enjoyed the silky texture of Chris’ hair. It was finally long enough again to bury his fingers in (long enough, too, to grab a handful and drag at when the situation called for it). The first thing Chris had done once filming wrapped, was to grow out his hair and to get his beard back. At first Zach hadn’t been enthusiastic; he loved kissing Chris, and the beard was definitely getting in the way of his kisses. By now the beard was no longer bristly, though, but sort of furry, almost soft, and extremely pettable. After a while of cuddling Chris, Zach started drifting, almost dozing. On TV, the cooking show had given way to a positively soporific art class with another hippie dude, this time with an enormous curly mane, who was painting happy little trees and blissful clouds. The rhythm of stroking was soothing not just Chris, but himself. Oh yeah, Zach concluded with a content, sleepy sigh, petting his Chris-shaped kitten worked just as well as petting Noah and Skunk and Harold – even better, to be honest. Because Chris smelled much nicer.

But no matter how cozy they were, Zach really didn’t want to fall asleep just like that. It had been much too long since they’d had a quiet evening just the two of them. With an effort, he turned around to lie on his back, dragging Chris along with him. That woke Chris, at least. Flailing his arms and legs, he ended up slumped halfway across Zach. When he tried to move, Zach did what he always did when Harold tried to escape from his loving embrace: He held on tight.

“Come on, kitten,” he reprimanded Chris and gripped his hips to hold him in place. “Stay put. Be good.”

Staring into Chris’ eyes, he could see that the gray of exhaustion and depression had faded. Instead, Chris’ eyes were soft and sleepy, filled with cerulean contentment, and perhaps a first glint of mischief sparking in their depths. Chris wriggled experimentally, testing the strength of Zach’s grip. Then he licked his lips.

“Be good, beebee,” Zach repeated, his voice mock stern.

But he finally felt his worries slipping away. Sprawling all over the new sofa with Chris-the-kitten on top of him, it was impossible to stay worried. By now he was also willing to agree that this sprawling couchscape of a sofa had been a glorious idea, after all. When they played, Zach didn’t want Chris on the floor, definitely not naked and on all fours. But Chris wanted that, a lot. This enormous sofa – which already took up half the living room on its own and could be enlarged even further by pushing the armchair and the foot stool and the ottoman up against it – was a very good compromise as a playground ... and sinfully comfortable.

Chris squirmed in his arms again and unashamedly pushed his hardening cock against Zach’s. For a moment Zach thought that Chris was trying to purr in response, but the sound that finally escaped Chris’ quivering lips was a very human giggle. Chris ground himself against Zach’s dick again. Zach gasped, letting his hands fall to his sides.

“Bad kitty,” he muttered and tried not to groan or thrust up against Chris, who had situated himself in the cruelest – and most perfect – manner now. “Bad. Kitty.”

At that reprimand, Chris’ face finally crinkled into one of his perfect, mischievous smiles. Zach’s stomach fluttered. Tenderness tempered his arousal, and the warmth of Chris’ smile spread through his whole body. He knew he was smiling like an idiot, but he didn’t care. And Chris didn’t, either. He just smiled back, and then he bent forward. With careful deliberation, he placed his palms left and right of Zach’s head and bent forward. Slowly, sinuously, he stretched out over Zach. Until he was almost in the position for doing push-ups – apart from the fact that he was still pressing his cock against Zach’s. Even through his jeans, Zach could feel the heat of his erection. From the corner of his eye he could see the muscles in Chris’ arms bulge and flex as he lowered himself over Zach’s body. For a moment, Chris just held himself a few inches above Zach’s face and stared at him, his eyes wide and impossibly blue, as his smile turned into a grin into a smirk. He licked his lips. And then he was licking Zach’s face, licking his face and laughing and mrrping and purring, and it should have been disgusting, but it was not. It was warm and wet and wonderful, and Zach couldn’t remember the last time he’d been so silly and head over heels in love with someone.

Finally he brought up his hands and gently cupped Chris’ face. “Christopher.”

Chris winced and a fleeting shadow of disappointment cooled his eyes for a moment, but he stilled, and he didn’t stop smiling. Zach kissed Chris’ slick, red lips, trying to convey that he hadn’t pulled Chris out of the game because something was wrong or because he disapproved. Suddenly Zach felt shy, and he could feel his cheeks grow hot. He had to kiss Chris again before he could speak.

“I would very much like to make love to you now,” Zach asked softly.

For a moment, he just lay there and stared up at Chris. His heart was pounding – he could feel his pulse in his throat. Chris’ body heat enveloped him, and he was strangely giddy. Almost as if this was his first time, and not ... he didn’t even know. He could sense how Chris’ arms were beginning to tremble with the effort of keeping himself stretched out above him. And Chris was flushing, in that cute rosy hue that suffused not just his face but his neck and shoulders and even his already raspberry red nipples. Chris blinked quickly, his eyes suddenly overbright, the brilliant sapphire blue of happiness.

“Yes, please,” Chris replied. He sounded almost solemn, and a little breathless.

Chris pushed himself up on his knees and pulled Zach up, too. Between a dozen kisses, they managed to disentangle themselves. Then they knelt in front of each other, smiling so much it almost hurt. Without a word, they undressed. Chris, who only had to pull his t-shirt over his head and slip out of his pants, was done in seconds. He sat down with crossed legs and propped up his elbows on his knees and rested his chin in his palms, obviously settling down for a good show. Zach rolled his eyes at his lover, but did his best not to disappoint – dealing with his shirt one button at a time, and snapping his belt in the air. Chris’ eyes dilated at the sound. Before long, Zach would make Chris’ eyes burn, until they were dark and feverish with lust, not the deep end of the pool anymore, but the blue heart of fire. Finally naked, they paused again, openly appreciating each other’s body.

“Fuck, you’re gorgeous,” Zach managed at last. “Poetry, Christopher, every single inch of your body.”

He pushed Chris back down on the sofa, and Chris just let himself fall, sinking onto the cushions in front of Zach. Now, right after filming Trek, the both of them were physically at their strongest, and they’d done enough sparring to know that Chris just might be able to overpower him. But instead Chris submitted to him completely and willingly offered himself, as if he was inviting Zach to do with him whatever he wanted ... To see Chris like that, so soft and trusting, sent a rush of power through Zach. For a moment he contemplated fucking Chris hard and raw, without preparation and no lube besides spit and pre-come. He shivered at the thought, grinding his teeth together. But no, that was not what he wanted tonight. He sucked in a deep breath that felt hot in his throat and quickly pulled a small bottle of lube and a condom out of the drawer of the side table. By now there was a stash of supplies in every single room of Chris’ house, and in various locations in the garden as well.

He put the implements within easy reach and knelt between Chris’ legs. Chris responded by spreading his thighs even more. It wasn’t quite enough, so Zach prodded Chris’ thighs. “Legs up, baby.”

Obediently, Chris lifted his legs, instinctively sliding his hands to his ass to spread himself wide for Zach. As always, Chris was completely clean shaven, his balls, his taint, even the rim flushed a deep, delicious raspberry purple. With a sigh, Zach laid his left hand over Chris’ hole. For a moment he just let his hand rest there, enjoying how Chris twitched under his warm palm. Then he started rubbing, in slow, wide-fingered circles, every now and again bumping against Chris’ fingers. Every time, Chris’ balls tightened, and his breath hitched. Zach met Chris’ eyes and smiled, anticipation pooling hot and heavy in his stomach, making his dick and balls tingle with desire. Chris’ balls rested plump and ripe between his thighs. Zach could no longer resist. He lowered his head and tenderly licked from the taint upwards, along the distinct line of his seam. When Chris moaned as if he was hurting him, he took pity on Chris’ aching balls and sucked them deeply and gently into his mouth. He loved the feel of Chris’ balls on his tongue, the peachy velvet of his skin, and the overripe plum-like heaviness within. With exquisite carefulness, he let Chris feel the edge of his teeth. He was rewarded with a helpless whimper from Chris that made his cock pulse and pre-come spill from his slit.

