cridecoeur: (raichu a love song)
Jaidon ([personal profile] cridecoeur) wrote2011-11-16 09:32 am

The Meaning And Depth Cycle

Title: The Meaning and Depth Cycle
Author: [personal profile] cridecoeur
Pairing: Nicholas/Peter, Tess/Claudia
Rating: Individual Stories Rated PG - R
Warning: None apply. Unless you have a problem with slash. Then you are really going to have problems with these stories.
Summary:Nicholas and Peter have been living together for two years - Nicholas a starving medical student on early discharge from the army and Peter a university drama student - when all their pining for each other transforms into an actual relationship. This is the story of the next three years of their lives, a romance involving stuffed dragons, inappropriate medical conference sex toys, Crododile apartments, transexual sweaters, Swappeez, inept proposals, and love. But mostly love.
A/N: This would be the OBB fic I've been blithering about for like 3 months! It has been a serious labor of love, the first OBB I've won, and the first story over 10,000 words I have finished. Also, I really hope no one is offended by the transexual sweater bit. It is not meant to be offensive or inflammatory, but sometimes it's hard to judge these things.

Also there is totally amazing art for this story! Seriously it is better than the fic. It is over on ruins_of_sodom's LJ, here. Go tell him how freaking amazing he is!

Boardwalk Jitters
Nicholas/Peter | PG | 1307 words

Peter and Nicholas were half-way down the boardwalk on a blustery Saturday afternoon, coat collars turned up against the wind, when Peter caught sight of a booth that boasted over-large stuffed animals for anyone who could knock down a pyramid of glass bottles - a game that was undoubtedly rigged, which did not seem to matter to Peter.

“Oh my gosh,” Peter said, “Come on,” and dragged Nicholas by the hand over to the booth. Then he turned to Nicholas and gave him the sort of smile that made him feel as if the bottom had dropped out of his stomach. Nicholas shook his head, as if trying to clear it. He had to tell himself - as he told himself about nearly everything Peter did these days - don’t read anything into it. Because while those smiles made him feel as if he’d been lit from within, they weren’t all that different from the ones Peter gave to everyone else.

“You have to win me one!” Peter said, and Nicholas eyed the stacked bottles, dubiously. As he had thought, they were undoubtedly rigged, and he little felt like embarrassing himself by losing at a game that, by all appearances, a child should be able to win, simply because Peter was in the market for a stuffed toy.

“You’re perfectly capable of winning one yourself,” he said, and Peter pouted at him, which was the point at which Nicholas knew he was going to do his best to win Peter an over-sized stuffed animal that he’d probably insist on keeping on the living room couch of their apartment for the foreseeable future.

“It’s no fun if you win it for yourself,” he said, stroking his fingers over the unbending joints of Nicholas bad hand. He thought, even more insistently, this time, don’t read anything into it. “Come on, Nicholas.”

Nicholas stared at him for a moment and then sighed. “Alright,” he said, “I will… do my best.” Peter beamed at him, which left Nicholas with yet another swooping feeling in his stomach. Good lord. He turned to the booth attendant who looked bored and fairly uninterested.

“$2,” she said, and when Nicholas handed over the money she set three red rubber balls on the counter. “Three tries, killer.” Nicholas grimaced and picked up the first ball.

No one was more surprised than him when he managed to knock the bottles over on the first try. He blinked at them, somewhat disbelievingly. “Huh,” he said, while Peter threw his arms around his neck and made a gleeful noise. The attendant simply said, “Yeah, whatever,” and handed over a stuffed dragon that was nearly half Peter’s size.

“You are so totally the best, Nicholas,” Peter said, taking the dragon. Then he gave Nicholas the sort of shy smile he had when they’d first met, the sort Nicholas had not seen in nearly two years. Nicholas blinked, surprised, but Peter was already taking his hand - with the arm not busy awkwardly hugging the dragon against himself - and tugging him further down the boardwalk. “Come on,” he said, “We’re going to get cotton candy.”

“One of these days,” Nicholas said, “Your unilateral decision making is going to get you in trouble.”

“I totally don’t know what that means,” Peter said, “but I’m not really worried about it.” Nicholas sighed and allowed himself to be pulled along to a booth selling every color of spun sugar imaginable. Peter chose blue, which was hardly a surprise, being that it matched his shirt, and Peter was the sort of person to actually coordinate these things - although the things he coordinated together tended to be atrocious, taken separately. Nicholas took the dragon from him as the booth attendant handed him his cotton candy. Peter peeled off one of his gloves, then pinched off a bit of cotton candy and ate it with a little mmming noise that had Nicholas shifting uncomfortably. Peter smiled at him, then, and pinched off more, holding it out to Nicholas. “Come on,” he said, “Open up.”

