AUTHORS: rufferto and kitty_trio
EMAILS: firstname.lastname@example.org and kittyTsapphire@yahoo.com
PAIRING: Craig Parker/Karl Urban, others
RATING: NC-17, eventually
WARNINGS: Slash, angst
FEEDBACK: Yes please!
DISCLAIMER: It’s Fiction! It never happened. All lies from troubled minds. We don't know Craig Parker or Karl Urban or their sexual preferences. In short, nothing in this story is true regarding any real person mentioned. This is all fiction. No money made from this fantasy.
SUMMARY: Once again a peek forward into the lives of our Mate With Benefits boys. Approximately 1997 during the adventures/productions of Xena/Herc/Young Herc. This is what happens when Ruffy wakes one weekend very cranky, in need of writing older Bébé K & C with much more angst than fluff. We’re still not sure if this is an odd turn to their story or not. *shrugs*
A/N: Whee! We finished a fic!!!! Now we just need Ruffy and her muses to stop torturing Kitty’s muses. Shameless excuses for smut…that’s what we write, not deep trips into angstville!
Part One Part Two
As always, banner made lovingly by rufferto
"We Belong" By Pat Benetar
"Many times I've tried to tell you
Many times I've cried alone
Always I'm surprised how well you
Cut my feelings to the bone
Don't want to leave you really
I've invested too much time
To give you up that easy
To the doubts that complicate your mind
“Us…?” Karl repeats quietly. Marton has been his friend all these years, and never let on how deep his relationship with Craig was…is. He flicks his gaze at Craig who’s fairly dancing in nervousness, before lowering his eyes to hide the pain. Aye, there is something worse than no longer being part of Craig’s life. Believing there was a chance with Craig, only to realize he already belongs to someone else.
“Pardon, I’ll leave you two to talk.” Karl digs his trousers from the pile on the floor and escapes to the bathroom. The door clicks shut softly, but echoes loudly in his heart.
Craig sighs as he sits down on the bed. "Mari, we were never working, you know that. I knew that." His eyes flick to the bathroom. "It never was based on romance, you cared for me. I needed someone. I ... fuck." he sighs and drags his hand through his hair. "Fuck, Mari. This is my only chance to bring back something I thought lost forever. You guys kept saying to stay away from Karl, and I did. He's changed, Mari. I love you, I do. As a friend..."
So much has happened, and yet so little, since the last time Karl stood as he is. The water beats down on tense muscles, arms braced on the wall. His head hangs low, the pain lancing through his body.
Mari… If it had been anyone else, Karl would be out there still, staking his reclaimed territory. Not when the one who has Craig’s heart is his old friend, the one who held Karl together over and over through the years. The one who is responsible for Karl finally growing up, finally beginning the path to discovering who and what he’d tossed aside.
Mari steps forward towards Craig, eying the bathroom. "You didn't tell him." He nods with a sigh. "Craig, you haven't hurt me. I just thought that one day, maybe one day you'd forget about Karl and maybe there would be an us."
"I know you meant well, Mari." Craig puts a hand on his friends shoulder. "But you can't protect me from everything. Karl is not the same person he used to be. I can tell. He's changed, he didn't change for me. He changed for himself."
"Shit." Mari curses under his breath. "Craig, you know what I've always said. I've always told you that I'd do anything for you. Anything to make you happy." He reaches to his friend's cheek and touches it lightly.
With more force than necessary, Karl wrenches the taps off. He steps from the enclosure and dries distractedly. The towel comes away with spots of color, his back is bleeding again. Mind whirling, the pain in his heart and gut nearly doubles him over. He pulls on his trousers and exits, running a hand over his hair.
"I could tell this day was coming.” Mari nods solemnly as he takes a shuddering breath and draws his hand from Craig's cheek.