With a wet slurp, he let Chris’ balls slip slowly out of his mouth, silky skin sliding sinfully over his bottom lip. Again, he stroked Chris’ hole and taint, relishing the way he twitched and keened. Then he picked up the lube and squirted a generous dollop directly above Chris’ asshole. Chris cried out and jerked back, and Zach couldn’t keep himself laughing, a breathless, giddy sound. Then he circles Chris’ entrance again, and finally, fucking finally slipped two fingers inside. He was taking a bit of a chance there, but Chris’ relieved sigh told him he’d done the right thing to up the ante. His thumb rubbing Chris’ taint, he leisurely fucked him with his fingers, delighting in how he squirmed and sighed.

Finally Chris raised his head. He was shaking with the effort, his eyes feverish, glowing with an eerie lightning blue. “Jesus fucking Christ, Zach, mercy,” he rasped. “Mercy. Just fuck me. Please. I beg you.”

Zach laughed again. This – to do this with Chris – was still new enough to be exhilarating for the newness and rawness of it all, sensations and sounds and just the knowledge that this was Chris, Chris ... Quickly, he ripped open the square package and rolled on the condom. He gripped Chris’ legs to keep him in place and relieve the strain of holding up his legs, and slowly pushed into his ass. Once he was balls-deep, he had to pause. Had to still and not move, not breathe ... or he’d have come within a heartbeat. For a delirious, trite second, Zach determined that his favorite words in the universe were “hot” and “tight”, and that Chris was both of that. Then he couldn’t take it anymore, he had to thrust, and Chris welcomed each push, each shove with a whimper and a cry.

Zach kept it up for as long as he could – a leisurely, positively luxurious rhythm. His whole existence was focused on Chris, every heartbeat, every breath, everything for the slick, feverish clutch of Chris’ ass around his cock, for Chris’ legs shaking in the grasp of his hands. Slowly, Zach slid his left hand around Chris’ thigh and down to his stomach. He could feel Chris’ pulse vibrating under the skin, and how his stomach muscles spasmed with the tension of orgasm within reach. But what got to him even more than those almost irresistible physical sensations was Chris’ face. Chris staring at him, his red, swollen lips parted in a gasp. Zach couldn’t look away. Chris’ eyes were almost black now, his pupils were so huge, his eyes absolutely dazed with lust. Zach could feel the pressure inside his body nearing the point of no return, his balls tightening with a sharp ache, pain more than pleasure now. His hand was shaking when he rubbed Chris’ stomach in soothing circles. He traced the outline of Chris’ belly button with his index finger and tried to concentrate. Tried to speak. But he couldn’t. Even breathing seemed too much of an effort – his whole being was focused on the goal of release. But from somewhere deep inside, he managed to dredge up a final moment of clarity, the way it sometimes happens during high fever.

“You told me you want to belong to me,” Zach said, stilling inside Chris’ body with inhuman effort. “But I never told you—” He inhaled a harsh breath. A drop of sweat slid down his temple and hit Chris’ left nipple. “I – never said – how much I want to keep you.”

And with that, he lost it. He pounded into Chris with a cry, desperately. He fucked Chris into the new sofa as if there was no tomorrow. When Chris clenched around him with an agonized groan, he somehow managed to grasp Chris’ dick and jerk it, in a ragged, arduous rhythm. Once, twice, three times. Then Zach came so hard he couldn’t breathe anymore, and his heartbeat exploded in his chest, even as Chris spilled over his hand in white-hot streaks that almost reached his chin.

Chris collapsed under him, legs stretching out, arms falling to his side. He was grinning like a fool, his eyes closed, utterly ecstatic in the wake of orgasm. For a moment, Zach managed to keep himself propped up on shaking arms above Chris’ body.

“You are mine now,” he gasped, his pulse pounding in his temples. “You wanted to belong to me, and I accepted. I take care of you now, come what may. Never doubt that, Chris.”

*

Chris woke, cold and confused. In frantic dreams he’d just spent days running through airports and theaters, lost and alone. Now he was naked and in his bed. But he was lying horizontally at the foot of the bed, without a pillow and with only a fraction of the duvet wrapped around him. Then he felt Zach’s feet against his back, and his hand slid to his neck, to his collar. He wasn’t lost. He wasn’t alone. He was home, and Zach was here. With a sigh of relief he turned around to lie on his back. He gasped at the sensation the movement caused inside his body. Suddenly, he wasn’t cold at all, but awash in a feverish flush of shame and arousal. For a moment he just lay there, his heart pounding, and focused on the sensations that assailed him. The gentle, comfortable tightness of the collar around his neck, the hard, reassuring pressure of the plug in his ass. And smashed up against his thighs, the plump, soft coils of a long, plushy tail.

This – all of this – was Zach’s surprise gift to him: Twenty-four hours away from it all, away from being Chris Pine, away from being dragged into a dozen directions at once, away from the pressure and the stress of career decisions and interviews, and the fear of losing himself. Twenty-four hours away from it all. Kind of like Cinderella. Twenty-four hours of a magical existence before the spell must come to an end. But for twenty-four hours, he didn’t have to think, he was allowed to just feel. Only, he was already thinking again, and overthinking, too.

Fuck it! Chris thought, clutching his collar, irrationally angry at his own brain. I want to stop thinking for once. Just for a day. Is that really too much to ask for?

At that moment, Zach shifted and stretched, suddenly awake, too. He stroked his left foot along Chris’ side. “Where’s my kitten?”

Chris froze, his heart pounding. But Zach sounded as if that question was the most natural and reasonable query in the universe. When Chris hesitated and didn’t react right away, Zach poked him with his big toe. “Up here, kitten.”

Chris’ cock obeyed that command before he realized what he was actually supposed to do. Clumsily, he got on all fours and crawled up the bed, his erection dragging over the duvet. He inhaled a shaky breath and stretched out in front of Zach. At first he was too tense to even breathe as he lay there. Zach wrapped his arm around his waist and gently rubbed his stomach.

“It’s okay, kitten,” Zach murmured, half-asleep, his lips pressed against Chris’ shoulder. “It’s okay.”

*

When Chris woke again, Zach was gripping his neck, tugging gently at the collar. “Time to lube up again, kitten, if you want to keep your tail ...”

Without waiting for a reply, Zach turned him onto his stomach and held him down. The way he’d handle Noah or Harold, when the pets needed some doctoring. Careful, yes, but very much in control. Chris didn’t know if he’d already been hard when he woke. Maybe it was just the time of day. It was morning, after all. Or maybe his cock knew more about how much Chris enjoyed being manhandled like that than his mind did.

“Push out,” Zach ordered. He was spreading Chris’ ass with one hand and very gently pulling at the plug with the other. “The lube will be mostly gone by now, and I don’t want to hurt you by yanking too hard.”

Chris obeyed. And although it ached more than he was used to, it wasn’t bad. He was completely relaxed, and Zach helped, rubbing his lower back in firm circles. “Very good, baby. Do you need to go to the bathroom?”

