Office Confrontations Ch. 04


"Is there a reason you always hide those?"Marshall pointed at Kyle's covered wrists, where the red tattoos lay waiting. Kyle's silence and proceeding blank stare made Marshall smirk. Looks like Kyle wasn't the only one with the ability to render people speechless.

Then again, all Kyle had to do was take off his clothes.

"You mean my tattoos?"He lifted a wrist and held it palm up, staring at the slight red edging his sleeve. His eyes flicked to Marshall. "That's what you want to ask me about?

"You said anything not involving Clara. Your tattoos are interesting, but confusing too."Marshall tentatively reached out, pausing and looking up at Kyle nervously before gripping his arm with loose fingers, pushing up the sleeve. He traced the red curves and black paths with a faint smile.

"They're amazing. But you're always covering them up. At work, when we grab food..."He looked up to find Kyle's gaze again."Are you embarrassed by them, or do you just not like them?

"None of the above."Kyle tossed his head, throwing the hair falling into his eyes over his shoulder, and turned his hand to take Marshall's. "They didn't fit the character of computer geek. I hid them to disappear and become someone else. The nerdy, four-eyed, stuttering Kyle doesn't have tattoos, would be terrified of them."He tipped his head, eyes losing focus as he thought.

"Do you always create characters of yourself when you're working on a production?"Marshall questioned, squeezing Kyle's hand.

"Usually, though this is the first time I've tried something so extensive to keep in character. This play isn't all that huge, so I figured I could explore the character and make my own quirks without ruining the entire play "or getting replaced for someone with less of a brain and more of a 'monkey see monkey do' attitude."Kyle shrugged, pulling back his hand. Marshall hesitated before pulling back himself, resting his hands uselessly on his lap. There they fidgeted, rubbing, scratching, flexing. When did he get so needy that he craved Kyle's touch?

"What else have you played?"Marshall couldn't stop the flow of questions. Finally, a peek into the inner workings of the mysterious actor boy-slash-boyfriend!

"Hmm. I did a stint with Chicago, more of a backup dancer and an understudy than anything. Roger in Rent, though it wasn't the huge Broadway spectacle, and I had to bleach my hair blond "and I do not look all that great blond "and a few other plays here and there."Kyle shrugged. "Too many were either silent parts or cookie-cutter bad guy parts. I've lived through too many death scenes to count."Kyle smiled wryly. "Roger was my first real character, less trigger happy, more relate-able."Kyle's eyes dimmed, and he stared toward the window, thoughts swirling so fast Marshall could almost see him sifting through his life in quick glimpses.

"As much as I loved the big production and the infamy, the praise...I wanted a character more outside the box, one that really felt like I was doing something more than posing and glaring. I guess that's why this project was such a big deal. If I can make it here, if I can become a character completely unlike myself seamlessly...maybe I have more of a future in this than pirouettes in the background."Marshall wanted to reach out again, but resisted. Kyle had always been so confident, so put together. Always in control. After the big career reveal, Marshall couldn't even imagine how Kyle found the ability to play his shy persona, much less take on the personality full time.

Unfortunately, the problem with actors was they made it difficult to know what's real and what's fiction. Should Marshall try to comfort or reassure him? Would he just grin back cheekily and roll his eyes, saying no shit Sherlock? Or would he break down and cry?

Who was Kyle, really, and would Marshall ever know the truth?

"How am I supposed to know who you are when you can't seem to find yourself through all the characters?"Marshall asked aloud, not really thinking until Kyle's eyes clouded over and he turned away.

"I never said I didn't know who I am."His jaw tightened and Marshall could see the tension in the lines of his face. Marshall sighed. Damn, he really did need to learn to think before he spoke.

"How could I tell if you do or don't? You're an actor for Christ's sake. All you do is hide behind a mask."Marshall needed to stop speaking. Immediately.

"I already told you, I'm not hiding. I'm not fake, it's just a character."Kyle's voice dropped, carefully controlled and revealing nothing, but Marshall could still see the tension in his shoulders, and the way his neck flexed from his clenched teeth.

"Then why are you falling into that stupid emotionless thing you do?"Marshall demanded, suddenly angry at the return of the blank mask. "Do you really think I can trust you when you can just turn everything off at the blink of an eye? All the time you change, like the flip of a switch, and you're someone else. Which Kyle am I dating? Who am I going to bed with practically every night?"Marshall's face heated at the admission in such a public place, and so loud, but he ignored the feeling and fixated on Kyle's face, his blank mask.

