the lies they tell about us (aren't true)
by dirty diana
for just-chiara in Pretty Lights 2010, story originally posted here. She wanted Chace and Ed to read some fanfic, and I tried my hardest not to fall down the angst-hole. beta'd by inalasahl, britpicked by quackquacka and ignatius_sparke. All at the very last minute, xoxo ladies!
Ed gets the link to the webpage in an email that comes from his eldest brother's wife. He doesn't know if she's got a Google alert set up with his name on it or what, but she's constantly sending him links with the postscript, Look what I found! LOL.
Ed has explained to his family that he doesn't really want to know what untrue things the internet is saying about him, but the emails still show up in his inbox regularly. This link seems to go to a short story on a fan site, something about him and Chace arguing over dirty dishes. Ed rolls his eyes, makes an amused face, and closes the page.
It's quiet in the living room, where he sits with an afternoon beer and his laptop on the coffee table. Chace moved out last summer to a minimum of fuss. By contrast, breaking up with Jessica was an excess of drama, leaving them in this weird, in-between place that could practically be its own storyline on the show. But Ed's getting better at being on his own. Ed shuts off his computer and calls his mum, then goes about the rest of his day, and forgets about the e-mail message completely.
He forgets about it till the next day, when he goes to work and does a million takes of an argument with Leighton. During a break his phone rings, and Chace's name blinks on the screen.
Chace doesn't even say hello. "Was that supposed to be funny?"
Ed rewinds the last few days, trying to remember any inappropriate jokes he might have texted after too many beers, and comes up blank. "Sorry. Was what supposed to be funny?"
"That stupid e-mail. Sometimes you're an asshole, Jesus." The line goes dead.
Ed exits the studio, and smokes a cigarette before he finds Blake's trailer. It's February, the coldest, last few weeks of shooting before they wrap for another year. Maybe the last year. Ed shakes wet slush off his shoes and rubs cold hands against each other. "Have you talked to Chace, lately? He's angry with me, and I haven't got a clue why."
Blake flashes him an amused smile, running her fingers through her million-dollar hair. "You don't even know what you did? God, Ed. Sometimes you're an asshole."
Ed can't really argue with that. Sometimes he's a lot of things, but today he's pretty sure that he hasn't done anything to apologise for.
Almost positive. Blake wraps her arms around him, in an abrupt, perfumed hug. "I'll call him, don't worry. It can't be that bad. Chace never shuts up about you, seriously. You guys are best friends."
By the time Blake texts him back that evening, Ed has already gone through the last few days of email. He sifts through his inbox from his phone on the way home, and when he finds his sister-in-law's message he notices for the first time the second email address listed: Chace's. Frowning, Ed clicks the link that she sent him again. It's thousands of words long, but this time he reads through to the end, his fingers drumming out a rhythm of frustrated energy on the cab's worn leather seats.
His mouth drops open. Once he gets past the argument, and another couple pages about boring household chores, suddenly the tale shifts to describe the fictional versions of Ed and Chace having sex. With each other. It seems to be enthusiastic, amazing sex, described in such lurid detail that Ed curses aloud.
The taxi driver glances at him through the rearview mirror.
Ed's phone trills as soon as he walks through his front door. Blake's message says: NOT GOOD, ED. CALL HIM. RIGHT NOW!!!!!
His reply to his sister-in-law is carefully polite, resisting the urge to swear. Hey, Maggie. Please don't send Chace any more links like that. He doesn't find them funny.
Ed can take the rumours for what they are, ridiculous innuendo by people who will never, ever get it. Chace isn't Ed. Ed worries about a lot of things a little, but Chace worries about one thing all the time.
He calls Chace when he gets home, but Chace doesn't call him back. Ed listens to Chace's polite and professional voicemail greeting four times before giving up.
Chace doesn't call him back, but Ed finds him anyway. He'd been headed to the grocer's, and is stopped in the middle of one block by the sight of Chace's image through a window.
It's one of their old hangouts, a small beer pub in Chelsea that they used to practically live in together. This was before things got busy and hectic. Before they were ever really famous, before they had their face on billboards, and before anyone cared about where they went and who they were dating.
When Ed enters, Chace is cradling a beer glass with his hands and staring off into space.
"Hey, man." Ed slides into the chair opposite him. "You drinking by yourself now?"