Zach kneaded his buttocks suggestively, pressing inwards. But Chris shook his head. They’d prepared him well. He had expected the procedure to be awkward, embarrassing, and more or less awful. But although it had been somewhat awkward and a little humiliating, it had not been entirely unpleasant. To have Zach take care of him like that, to have Zach see him like that – as it turned out, his volatile blood sugar levels and enema didn’t mix well – had made him feel all floaty, kind of dopey. Offering up his ass so Zach could plug him up, and then his neck so Zach could collar him, had been easy in that dreamy daze. He hadn’t thought twice about lying down at the foot of the bed.

Chris almost replied, saying that he was fine. Thankfully, he caught himself in time. He licked his lips and managed to produce a vague noise. Not quite a cat sound, but not a person sound, either. Zach laughed softly. “Good kitten. Give me a minute, and you’ll have your pretty tail back, baby.”

Zach stroked his bare buttocks. Then Chris heard the squirt of lube. A moment later, he jumped at the cold, slick touch of Zach’s fingers circling the sensitive skin. He gasped and almost wished he was really sore, so he’d feel it more intensely. Another rude noise told him that Zach was squeezing the bottle again. Chris pressed his hard cock deeper into the mattress, trying to remain still. When the tip of the plug nudged against his hole, Chris could feel his heartbeat pulse in his ass, and a strange buzz began to spread through his body.

“Okay, push out again,” Zach commanded. “You’re barely sore, and you’re so beautifully open now ... it will slide right back in ...”

Even so, he pushed the plug in very slowly, very carefully. But he’d been right – Chris’ ass took it easily, almost as if he was made for this plug. Chris couldn’t suppress a sigh of relief as a bizarre feeling of completeness filled him. When Zach pushed the plug a little to make sure it fit correctly, the additional pressure surged right into his balls. He couldn’t help himself. With a moan, he thrust against the mattress.

Completely unprepared for the hard slap on his ass, Chris yelped. “Naughty kitten,” Zach scolded him, even as he smoothed away the sharp sting of the smack with firm strokes. “Sweet kitten,” he added and trailed the soft, plushy tail over Chris’ now hypersensitive skin. At the same time, he tugged at the plug. Very gently, just enough to create the phantom sensation that the tail was a real body part, that Chris was actually moving the tail.

When Chris whimpered, there was no playacting involved. He couldn’t help himself – the interplay of sensations was too overwhelming. And just like that, from one moment to the next, he was beyond words, beyond human speech. Zach gripped his hip and his shoulder and turned him around until he lay on his back. Chris gazed up at Zach. His cock was a hot, heavy weight on his stomach, but it felt strange, somehow beyond his control. He needed to come. But he ... he couldn’t bring himself to move. Jerking himself off, even reaching for Zach’s hand ... impossible. He could only stare up at Zach and whine, arching his back.

“You’re gorgeous like that,” Zach murmured, “such a pretty kitten.” He brushed back Chris’ hair, before he traced the collar with his fingertips. “That’s it, isn’t it? Like this. This is what you want, what you need.” Fascination glittered in Zach’s eyes. “You’re all pliant and soft now. Well, except maybe in some spots.” His smile turning into a smirk, he pinched one of Chris’ nipples. The flare of pain made Chris gasp and his cock jump, smearing pre-come over his stomach.

“Yeah,” Zach said, “this is not at all soft. In fact ...” Now he teased Chris’ dick, trailing his fingers from base to slit and back. “... in fact, this feels quite uncomfortably hard.” Chris couldn’t help it – he whimpered again. “Oh, baby ... does that hurt? It looks like it might.” Zach shook his head, seemingly concerned. “I don’t think I can leave you like that. That would be just cruel.” Zach hummed, petting Chris’ cock with just enough pressure to drive him crazy but not enough friction to get him anywhere. “Lucky thing the lube’s still within reach ...”

A moment later, Zach closed warm, slick fingers around him and began to move his hand up and down Chris’ shaft. With a garbled sound, Chris thrust into Zach’s grip. Zach’s laugh ended on a gasp.

“Fuck your fucking cock,” Zach muttered. “How can you be so gorgeous all fucking over?”

Suddenly Zach was naked and on top of Chris, rubbing his own hard cock against Chris’ in a hot mess of lube and pre-come and sweat and silky skin. Then Zach was grinding their dicks together, panting with the effort. The effect was still more slippery slide than friction. Without Zach’s weight pressing Chris into the mattress and the hard nudge of the plug in his ass, the slow build of this orgasm would have been torture. As it was, each stroke stoked the tension that gripped Chris’ body. Held down and smothered by the heat and the smell of Zach’s body, Chris couldn’t even buck up against Zach. He could only lie there endure the waves of sensations washing over him as Zach stroked him toward his climax, inch by inch. When he finally felt his balls tighten, he was floating. And when he came, it was not the white-hot explosion of lust or the euphoric rush of endorphins he was used to. Instead, he quietly dissolved – in helpless, painful pleasure, in Zach’s tender kisses, and in the intimate pulsing of Zach’s cock next to his own.

Chris resurfaced to the feeling of warm-wet, rough-soft terry cloth on his stomach. Zach was washing him, meticulously cleaning every inch of his skin. The fresh scent of herbs lingered in the air, and Chris remembered that Zach had gotten a new line of toiletries, something organic and earthy, basil and mint and ... something ... yes – avocado.

When he noticed that Chris was aware of his surroundings again, Zach paused in his ministrations, and their eyes met. Zach’s gaze was intense, dark and fiery, as if he could see more than Chris’ naked body. As if Chris, all of Chris (mind, heart, soul) had somehow become transparent. But Zach – Zach was dressed. He’d donned his usual hipster armor of casual aloofness, along with tight designer jeans and an artsy shirt. However, Zach was also biting his lower lip and blushing. Instantly, a hot flush suffused Chris in a sympathetic reaction. Chris didn’t know why, but suddenly he was blinking away tears, and his throat tightened with feelings he couldn’t even begin to name. Shame? Love? Need? He licked his lips, trying to speak. That wasn’t like him, to be this ... this weepy. He might cry over books and during movies, but since when did sex – mind-blowing sex to boot – make him blubber?

But Zach laid a finger on Chris’ lips, forestalling anything he might have wanted to say. “Hush, beebee, hush,” he said softly. “You’re just a little kitten today. Let me take care of you.”

Zach’s sweet words didn’t help. Chris only felt more exposed, more vulnerable. He swallowed hard and blinked again.

“C’mere, Chrissy.” Zach sat up and pulled Chris on his lap, careful not to get his tail tangled up. When Chris was curled up against him, Zach gently pressed one hand against the tail plug. Just enough that Chris could not ignore its presence. Then Zach kissed him very deliberately on the mouth.

“I do love you, Christopher.”

*

For breakfast, Zach unrolled his yoga mat on the floor next to the table. Chris’ heart started pounding. Zach didn’t want Chris on the floor. So far that had been one of Zach’s limits. And Chris respected that, even though he really, really wanted play on all fours on the floor – at least once. Just to see what it was like. The different perspective and all. So far, Zach’s biggest concession in that respect had been the sofa. And seriously, that was a pretty awesome compromise. So Chris wouldn’t complain.

But now Zach grinned and winked at him. “No kittens at the table.”

Then Zach simply went ahead and sat down in his usual place. Normally, he’d play with his iPhone during breakfast, and they’d talk about their plans for the day. Today, Zach had put the newspaper – customarily consumed on the couch after lunch – next to his plate. As soon as he was sitting down, he grabbed the paper and hid himself behind it. As if he were alone. As if Chris were indeed just a kitten. But not before Chris could see that he was blushing again.

Of course that made Chris flush all over again, too.