Nicholas opened his mouth, obligingly - he couldn’t remember the point at which he’d gone from being annoyed, doing things for Peter, to being happy to do just about anything for him - and Peter fed him the cotton candy. His fingers brushed Nicholas lips, and Nicholas tried not to do something ridiculous like feeling electrified by the touch. He didn’t particularly succeed.

“So, like,” Peter looked down at his cotton candy and then up at Nicholas, through his eyelashes. “I’d kind of like to know when you’re going to kiss me.” Nicholas stared at him, dumbfounded, with the sickly taste of spun sugar in his mouth. “I mean, I can be patient,” which, Nicholas thought, was flatly untrue. “But, like, I really want to, so.”

Nicholas stared down at Peter’s mouth and only managed to get out a stunned sounding, “Peter,” before Peter glanced up at him again and the words died in his throat. He couldn’t imagine what was showing on his face, but whatever it was, Peter must have drastically misinterpreted it because he let out a small, “Oh,” sounding unhappy, and looked back down again. “Um, we can. Can we like just forget that I said that? I mean, it’s okay - “ which was as far as Nicholas let Peter get before he let go of the ridiculous stuffed dragon, tilted Peter’s face back up with his good hand, and kissed him. They both tasted disgustingly of cotton candy, and Peter’s lips were somewhat sticky with it. Nicholas was fairly certain he’d never had a better kiss in his life.

Peter said, “Oh,” again, once Nicholas pulled away, but this time he sounded warm and pleased, and the smile he gave Nicholas was not one he had ever seen before, private and happy. “Okay.” Suddenly, someone cleared their throat. Nicholas looked away from Peter to find the cotton candy booth attendant looking singularly unimpressed.

“I’m happy for you guys, really,” he said, “but do you think you could move now? I’ve got customers.” Nicholas looked over Peter’s shoulder to see a family of five all watching them. The mother looked unimpressed as well, but behind her back, her husband was giving them a thumbs up. Good lord.

“Right,” Nicholas said, picking the stuffed dragon back up again. “We’ll just be… going now,” and Peter giggled as Nicholas pulled him away by the hand. “You’re utterly incorrigible,” he said.

Peter grinned up at him. “You like me incorrigible,” he said.

“I,” Nicholas said and then blew out a breath, “I suppose I do.”

“Awesome,” Peter said, grinning, and stepped close enough to Nicholas that his sneakers bumped against his shoes. “I’m going to kiss you now. So you should, like, put down the dragon.”

“I - alright,” Nicholas said and set the stuffed toy hastily aside. Peter smiled, again, and reached up to set his gloved hands on Nicholas’ cheeks - his hands felt warm, compared to the chill of the October air, and his gloves were wool and somewhat scratchy - then got up on his toes and kissed him. When he pulled back, he was grinning, again.

“You are so totally buying me dinner,” he said, and Nicholas blew out an exasperated breath.

“And how do you know that?” Nicholas said. Peter’s grin only widened which did not bode well for Nicholas.

“Because I don’t put out for boys who don’t buy me dinner, first,” he said. Nicholas blinked at him, as Peter took his hand. “Come on,” he added, as he tugged Nicholas down the boardwalk, “I want pizza.”

“You’re going to put out for pizza?” Nicholas said.

Peter shrugged. “I’m mostly going to put out for you,” he said.

“Ah,” Nicholas said and then had to fight down a ridiculous, embarrassing sort of smile. He wasn’t entirely successful. “Well, then. Pizza it is.”

Dragons Will Never Hurt You
Nicholas/Peter, Tess/Claudia | PG-13 | 1896 words

By the time Nicholas had left the train station, staggered onto the bus, and then staggered, perhaps with even less grace, onto the sidewalk out front of his and Peter’s apartment building, one o’clock had well and truly passed, and he was exhausted enough that when his key to the building did not work the first three times, Nicholas seriously considered sleeping on the sidewalk. Luckily, the lock gave on the fourth try, and Nicholas, sighing, pushed into the building and kicked his duffle bag ahead of himself until he could get through the door, freeing up his good hand to pick it up by the straps and sling it over his shoulder. (He nearly, embarrassingly, overbalanced doing it.)

He leaned against the wall beside the elevator and watched, blearily, as the light slowly slid down, floor to floor, until the door opened and he could lurch inside. He punched the button for the ninth floor, then leaned against the back wall of the elevator, tipping his head back and closing his eyes. He was going to sleep for a week. Two weeks, perhaps, depending on how long he could fend Peter off, which - he grinned up at the ceiling thinking it - likely meant he’d get no more than 8 hours sleep, if he was lucky.

