Pay Day

Note: Part of the Don We Now Our Gay Apparel challenge 2004 -- for , who wanted something not-pwp and preferably silly. Hope you like this, although I'm not sure how silly it is…
Beta: Many thanks, !

This was not the job Nick had dreamed of in college. But if he didn't want to move back home (and he wanted to go back to living under his mother's thumb and sharing a room with one of his younger siblings about as much as he wanted to move to hell) -- he had to find a way to pay the rent for his tiny apartment and eat at least occasionally.

Still, sometimes he wondered if it was worth it. Looking at himself, it didn't seem as if the three years of slaving his way through acting school against the will of his parents had paid off. He had thought that by now he would have found an engagement with a theatre company somewhere -- maybe even in a smaller off-Broadway production – instead he was wearing huge shoes, colorful clothes at least two sizes too big and lots of brightly colored make-up.

No, he sure hadn't expected to be stuck working kids' birthdays as a clown.

Sighing, Nick opened the door of the second-floor bathroom that he had fled in an attempt to get at least a few minutes break. Back to business. Not that today's kid wasn't cute – on the contrary, Baylee was adorable – but Nick had been working almost every hour of every day for the last three weeks (parties in the afternoon, auditions mornings and evenings) and he was exhausted. He just wanted to get it over with, go home, fall into bed and try to forget his aspirations of being an actor.

But before he made it to the stairs, from where he could already hear the twenty children laughing and yelling, he collided with someone coming out of one of the bedrooms. Tripping over Nick's clown shoes, the stranger fell to the ground with a muffled curse, sprawling awkwardly at Nick's feet. Looking down, Nick couldn't help but giggle, even as he tried to school his features into lines of concern. Not that anyone could even see his real expression beneath the layers and layers of make-up, but he definitely did not want to get into trouble with Mr. and Mrs. Littrell, who had been perfectly amiable all afternoon, not expecting him to work miracles and even insisting that he take a break after two hours.

His "victim", still grumbling under his breath, sat up and Nick couldn't help but gasp a bit at the sheer beauty of the man looking up at him with startlingly green eyes.

"Do you see anything funny – clown?" he asked, caught somewhere between a scowl and a rueful grin, and Nick wanted to be damned if not even his voice was sexy as hell -- deep and with a charming Southern accent. But also pretty intimidating, even sprawled on the floor.

"No, not really," Nick finally managed to get out, feeling himself blush and for once grateful for the thick coat of white foundation. "It's just that… isn't it normally the clown who trips over his own feet?"

The man on the floor looked at him, obviously torn between amusement and annoyance, until finally he burst out laughing. The sound was infectious, and Nick found himself laughing along with him. The joke hadn't been that funny, but whenever they looked at each other, it just set them off again, and suddenly Nick was feeling more carefree and happy than he had in a long time.

When they had both calmed down somewhat, Nick reached out and offered the guy his hand, which was gracefully accepted. Then they were standing face to face, and Nick felt strangely reluctant to end this moment.

Yet… "I guess I should get back," he said, although those were not at all the words he wanted to say.

"Oh, I'm sure, Bri and Leigh won't mind waiting a bit longer – at least until you've told me your name… After all, you were my birthday gift to my favorite godson. My name is Kevin, by the way; Kevin Richardson." The green eyes twinkled mischievously, and Nick fought the urge to kiss the teasing smile away.

Well, maybe later… There was definitely something like interest there, even if Nick couldn't quite see how anyone could be interested in him as long as he was wearing his work clothes. Especially someone like Kevin, who was dressed casually but expensively in designer jeans and a light-green turtleneck that brought out his eyes perfectly and hugged his body in all the right places. Nick swallowed hard and decided that he was not going to let this opportunity go by, not after not having anything resembling a private life for… way too long for a reasonably attractive gay man living in New York City.

So he tried to forget about the fact that he was dressed ridiculously and really should be downstairs entertaining a bunch of over-sugared children and flirted to the best of his abilities. "Well, if you put it that way… Can't offend the man who's paying my way, now can I? I'm Nick Carter – actually an actor when I'm not trying to make a living…"

"Aren't we all?" Kevin's smile was easy and he met and held Nick's gaze as if it was the most natural thing in the world. There was something strangely familiar about him… and suddenly, Nick realized what it was.

"Yes. That would be me." Kevin's grin grew broader as he answered Nick's question even before he could ask. Of course, this probably happened to him all the time.

"You are THE Kevin Richardson, the guy who's been the leading man in just about every major Broadway production of the last five years?" Nick could only stare with his mouth open. He just did not get this lucky. Ever. He was the guy who missed the last subway to Brooklyn and had to walk home, who didn't get an acting job because he was too tall, or not tall enough, who fell in love with guys that only wanted him for his looks or guys who were decidedly not gay – the guy who just did not meet Kevin Richardson at some kid's birthday party and had him actually interested in him. It was simply impossible.

But there was Kevin, right in front of him, his face showing amusement and an indulgent smile. And he seemed to be in no hurry to be elsewhere, but completely content to stand here and talk to a star-struck actor, who was still dressed as a clown. Nick shook his head, trying to clear it.

"Well, in that case I've probably paid YOUR way in the last three years – I've been to every single show you were in! Although I have to admit that I've also seen every other show in this city since moving here from Florida – it sure helped me lose some weight…"

There was no mistaking the appraising look Kevin gave him at that. It made him tingle all over, and Nick couldn't suppress the smile that was threatening to split his face in two.

"Well, I hope that you can afford regular meals now, because it looks to me as if you definitely don't need to lose any more..."

Instead of crowing triumphantly, Nick decided to play Kevin, just a little bit, to see how far he could take this: "Not that you can really tell, with these clothes. They're not exactly… flattering."

Kevin's eyebrows went up at this, and he gave Nick a look that felt more like a caress, gliding hotly up and down his body, making him shiver. "Oh, I don't know – one just has to pay attention to what's beneath."

"Not many people do," Nick replied, hardly believing how at ease he felt – and how much he wanted to show Kevin exactly what was hidden under the brightly colored clothes.

"Well, that's their bad – they don't know what they're missing." Kevin's laugh was quickly becoming one of Nick's favorite sounds.

When Mr. Littrell appeared up the stairs, a look of amazement on his face that was only part mockery, exclaiming "Cuz, you're laughing -- that clown must be good!" Nick couldn't help the rush of pleasure.

Kevin calmed down and smiled at his cousin: "That he is, Bri – a very talented young man." He glanced over to Nick and his smile grew even wider as their eyes met. "Actually, I was wondering if you still needed his services or if you would mind terribly if I commandeered him?"

A long look passed between the two men that Nick couldn't quite decipher, but it must have been in his favor, because Brian gave him a wide grin even as he answered Kevin: "Well, Baylee and his friends seem happy enough – and the party is almost over anyway. So sure, you can have him!"

Then he turned fully to Nick: "You can use the bathroom to get changed, if you like, Nick – wherever my dear cousin will take you, I'm sure you'll be more comfortable in your regular clothes."

"Thank you, Mr. Littrell." Nick almost tripped over his shoes as he hurried down the hall, giving Kevin one last look. He heard Brian laugh loudly and call after him: "Call me Brian – and be careful, I think Kevin would like to see you in one piece!"

But really, even as he blushed hotly, Nick didn't care. He was still a clown and not an actor, but somehow he had the feeling that a lot of things in his life were just about to change…

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