And he knew very well that when his cheeks grew hot, his whole upper body flushed as well. Thanks to Zach’s desire – for science! – to find out just how far his blush actually extended and exactly how to achieve the most colorful result. They had discovered that even Chris’ nipples changed color. They had been unable to determine what embarrassed Chris most effectively.

Now Chris licked his lips and swallowed dryly. His stomach fluttered, and his knees felt curiously weak. He caught Zach glancing at him out of the corner of his eye. Another rush of heat suffused his whole body. Worse, his cock twitched and his balls tightened. He lowered his head and stared at the floor. At Zach’s feet. Zach was wearing socks and some kind of fancy leather sandals today. But when they were in L.A., Zach always stayed barefoot in the house. Chris felt even more naked now.

Very slowly, he sank to his knees on the yoga mat, acutely conscious of how very visible his semi was, jutting out from between his thighs, flushed pink like his face. Zach shifted on the chair and inhaled carefully. Chris could feel his heartbeat thudding in his ears, and his cheeks were burning. He closed his eyes shut, trying to shut out the thoughts that suddenly assailed him. How absurd. You, a grown man, you want to sit naked on the floor with a tail plugged into your ass? Do you have no shame? What if people knew? What would your mother say? What would your father say? He cringed, his safeword just a whisper away. Noah. Noah. But he’d wanted this day so badly, had been looking forward to it so much. And Zach had put so much effort into it, just so he – so they – could play. He couldn’t just stop now. But of course he should, if he really wanted to stop. But did he want that? Chris had no idea. What would a cat do now? What would Harold do?

Ignore Zach. Ignore everything. That’s what a cat would do. Cats were good at that, unlike Chris. Awkwardly, Chris turned around and lay down on his side. The movement jarred the plug, pushing it against his prostate, and he gasped at the sudden surge of pleasure and the hot wave of shame that followed in its wake. He squeezed his eyes shut until tears formed. But Zach was not ashamed of this. Not ashamed of him. Zach liked what they were doing. Even the plug. Chris remembered how Zach had kept playing with it just an hour or so ago, how Zach had kissed him, and how he had used his full name. To reassure him ... To tell him that everything was okay. That he was okay. Chris tried to breathe deeply, that yoga-technique Zach had taught him that was supposed to be so relaxing. Chris was used to people who wanted to have him. To fuck him or to be fucked by him. He was less used to people who wanted to hold him. Not at all used to someone who wanted to keep him. He pressed his hands against his cheeks. Least of all to someone who wanted to keep him like this. Just the way he was. Come back when your skin isn’t gross. Come back when you’re an actual star. The breathing thing wasn’t really working.

*

“Chris?” Zach’s voice.

And then Zach’s hand, warm on his upper arm. He must have noticed something. Suddenly Chris felt cold. Come back when you’re ready to play for real, a voice inside his head whispered. Come back when you’re ... Or better yet, don’t come back at all.

“Are you okay?” Zach asked. His voice was as warm as his hand. “Do you need a break? Do you ... do you need Skunk? Or Noah?”

Zach was reminding him of his safewords. It was okay to stop. But Chris shook his head. He didn’t know how. How did you turn off your brain?

“Chris?” Zach was crouching in front of him now, clearly worried. “Are you sure, Christopher?”

No. No, he wasn’t sure. He sucked in a shaky breath. “S-s-skunk, maybe?”

“Of course,” Zach said at once. “Come, let’s go sit on the sofa, okay?” He drew Chris up on his feet and pulled him to the couch. Quickly, he wrapped Chris in one of the throw blankets and pulled him into his arms. “What’s wrong? Please, tell me.”

Chris’ face was burning with humiliation. “I just—” He shrugged. “On the floor, I—” He tried to exhale, to let go of the tension that was twisting his stomach. “You know I wanted that. But then ...” He scrubbed sweaty palms over his face. “Shit, this is embarrassing.”

“It was too much?” Zach asked, softly. Then he bit down on his lip before he added, “Was it ... was it something I did? I did tease you. You need to tell me if I did something wrong.”

“No!” Chris said at once. “No. It wasn’t you. No. It was just ... just too much.” He squeezed his eyes shut again. This was not how he’d imagined this day to go. “I don’t even know why.”

“Okay.” Zach sighed with relief, and Chris only felt worse. “Okay. Chris, it’s okay. When we try things, it’s normal that not everything will work for us. I swear, I don’t think less of you, and you ...” He blushed again and looked away for a second, biting on his lower lip. Chris wondered what Zach was thinking of, what it was that Zach wanted that he was worried about. “I know you won’t think less of me.”

Chris swallowed hard. He felt stupid now, cuddled up on the couch in his favorite fluffy blanket, while a lavish breakfast was growing stale on the table. He angled his head so he could see Zach’s face. All he could make out was concern and sympathy and the strangest softness, none of the patronizing hipster arrogance Zach was capable of.

“Never,” Chris promised. As if he could ever think less than the world of Zach.

“Should we stop now?” Zach asked, still concerned. “We still have enough time for you to have your day later this week.”

“No.” Chris wasn’t sure if he’d ever have the courage to try again if he stopped now. And up until, well, up until it had gone wrong, it had been good. Intense, but good. Really good. Better than anything. “No. Just ... you were right. Not on the floor.” He sucked in a deep breath. “That is, if you still want to go on now that I’ve been an idiot. Shit.”

Zach shook his head and brushed back Chris’ hair again. With an involuntary sigh, Chris pressed his face into Zach’s hand. When they were alone, Zach was more willing to touch him (cuddle him, pet him) than any of his previous partners. Chris loved that, even more than the sex, and oh god, how he loved that. Somehow sex with Zach was so much more intense than anything he'd done before. Chris had no idea if it was just that anal sex always was a more powerful experience or if it was Zach. He just knew that he was ... that he was ...

“You’re not an idiot,” Zach said firmly. “Don’t think that. And seriously, don’t say that. But how about this: I’m gonna get our breakfast over here. You stay comfy. And you think about what you want. We really don’t have to go on, okay? But ... I’d love to if you want to.” Zach sucked his lips into his mouth for a second. “This – you – it’s so damn hot.” He got up quickly and went over to the table, where he promptly started clattering around with the tray, plates, utensils, and food.

On the couch, Chris huddled into the blanket and shifted to his side, so the plug wasn’t pressing as hard against his insides anymore. He clenched a little and waited for another wave of shame like acid in his stomach. But all felt was the strangely comforting awareness of the plug in his ass. He loved the feeling of something there. It was arousing, yes, definitely. But more important than that, the plug grounded him. Like an anchor that could keep his mind from flying off into space. He felt better now, calm and warm. Even so, he wasn’t quite sure if he could slip back into the right headspace.

But then Zach was back with a tray stacked dangerously high with plates and bowls and things. The smell of bacon and chocolate surrounded Chris. Carefully, Zach put the tray on the couch and sat down next to Chris. He reached for Chris and cupped his neck with a firm grip. Curling and uncurling his fingers in Chris’ hair, he stroked the base of his skull.

“Do you like that, baby?” Zach murmured, rubbing his thumb in circles. “Are you hungry?”

And just like that, Chris could slip back into kitten space. He pushed his head back against Zach’s hand. Pressing his hand against his throat, he relaxed his muscles and sucked at his lower lip until his mouth watered. With the smell of bacon in his nose that was not difficult. Closing his eyes, he let his throat vibrate until he was producing the purring noises he’d learned so many years ago to amuse his sister.

“Yeah, you like that.” Chris could hear Zach’s smile, but he still arched into his touch until he could see it, too. Zach’s smile was always gorgeous, but the unguarded warmth and tenderness in his expression right now made Chris whimper. “No.” Zach kissed Chris, gently nipping at his upper lip with his teeth. “You love that, my little Kit.” Another, even sweeter kiss. “I wonder if you love bacon, too?”