The elevator door chimed, opening onto his floor, and he picked his duffel up again, walking down the hallway to the door of 9C (still missing it’s lettering, marked only by the impression where it had once been). He dropped it, once more, and fumbled his key into the lock. The door creaked open to a nearly dark apartment. There was dim light escaping from beneath his and Peter’s bedroom door. He left his bag lying in the hall where someone - most likely himself - would undoubtedly trip over it and brain themselves against the door. At the moment, he couldn’t begin to care.

He opened the bedroom door slowly expecting to find - he blinked - not what he did find, which was Peter asleep on the bed, curled around Sha, the stuffed dragon Nicholas had won him from the boardwalk nearly four months ago. He had kicked most of the covers off of himself and one of his long bare legs was resting over top of them. Nicholas was struck with the sudden, blinding desire to run his hand up that leg, rousing Peter and… starting something he would undoubtedly fall asleep halfway through. He sighed and pushed away from the door.

Once he had resettled himself in his nightclothes and brushed his teeth - Peter would undoubtedly call him an old man for insisting on doing that, even when he was practically dizzy with lack of sleep - he crawled onto the bed, gently dislodging Sha and laying down beside Peter, who stirred gently and said, sleepily, “Nicholas?” barely opening his eyes.

“Shh,” Nicholas said, touching one hand to Peter’s cheek and then running his fingers through his hair - when Nicholas lay down on his back, Peter happily rearranged himself half on top of him, making small contented noises as he rubbed his cheek against his shoulder. Nicholas set one hand on the crown of Peter’s head and buried his noise in his unruly curls. “Go back to sleep, Peter.”

“Okay,” Peter said, drowsy and content, and was immediately gone. Nicholas followed shortly, the warm reassurance of Peter’s body against his and the soft sound of Peter breathing seeing him to sleep.


The next morning, surprisingly, Nicholas awoke before Peter. He blinked up at the ceiling, listening to Peter snuffling softly against his shoulder, then looked down at… well, he could really only see the top of Peter’s head. He set one hand on the crown of it and then stroked his fingers gently through his hair. Peter stirred, slightly, then shifted so he was looking up at Nicholas, blearily.

“I’m sorry,” Nicholas said, “I didn’t mean to wake you.”

“Oh my gosh,” Peter said, “You should have woken me up like way sooner. What time is it?”

Nicholas glanced over at the clock on the bedside table. “9:30,” he said

“See,” Peter said, “We could have been making out for at least two hours,” and Nicholas laughed, softly. Peter pushed himself up onto his elbows and leaned up over Nicholas, who brought one of his hands up to touch Peter’s cheek. Peter grinned down at him. “Okay, so,” Peter said, “We are totally going to make out now,” and then leaned down and closed his mouth over Nicholas’. Nicholas kissed him back before… well, before becoming perfectly aware that it was morning, now, and neither of them had brushed their teeth. He grimaced and pushed Peter back. Peter blinked down at him, dazedly. “Nicholas, what,” he said, before Nicholas cut him off.

“Peter,” he said, “I missed you, but your mouth is disgusting.”

Peter blew out a breath and then hoisted himself off the bed. “UGH,” he said, rather dramatically, “You are such an old man. You’re supposed to be like ravishing me, not telling me to brush my teeth.” Nicholas pushed himself up onto his elbows and watched Peter walk towards the bathroom - watching him move he nearly regretted saying anything. Nearly. Peter’s mouth really had been disgusting. Just because he did not want to kiss him with morning breath though did not mean - well.

Nicholas pushed himself up off the bed and padded over to the bathroom. Peter looked up at him in the mirror, when he walked in, toothbrush in his mouth, seeming momentarily confused by his appearance.

“What?” Peter said, pulling his toothbrush from his mouth.

“Just… ,” Nicholas said, stepping behind Peter, close against his back, setting his good hand on Peter’s hip and nosing at his neck. “I really did miss you.”

“Oh my gosh,” Peter said, “go away or I’m so not going to finish.” Nicholas laughed and stepped back.

“I’m going to use the other bathroom,” he said.

“Hurry up!” Peter called after him, as he walked out, “You don’t need to brush your stupid teeth for like twenty minutes!” which was plain exaggeration, being that Nicholas never took longer than four.

Which apparently was still too long for Peter, being as he was hovering in the bathroom doorway not two minutes later, watching Nicholas. “Oh my gosh, come on,” he said, practically whining. “Hurry up.” Nicholas rolled his eyes but spit in the sink anyways, then reached for a glass to rinse his mouth out and spit again.