Chace looks up, and once his blue eyes focus, Ed gets a ghost of a smile. It's there, then gone. "I was looking for you."
"In the bottom of a pint glass?" Ed asks.
"No." Chace makes a face, the face he makes when Ed isn't listening, isn't taking things seriously enough. "I was about to come find you."
"How long ago was that?"
"I stopped to think for a bit." Chace shrugs. "And I had a drink."
"How many beers ago was that?" Ed asks him. Chace doesn't drink all the time. But when he does, he drinks to get hammered. Ed can look at him and see that he's most of the way there. When he scrunches up his face to consider Ed's question, his skin is flushed, his eyes distant.
Chace shakes his head, finally. "I don't know."
"You had a lot of thinking to do?"
"I sort of did. Listen, I'm sorry I went off on you."
"That was my fault," Ed tells him, and then touches his hand. "Listen, you do not want to get photographed falling down drunk on a Thursday afternoon."
"I'm not drunk," Chace promises, but Ed shakes his head.
"Yeah, you are. We're going to go to my place," Ed says, firmly. When he reaches out a hand Chace actually gets up and follows him, paying his tab and then shuffling beside him on the Manhattan sidewalk without complaining.
When Ed drinks too much, he gets pleasantly messy, loud in a too-friendly way. When Chace drinks too much he gets quiet and still, like he's falling into a hole that no one will ever pull him out of. Ed guides him through the door and into the living room.
"Do you have any Bud Light?" Chace asks.
The answer is yes. Ed stocks half a case of Chace's favourite beer out of habit, but he answers the question with a no. "I've put the kettle on. You're about to pass out, man."
"Wouldn't be so bad," Chace says. Then he sighs. He's slumped over on Ed's sofa, to the point where Ed is getting worried that his best friend is about to throw up on his carpet. "I yelled at a lot of people yesterday."
"Blake told me."
Chace's head slides up, his gaze meeting Ed's. "Yeah?"
"Yeah." Ed sits down on the couch beside him. "Do you want to talk about it? I know that you read that stupid story. I don't know why she sent that."
Chace shakes his head. "That wasn't what started it. And I really shouldn't have yelled at you."
"Forget about it."
"It's still...I'm sorry. And I was up for that job, you remember."
"That romantic comedy thing?"
"Yeah." Chace closes his eyes, inebriated and exhausted, and his eyelashes brush his flushed cheeks. He opens them again, and shakes his head. "I didn't get it."
"I'm sorry." Ed hesitates. "But you know that's the job. Ninety-nine percent rejection, all that shit."
"I know." Chace's voice is getting softer, quieter, and Ed can hear the frustration expressed in each word. "Fuck, I know. I just really started to wonder if it's ever going to be worth it. All the things I give up."
He's staring directly at Ed now, and Ed fights a shiver.
"And then I had an interview yesterday," Chace continues, "and she wouldn't stop asking me about it."
"It?" Ed asks, and Chace shrugs.
"You. JC. All the rumours, all this great gay sex that I'm apparently having and, I don't know. I'm just so tired of it."
"I would've walked out," Ed says, seriously.
Chace laughs. "Wanted to. I could really fucking use that beer."
Ed's kettle whistles out a song.
When Ed sets the mug of clear, dark Earl Grey down on his coffee table, Chace stares into it for an endless minute, making whirlpools with his teaspoon. "Do you know what it is?"
Ed doesn't say anything, sipping his tea and waiting for Chace to finish the question.
"Everybody knows, and I don't know why." Chace's voice is hesitant, slightly hoarse. "I tried, but everybody just knew. And I don't know if it's something that I do."
"Chace," Ed says, gently. "Do you know that there is nothing wrong with you?"
Chace doesn't answer, and in that second Ed hates everybody. Hates Chace's agent, a pleaseant lady with a sweet voice who promises him that this is the best way to do things, that everybody else does the same. He hates TMZ, every reporter and every stupid gossip blog, and hates the church that Chace still goes to that teaches things he's trying to drink out of memory, at three in the afternoon. "Must be something. Everybody can tell."
"There's nothing to know."
Chace's teaspoon clatters against the coffee table, as he catches Ed's eye. "Nothing?"