Zach leaned away, toward the tray. But before Chris could bemoan the end of the kiss in true kitten fashion – with a hiss or a growl or a swat of his hand – Zach was dangling something a few inches above Chris’ face.

“Bacon,” Zach whispered with a solemn voice. “Behold, the power of bacon.”

Chris couldn’t keep himself from giggling like a human, but he pushed himself up from the sofa in a blink, snatching the bacon from Zach’s fingers with his teeth. Slumping back on the couch, he almost choked on the bacon as the plug in his ass was pushed upwards at just the right angle. I’ll never be able to eat bacon again without blushing, Chris thought as he squirmed. But Zach was already holding up the next bit of bacon for him. Chris licked his lips ...

Half an hour or so later, Chris sucked on Zach’s finger with a low moan. The sweet, warm chocolate pudding coating Zach’s skin was long gone, but somehow Chris couldn’t bring himself to stop suckling. He’d always loved Zach’s hands, those long, straight fingers. Strange, how he was learning their exact shape and form with his lips and his tongue only now, long after he’d become intimately familiar with the dimensions and textures of Zach’s cock and Zach’s balls. He sighed around the finger in his mouth. When Zach tried to draw back, he bit down gently below the second knuckle.

“Not done yet?” Zach laughed softly but let Chris keep his finger.

Actually, Chris wasn’t hungry anymore. Bit by bit, Zach had fed him a luxurious breakfast. Bacon and eggs and whole grain toast, pieces of fresh fruit and buttery croissant, and finally the most delicious chocolate pudding Chris had ever tasted. While Chris was not stuffed, he was definitely full, in that comfortable, cozy manner that made him want to nap. He just didn’t want this delicious intimacy to end. In the past, he’d occasionally fed the women he was dating – the obligatory strawberries and champagne thing, of course, and sometimes spoonfuls of dessert. But he had never been the focus of such doting attention. It was nice. He was warm inside out, a little lethargic, and half hard ... not precisely due to desire, but rather out of pure physical bliss.

Strangely enough, Zach was in a similar state. Chris could tell because he was lying on his lap. He would have to move only a little to suck on Zach’s dick instead of his finger. Knowing that he didn’t have to perform for Zach was strange. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d enjoyed such luxury with another person. For a long time Chris just cuddled with Zach, nuzzling his finger and dozing, almost childlike in this sated, content state.

At last, with a regretful sigh and a long lick, Chris let go of Zach’s finger. Such a simple act. But this small gesture made Chris feel naked again, naked and exposed. Without warning, a hot wave of shame surged through him again. He couldn’t make himself look at Zach. His cheeks were burning. All he could do was press his face into Zach’s stomach with a muffled noise. But Zach knew anyway. He hugged Chris close, murmuring random words of praise into his hair. While Chris trembled in his arms, Zach just kept stroking Chris – his back, his ass. He started kneading Chris’ buttocks, with gentle, soothing squeezes. Finally, he closed his hand around the plug in Chris’ ass and pressed it down in a slow, regular rhythm.

At first his touch was not really arousing, but rather reassuring. Chris’ still got hard, and he knew he was leaking pre-come on Zach’s new jeans. And he knew that Zach knew that, too. And Zach didn’t stop. Instead, his touch grew more meaningful. He angled the plug just right, applied just enough pressure. Soon his massage was no longer merely suggestive, but intentionally stimulating.

“Shhh,” Zach shushed Chris, shifting his thigh to press it harder against Chris’ cock. “You can’t help it, baby. I know, this is more of a puppy thing. But if you need this, you need this. Kittens do what kittens must.”

Somehow Chris shifted on Zach’s lap, until his face was pushed into Zach’s crotch, while his dick was pressed against Zach’s shinbone. He really couldn’t help himself. Mouthing against the thick fabric stretched over Zach’s cock, Chris rubbed himself against Zach. With a low groan, Zach encouraged him, pushing and pulling at the plug in his ass, again and again, until Chris whimpered and ground himself against the rough fabric of Zach’s jeans, rutting against Zach’s leg, desperate for more friction.

“Yeah. Like this, Chris, just like this. Want feel you, want to know you want me, want to know you need me,” Zach said, his voice hoarse, harsh, nearly on the verge. “Just like this. Let go, kitten. Come for me.”

Chris shuddered against Zach’s leg and stifled a moan. Helplessly, he pressed his mouth against the hot bulge of Zach’s cock. Again Zach nudged his prostate with the plug. With a wail, Chris came, spilling all over Zach’s leg, while his ass twitched around the plug, and the soft, plushy tail tickled the tender insides of his thighs.

Afterwards Chris was positively comatose. He could barely move, his limbs like lead. But Zach didn’t seem to mind, quite the opposite. He cleaned Chris up carefully, with a warm, wet washcloth, and toweled him dry with a fluffy towel, humming to himself under his breath. With firm hands, he turned Chris on his stomach and pulled out the anal plug to check for soreness. Chris could only whimper to indicate that he wanted his tail back, but Zach seemed to understand anyway. He applied more lube, inside and out, and gently twisted the plug back into place. The renewed sensation of fullness, of completeness, made Chris feel even more lethargic and languid. He still made a valiant effort to rouse himself and get up, but Zach just laughed softly and pushed him back down on the sofa.

“None of that, kitten,” Zach murmured. “Cats sleep fifteen to twenty hours a day. You need to catch up on your sleep.” Then he hesitated, and the way he caressed Chris changed subtly, growing more tender, and somehow more serious. “Christopher, I’m not blind. You and your overthinking, I see how you get.” He rolled Chris on his back again. Zach bit down on his lower lip when a helpless sigh spilled from Chris’ lips as the plug nudged his sweet spot. “We’ll talk tomorrow. For now ... you just relax. Just relax, baby.”

Zach was blushing a little, but his eyes were so warm and his tone was so firm that Chris gave in. Letting his post-orgasmic lassitude seep through him, Chris snuggled into the cushions and didn’t protest when Zach wrapped him into his favorite fluffy blanket once more. He kind of tried to keep his eyes open. But then Zach settled on the couch behind him and started petting him, scritching his scalp the way he’d do it with Noah or Harold, gently massaging his head and combing careful fingers through his hair, again and again, until Chris fell asleep.

*

When Chris woke again, it was the middle of the afternoon. Zach was still ensconced in the corner of the sofa behind him, reading his Kindle with one hand and absentmindedly stroking Chris’ naked stomach with the other. Chris groaned and stretched, discarding the blanket. As he did so, he instinctively clenched a little around the plug still firmly inserted in his ass. It didn’t hurt. He didn’t feel sore. He just felt ... full. Different, too. Aware of his naked body in a different way. When Zach nudged his cock out of the way to rub his tummy in leisurely circles, he realized he was half-hard again. But for the moment he felt too lazy to do anything about it. Zach’s large, warm hand on his stomach felt good, too.

He tried to angle his head so he could see what Zach was reading. But Zach tsked at him and moved his hand to Chris’ neck, scruffing him gently and hooking his fingers around the collar – not to choke, just to control.

“Kittens don’t read,” he scolded. “People read. Kittens snuggle with people while they read. That’s what kittens do.”

Somehow Chris managed to turn his laughter into a high-pitched mrrp. When Zach cupped his forehead, he pushed his head into Zach’s palm, butting against it the way cats do. Zach didn’t even give an inch, just held him firmly in place. Somehow that was both hot and comforting. That Zach was strong enough to hold him. Chris’ feline reply sounded suspiciously like a needy little whimper to his ears. Zach put his e-reader away.