“Alright,” he said, and Peter smiled in a way that nearly lit up the room. When Nicholas turned to face him, Peter grabbed him by his good hand and pulled him in close, going up on his toes to kiss him. Nicholas set his hand on Peter’s hip, steadying, pulling him flush against his body. Peter made a few happy, breathy noises against his mouth, wrapping his arms around Nicholas’ neck.

Suddenly, someone knocked on the door.

“Oh my gosh,” Peter said, “don’t answer that.”

Nicholas wavered, somewhat, torn between Peter’s mouth and the utter rudeness of leaving someone waiting at the front door when he was actually home. “It could be important,” he said.

“It could also be nothing,” Peter said and then, apparently, decided to take matters into his own hands, kissing Nicholas again, but deeper this time, drugging, the sort of kissing that always led somewhere. Nicholas made a noise against that his mouth he immediately vowed to deny ever making if Peter brought it up.

Another knock came. “I know you’re in there, Nicky,” someone - God help him, Tess - called through the door, “Open up. I’m not above kicking this door in,” which was not, unfortunately, beyond her capabilities, being that she taught martial arts for a living.

“She’s totally bluffing,” Peter said, but he didn’t sound convinced. Nicholas sighed and untangled himself from Peter, who made a high, whining noise and slumped against the door jamb.

“Come on,” Nicholas said, “We might as well see what she wants before she loses us our security deposit.”

“Tess sucks,” Peter said but followed obediently in his wake.

When Nicholas opened the door he was somewhat surprised to find Tess holding a gaudily-wrapped present in her arms. She immediately shoved it at him, forcing him to either catch it or drop it - had he known what it contained he likely would have let it drop - and brushed her way past him, into the apartment.

“It’s a “welcome back from watching people undress all day” present,” Tess said.

Nicholas sighed. “I was at a medical conference, Tess,” he said, “Not a strip club.”

“Yeah, and don’t think I haven’t seen all those pictures of naked people in your skanky medical journals.” Tess said. She even made finger quotes around medical journals. Good lord. “Claudia wouldn’t help pick it out. She wimped out when I brought out the catalogue,” which only made Nicholas never want to open the gift he was holding. Tess shrugged. “Go figure.”

Nicholas looked down at the package in his arms, somewhat dubious. Tess crossed her arms. “Jesus, it’s not a bomb,” she said, “Just open it.”

“Hm,” Nicholas said, sitting on the couch and setting the package on the coffee table, considering it.

“Seriously,” Tess said, “I’m about to open it for you.”

“Very well, then,” Nicholas said, and reached for the package, peeling back the tape, carefully unwrapping the paper.

“Peter’s right,” Tess said, “You’re an old man. You can’t just tear it off like a normal person?”

“No need to - “ Nicholas started to say and then actually got the thing unwrapped which effectively ended the sentence. “Tess… “

“Apparently, it’s the best you can get right now,” Tess said. “Not that I’ve tried, but the reviews online were all pretty enthusiastic. It’s even got attachments. Pretty sure there’s a cock ring in there somewhere.”

“Tess,” Nicholas said, and even to himself he sounded mortified, “Why on earth would you - “

Tess didn’t even allow him to finish before she said, “Hey I figure watching people undress all day when your boyfriends not there to - “

“Tess!” Nicholas said, and she continued with a, “Yeah, whatever, you’re a prude, we all know. But now you’ve got something to comfort you on those long lonely nights when you’re stuck hanging around a bunch of creepy old dudes who like to cut people open.”

“I - “ Nicholas honestly had no idea what to say. He covered his face with one hand and muttered, “You’re absolutely impossible.”

“Hey, you’d know,” Tess said, which was when Peter let out an, “Um,” and Nicholas looked up at him to find a pink, hectic flush on his cheeks. He looked at the - good lord, the vibrator - and then up and Nicholas, and then back again. “Um.” Nicholas let his hand drop away from his face and stared at Peter.

“Or, hey, you could use it now!” Tess said and slapped him on the shoulder, making him jerk in surprise. “I’m gonna go. You kids have fun,” and while Nicholas continued to stare at Peter, who was flushing further by the moment, she walked out, shutting the door behind her. Nicholas really should lock it, but at that moment - “Um, so,” Peter said, looking up at him again, still pink-cheeked. Nicholas decided the door could very well wait.

“Bedroom,” he said, “Now,” and Peter hastened to obey.

Crocodiles, Revisited
Nicholas/Peter | PG-13 | 2333 words

Nicholas was fairly certain shopping for his last apartment had not been so utterly horrific. Perhaps he had simply been possessed of lower standards, at the time, being that a starving medical student had little in the way of options and much in the way of loans to pay off, and so, a slender amount left for such mundane things as paying rent or buying food. Or, perhaps, apartments really had just become that much more terrifying in the time that had passed.

