Up The Ante
Prompt #15: Blue
sequel to Bottoms Up.

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The fact of the matter is, AJ's never exactly been blessed with what you'd call a filtering system. There's never much time for censoring before his brain has directed messages to his mouth, and by the time he realizes that hey, maybe someone didn't want to hear his thoughts on how tacky plaid is on the day that they're wearing a lumberman's shirt, it's usually too late. That's how he ends up doing things like try to pick up girls when their boyfriends are two feet away, or ask Kevin what the deal was with that chick with the nose ring the same second that Kristin walks into the room.

It's not a conscious effort on his part to be insensitive or anything. It just happens. Okay, so sometimes he does it for shock value, but most of the time he doesn't even think about it. He just says what's on his mind. Occasionally it gets him in sticky situations with jealous boyfriends who'll yell what he can only assume are German death threats in his face, but he finds that being straight-forward will more often than not get him what he wants.

For a couple of minutes it even got him Brian.



Kevin buys a bottle of communal tequila again on the first night they play a sold-out show in Frankfurt. Everyone wanted to celebrate, but Nick's still not old enough to be let into clubs, not even in the teenage playground that is European nightlife, so they had to settle for Howie and Nick's hotel room. AJ doesn't really mind though. Fucking superstars, he thinks with an amused smile, as he slumps down in his chair and accepts the bottle on its fourth round around the table.

"Okay," Nick says, leaning forward to grab his shot glass. He only just manages not to spill it all. "Okay, I've got it. I've got it! I've, uh, I've never been blown in a movie theater."

"You're only supposed to say stuff you've actually done yourself, you know," Howie points out. He's covering it better than Nick, but AJ knows that Howie's not entirely sober anymore either; he's been around Howie enough when he drinks that the hooded eyes and tension that's leaked out of his body are sure signs of their own.

Nick sniffs indignantly. "I know that," he says, and promptly tips his head back to down his shot.

"Why do we keep playing this game?" Kevin asks. He looks mildly pained.

"Male bonding," Brian says in a deep voice, and punches Kevin's shoulder for emphasis. AJ grins. "Nothing like a good drinking game to make everyone come together in joined repression."

"True," Nick agrees, even though he clearly didn't hear what Brian just said. His tongue is sticking just slightly out of his mouth as he tries to keep his hand steady enough to refill his shot glass. Tequila sloshes over the edge anyway and pools on the table.

"My brain hurts," Kevin groans, and rubs at his temples. "Wasn't he just twelve yesterday?"

Brian hums the theme to The Wonder Years under his breath and widens his eyes innocently when Kevin shoots him a glare. "What?"

"Hey," AJ says. He pauses briefly from rubbing circles on Howie's back - Howie's been down with the flu for a few days now, which he no doubt caught from AJ last week, so he's feeling a little guilty - to gesture across the table. "Your child prodigy's gonna pass out soon if we don't keep moving."

"Shuddup," Nick mumbles, but his eyes are half closed and his cheek is smushed in against his hand. AJ wants to snort. Such a fucking lightweight. "S'your turn anyway."

"Oh." AJ straightens in his seat. "Yeah, all right." He takes the tiny glass in his hand and stares at the colorful drawing of a windmill, clicking his tongue in thought. Then he looks up and says, "I've never slept with a guy."

Kevin lets out a sigh. "Always so fixated on gender," he mumbles, but picks up his glass anyway. Out of the corner of his eye AJ can see Howie taking the shot too, but AJ isn't looking at either of them. AJ's looking at Brian.

And Brian's looking right back, his eyes just a little bit glassy from the alcohol. Then a small smile spreads on his face, and he cocks his head, but his shot glass stays right where it is. Untouched.

AJ's brain is sending him all kinds of signals, none of which seem very clever to say at this point, but he's kind of drunk already and he can see Brian's collarbone peek out from under the collar of his shirt, and even when he tips his shot back it doesn't make his impulses slow down. "I could show you," he says, his voice strained as the tequila burns its way down his throat.

"Oh my God," he hears Kevin say. "Seriously."

"Breathe, Kevin," Howie says immediately.

AJ would perhaps worry about giving Kevin an aneurysm any other time, but as it is he's currently trying to keep his heart from pounding out of his ribcage. Sometimes even he gets floored by the shit that comes out of his mouth. Brian's cool, though. Brian will let him down easy, or just be polite and pretend like AJ hadn't said anything at all. Still, AJ always hates this moment, the moment right after he's blurted out something totally inappropriate and everyone's just waiting for what's going to happen next.