Karl schools his face carefully, drawing on all acting skills his muddled mind can conjure. “Craig…” He cards his fingers through his love’s hair, smoothing small wayward tufts. “Thank you,” is all he can possibly say without falling to pieces at the man’s feet. A small kiss, no more than a brush of his lips, is pressed to Craig’s furrowed brow.
Marton stiffens when Karl reenters. The young man looking the picture of abject resignation, and alluring as always. He’s watched Karl claw his way from overwhelmed new star, to an actor who will go far, if he ever got international exposure outside the American television fantasy genre. He can’t let Craig know exactly what he has and hasn’t told each of his younger friends, all for the good of Craig. At least that was his intention.
Straightening, he faces their oldest friend. “If I’d known, I never would have intruded on your…” he shrugs, unable to say ‘your man, your lover’. Marton’s light green eyes bore into him, and Karl stands straighter still under the scrutiny. “Yeh coulda told me yourself. I woulda been glad to know Craig’s lov…” he chokes on the word, “was someone deserving.”
He pins Karl with a steady gaze, “You’ve grown, but I’m the one who’s stood by Craig’s side every step of the way. While you chased your tail –and everyone else’s” Mari finishes quietly.
Craig looks around for some pants to pull on, and struggles into them. He tosses aside the sheet and rests his hands on his thighs. "I didn't think it would go this far, Mari. It was just something, well. I don't know what I was thinking when I called Karl up here.
"I know you've always been there for me, and I love you for it. But I've never stopped loving Karl, Mari. No matter what stupid shit he's done. And he's done a lot of stupid shit." Craig takes a deep breath. "But he's different now. He reminds me of how he used to be."
Though Karl snorts at Craig’s ‘stupid shit’ comments, the phrase still echoing in his head is from Marton: ‘Chasing everyone’s tail’. Nearly as bad as the burst illusion he and Craig can begin anew, that cuts deep.
Marton has been his friend through thick and thin. He has been an integral part of getting Karl’s head screwed on straight. Now, to just dismiss Karl as some sort of playboy, incapable of sincerity, Karl’s heart lurches.
“Look, you two have more discussing to do. I’ll leave yeh to it.” He reaches a hand to Craig’s face, but doesn’t touch, “Yeh need anythin’ ring me, call ‘round, anythin’, ‘kay?”
Heading toward the door, he notices the small carryon Marton had dropped at the door. It and its usual contents are very familiar to Karl. Hand on the door, he pins Marton with a penetrating look. Marton has the grace to look abashed, for a moment, before straightening to stare down Karl in turn. Fingers curling into a fist, Karl slams out of the room before he makes a bigger scene. Anger now mixes with his heartbreak as the young man takes the stairs two at a time to his floor.
Craig crumples down on the bed, deflated. "Mari, it was going so well". The younger man looked as though he'd been slapped in the face. "Now he's gone again."
Turning from frowning at the door, Marton’s face smoothes, “Luv, it’s better this way. Look at all you’ve accomplished, how settled your life is now. Opening your door, your heart to Karl again…” Mari hunkers at Craig’s feet, cupping his face in one large hand. “It will only bring you more heartbreak, and I don’t want you to go through that again.”
Craig pushes feebly at Mari, tears already sliding down his cheeks. "It's never been closed Mari, never. If there's a chance that Karl's changed." Sighing, he crumples into a little ball and sags against his friend. "I don't know what I was thinking." He whispers miserably.
“Ah, baby…” Marton climbs onto the bed and takes Craig into his arms. “See, already he’s tearing you apart, tearing us apart.” He brushes the tears from the smaller man’s face.
The scent of recent sex fills his nostrils. “C’mon luv, let me draw you a bath. I brought your favorite bath gel, that yeh left at mine. You take a nice long soak, while I check in downstairs, eh?”
Craig starts to cry in earnest and hates himself for it. His shoulders shake slightly as he leans against Mari. "I'd like a bath." He says softly. The solid strength of the older man was grounding his teetering world as it always did. "Doesn't matter... won't do any good..."