“Absolutely not,” Nicholas said, mere moments after stepping into - God help him - the fifth apartment of the last three days. Peter was looking across the room at the wall painted with a mural of what looked like something out of a particularly disturbing Tetsuya Ishada painting, the one with the dead crocodiles and the infant, perhaps.

“I guess it’s kind of, um,” Peter said, and then turned wide eyes on Nicholas, as if hoping he would be able to complete the sentence for him.

“Unsettling,” Nicholas said, which was the least offensive way he could think to put it, and suddenly, Peter was grinning at him, and Nicholas found himself grinning back, reflexively.

“But like,” Peter said, “maybe Tess wouldn’t come over as much.”

“Tess would probably love it.” Nicholas said.

Peter seemed to consider this for a moment. “Yeah, maybe,” he said. He paused, and then his smile, suddenly, widened. “Maybe we should tell her and Claudia about it.”

“I thought you liked Claudia,” Nicholas said.

“I do,” Peter said, “but she totally bought me a vacuum for my birthday.”

“Well,” Nicholas said, “there is that.”

Behind them, the realtor - whose abilities Nicholas was beginning to question - cleared her throat. “So that’s a no, then?” she asked. Nicholas blinked at her, having half forgotten she was there. The other half of him could not believe she would ask such a simpleton’s question.

“Yeah, we’re looking for something a little less,” Peter said, and then looked to Nicholas, again, for help.

“Completely horrifying,” Nicholas said. Peter giggled.

“… Right,” the realtor said - Sophie, Nicholas reminded himself, whose seeming ineptitude at this particular task likely stemmed from the fact that she was merely moon-lighting as a realtor; he true calling was radio broadcast. “I’ll see what I can do.”


“You know,” Peter said, on the drive home, “We could always just stay where we are. It’s not that bad.”

“Peter, we were robbed,” Nicholas said.

“But they didn’t take that much!” Peter said.

“This time,” Nicholas said. “And what happens next time when one of us is home?”

Peter stared out the window, biting his lip, then sighed and looked back at Nicholas. “Yeah, okay,” he said. “It’s pretty bad.”

“Thank you,” Nicholas said.

“This just totally sucks,” Peter said, slumping down in his seat, head tipped back, arms spread out, palms up as if he was supplicating the heavens. Granted if the apartments they were viewing continued along the same line of the ones they had already seen, a little divine intervention might not be remiss.

“Think of it like this,” Nicholas said. “Things can hardly get worse.”

“Oh my gosh, don’t say that, you’re tempting fate,” Peter said. “Things totally will.”

“Alright, then” Nicholas said, with a small smile, “things are undoubtedly going to get worse.”

“Oh my gosh,” Peter said, “that’s just as bad, shut up. Don’t say anything.”

“Which you would hate.” Nicholas said. “You wouldn’t stand for the silence.”

“I can fill it up myself, duh,” Peter said, and Nicholas laughed.


After the Crocodile Apartment, as Nicholas had taken to referring to it, the quality of apartment’s… well, Nicholas was frankly aghast that someone at some time chose to live in them, in their current state of - Nicholas could not even call it decoration. They looked more defaced than anything else.

“Is that, um,” Peter said, staring up wide eyed at the buffalo head mounted none too subtly in the master bedroom.

“A buffalo,” Nicholas said. “Well, part of a buffalo.”

“That’s, um,” Peter said, then turned to Nicholas with wide eyes, seemingly lost for words.

“Utterly tasteless,” Nicholas finished for him.

“Yeah,” Peter said, looking back at the mounted head, “But, like, we wouldn’t have to keep it, so.”

“Actually,” Sophie said, preemptively wincing, which could not mean anything positive, “It’s permanently attached. It belongs to the building owner. He’s a, uh, hunting enthusiast.”

Nicholas and Peter both stared at the beheaded bison. “Well, then,” Nicholas said.

“Not so much?” Sophie said.

“No,” Nicholas said, “I think not.”


In the next apartment, Nicholas did not even make it past the door before freezing in place. Peter actually ran into him from behind, he had stopped so abruptly.

“Good God,” Nicholas said, and Peter peered over his shoulder and got as far as, “What are you - “ before he cut himself off with an, “Oh my gosh.”

The apartment was… pink. Not simply the walls, which could have been repainted. The carpet, too, was pink, and the curtains. When Nicholas walked into the kitchen, he found that the countertops and the tile were also pink, a hue he would not have chosen, even if he were enamored of the color, which he was not. He felt as if he’d walked into some sort of Barbie toy house and when he looked outside, a six-year-old with bows in her hair and a frilly dress would be peering in at them.