Sometimes he's an idiot, because come on. It's not like saying whatever he wants will just automatically get him those things. So maybe being forward had gotten him that kiss with Brian once, and okay, maybe AJ's been thinking about it a lot - well, not a lot, three times a week tops, sometimes four - and maybe AJ stares at Brian a lot on stage and doesn't stare at him at all in the dressing room, but that doesn't mean--

AJ stops short when he realizes that nothing's going to happen at all. Kevin and Howie are talking, but AJ doesn't hear it, because Brian's not saying anything. He's still just watching AJ, still just smiling a little, and the usual race of thoughts in AJ's head disappears save for a tiny surprised, oh.



"It's kind of a shame," AJ says half an hour later. They decided to call it a night when Nick once again had to be carried to bed snoring like a freight train, and Kevin had brought the whole party down by worrying about Nick's apparent promiscuity. Whatever. AJ knows Nick bullshits half his answers anyway because he thinks it'll impress Brian.

"What is?" Brian asks. He shuts the door to their shared hotel room and turns on the light. Swaying a little, he braces a hand against the wall and directs unfocused eyes on AJ. There's a tiny smile on his face; AJ can't tell if it's really there or if it's because he's drunk himself that he's seeing it. Brian always looks like he's walking around with a good secret that no one else knows about.

AJ scratches his stomach idly. "That you haven't had sex with a guy," he replies. "'Cause ... you know. It's really hot."

Brian presses his lips together in a thin line, like he's trying really hard not to laugh. AJ makes a face. "I'm sure it is," he says, walking over to his suitcase. AJ watches him. "Sex with girls is pretty hot too."

"Well, yeah," AJ agrees. Brian toes off his sneakers and crouches down to unzip his suitcase, probably looking for a towel. AJ thinks he might've used Brian's last one this morning, since he hadn't had any left himself. He'd been planning on getting his stuff washed today and throw Brian's stuff in there as well, but he's pretty sure the dirty laundry is still at the bottom of a garbage bag in the bathroom. "I mean, yeah, girls are cool, but, like - guys, you know. They know they don't have to be all careful and shit."

Brian hmm's and stands up straight again. He pulls his sweatshirt off and throws it on top of his suitcase, leaving him in a worn, black wifebeater. AJ looks down quickly, clears his throat, and when it stops feeling like his stomach just dropped to the ground he looks up to find that Brian's walked into the bathroom. Jesus Christ. AJ draws a deep breath through his nose and dips into a spare reserve of courage.

"You should try it," he insists, strolling over to lean against the doorframe to the bathroom.

Brian's drinking a glass of water, and AJ's not as tactful as usual when he watches Brian's throat work to swallow. Brian rinses out the glass and puts it back in its cradle, wiping the back of his hand over his mouth. "Did you become a pimp while I wasn't looking?" he asks, looking at AJ in the mirror reflection. "What's with the sudden interest?"

AJ shrugs. "I'm just saying, man. It's one of life's mindblowing experiences and you're missing out on it." He watches as Brian pulls off his socks and hits the bathroom lights. For a second he's lost in darkness, but then he steps into the doorframe, light from the small bedside lamp casting shadows on his face and in his hair, and he's scratching his stomach a little and his eyes are really blue and, fuck. Everyone always thinks of Brian as the safe one, the harmless one, but AJ knows him better than that. "You're really hot," he finds himself saying, because his filtering system once again decides that he can't have a single thought to himself.

Brian looks at him then, pausing midway through a stretch. He blinks, and AJ braces himself for the apology he'll have to make now that he's taken things too far. He doesn't apologize often, at least not when it comes to speaking his mind, but he'll do it if Brian wants him to. But Brian just smiles at him, and it's not mean, not the kind of smile that means he's thinking about what a poor little idiot AJ is. It's crooked and a little thoughtful, his eyes crinkling in that way they do that makes AJ feel kind of special to have caused it. Still, he doesn't expect for Brian to lean forward, movements languid and slow, and flatten his hands on either side of AJ's head.

"Do you want me to ask?" Brian's voice is soft, mildly teasing, and he smells like AJ's favorite deodorant and his eyes are really, really blue.

AJ's fingers clench into the hem of his own shirt. "What?" he asks, confused and distracted.