“Shh, baby, let me take care of you.” Marton kisses Craig’s lips softly, undemanding. When the worse of Craig’s shaking subsides, he rises to retrieve the bath gel. “C’mon luv,” he urges gently, strong arms encircling the smaller man, half walking, half carrying Craig to the bathroom.
While the tub fills and the fragrant gel added, Marton croons and cajoles Craig into cleaning his teeth and undressing. “…the night concierge is young –cute, tight arse- I’ll have him arrange some tea and biscuits. We’ll have a little late-night picnic in here then snuggle, eh?” He’ll also arrange for the cleaning staff to change the bed clothes, removing all trace of Karl.
"I want to." Craig mumbles, "But I'm worried about Karl. Back... he's in pain. His back. Oh Mari, I hurt him... I did. You need t'check in." The smaller man is so disoriented right now; he's clinging to any type of comfort he can get.
“Shh baby, c’mon, in yeh get.” Mari helps Craig into bubble filled tub. Once he’s satisfied his friend is calmer, he heads to the main room. “I’ll be a short while, your mobile’s right here. Hit the speed dial if yeh need me to rush back sooner.”
Out in the hallway, Marton doesn’t take the lift down to the lobby. Instead, he makes his way to the room the production company reserved for Karl. As he knew he would, Karl was waiting for him, the door left ajar.
Once into the room, Karl slams Marton face first into the wall. “Yeh playin’ games with Craig?” whispering menacingly, Karl yanks the taller man’s arm up his back. A moan of need, not pain flows from Marton’s throat.
Craig sighs in the bubbles, his hand lifting to his head to wipe at the tears that wouldn't stop. He had not been fair to Karl. He should have said something in the beginning. He and Marton were just casual, nothing... serious, really. Marton helped him, without sex. Marton had been there. Mari was the truest friend he had.
“Mmm, love when yeh get all growly with me,” Mari throws over his shoulder cheekily.
As if scalded, Karl backs away fast. “Fuck you and your fucking games” he spits, raking a hand through his already mussed hair. He paces away a few steps before spinning back to glare at Marton, who’s now lent casually against the wall. “Fucken answer me! So help me if you’re making him…” he can’t finish, bile rising in his throat.
“What I have with Craig, is something you’re too full of yourself to ever achieve. Who do you think helped keep him sane all these years? We don’t need games or the randy bunny sex you’re only capable of. And do not get all high and mighty about the ‘games’. C’mon, even now you want to wipe the smirk off my face, want to find what toy’s I’ve brought so you can ‘punish’ me raw.” Pushing off the wall Marton approaches the younger man.
Already raising his hand to strike, Karl fists it with a deep growl of frustration. “No! Goddamnit!” Grabbing a shirt off the bed, he storms from the room. He’s too wound up, confused, wounded, to beg forgiveness from Craig again. Taking the stairs again, he heads all the way to the basement parking garage, intent on running from his demons.
Marton presses down his erection from the encounter, smirk still firmly in place. Whistling jauntily he takes the lift down to flirt with the night concierge and arrange a room near Craig’s.
Twenty minutes later, he leads a housekeeper and room service boy into Craig’s room. Leaving them to their work, Marton enters the bathroom, and kneels next to the tub. “Hi baby, told yeh I’d not be long. Yeh done soaking? Let me wash yeh, and then we’ll have you tucked into nice clean sheets, eh?”
Craig glances up at Mari, eyes red from tears. "Ok." He mumbles. He feels like the energy has drawn out of him. "Karl..." He tries to rise out of the bath, but ends up nearly falling against Mari. Sighing, he wraps an arm around the other man. "Can't stay here." Not with the memory so close of what they had done in the bed.
“Shhh baby,” Marton leans in to pull down a flannel and Craig’s body wash. He kisses away the remnants of tears, and keeps up a mostly nonsensical dialog as he gently washes Craig’s skin. Each time he has Craig shift so he can get to another part; little kisses are placed here and there.