“… Wow.” Peter said. He was standing in the center of the living room; Nicholas could see him over the horribly pink bar. “This is, um… colorful.”

Even the realtor did not seem to know quite what to think. “I haven’t been here before,” she said, as if defending herself. “It wasn’t described to me like… this.” She looked down at her clipboard and then back up. “You don’t want this place,” she said, decisively. “Not unless they halve the rent.”

“Not even then,” Nicholas said, and Peter turned to him, with wide eyes, mouth twitching, as if he were barely suppressing a grin.

“I’m pretty sure this really would keep Tess away, though,” he said.

“I would rather her bring sex toys over every day,” Nicholas said, forgetting himself, and felt immediately mortified, flushing when Sophie looked at him askance.

“Well,” he said, clearing his throat and trying not to look her in the eye, “Perhaps the next one.”


“Good lord,” Nicholas said, stopping short, at the doorway of the bedroom in the next apartment.

“What?” Peter said, still coming down the hall. “What is it?”

“Ah,” Nicholas said, but before he could elaborate, Peter was behind him, peering over his shoulder.

“Oh my gosh,” Peter said, and then he broke down giggling.

Peter,” Nicholas said.

“Oh my gosh,” Peter said, again, “This is like so narcissistic,” which was putting the thing mildly, as far as Nicholas was concerned. The walls were composed entirely of mirrors. Nicholas would never be able to have sex with the lights on, again. Perhaps, even with them off, and he was not enamored of a life of celibacy, particularly when he was living with Peter.

“No?” Sophie said.

“No,” Nicholas said, over Peter’s protestation of, “Oh, come on, it’s so cool.”

“I will never have sex with you again,” Nicholas said to him, which just led to Peter pouting at him.

“You are so lame,” he said, and then, stepping into the room fully and regarding his infinite reflections in the walls. “Okay, so maybe not.”


When Nicholas had suggested that perhaps they could enlarge their proverbial apartment-hunting net to complexes further from the city - a location which apparently made owners and even builders go utterly mad - Peter had agreed more quickly than he had expected, being that Peter loved the city and had always lived at her heart. Perhaps the search had worn on him more than it had originally seemed.

He was unusually quiet in the car as they drove to the next apartment, worrying at his lip with his teeth. Nicholas kept glancing at him, unsettled. A quiet Peter was an unhappy Peter.

“Are you alright?” Nicholas asked, finally, when the silence had become too much for him, and he found himself thinking in circles about what he could have done to cause it - being that there was no one else with them, Nicholas thought surely the fault must lie with him.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Peter said, in the least convincing I’m-fine tone Nicholas had ever heard, from Peter or otherwise. Nicholas gave him a yet more perturbed look. Peter glanced at him and grimaced. “Just, like,” he picked at the loose stitching in his jeans, somewhat distractedly, then blurted out, all at once, “do you want me to move out?”

Nicholas, in shock, nearly rear-ended the car in front of them and had to slam on the brakes to prevent wrecking both cars. He turned to stare at Peter, who was rapidly flushing, looking anywhere but at Nicholas.

“Peter,” he said, “why on Earth would you think that?”

“You’re, um,” Peter said, and abrupt honking alerted Nicholas to the fact that he was stopped in the middle of traffic. He jerked back around to stare at the road, feeling somewhat… he was not entirely sure of what he was feeling at the moment, truth be told.

Peter was quiet for long enough that Nicholas glanced back at him - he was flushing, more deeply, and staring down at his hands in his lap.

“It’s just that, like,” he said, “we’ve looked at a million apartments. And you haven’t wanted any of them. And we already lived together before, so it’s not like you had a choice, but, like, now you do, and I just thought,” by now he was actually wringing his hands, “that maybe you didn’t want to live with me anymore.”

Nicholas stared at him a moment, before Peter started to squirm. “Um, the road…“ he said, just as someone honked, and Nicholas jerked back around.

“Peter,” he said, “I don’t want the apartments we’ve seen because they’re hideous, not because I don’t want to live with you. I love you. Of course I want you there.”

“Oh,” Peter said, and when Nicholas glanced back at him again, he was smiling down at his hands so hard, Nicholas thought it might actually be painful. For a moment, Nicholas couldn’t understand what exactly had put such an exaggerated look upon his face. Then he thought back over what he’d just said, and nearly rear-ended the car in front of him, again. Good God. I love you. He’d never said… not that he was going to take it back, not least because it was true, he meant it, and he was not one to shy from truth.

“Okay,” Peter said, sounding happier than Nicholas had ever heard him before. “Um, me too.”

