The Cruise
Picture used with permission of the photographer

It's only a cruise.

It's only a cruise.

That's what Howie had said, wasn't it?

"It's only a cruise, Nick, not a full scale tour. How hard can it be, man? You show up, sign some autographs, take some pictures with the fans, and work on your tan… It's a piece of cake."

Easy for him to say. So damn easy for him. He wasn't the one who had a perpetual hard on when he was in the room. Hell, if Howie knew how he felt about him, he'd have never asked in the first place. Now Nick was too damn weak to refuse him. All last night he'd lain awake thinking about the cruise. No, scratch that. He'd lain awake thinking about Howie.

Howie on the deck, his hair being tossed by the sea breeze. Howie in the lounge, a fruity tropical drink in his hand, smiling at the girls. Howie on a towel on the deck, his body oiled against the rays of the sun wearing a skimpy swimsuit. Howie, Howie, Howie.

Shit! Why had he said yes?

Because he was weak. Because any excuse to be around Howie seemed more than enough these days. Because, maybe, just maybe he might get lucky? A, B, C, or all of the above? He sighed and tossed his bag into the back of his car and set off for the mall. What does one wear on a cruise, anyway?

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Three weeks later he was mingling with the best of them in the main dining room aboard the Fiesta Princess. He snorted. Who the hell would name a boat 'Fiesta Princess'? Okay, so who was he to talk? His boat was named 'N Control'. That was a laugh, wasn't it? He was damn close to losing control. If Howie put his arm around him one damn more time to pose for a picture, he was going to give everyone something to capture on film. He laughed at the perversity of the idea, wondering what would happen if just as the flash went off he turned to Howie and kissed him? God, the fans would freak, especially since they all thought he was sleeping with Kevin. Nick, that is, not Howie.

He must have laughed out loud, because Howie turned to him and gave him a look. But damn, what a look. He was puzzled by Nick's behavior, but he had that smile on his face that Nick loved so much. That one where his eyes crinkle at the corners and his teeth show … god, could anyone's teeth be that perfect? Whenever Howie smiled like that he just wanted to shove him up against a wall and –


"Huh? Oh, yeah, D, whassup?" Nick cleared his throat and tried to clear his mind as well, but it wasn’t happening. He was in polite company or he'd have adjusted the seam at his crotch as well.

"Show time, Nicky."

Why did he let him get away with calling him that? No, never mind, he knew why. Pathetic, that's what he was, like a damn dog begging for a crumb. He sighed again and followed Howie toward the small stage at the end of the room. They had a skeleton crew of the band with them and as they began to play Nick suppressed a moan.

Great. Fucking great. Howie expected them to sing "How Did I Fall In Love With You." Wasn't that supposed to be Brian's song? He sighed and smiled at the audience, who was watching them intently, expecting their money's worth.

Howie hit the high note as all the women over the age of ten swooned and damn if Nick didn't nearly come in his pants. It was torture, pure torture. It was after 10:30 before he could make his escape out onto the darkened deck. He'd run by their cabin to change and was now wearing a t-shirt and fleece workout pants. A light rain was falling, and it combined with the sea spray to make everything on deck dangerously slick.

"Hey, there you are!" Howie said cheerfully, coming up behind Nick and putting his arm around him.

Nick groaned, in spite of himself.

"You okay, Nick? You’re not getting sick are you?" Howie sounded so damned concerned, so genuine. He was perfect, so fucking perfect.

"No," he croaked. " I'm fine. Just needed some air, I guess."

"I hear ya. Those crowds can get to you after a while."

Nick cast a sideways glance to his right. The only light was that which shone out from inside the dining room, but it reflected off of Howie's hair. The rain and sea mist had dampened it and the curls were tight and springy. Nick wanted to run his fingers through it just to watch it spring back into place when released.

Nick was leaning against the side rail when he felt Howie's hand cover his and squeeze gently. "Howie?" he asked.

"I just wanted to say thanks. It really means a lot that you'd give up your free time to come do this for me. How can I ever thank you?"

"Kiss me." It just came out. He didn't mean to say it, he couldn't stop it, it just happened, and before he could take it back, Howie was in his arms.

Howie wrapped his arms around Nick's broad back, lifting up his face and Nick didn't need to think twice. He crushed his mouth against Howie's, his hands tangling through the damp curls and angling his mouth for better contact. He groaned as Howie parted his lips and then he swept his tongue inside his mouth to stroke the older man forcefully.

Their hips were fused together and Nick could feel Howie's erection straining for freedom. He reached between them to stroke his hardness and Howie moaned against his mouth.

"Our cabin, now." Howie said as he pulled away, never once looking back as he led the way to the cabin they'd shared since leaving port. Once inside he dimmed the lights and tossed his jacket on a chair. "Are you sure about this, Nick?"

"Damn sure." His chest was heaving with the effort to breathe and as Howie began to laugh he began to panic.

Howie saw the look on Nick's face and just shook his head. "Your shirt, Nick. I just noticed what it said."