“Hush, kitten,” he murmured. “I’m not going to forget about you.” Playfully, he tugged on Chris’ tail and pulled it up from behind his back. Zach trailed the fluffy tip over Chris’ cock and then draped it over his thigh so that the tip of the tail curled up against his balls. Then he reached over the back of the sofa to retrieve something from the side table. “In fact, I’ve been reading up about cats and how to take good care of them.”

This time, Chris choked on his kitten noise and ended up coughing into the cushion. Behind him, he could feel Zach laughing, even as he patted Chris’ back. “Oh, baby.” He nuzzled Chris’ neck, biting a gentle kiss into the strong muscle between neck and shoulder. “You’re just proving my point. You need someone who can take care of you. All right, now I want you on your back and your head in my lap.”

Chris complied, even though the position was not entirely comfortable. On his back, he was more aware of the plug as in his ass and of the fact that he was naked while Zach was dressed. Just some sort of animal print yoga pants he was freeballing it in and a t-shirt now, but still. It was clothing.

Mercifully, Zach spread the blanket over him. Chris was struck again, by how much attention Zach paid to him, to how he was affected by everything. As he settled his head on Zach’s thigh, he considered how Zach got off on what they were doing. He didn’t think it was his shame that did it for Zach. But perhaps Chris being laid bare like that.

But before Chris could spend more time contemplating what Zach got out of their game, Zach tilted Chris’ head up on his thigh and dragged something bristly over his face. Chris started so violently that his head collided with Zach’s crotch. Not painfully hard, but hard enough. Startled, Zach jerked back, even as Chris rolled away, both of them torn between mortification and laughter.

“Behave!” Zach ordered. “Jesus Christ, Chris. I was only going to brush you. Not declaw you or shear your precious face fur.”

Meowing his protest at that reprimand at the top of his lungs seemed a perfectly natural reaction. For a second, they just stared at each other: Zach with his eyes wide, the small boar bristle beard brush still in his hand, Chris with his mouth open, a growl lodged in his throat. That was the tipping point. Laughing, they collapsed on top of each other, and then they were kissing, tongue and teeth, lips and mouths and jaws and necks, messy and passionate, until Chris lay in Zach’s lap once more, breathless, panting, and disheveled.

For some reason the contrast between his naked skin and Zach’s soft lounge-wear felt enticing now and no longer shameful. Chris rubbed his cheek up and down Zach’s chest and purred, until Zach grabbed his shoulders and curled a large hand around the back of his neck. “Now behave, baby. You need a good brushing. If you don’t keep still, all you’ll get is a good spanking. And we both agreed that we don’t really like that.”

Chris flushed, and his traitorous cock twitched with interest he didn’t really have. Or maybe in theory, but definitely not in practice. Right? But before Chris could sort our his conflicting reactions, Zach settled Chris on his lap, positioning him just the way he wanted him, until Chris lay on his back with his head on Zach’s thigh, his legs stretched out. And that, being manhandled like that, as if he really were just a kitten that Zach could easily hold down even while he strained to get away – like a kitten, helplessly wriggling and squirming in the loving grasp of its owner – that was ... that was good. More than good. Sexy good, too. He was not really hard right now, but not quite soft, either. He caught Zach looking at his cock, the way it rested on his thigh, semi-erect and full of anticipation. His dick twitched. But Zach just smirked and held up the brush again.

This time, Chris was prepared. He closed his eyes and submitted to Zach, who held him firmly in place, his palm resting on Chris’ forehead. Theoretically, Chris should have been able to shake Zach’s hand off easily, but for some reason he felt as if he couldn’t move a limb right now without Zach’s express permission. He felt heavy and helpless, and his stomach fluttered with nerves. Under Zach’s caresses, his apprehension melted away, and Chris was sighing with contentment. The gentle strokes and the soft sounds of the brush sent tingles of warm pleasure through his body. A strange arousal surged through him, waves of sensations that collided with the firm pressure of the plug in his ass and his cock on his stomach, hard and aching. When Zach started massaging oil that smelled of cedar and smoky sage into his beard, Chris’ whole body was buzzing. But somehow he was unable and unwilling to do anything about it. Maybe he was simply too fucked out already? Chris couldn’t tell. He could only lie there and feel whatever Zach allowed him to feel.

And Zach evidently didn’t feel like letting Chris try to come again.

*

Zach didn’t feel like letting Chris come again all afternoon. Zach also didn’t feel like letting Chris come in the evening.

As the day passed, they both grew more secure in their roles. Chris enjoyed the outrageous freedom of being naked all day. More than he’d ever thought he would, never mind what he’d done for “Stretch”. Filming was one thing, real life quite another. But perhaps the life style of naturism had more going for it than he’d been willing to give it credit for. The more comfortable he’d felt in his skin, the more playful he’d become. Of course that was just how he always was around good friends. But playing kitten with Zach, he allowed himself to need.

Strangely, Zach didn’t seem to mind. No, he actually seemed to adore Chris like that, as a kitten that depended on him. And Zach definitely enjoyed the power he had over Chris. He teased Chris mercilessly for hours, with just enough tenderness to keep him from going insane.

“Up on the bed,” Zach ordered when they had finished their nightly bathroom routines, and pointed at the foot of the bed. “Special compensation for special kittens.”

Chris snorted. As if Harold was ever forced to sleep in the living room ... But although he made a point of ignoring Zach at first, in true kitten style, stretching luxuriously in front of the window, swishing his tail around his ankles in the process, he obeyed more or less promptly, and lay down on the mattress.

Zach put on a show. First, he pointedly retrieved a new bottle of lube from the bathroom and put it on the nightstand. Next, he pulled a couple of condoms and placed them next to the lube. Then he faced Chris and raised his eyebrows. With a challenging smirk and piercing gaze from his dark eyes, Zach proceeded to undress in front of Chris. However, as he stepped out of his yoga pants and pulled his shirt over his head, folded the clothes and put them on the chair in the corner, Zach acted with complete nonchalance – as if Chris watching him didn’t matter any more than the presence of his real pets would have. At last, Zach turned to the bed. He stopped just in front of Chris, his already hard cock just above Chris’ face. Wrapping his hand around his dick, Zach lazily stroked up and down the shaft before cupping his balls and scratching them leisurely. As if he was merely assessing how he wanted to tend to his needs before going to sleep.

Chris’ mouth went dry and he licked his lips. That gesture had at least an immediate effect on Zach, who sucked in a sharp breath and bit down on his lower lip. His dick reacted, too, visibly filling out. Unconcerned, Zach grinned at Chris, before he flicked off the ceiling lights. In the warm, orange glow of the small lamps on the nightstands, Zach approached the bed and stretched out right in the middle, his head comfortably propped up on the pillows. The bed was big enough that he didn’t even have to touch Chris with his feet. But of course he did, nudging Chris’ waist where he was the most ticklish. When Chris was squirming and whimpering, Zach slowly slid his toes over the swell of Chris’ ass and down his thighs.

“Well, kitten,” Zach asked, “you wanna come play?”

With a growl Chris pushed himself up on all fours. For a second, the tail got caught under his knee and pulled at the plug, and he couldn’t suppress a groan. Now, at the end of the day, he was getting a little sore. But he didn’t mind, especially when he saw Zach’s gaze grow heated at the sound. Crawling up between Zach’s legs, he waited long enough for Zach to raise his eyebrows before he pounced.