The mask it seemed he never took off. Kyle glared at him, but his face was still tightly controlled, eyes the only part of him revealing the conflicting thoughts inside.

"If you can't handle all of me, then don't try being with just one side."He pushed his chair back roughly and stood. "They may be characters but that doesn't mean they're not still a part of me in some way."

"I don't care about the different characters, or any of that shit. I just don't understand why you shut me out when things become difficult."Marshall stood with him, closing the distance by circling the table and grabbing Kyle's arm. Kyle started to resist, pulling, but it was a weak effort with no real force behind it.

"I'm not..."Kyle sighed, dropping all pretense of escaping and turning to face Marshall. If I were shutting you out I wouldn't be here."He stared seriously into Marshall's eyes, who didn't know what to say or how to act. He hadn't expected to broach another hot spot. And all this from an offhanded comment about tattoos.

"Do you always go for every touchy subject or is your mouth just so disconnected from your brain you can't comprehend the stupidity of your questions?"Kyle asked. Instead of arguing or pushing again, Marshall laughed quietly, letting Kyle go. He sighed and sank back into his chair. He wasn't looking for a fight. He hadn't been trying, and he really did to get his mouth a filter.

"Can we just assume it's the ladder and forget the entire conversation?"Marshall asked, gesturing for Kyle to sit down and hoping he actually acquiesced. After a few moments' hesitation, Kyle did end up sitting. He shook his head, mouth upturned in a humorless smile.

"How about we make a rule that you're no longer allowed to ask questions and I'm no longer allowed to listen to you babble?"Marshall rolled his eyes.

"Yeah, that's not a biased deal, not at all."He scoffed, small smile stretching his lips. I'll try for easier subjects next time.

"Like the weather and stock trades?"Kyle supplied. Marshall kicked his shin under the table.

"No, asshole, like when's the opening show, or do I need to bring roses or lilies to give you as a bouquet?"This time Kyle kicked him back, but he laughed in amusement.

"Lilies are for funerals, so avoid those. And don't get those shitty cheap roses at Walmart, get them from a real florist. They'll last longer."Marshall smiled and leaned forward, grabbing Kyle's neck and pulling him in for a kiss. Kyle allowed it for only a second before pulling back and smacking Marshall's hand away.

"Only I get to start public affections, and besides that was much too pg. We should go for groping or public indecency."Marshall laughed outright and caught Kyle's hand, holding it firm. At least Kyle didn't pull away.

"You mentioned earlier..."Marshall started. Kyle sighed and tried to let go. Marshall tightened his hold.

"What did I mention earlier?"He asked, voice laced with irritation. Marshall ignored the tone and smirked.

"You dance?"His eyes lit up and the smile widened. "Like...ballerina, Swan Lake dancing?"Marshall couldn't help but chuckle at the thought of Kyle in a blush colored leotard. Kyle's face lightened considerably and he dug his nails into Marshall's palm.

"Yes I dance, no I'm not a ballerina, and it takes a lot more work than you're implying."He retorted smartly.

"Oh really? Do you have to bring your own tutu or do they supply a one size fits all stock there?"Kyle smacked his hand and pulled away, folding his arms across his chest, but his face still shone with amusement.

"I don't wear tutus, I wear sweats. Stop imagining me in skirts or I'll put you in one."He smirked. "Keep mocking me and I'll have to teach you a lesson."

"Oh, I'm so scared."Marshall winked, hoping he would get punished.

Preferably in the bedroom.

Kyle's expression promised retribution, and Marshall's heart crashed against his sternum. Who knew he'd get so nervous and excited by a single look?

"I swear, I've never met a man so eager to be abused."Kyle grinned, sipping his liquor with lidded eyes. It's like you actually want to see how far I'll go."Kyle muttered around the bottle, and Marshall dropped his eyes to the table, swirling the ice in his glass with shaking hands.

"Maybe I do."He replied quietly. And his words rang true. After their kinky spank fest, Kyle had yet to really get to the physical part of their relationship "or whatever the hell their tryst was considered. In fact, the most they ended up doing was some inappropriate groping in the elevators and some heavy make-out sessions in Kyle's car before being dropped off.