“Well, then,” Nicholas said, then cleared his throat. “That’s settled.”

“Yeah,” Peter said, and when Nicholas glance back over again, he still had the same blinding smile on his face. “I guess so.”


As if the universe had simply been waiting for Nicholas’ confession, the next apartment they looked at was, if not perfect, then, at least, well above suitable.

“Oh, wow,” Peter said, standing in the living room, looking out the windows to what was… not a spectacular view if one was more inclined toward the city, but certainly beautiful if one appreciated the natural world. The apartment overlooked an a greenbelt, actually acres of forest between this particular complex and the next. If Nicholas was not mistaken those were deer standing down below the balcony. Being that this was the last building in the complex, on the very edge, there were not even any other apartments to obstruct the view.

Nicholas turned around once, taking in the whole of the apartment or, at least, the whole of the apartment that did not include the bedrooms. The rooms lay on an open floor plan with high ceilings and windows enough to make the interior feel warm and light, spacious. When Nicholas inspected them, they seem well-sealed, not likely to leak cool air in the summer or overtax the heater in the winter by letting in the cold. He turned around once more and walked into the kitchen, which did not have hideously pink counters, but a sort of modern steel affair, backed with black tiles, which would certainly be easier to clean and did not leave him despairing of the tastes of the general public.

“Nicholas, come look at this!” Peter called from the hall that led away from the living room, into the master bedroom. Nicholas left the kitchen, wandering down that way.

He was not disappointed when he entered the room. The ceilings were high and the windows let in light without making Nicholas fee as if he was baring himself to the general public. There was a window seat, closed in by curtains, in which Nicholas could imagine Peter sitting, happily. He did, in fact, look enamored of it already.

Nicholas turned around, once; the room was large enough that they would not have to squeeze themselves between the bed and dresser, which he could not say of their current apartment - the complex was gated as well, which drastically reduced the likelihood of this apartment being broken into, though Nicholas was not naive enough to think that was a guarantee.

“This is… a great improvement,” Nicholas said, and Peter turned to him, smiling.

“No buffalos,” he said. “No pink carpet.”

“No anything,” Nicholas said.

“So,” Sophie said - Nicholas had not even realized she had followed them into the bedroom, “would you like to talk to the complex manager?”

Nicholas looked around the bedroom, again, thinking of the rest of the apartment, and the other, utterly hideous apartments they had seen so far. Suddenly, Peter was beside him, taking his hand, tangling their fingers together, and smiling. Nicholas smiled back.

“Yes,” he said, “I think we would.”

Ho Ho Ho, Etc.
Nicholas/Peter, Tess/Claudia | PG-13 | 1722

Nicholas, as everyone knew, was a terrible gift giver, which was embarrassing for a man of 28 to say, especially one who could afford to give at least moderately extravagant gifts - he did not lack funding, but according to Tess, he did lack taste. Somehow, every year, he was wrangled into shopping with her, despite the fact that she was a terrifying and ruthless shopper and enjoyed criticizing every one of his choices.

“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me,” she said, to his first choice.

“What?” Nicholas said, he would admit, somewhat defensively.

“That’s a sweater,” she said, “are you seriously going to buy Peter a sweater?”

“He gets cold,” Nicholas said.

“He also gets horny,” Tess said, and then barreled on even though Nicholas hissed, “Tess!” and a woman passing by gave them a horrified look and steered her children away from them - Nicholas flushed, mortified, “But you’re not buying him sex toys.” She seemed to consider this for a moment, and then added, “Actually that’d probably be a way better gift.”

“I’m not buying him - “ Nicholas said, and then cut him off as a man in business casual passed by the row in which they stood.

“Yeah, yeah, because you’re a prude,” Tess said, “I know. But I’m seriously not going to let you buy Peter a fucking sweater.”

Nicholas sighed, and, because he hardly wanted to start an argument with Tess in the middle of Neiman Marcus, put back the sweater. “Well, then,” he said, “what do you suggest.”

Tess crossed her arms and looked around the store. “Come on,” she said, “we’re going to look at cologne,” and Nicholas blinked in surprise.

“How is that any better than buying him a sweater?” he said.

“Because cologne says, ‘At least I remembered you’re male,’” Tess said, “Whereas that sweater says, ‘I think you might be transexual.’“

“Good lord,” Nicholas said, but followed her, anyways.

The counter behind which the cologne was kept practically twinkled. Not simply because there was tinsel on it, although that certainly did not help. No, the store seemed to have set up the lighting in this particular section so that it would most effectively glint off the glass bottles - the set-up was somewhat showy, and Nicholas imagined that no matter what he picked from behind the counter, it would undoubtedly be overpriced.