Shit, Ed thinks, and four years of things they haven't said are suddenly hanging in the air. Solid, sharp, real. He has to find breath to say, "Nothing that's anyone else's business, yeah?"
"Except it's on the internet."
"That doesn't matter," Ed says, pressing his tongue to his upper lip and stubbornly holding in the question he wants to ask the most.
It's Chace who says, "Do you you ever think...shit, this is embarrassing."
Ed shakes his head, letting him off the hook with his next words. "All the time."
"Do you remember why we didn't?"
"I didn't think you were ready. Or maybe I wasn't." Timing. It seems like a cliche, but it's all that Ed has.
Chace's voice is very, very quiet when he says, "I'm never going to be ready."
"That's not true," Ed begins to say, but Chace cuts him off.
"Don't give me the It Gets Better speech, okay? Blake already tried that."
Ed kisses him instead. He doesn't know what else to do. He doesn't think about it, really. He's just suddenly pressed against Chace, crawling into his lap. Chace's hands grab onto Ed's waist, pulling him in, and then he's kissing Ed back, a warm, sticky kiss that's all lips and tongue, no hesitation or grace.
They kiss for long minutes, and then Chace just as suddenly pulls away. He's whispering "No, no, no," words made with hardly any sound.
"Chace?" Ed doesn't know what he's done wrong.
"Not like this. Please." Chace starts to talk too fast, frustrated words falling over themselves as they tumble out of his mouth. "I'm a mess, right now. And you feel sorry for me."
"You feel sorry for me. I don't want that, you know? And I'm drunk, and I'm not going to remember any of this. And, God," the last comes out in a whisper, "I'd really like to remember."
"Hey," Ed's voice is gentle. "You know we don't have to do anything right now? There's no rush, ever." Saying that makes him feel too earnest and slightly ridiculous, like a hero in teen romance. Ed hardly ever gets to play the hero, but Chace nods as if that was exactly what he wanted to hear.
Nods, then he grimaces. "My head hurts."
"I bet it does." Ed touches the back of his neck, and resists the urge to lean in for another kiss. "Drink your tea."
"Tea doesn't solve everything," Chace tells him, but he reaches for the cup obediently.
Chace falls asleep right after that. He stretches out on Ed's couch and closes his eyes. Even asleep he looks like he just rolled out of a magazine cover. Ed simply covers him with a light blanket, scribbles a note and then goes out to do his shopping after all.
Chace is awake when Ed gets back from his errands, but he hasn't really moved.
"I had this crazy dream," is the first thing he says, and Ed smiles.
"Wasn't a dream."
Chace's eyes study him like he's still trying to figure something out. "Okay," he says, finally, exhaling very gently. "Then that's okay."
Ed sits down beside him. Chace sighs, shaking his head.
"Fuck. I know this is stupid, but I don't want to go home." He makes a face, adding, "And I'm definitely still drunk."
"You are," Ed agrees, "and you don't have to go anywhere if you don't want to."
"Really, really don't."
Chace hesitates. "You sure? I don't want to be a tease."
Ed doesn't say, "You're not." That's not precisely true. He doesn't say, either, that he's pretty sure Chace is going to change his mind about the whole thing anyway. All he says is, "It's fine, I promise. Are you hungry?"
In the morning he leaves before Chace is awake. Chace probably has a deadly hangover to work through, and Ed doesn't want to disturb him.
He calls Jessica out of habit. Because that's who he calls when he's got news, and all the bullshit they went through doesn't change that.
It's 8 AM but Jess is out of bed, and Ed can hear the morning sounds as she moves around her apartment. She says a lot of things, but mostly she says, "Hey, it's about fucking time."
Ed laughs. "I wouldn't start picking out our wedding gifts, love. There's plenty of time for him to decide he'd rather not."
"Do you think he's going to?" Jessica asks. Cautiously, like a big sister, and Ed doesn't know when the hell that happened.
Ed thinks, then says, "I think I shouldn't jinx it."
Now, Ed has to work. He has to put on Chuck Bass' three-piece suit and pretend that he's got more on his mind than kissing Nate Archibald. His concentration is gone, and Leighton swears constantly as he misses his cues.
Ed can't quite feel bad, can't quite tell her that he's got Chace waiting in his bed. So he struggles through four pages of scenes, Leighton glare at every line he gets wrong as the director calls for them to start over, and then goes home.