Marshall had never felt so built up with need, and that was coming from a man who went through most of college without more than two hook-ups and one three month long relationship. Not that he made it out with a degree, mind you. Rather, he dropped out Junior year after changing majors six times and wasting a good fifty grand on school tuition.

Partially the reason behind his lack of money―and lack of higher paying career offers.

Kyle didn't speak, merely watched him, eyes searching Marshall's. Marshall, for his part, blushed every time he looked up, hoping Kyle's attention would be somewhere else and always finding himself the center of attention.

"Wh-whatever. Nevermind."Marshall waved offhandedly and looked for the waitress, attempting to flag her down. Maybe an impartial party could change the subject―but could he really afford twelve dollar nachos just for the distraction?

"Marshall."He looked back at Kyle instinctively, and instantly regretted it. Kyle looked serious, which wasn't a usual look, and that automatically put Marshall on edge. I don't understand you sometimes."He sighed, setting the beer down and folding his hands on the edge of the table.

"You come at me with this 'holy shit I can't do this gay thing' for weeks, and now you're asking me to throw down all my kink on the table for you to see?"He asked, nibbling his lip. "Do you actually want this or are you trying to be tough and pretend you don't care what I do because you're a 'man'?"He asked, eyes never leaving Marshall's, who gulped audibly and felt thankful for the dim lighting covering his reddened face.

"It's not―I'm not pretending, I just..."Marshall sighed and gripped his knees hard enough to draw blood, digging in his nails to avoid hitting things―or trying to drag Kyle onto the table for a way too public make-out scene. I don't know what this is. I don't know what you expect from me, either."Both legs quickly grew numb from his death grip, but he couldn't let go without feeling as if he was letting go of his sanity too.

"I don't know how to act. I told you before, I've never been―interested in a man, and I meant it. But more than that it's not like I've been hooking up every weekend with random chicks either. I didn't do relationships before all of this started, and hell, I'm not even sure if this is what dating looks like."He raked his hands through his hair, unable to feel his thighs other than the painful pinpricks of blood rushing back to his veins, before quickly returning his nails into the crescent-shaped indents in his thighs. "So forgive me if I sound stupid but I have no fucking clue what I should do next, if I'm supposed to put out after our first date "not that this is a date, you know what I mean."Marshall groaned.

"I give up. Just tell me what I'm supposed to do here. Please, I'm completely at a loss."Marshall pleaded, eyes locked with Kyle's and trying not to flinch away from that damned blank mask, which just had to make its appearance again at any sign of meaningful conversation.

"You expect me to walk you through a gay relationship―in the middle of a shit bar with at least a dozen patrons loitering around us?"Kyle asked, surprising Marshall―especially with the still very intact expression of carefully controlled emotions on his face. He leaned forward, hands still folded over themselves on the bare, unvarnished table beneath. You can barely hold my hand in front of Clara without panicking and trying to pull away."

Marshall groaned and thumped his hands onto the table, no longer able to keep them clenched to his jeans. "What the hell do you expect me to do Kyle? I can't help it. I avoided an actual relationship with a woman for this exact reason." He glared, snatching up his water and gulping just to give his mouth something to do rather than spout out dangerous comments. Kyle exhaled slowly, his knuckles tight with tension though the rest of his form looked particularly indifferent.

"I don't expect anything from you, and that's the problem."Kyle admitted. "This isn't easy for me either. I don't like having to walk around with a paranoid homophobic prick glaring at everyone that walks within fifty feet of us.

"I'm trying!"Marshall half rose in his seat. He took a sharp breath and slowly sat, trying to ignore the stares of confusion around them thanks to his particularly loud outburst. I'm trying to do this, dammit. But every time I really try you slam up a wall or you stare at me like I'm an idiot.

"You are an idiot."Kyle pointed out, and Marshall flipped him off with a grunt.

"Clever."Marshall snapped. "This is exactly my point. I want to try, but you have to throw me a bone, dammit. I don't expect you to take my hand and show me the world, but giving me a break once in a while would be appreciated."

"Give you a break? Like ignoring the fact that you want me to stay in the closet with you? Or welcoming you into my home even when you're twitching and searching the walls for chains and torture devices?"Kyle growled back, sloshing his lager in his haste to shove it out of the way. I give you break after break; I have yet to punch you in the face for insulting me every time I turn around.