Nick smirked as he looked down at his own chest. There, in big letters, it said 'FCUK'. "You don’t like my shirt?" he grinned.

"I love your shirt, but dude, you can't spell worth a damn."

"Maybe not, but I can fcuk." He pulled his shirt over his head and off, tossing it on top of Howie's jacket.

"Yeah?" Howie whispered. "Prove it."

Nick dropped his pants to the floor, too, revealing what Howie had long suspected. He was massive. And tonight he was all his. His hands moved to the buttons on his dress shirt, but Nick stopped him.

"Let me," he whispered. His long fingers worked at the buttons, releasing them one by one as he brushed his lips over Howie's face again and again. The shirt hung loosely and Nick rubbed his hands over Howie's chest, brushing his nipples with his thumbs and bringing them to tight peaks.

Howie sucked in his breath. "Damn," he whispered.

"You like that?" Nick murmured, taking an earlobe between his lips and nibbling gently.

Howie's hands were busy as well. He stroked Nick's back feeling the muscles clench beneath his fingers and they were close enough that he could feel Nick's cock twitch against his hips. He couldn't wait any longer; he had to feel him, now. He held one hand on Nick's ass as his other hand reached for his erection, firmly stroking it as Nick groaned against his neck.

"Turnabout's fair play, Nicky," he said with a smile.

Nick pushed Howie's shirt down and off his arms, then reached for his belt buckle. Howie groaned again as Nick's fingers brushed against his swollen flesh. Nick was in the mood to tease, but Howie would have no part of it. He let go of Nick and pushed his pants over his hips and to the floor, struggling to keep his balance. Nick held him up as he kicked off his shoes and then tossed his boxers against the wall. They dressed and undressed in front of each other all the time, but until now they'd never really looked. In the faint light they stood quietly, looking their fill and anticipating their next move. In the end, Nick was the first to move.

Slowly he ran his index finger from Howie's lower lip down his chest and to the tip of his erection, pausing only to dip once or twice into his belly button. Howie laughed at this, but his laughter was stifled when Nick's finger made contact with the swollen tip of his cock, circling in the drop of moisture that was poised on the end.

Before he could beg for more Nick was on his knees, his lips sucking gently at the throbbing mass as Howie rocked against his face holding his short blonde locks for balance. He watched, transfixed, as Nick deep throated him, his breath coming in short gasps as Nick swirled his tongue around him. He was so close and he wanted it to never end but it had to, or he'd never have *his* turn. "Nick, please…." he begged. He pushed himself deeper into Nick's mouth and as he felt his balls begin to tighten Nick pressed a finger into his ass and he exploded. He came and came and came Nick didn't miss a drop.

He held Howie until his breathing stilled and his body sagged against him. Standing quickly, he took him in his arms and kissed him deeply. He held him close as they tasted each other savoring the moment.

Howie leaned against Nick and felt what their encounter had done to him. Once again, he took him in his hand in an attempt to ease his discomfort and Nick shuddered. "You know, you still have a lot to prove, Nick."

"How's that?" Nick groaned.

"You made a promise out on the deck, but you haven't followed through yet." He continued to stroke Nick who suddenly broke out in a cold sweat.

"You serious, D?"

"Weren't *you?*"

"Well, yeah, but-"

"Then do it."

Nick wasn't stupid. This was the chance he'd waited for and he was not going to let it slip away. He led Howie to the bed and pulled him down to lie beside him. Taking his time, he touched him everywhere, rapidly bringing him back to full arousal. He kissed him softly, running his tongue along his jaw and down his neck. He licked quickly at his chest, giggling deep in his throat as Howie squirmed beneath him and finally came to rest between his knees, their cocks pressed together.

Howie reached above his head to the shelf over the bed and pressed something into Nick's hand.

"D?" Nick asked, looking at the tube of lubricant in his hand.

"I have fantasies, too, Nick," he whispered.

Nick closed his eyes and groaned, not fully believing this was really happening. As he braced himself on his hands, Howie coated Nick's erection and propped his feet up to give him better access.

Nick pressed slowly against him, pausing at the first sign of resistance.

"Nick, just do it."

"But Howie-"

"Fcuk me, Nick."

At his urgent plea, Nick gave in, burying himself in Howie's warmth and sliding slowly out again. He couldn't wait, this had been building for weeks. As he moved against Howie's body, he reached between them stroking Howie's erection in matching rhythm.

Howie began to moan as they picked up speed and he swelled in Nick's hand. As Nick came, he buried his face against Howie's shoulder. With one last stroke Howie released himself between their bodies and they collapsed against each other, Nick's hand still wrapped around him.

In the cooling night, they pulled the covers up and wrapped themselves around each other.

"So, Nick?"

"'Sup, D?"

"Still sorry you came?"

"On you or on the cruise?"

"Smartass. The cruise, of course."

"Nah. Live for the unexpected, I always say. Besides, it's only a cruise."

**The end**


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