Ed comes home after dark and finds Chace emptying the dishwasher, rearranging all Ed's cupboards into a state of organization that Ed hates to tell him won't last. Ed closes the appliance door, just to avoid banging his legs on the corners. He doesn't say anything really, not even hello. Chace manages a slight, real smile. Ed reaches out, touches Chace's wrist, and that's like setting off a switch. Chace pulls him in for a kiss, holds on tight and presses Ed back against then angle of the countertop. There's no gentleness. The pressure of Chace's mouth is warm and wet and real.
When Chace pulls away, he's blushing, expression slightly dazed. "Are we really going to do this?" That question is like a kiss in itself, whispered against Ed's skin.
"I will, if you will."
Chace sighs. He hasn't let go, his fingers laced together, knuckles resting in the small of Ed's back. "How come you're not freaking out?"
"I don't know," Ed answers, a whispered sentence with his mouth too close to Chace's lips. "It's just you, you know? You're my best friend. It doesn't seem like there's anything to worry about."
Chace nods. He leans in for another small kiss, teasing and almost shy before pulling back.
Ed asks the question that has been on his mind since he walked through the door. "Listen. You can tell me, if you're just not interested anymore."
Chace starts. "In sex?"
"In sex with me, yeah."
"Fuck. I don't ever remember not being interested." Ed gets another fleeting kiss. Chace's knees are pressed against the low cupboards as Ed leans against him, standing between his thighs. "Don't ever think that. Please no matter how fucked up I get, don't ever think that I don't want you."
"I'll try," Ed says, honestly.
Chace lets his own worry out, in a quick, barely audible breath. "I don't want you to be disappointed. You remember, I've never..."
"I remember," Ed says. Until now, the thought of Chace's virginity hadn't crossed his mind. But now there was something heavy about that, the idea that Chace has been waiting for him. "Are you sure I'm the person that you want to change that with?"
"Stop it." Chace's voice manages to be sharp and gentle at the same time. "You're the only person. I'm so fucking tired of trying to be someone else, but this isn't about that. You've been the only person for forever."
"Yeah?" Ed can't help asking.
Chace smiles. "Yeah. Show me your bed."
It's New York. And show business. Ed knows guys that have hooked up with other guys, ones that have offered him the same. It has never seemed like a big deal, but still Ed never goes any further than exploratory, drunken hook-ups in the darkest corners of Manhattan parties. He didn't have any experience worth speaking of.
Maybe he'd been waiting too.
What Chace wants for the first little while is to kiss, and Ed doesn't mind that. With a string of wet, wanting kisses, Chace pulls Ed on top of him, onto the bed.
Ed never thought about what Chace would be like, during this. It never seems worth thinking about, just a far distant idea that they were both ignoring. The reality isn't anything that Ed could've come up with, in his head.
Chace talks to him. He slides Ed's T-shirt over his head and whispers, non-stop. "You're beautiful."
Ed smiles, amused. "You're beautiful."
Chace is wearing yesterday's jeans and one of Ed's own button-down shirts, stretched slightly across Chace's chest. Ed can't stop staring. He tugs on one of the short sleeves, stroking Chace's biceps. Chace has shaved, down to his usual day-off stubble. It scratches Ed's collarbone when Chace kisses his neck, and then Chace moves downward, licking the hairless patch of skin over the hollow between Ed's ribs.
Chace keeps talking. "I used to think about you when I was," Chace doesn't actually say the word masturbation. Instead he continues, rushed and embarrassed. "I used to think about this."
Ed's hips jerk forward, without permission, as Chace hand slides down and cups between his legs, over his jeans.
"I probably shouldn't tell you that," Chace whispers. "I'm sorry. I just wanted you so much."
Ed cuts him off, before Chace drowns them both in a sea of apologies. He breathes in before another kiss, then murmurs, "Tell me about it."
"I used to imagine what you would sound like." Chace's breath is coming faster, interrupting every word. "I used to hear you with her, I couldn't help it, and I would imagine you making those sounds for me. Oh, God." Their legs twine together, rubbing against each other. Chace holds on to Ed and rolls them both over, pinning Ed neatly to the mattress. Ed arches up against him, into that comforting weight. "I wanted that so much. To make you say my name."