How Zach jerked under him even as Chris braced himself on his left hand and merely palmed Zach’s cock with his right, sent a sizzling rush straight to his own dick. When he looked at Zach again, Zach’s lips were parted, and his pupils had widened to the point that his eyes appeared black.

Jesus Christ. Chris needed a moment to regain his balance. Then he put his palms flat on Zach’s hips. Keeping his eyes trained on Zach’s, he pointedly licked his lips before he lowered his head. Pressing his nose into the thick bush that surrounded Zach’s cock, he inhaled the intimate smell of Zach’s body – warm and musky, a mixture of body odor and arousal. With a heartfelt sigh, he licked along the length of Zach’s cock with a flat, slow tongue. He’d already decided to stay in character in so far as he wouldn’t use his fingers, but when Zach pushed up against his mouth with a frustrated groan, Chris grinned with satisfaction and drew back. Zach had kept him on edge for hours. Payback is a bitch.

He started over at the balls, with lavish licks and the softest suckling, until he had to stop again because Zach was squirming too much. With a pointed growl, he closed his mouth around the shaft and let Zach feel just a hint of teeth as he moved his head from side to side. The way Zach froze at the sensation, while his cock pulsed eagerly in Chris’ mouth was nothing short of glorious. But eventually he had to pull off to take a deep breath. He noticed that Zach was gasping for breath, too, in short, helpless huffs. Oh yes, Chris was definitely getting some of his own back right now for the teasing he’d endured during the afternoon and the evening. Smirking, he bent down again.

With long, languid strokes of his tongue, Chris worked his way upwards, until he reached the head of Zach’s dick. He swirled his tongue around the ridge and teased the slit, tasting Zach’s pre-come – slick and kind of salty, not unpleasant. At that point he had to pause. He shifted slightly on his knees. Without hands it was not easy to adjust the position of his cock so he was a little more comfortable.

When Chris glanced back at Zach, he was biting so hard on his lower lip that it looked red and swollen. Fuck. How can you be so hot? How can this – all of this – be so damn hot? Then Zach propped himself up on his elbows and reached for Chris’ head. For a moment, Chris thought he just wanted to stroke his hair. But then his hand slid lower, and his fingers curled around the collar that Chris had almost forgotten about. Very gently, Zach tugged on it. Chris moaned. The visceral reminder that he was not the more powerful partner in this scenario made him feel giddy with desire. With a low growl he let himself be drawn upwards, until he lay stretched out on top of Zach, their cocks pressed together. Zach didn’t tug at the collar anymore. He just framed it with his hands and pressed it firmly into the skin of Chris’ neck while they kissed.

Chris shuddered at the touch, waves of heat and cold washing over him. He clenched helplessly and whimpered at the hard pressure of the plug in his ass. His balls tightened up; he was aching for it now. But he could only cling to Zach. He didn’t even have the strength left to grind himself against Zach. Every muscle in his body was trembling. He was positively weak with need. With a gasp, he buried his head against Zach’s shoulder. He felt Zach’s hands cupping his ass, and then a sharp burst of pain as Zach pulled the plug out of his ass. The burning emptiness that followed in its wake was too much. He was begging now, without words, just whimpering at the back of his throat. He heard Zach’s voice, soothing him, but he couldn’t understand what he was saying. A moment later, Zach gripped his arms and turned them both around, until Zach lay on top of Chris. The sting of lube carefully being applied to his hole brought him back to himself enough to focus on Zach, on his feverish eyes, on his flushed face, so fucking beautiful.

“Zach—”

“Yes, baby, I know. Just a moment, and I’ll take care of you.”

Chris could make out the tell-tale sticky-slick sounds of a condom being rolled on and the squish of more lube. A moment later, Zach was hooking up Chris’ legs and pushing them back against his body. He lined himself up and pushed into Chris’ ass without further ado, just sinking in until Chris felt the weight of Zach’s balls pressed against his buttocks. Even though he’d worn the plug all day, he felt achingly full. And Zach didn’t give him time to adjust. Instead, he subjected Chris instantly to a merciless rhythm of pulling out and pushing in. Chris couldn’t help himself – soon he was keening at every movement, at every slap and smack of Zach’s balls against his ass. When Zach curled his fingers around his cock, Chris wailed, so sensitive by now that even the lightest touch brought more pain than pleasure. Zach didn’t seem to care, he simply matched his strokes to his shoves. But the pressure inside Chris’ body just kept building, building, and building without ever breaking.

Suddenly Zach stopped moving and leaned over him. He cupped his face with both hands and stroked his thumbs over his cheeks several times. Chris realized he was crying. He was so close, so close. He needed to come. He did not want to come. And then Zach was kissing him, sucking at his lower lip, tonguing into his mouth, all the while thrusting gently into his ass, barely nudging his prostate over and over again, rubbing his stomach over Chris’ cock with an infuriating lack of friction.

When Chris was close to sobbing, Zach finally pushed into him a little harder again and reached for Chris’ cock again, too. He stroked Chris almost tenderly. And just like that, Chris came, sliding into a slow, sweet orgasm that seemed to go on forever as he spurted thick, warm streaks over Zach's hand and both their stomachs. He never noticed Zach's climax.

Chris grew aware of his surroundings only when Zach had cleaned him up and was gently rubbing some kind of cream into his ass. He was too fucked out to move or speak, a fact that seemed to amuse Zach greatly as he helped Chris to take out his contacts and dressed him in fresh pajamas. Then Zach slid into bed next to Chris and drew him into his arms, before he pulled the duvet over both of them.

“I just ...” Zach laughed softly, incredulously. He nuzzled Chris’ neck and rubbed his back with a large, warm hand. “... I just. I can’t believe I fucked you until you cried.”

Because he knew that was true, it made no sense to object. Chris was also not quite sure if he remembered again how words even worked. So he just burrowed deeper into Zach’s embrace, clinging to him less like a would-be kitten and more like a human limpet. Thankfully, Zach didn’t seem to mind.

“Sleep well, Christopher,” Zach whispered, pressing a kiss on Chris’ forehead.

And because that seemed to be an eminently sensible suggestion, Chris did just that.

*

Thankfully, though perhaps unsurprisingly, Zach woke before Chris. A glance at the clock on the nightstand told him that it was a few minutes past nine o’clock. Not terribly late, but also by no means early. Chris was lying on his stomach. Not his usual position, so he was probably sore. Zach made a mental note to check Chris’ ass and to apply more cream, never mind Chris’ inevitable protests.

Chris’ hair was tousled like a child’s, his beard was scruffy, and his face was flushed with sleep. With one hand he was clutching the blue collar around his neck, with the other he was reaching for Zach. He looked utterly adorable, and Zach felt strangely fragile just looking at him.

As if on cue, Chris sighed in his sleep and curled onto his side, closer to Zach, snuggling against him. Even in sleep, he was a kitten. A very human kitten, but still – a kitten. A man who desperately wanted to belong, to be owned even. A talented actor, a great colleague, a wonderful friend. A man who loved him enough, who trusted him enough, to lay himself absolutely bare for him. Zach’s reaction was instinctive, and visceral. He wanted to keep Chris, wanted to keep him safe. In his arms, in his life. He couldn’t remember when he’d felt that fiercely for anyone, if ever. Whatever he was feeling for Chris, he felt it at the very core of his being. A profound weight in the pit of his stomach. A warm awareness deep inside his bones.

Chris stirred again and pressed himself even closer against Zach. A moment later, he blinked his eyes open. His gaze was still unfocused, a dreamy, perfect blue. Zach couldn’t help kissing Chris awake, until his eyes crossed with pleasure. “Good morning, Christopher.”

“Hey, Zach.” Chris’ smile was slow, drowsy.