Safe. He was safe. In Mari's arms, nothing bad would happen to him. But he didn't feel -right-. His body screamed for Karl. His mind rebelled against just accepting what happened. "He loves me, Mari. He still loves me." The walls and armor that he had carefully erected around himself were crumbling down. All their work to 'fix' his heart after it was broken was destroyed.
“Of course he does, in his way.” Marton rinses shampoo from Craig’s head, and pours an amount of conditioner into his palm. “But not like you need. Soon as we’re done here, we’ll get you slathered in your matching body lotion, and popped into your satin pajamas, you brought them along, eh”
Marton concentrates on the tasks at hand. Once he gets his sweet Craig tucked in and drowsy, he’ll start figuring a way to get everything back to an even keel. Back to status quo where everyone –he- is content, happy.
"But I want... Karl." Craig sighs, knowing that resistance is futile when Mari starts to do this. He better just allow it to happen. "He needs me, Mari. He needs me. I'm worried about him, he's hurt. I don't want him to do anything foolish."
Helping Craig from the tub, Marton wraps him in a warm fluffy robe. “I’ll go check on him, just as soon as we have you snuggled warm and safe in bed.” He sets out the body lotion and leaves Craig to towel his hair. A quick check of the main room, Mari puts the massage oil out of sight, sighs pleasurably that the bed has fresh linens and the tea and biscuits are waiting on the side table. He rummages for Craig’s silk pajamas and heads back to his sweet Craig.
Craig tugs the pajamas on, sighing as he stares at his cell phone. Karl, why did you run again? Because he doesn't trust you. He never did. He doesn't want to believe in you, in what we have. The smaller man just sighs and eases into the bed. He's not particularly tired, but the tea and the biscuits help.
"Mari, I am worried..." he begins, but then sighs.
Marton sighs, settling Craig best he can for now. Promising to return as soon as he looks in on Karl, he leaves after kissing Craig sweetly and deeply.
Some juggling is called for, but nothing Marton hasn’t managed before. Both young men fill needs within him, and he’ll maneuver anyway possible to keep things the way they are. His sweet Craig brings out his protective streak. Not paternal, especially with the kisses, petting, and sweetly mutual releases they oft share.
Karl… Marton sighs. Karl has such a testosterone-filled magnetism, and completely unaware of it. Yes, he’s been learning to hone his natural charm, learning how to turn it on and off when dealing with his increasing public exposure. With Marton he can unleash his inner animal, satisfying Mari’s occasional need to be dominated. Topping from the bottom, so to speak, though no actual sex is had. Toys, restraints, implements Mari has taught Karl to use expertly on his body. Evenly matched physically, both know Mari will not break no matter how ferociously Karl sinks into his ‘role’.
Marton shakes off his musings, as he enters his room. A quick shower, a drink downstairs in the bar, and then he’ll spend the rest of the night snuggling with his sweet Craig. An encounter with Karl would be preferred, but he can’t risk marks Craig might see. Tomorrow, he’ll snark Karl into a good session followed by a relaxing evening watching footy and drinking beer.
Having made it only as far as a pub at the end of the street, Karl drains his mug of beer. Shoulders slumped dejectedly, he fingers his mobile. For the last half hour, he has debated pressing the ‘last number redial’.
Gods, Marton… is he truly what’s best for Craig? Mari’s dismissal of Karl’s efforts to claw himself out the hell he’s sunk into stung bitterly. The games were only one tiny part of that. They gave both of them an outlet. An outlet Karl up to tonight thought he needed. Now… all he wants is Craig.
Finally, he screws up his courage and pushes the button.
Craig starts when he hears the phone ring. He grabs it and lifts it to his ear hopefully, "Hello?"
He holds back a sniffle caught in his throat. "Who's this?" Even Mari's kiss hadn't settled the worry that Karl would do something bad.
