"Damn it, hold still. You were fantastic tonight. The critics will have nothing but rave reviews for you." Ross grabbed Kirk's shoulders to keep him in place.
Kirk smiled weakly. "It's not so much that as the party. You know how I am about them."
"Yeah, you glower and hide in corners. Well not tonight. Tonight you're the star. Deal." Ross shook him gently. "Just—pretend you're on stage again."
"I'd rather just go home and fuck your brains out to celebrate."
Ross laughed. "Trust me we're going to do that too, but not yet." After giving Kirk a kiss that curled both their toes, Ross took his hand, tugging him gently toward the door.
An hour later Ross was smiling indulgently from across the room as he watched Kirk fending off the females. He wasn't quite as happy when he saw his lover whisper something to Hildie and then glance at one of the doors leading out of the hotel ballroom. It took Ross all of two seconds to cross the intervening space and put his arm possessively around Kirk's waist.
"Looks like you lost your fear of crowds," Ross murmured a bit caustically.
Kirk smirked. "I had to do something to get you over here. You keep watching me from a distance like a mother hen."
"Yeah you do." With a grin, Kirk turned to Hildie, saying, "It worked."
She winked, kissed his cheek, and strolled away.
"You're an ass. You know that don't you," Ross growled.
"But I'm your ass, so quit grousing." Nodding towards the spread at the far end of the ballroom, Kirk said, "Let's go get a drink and something to eat. I'm suddenly starving."
"I'm with you on that." Keeping his arm firmly around Kirk's waist, the two men headed in that direction, stopping on and off so that someone or another could congratulate Kirk on his performance. "You know," Ross said after they reached to food-laden tables and were deciding what to eat, "we're really damned lucky."
"I was just thinking about Otis. There was no way he could have gone to that opening night party with his Charles and acted the way we are tonight."
Kirk nodded. "Which is sad."
"What's sad?" Chandler asked as he joined them. "Not the food because it looks fantastic."
"No. We were just talking about, umm, an article we'd read on how repressive it things were for gays a hundred years ago, even in the theater. Being out was not an option unless you were very famous, and even then you'd be putting your career at risk."
"So I gather," Chandler said as he started filling his plate. "I remember seeing something"—he frowned momentarily then his face cleared. "It was in the library at the theater. There's a whole section about its history including some handwritten personal remembrances. I looked at a few of those. There was one, if I remember correctly, from an old man talking about his younger years there and how his lover had run away rather than taking the chance that their affair would come to light."
"Holy hell," Ross murmured so softly only Kirk could have heard him. Kirk nodded, wondering the same thing Ross was, if that old man had been Charles.