"I keep telling you I'm trying. So I'm nervous in the bedroom, I just tried to show you I was willing to give anything you've got a shot."He retorted. Kyle tensed, and Marshall gulped, assuming he hit another damn sensitive spot. Did he need a filter or did Kyle need to see a therapist about mood swings?

"You'd do anything just to prove you're 'trying'."Kyle stated matter-of-factly, rather than in the form of a question. But Marshall nodded anyway, jaw tight with tension and head tilted just enough that he didn't have to look Kyle directly in the eye. "So if I said let's go back to your place and I'll show you my kinky surprises you'd just automatically agree and follow me out.

Marshall pointedly stood up. After a second's hesitation, obvious in the nervous flick in his eyes as he looked at Kyle and the room, he held out his hand. Kyle stared at the outstretched appendage for a full thirty seconds, unblinking, before sighing in resignation and taking it. His grip felt firm and his hands, surprisingly gentle on occasion, held on and twisted their fingers together, squeezing.

"Fine. But the second you insult me or pull away I walk."Kyle grunted. Marshall glared.

"Seriously, after all this you want to walk away because I'm a bit skittish in the sack? If that were true for everyone I'd still be a virgin."Marshall muttered in exasperation, rolling his eyes. Kyle snorted loudly.

"I wouldn't be surprised if you still are."Marshall dug his nails into Kyle's hand and practically dragged him out the door of the seedy bar, though he knew Kyle allowed it because damn he was one strong fucker. He led the way with a sure gait, though his heart thumped apprehensively and he was breathing much heavier than the short walk should have instigated. Kyle, as always, handled uncertain situations with silence and a steady, narrow stare straight ahead, without a single word to make him feel better.

As they stopped at a main street waiting for the light to change, Marshall stepped closer to Kyle and ducked his head, twisting Kyle's hand closer in his palm and pressing it against his side. Kyle looked up with a question in his eyes and Marshall shrugged, nodding his head toward the gaggle of University students gabbing and tittering like a bunch of noisy pigeons begging for crumbs.

The group hardly noticed them, but Marshall didn't care if they didn't have the center of attention. He wanted to prove to Kyle – to himself – that he was more than just a pathetic man unable to grow a pair and do what he'd been craving for hours. He leaned over and kissed Kyle firmly on the lips, his own mouth still a bit unyielding from nervousness, though he tried to ignore it as he breathed in the scent of alcohol and coconut shampoo, and the slight scratching on his chin where their faces touched and Kyle's less than perfectly manicured facial fur started to prickle. Marshall smirked into the kiss, parting his lips slowly. Had Kyle been so busy rushing to Marshall's house to be the carpooling king that he'd started to put off important things like personal hygiene and shaving?

How interesting.

Marshall's lips morphed around Kyle's, and his free hand found the small of Kyle's back, pulling him in for a deeper kiss. Kyle sighed and pulled back, looking up at him with amusement and a hint of smugness.

"We missed the red light, idiot."Marshall grinned when he looked up and saw the students halfway down the block.

"So? I was enjoying myself."Marshall's mouth widened and he crushed his lips to Kyle's again, pulling him closer with a hand to his neck. Kyle smacked his side and pulled away, though his other hand was still wound tight with Marshall's.

"Come on moron, we'll have more privacy and time at your place. Let's go before we miss the light again."He towed Marshall behind him and they raced across the street, though they had plenty of time to cross. By the time they made it to Marshall's apartment building, they were both breathless and grinning, though he never would have admitted he was more breathless from excitement than exhaustion. Just before they opened the door, Kyle pulled on their entwined hands and cocked his head.

"Oh and Marshall?"He asked, turning to look at his very impatient lover, who merely gruffed a weird man-sound in reply. "Who said this wasn't a date?"Marshall blinked.

"Well..."He paused, biting his lip and considering.

"Because I do recall you asking me to come with you, and I consider that a very informal invitation."Kyle smirked."By the way, next time if you don't bring me to a fancy restaurant and buy me flowers I'll kick your ass for being a cheap date."Marshall laughed.

"Oh really? So you're the bitch in the relationship? Does that mean I get to be on top?"Marshall winked. Kyle punched him "lightly " and they headed through the front door.

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