Karl’s eyes close hearing Craig’s tearful voice. “Love? I’m sorry… I can’t do this anymore. Was just gonna let yeh get on with your life. I can’t. There’s too big a hole inside. Please Kitten… I need…” He clears his throat, voice gruff with the scattered emotions swirling within.
"Karl, please come back up here. I can't live without you either. I'm sorry; I should have told you about Mari. I treated you badly tonight." Craig's voice catches. "I tried to be blasé and I just can't be like that Karl. That's not me. I missed you for so long it just made everything in me die for a while. Seeing you again made me so confused. Oh, Karl... please come back. Mari's gone out to look for you. I don't want you to do anything bad to yourself. I want you with me."
“Oh god Love!” Karl stands abruptly, nearly overturning his stool. “Yeh mean it? I mean, Mari… what… oh fuck love… what’re we gonna do about Mari?” Still rambling, he tosses notes haphazardly onto the bar, and stumbles out into the night.
"I mean it, careful. You’ll hurt yourself. Mari just wants to make sure I’m happy. He really does care, just doesn't want you to hurt me. You won't, Karl. I know you won't. Just come back to me. I didn't do anything really with him, nothing serious anyway. It's you I want, Karl. You I've always wanted."
Craig smiles trying to imagine Karl's face right now.
“Erm…” Karl’s face contorts through all manner of expressions. ‘Didn’t do anything really with him’ echoes menacingly. “We, erm, need t’ talk about that,” he replies cryptically, blushing profusely. Fucken hell, the hill back up to the hotel seems endless.
“Just know… I love you and would give me left nut before hurting you again.” The beer sloshing in his empty belly has him bouncing off a pole and trash bin noisily.
"Karl, careful!” Craig hears the sounds and can't help but giggle. "Watch where you're going, ok? I don't want anything to happen to you." He switches the phone to his other ear. "I am in my silk pajamas, but you need medication, love, for your back. Remember to bring some up eh?"
“Right, yeah” The hotel is in view and Karl hurries his pace. He enters the parking structure returning the way he had exited so dejectedly. Heart thundering, he takes the stairs, too much adrenaline pumping and nervous to wait for the lift. The ‘phone goes silent while he stumbling bumbling starts to stutter through how his and Marton’s relationship has changed over the years.
Craig shushes Karl gently "Not now love," He gets out of the bed and goes to open the door slightly for Karl, "doors open."
Panting, Karl closes the ‘phone, realizing he’s lost the connection. He pauses at his floor. Only because his room is near the stairwell does he take the few moments to stop and pick up the jar of medicated balm.
As he exits, he glances at the wall where he and Marton had their little ‘confrontation’. A sigh escapes as he charges up the final flight. He will have to tell Craig, come completely clean, before allowing Craig to put any more faith in Karl. Sucking in a calming breath, he slowly pushes open Craig’s door. “Hi…” his face reflects his uncertainty and the need for his only love.
"Come here..." Craig smiles softly holding out his hand "Let me rub some of that on your back. Oh and lock the door." His smile is warm and inviting, as reassuring as he can make it
Karl leans back on the door until the lock snicks in place. “Hi,” is all he can mumble again, drinking Craig’s form, and red-rimmed eyes. “Oh fuck love,” he closes the distance between them, “I caused that.” Fingers shaking he traces the puffed skin beneath one impossibly blue eye.
His eyes lower, cheeks flushing. “I need to tell yeh somethin’ else… about Mari and me. I don’t want t’ keep anything from you ever again.”
"We have plenty of time for that, Karl." Craig reaches up. To rub the fingers that caresses him gently. He inches closer and wraps his arms around the other man. "Let me hold you. This is where you belong, Karl with me."
“Yeah, here with you…” Karl’s arms encircle his love, a deep sigh of relief, “Home…with you is home.”
Craig kisses the side of his love's lips and gently soothes him, running his fingers over a special spot near his ear. "Home."