Brian smiles at him again, and AJ's stomach tumbles. He nods towards the two single beds that take up half the tiny room, and maybe AJ should see it coming, but he doesn't, not at all. "Do you want to?" Brian asks, hand lowering until his fingers graze over AJ's. "With me?"

AJ thinks he might be gaping. He hopes he's not, because that would sort of negate the whole cool-and-collected image he's got going for himself, but it's hard to stay in control of his reactions when his brain is grinding to a complete standstill. Just because he likes to be forward about what he wants doesn't necessarily mean he's prepared for those things to actually happen. "What?" he repeats stupidly.

Brian just looks at him. "You heard me."

AJ shakes his head. "I think you're drunk."

Brian nods. "So are you," he says.

"No, I-" That's not what AJ's trying to say. "You like girls."

Brian laughs at that. "So do you."

The room's shrinking, AJ's sure of it, because Brian's closer now. He tilts his head as his eyes drift over AJ's face and AJ's pulse is racing. "Brian, come on," he says weakly. He's not going to do this. He's not going to take advantage.

Brian's smile softens. "Always so fixated on gender," he repeats, eyes rolling upwards, and grins when AJ lets out a breathy laugh. "Do you want to?" he asks again.

AJ doesn't even know how to answer that. "Do you?" he returns.

Brian hums low in his throat and AJ just has time to suppress a shiver before Brian leans in and kisses him.

He tastes like tequila and lime when his upper lip grazes AJ's lower one, and AJ closes his eyes, his body going lax and helpless, and sinks into it. He tilts his head slightly and Brian's hand drifts to his neck, humming lightly again until AJ starts to respond. He closes the last distance between them so AJ's flattened against the wall, and slow sparks light along AJ's spine. Brian's other hand is moving, his fingers dancing down AJ's arm, and the inside of his mouth is warm and pillowy-soft when they eventually part their lips, like they're in no hurry, like they have all the time in the world.

It's quiet in AJ's head.

"Want to," he rasps when Brian pulls back, gripping Brian's upper arm tight. They've done this more than once in the past few weeks, found quiet corners to do this between rehearsals and soundchecks, but Brian's never looked at him with eyes that hungry before and AJ may be an idiot sometimes, but he's not stupid enough to turn this down when it's being offered to him.

This close he can see Brian's eyes change when he smiles, and AJ wonders fleetingly why he's the nervous one when it's Brian who hasn't done this before. But then Brian kisses him again and AJ quickly decides it doesn't matter. Two mutual blowjobs and some over-the-clothes groping with a guy he'd bumped into a couple of times in Lisbon probably doesn't count for much anyway. They probably won't go that far. AJ's not even sure he remembered to buy condoms at the last truck stop.

"You're thinking really loud," Brian mumbles against AJ's mouth. His hands draw warm circles on AJ's back when he eases them away from the wall and starts backing them in the direction of the beds. AJ tries to remember how to breathe.

"Sorry," he mutters. His head is a jumble of thoughts again, one undistinguishable by the next, and when the back of Brian's knees hit the bedside AJ says, "I was just thinking I don't have any condoms."

Brian snorts loudly at that. "No?" he says, his hands smoothing over AJ's shoulders.

"No," AJ replies. His fingers curl around the hem of Brian's wifebeater. "Do we need any?"

"I don't know." Brian sounds far away, and when AJ looks up Brian's got a mild, appraising look in his eyes as he stares at the point over AJ's collarbone. "I guess we don't."

"I guess it depends on what we're gonna do," AJ says, and it's like an out-of-body experience, hearing himself saying shit like this and not being able to stop it. "Like, I guess we don't need condoms if we're just going to-"

"AJ," Brian interrupts, and laughs a half incredulous laugh when AJ snaps back to focus. His fingers drift up and down AJ's arms so lightly that AJ feels goosebumps. "Could you maybe shut up for two seconds?"

Brian kisses him right as AJ says "oh" and the word gets lost between them, but AJ just exhales in light disbelief and nods. His fingers curl against Brian's sides, and he smiles when Brian bumps his nose against AJ's cheek. "Yeah, okay."

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© Mette M. 2005-2009. This story is purely fiction, meaning not true. If any actions in the story are similar to real life experiences, they are pure coincidence. All persons, excluding the Backstreet Boys and occasional real-life based characters, are made up from the author's imagination. I, Mette, do not know the Backstreet Boys, their families and friends or their management.