For a while they just lay there, close to each other, content together. Then Zach reached out and stroked back Chris’ messy hair. “You should probably do something about that,” he murmured. He cupped Chris’ cheek tenderly, brushing his thumb over his lower lip. Then he slid his hand lower and tapped the collar with his index finger before drawing back. “And we need to take that off now, Christopher.”

Chris closed his eyes and didn’t react. Zach waited patiently. He knew this would not be easy for Chris. The collar had become incredibly important to him. Not just to help him slip into kitten space for playing together, but in general. Chris had always had this habit of touching himself when he was stressed or troubled, usually stroking his thighs or shoulders. But during the last few weeks, those instinctive gestures of self-soothing had changed. Zach had noticed Chris stroking his neck and throat several times during the press tour already. And every time Zach had caught Chris at reaching for where his collar should be, Zach’s stomach had tightened with a mixture of possessiveness, protectiveness, and lust. What Zach hadn’t expected was how much the idea of taking off the collar would affect him. The acute sense of loss, an aching emptiness in his chest.

“I really don’t want to take it off,” Chris said, his voice tight.

“I know,” Zach said softly. “I understand. But we’ve never played like that before, for a whole day. It’s been intense, for both of us. We need to make sure we’ve got this under control, that it doesn’t control us. Therefore ...”

“You’re right.” Chris sighed. “I know you’re right.” He sat up and winced.

Yes, Zach thought. Definitely sore. That knowledge left Zach feeling strangely untethered. Of course he’d fucked people hard enough before that they’d felt it the next day, had fucked Chris hard enough before. But last night, last night had been different. Chris crying and helpless with need ... He had never been more beautiful, more precious to Zach. And Zach had never come like that before in his life. He hadn’t quite passed out, but he’d also been less than conscious for quite a while. The only comparison that came to mind was the transcendence he experienced during the ayahuasca rites.

Chris was reaching for the collar now. But his hands were shaking, and he couldn’t deal with the clasp. His lips were quivering, too – he was on the verge of tears. Zach didn’t hesitate for a second. He pulled Chris into his arms and held him close. “Shhh, baby, no. It’s all right, it’s all right.” He kissed Chris gently on the mouth, on his cheeks, nuzzled into his beard. “You’ve been so wonderful. Such gorgeous, perfect kitten. I love you so much.”

His fingers were trembling, too. But he forced himself to focus and quickly unfastened the collar. Carefully he drew the collar away from Chris’ neck and held it almost reverently in his hands. Chris was choking up, his breath coming in hard bursts. Zach took his right hand and closed it around the length of blue leather, still warm from Chris’ skin.

“You were incredible, Chris. So hot.” Zach slid his hands up to Chris’ shoulders. At first he only rubbed Chris’ collar bone with his thumbs, but then he framed Chris’ neck with his hands, index fingers and thumbs curving into a collar. He pushed Chris onto his back and pressed his lips against the shallow indentation of his suprasternal notch. Cradling Chris’ head in his hands, he kissed him again. “More than hot. Mine.”

“You really like that.” Chris sounded incredulous and he was a little breathless, but he was no longer hyperventilating.

Zach sat up and laid his hands over Chris’, over the collar. Heat flooded Zach in a rush. Not quite shame, because what they were doing was not wrong – they were consenting adults – not really self-consciousness, either, because what they were doing felt natural – they both needed this – but an intense wave of self-awareness. He’d never experienced this level of trust and connection in a relationship. But how Chris trusted him, how Chris needed him, how Chris wanted to belong to him ... that made Zach feel safer, stronger, and happier than he could remember feeling in a long, long time.

“Yes,” Zach said. Gently, he pried the collar from Chris’ hands to lay it safely inside the top drawer of Chris’ nightstand. “Yes, I do.”

He lay back down and pulled Chris into his arms. For a while, they just clung together, cuddling in silence. Both of them slowly relinquishing their roles from the previous day, Zach thought. He couldn’t say why, but already Chris felt less like a kitten and more just like Chris in his arms. All too soon they’d get up and have a huge breakfast on the terrace, squabbling over who got which part of the paper first. And tomorrow they both had meetings to attend, and the following day they had to appear at that event, and at the end of the week ... Zach sighed against Chris’ shoulder. He didn’t want to leave the perfect of their day together. At least they’d be together on the press tour for weeks yet.

“Is there anything you want to talk about?” Zach asked, resting his palm on Chris’ arm. He could feel Chris’ muscles tense. His skin tingled with the awareness of just how strong Chris was, and the memory of Chris submitting to him and crying for him almost made him moan aloud. For a moment, Chris stayed silent, clearly himself again, or at least more like the careful thinker he normally was. Then he shifted in Zach’s arms and turned, nestling against Zach.

“No,” Chris mumbled, inhaling Zach’s warmth with a sigh. Then he slid his right hand to Zach’s waist and leaned back a little. “Yes. Or ... I don’t know.” Chris licked his lips. The expression in his brilliant blue eyes was endlessly soft. “I just, right now I can’t imagine going back to normal. And I don’t even mean playing together, though I’ll miss that, too, when we’re abroad, but ...” He sighed more deeply.

Zach waited for him to continue, but Chris remained silent, lost in thought. A few minutes passed. Then Zach raised his hand and stroked Chris’ cheek, tracing the curve of his lower lip with his thumb. “Chris,” he said quietly, “I don’t know if this is a good time to say this, or a bad time, or the perfect time. And I need you to know that I will support you no matter what you decide to do. I don’t want to pressure you. But ...” He inhaled and too the plunge before he could reconsider. “Maybe you should think about coming out.”

Chris jerked back, but Zach was prepared for that, and held him in place. “Wait,” he said, “hear me out.” He was still almost amazed how Chris obeyed instantly, growing quiet in his arms. “The last months, we’ve been good together. Really good. And happy, too, I believe. Or as happy as we could be, given the circumstances.” Given the constant pressure of protecting their privacy at all costs, the stress of relationship they had to treat as a clandestine affair when it meant so much more to both of them. He brushed back that one recalcitrant lock that insisted on falling in Chris’ face. “And I know that this step brings its own problems, and it’s definitely no guarantee for happiness, but at least we wouldn’t have to pretend we’re just good friends in public anymore.”

“You’d want people to know?” Chris asked, hopeful, breathless.

Zach realized with a pang that over his efforts to do everything right when they played, he’d neglected other things that he’s had to live with for a long time but that are all new to Chris. He leaned forward and kissed Chris, a warm, reassuring brush of lips. “Yes,” he said firmly, “I want people to know you’re mine.”

“Your kitten?” Chris demanded.

Zach rolled his eyes at Chris. “Yes, of course. And I’ll get you a cute pair of ears to wear for our next interview along with your tail.” But then he kissed him again, on the tip of his nose, if only to see how Chris grimaced and ducked away. He knew that Chris wasn’t serious about telling the world that he occasionally liked to turn into a kitten for Zach. But he also knew that Chris routinely used bizarre jokes to deflect when something really hit a nerve with him. “Yes,” Zach repeated, seriously this time. “I want the world to know that you’re my partner.”

Chris didn’t reply right away. Instead, he snuggled even closer against Zach, clingy like a kitten all over again. When Chris finally raised his head, he was blushing. His smile was bashful and sweet, and his eyes were sparkling and crinkling at the corners with happiness.

“You know,” Chris said, grinning, “there are very tasteful, understated steel collars that you can wear every day.”

“Oh, kitten.” Zach laughed softly and shook his head. “You’re nothing but trouble, are you?”

Chris just waggled his eyebrows and mrrped at him.