Ed whispers, "Chace," can't help it, as Chace unfastens Ed's jeans. Stares at Ed then, as if they're meeting for the first time.
"As good as you pictured?" Ed finds himself asking, and Chace smiles at him.
He strokes the length of Ed's cock, already half-hard, watching Ed shiver, and whispers, "I told you. You're beautiful. Tell me what you want, okay?"
That's how they end up with Chace sitting on the edge of the bed while Ed kneels at the bed and unzips Chace's trousers.
Ed loves giving head. He's not particularly expert at it, though, with guys. Chace doesn't complain, or seem to know the difference. He lets Ed lick and suck at the head of his erection, stroking the base, listening to Chace's reaction. Chace's fingers rest against the back of Ed's scalp, hips vibrating slightly as he moans between words. "Fuck, that's so good. Your mouth is so good. You like this, don't you? You like the taste of it."
Ed groans out a light, breathless yes, without stopping. Chace is heavy, salty and bitter in his mouth.
"God, Ed. I want to do this to you."
Chace's fingers tangle in Ed's hair, as his words float off and come to rest on Ed's skin. He calls Ed sweetheart, darling, things Ed doesn't usually hear. Chace's words and hands wrap around Ed's body like a blanket. Then Chace whispers, "Ed", low and desperate. Ed offers two, three strokes before his mouth and fingers are coated in damp, sticky juice.
"Come here," Chace says after that, and pulls Ed into his arms. Ed's erection is exposed above the opening of his jeans, and Chace kisses the back of his neck and asks, "Will you show me how you do it?"
Ed licks his fingers to wet them before reaching down, and touching himself. It's odd having company for something that's usually private, but Chace whispers, "Yeah, like that." Ed closes his eyes and parts his lips as tiny whimpers escape.
Then Chace's hand closes over his as Ed starts stroking faster, his hips thrusting slightly in time with each motion. "Let me," Chace says, and then all Ed can feel is Chace, caressing him, and the heat of his body everywhere they touch.
It's not long before it's too much. Ed thrusts into Chace's hand, and comes with a violent shudder, moaning.
Chace's voice now is gentle, soothing. Long after the orgasm has left him, Ed is still shaking.
"You're okay. You're okay, baby. We're both going to be fine."
Chace goes to the bathroom for a towel, and cleans them both up.
"Hey," he says, as he sits down on the bed. Ed leans into the shape of him, against the warm rhythm of Chace's breathing. In, out. "We're going to get much better at that."
"I know we are," Ed agrees. "And I'm going to buy condoms. And lube."
"Handcuffs?" Chace asks lightly.
Ed grins. Chace's tone is joking, but that only leaves Ed curious. "Whatever you fucking want."
"I want to take you on a date."
Ed can't say anything to that except, "Yeah. Okay." He half doesn't know if Chace could be serious, if Chace is really ready.
Maybe Chace can hear that. "Hey," he says, fingers brushing Ed's forehead. "I know. I've been all over the place. But we're going to figure this out."
Ed nods. He folds himself into Chace's arms and tries to picture a future where they're not just friends. "What about... You know. Everything."
"It's nobody's business but ours."
Ed kisses him at that, twists himself up so that his mouth brushes Chace's. "You'll be my secret lover?"
"If that's what you want."
Ed wants that more than he realised. "How's now?" Ed asks, before he can stop himself.
"Absolutely not," Chace answers.
Ed is kissed on the mouth before the panic in his chest can start to shoot through his whole body.
"I want to like, knock on your door. And bring you a gift, and not be wearing your clothes." Chace's smile is a warm expression, hopeful and still reassuring, that Ed doesn't remember ever seeing before. "We're going to make a plan. It's going to be good. I promise."
Ed relaxes, and nods.
"But I can still buy you dinner. Do you want sushi?"
They haven't discussed everything, not really. But today it doesn't seem to matter, and maybe if Ed just closes his eyes and just jumps in, everything will be fine. He doesn't want to think about made up stories on the internet, or what will happen if their flaws get the best of them.
He needs this to be good.
Ed looks for the Japanese menu in the kitchen drawer. He texts Jessica and says, I THINK WE'RE MAKING PROGRESS.
Jess's reply is one winking smiley face. FINALLY.
back / comment