Judging by the smile the sales girl gave him when he and Tess approached the counter, she also knew that anything he could possibly pick would be overpriced. And also that he was there under duress. Perhaps she thought that Tess’ presence alone would make him fold. Which honestly only made him more determined to not buy cologne for Peter, if only to be contrary, which he was willing to admit did not reflect well on his maturity at the moment.

“Can I help you with anything?” the sales assistant said - her name tag proclaimed her to be a Candy, which honestly only made Nicholas embarrassed on her behalf.

“Yeah,” Tess said, “my friend’s a loser who doesn’t know how to shop,” and Candy blinked, surprised, but recovered herself well.

“Well, then,” she said, “let’s see what we can find. We have a new scent by Justin Bieber that’s become quite popular. A little more… refined than his last attempt,” which wasn’t difficult, Nicholas thought, being as the last one had involved dog tags. The fact that Nicholas knew the last attempt had involved dog tags spoke greatly of Peter’s influence upon him.

Tess stared at the assistant for a moment and then turned to Nicholas. “Yeah, okay,” she said, “Maybe cologne’s not a good idea.”


While Nicholas first mistake had been shopping with Tess, his second mistake had most certainly been drinking with Claudia, while Peter was away, visiting his half-sister, Flip. Nicholas had nearly elevated not learning from his past mistakes, when it came to his friends, to the level of a lifestyle choice.

“A Christmas gift,” she said. “Huh.” Then she tipped her head back and stared up at the ceiling of her apartment, along which ran a hairline crack that had concerned Nicholas from the first time he saw it. “I got Tess a sweater.” Nicholas stared at her, then looked down at the shot glass in his hand - he felt as if he had two choices: tell Claudia about Tess’ aversion to sweaters or take shots until it didn’t matter.

He took the shot; Tess had earned having to pretend she loved sweaters, which she would have to do if for no other reason than that it was Claudia who had bought it for her.

“I’m sure it’s wonderful,” Nicholas said, “But Peter has terrible taste in clothing. I refuse to contribute to his wardrobe,” which was close enough to true that Nicholas did not feel guilty saying it. Peter did, in fact, have atrocious taste in clothing - in most things that he wore, in fact, being that his shoes were no better and what jewelry he wore was… well, usually bought by Nicholas while we was drunk and watching QVC, which meant it was even worse than his clothing and shoes, together.

“Huh,” Claudia said, then she reached for the Vodka bottle and poured them both another shot, knocking hers back quickly. They’d progressed from admittedly foolish drinking games to simply getting ungodly drunk without pretense. That was usually how their nights together progressed. “We should look online. There’s got to be something.”

Which somehow led to Nicholas ordering 3 pairs of Swappeez - which was particularly unnecessary, given their nature - and 10 different accessorizing buckles. When he awoke the next morning on Claudia’s floor - Claudia, herself, had apparently fallen asleep in the tub, though God only knew why or how it had happened - he was overcome by… well, nausea first and foremost and the need to never drink Vodka again but then horror at what exactly he’d done. That being, spending well over $100 on girl’s sandals for his boyfriend. Not that Peter wouldn’t wear them - Peter still wore the utterly hideous Barbara Bixby doublet enhancer that Nicholas had once drunkenly ordered him, with complete disregard for the fact that he did not own a doublet. But Nicholas wanted no part in that eventuality.

“My god,” he said, staring up at the ceiling, and then his stomach rebelled and he had to stagger to the bathroom to throw up, which was how he discovered that Claudia was in the tub, in the first place.

“Oh, Jesus,” she said, apparently woken by his retching. When she pulled herself upright with a white-knuckled grip on the side of the tub, she looked particularly green.

“I’m never drinking with you again,” Nicholas said, which was what he said every morning after he drank with her - his resolve never seemed to last. Then he threw up some more. Claudia looked as if she’d rather like to throw up as well.

“I’m never drinking again, period,” she said, a vow which almost certainly would not outlast the next weekend, when all four of them, Nicholas and Peter, Tess and Claudia, went to He’s Not Here for the… pleasure of Donovan and Vasya’s company as well as the siren call of watching Peter make a fool of himself on the dance floor. Peter was many things, but a capable dancer was not one of them, despite his protestations to the contrary.

Seeming to sense Nicholas’ disbelief, Claudia added, “I mean it, this time. Vodka and I are no longer speaking. I’m going to cross to the other side of the street when I see it coming and like never return its calls and delete all the texts it sends me.”

“You’re wearing that metaphor thin,” Nicholas said and then threw up some more.


More unfortunate than the drinking games and subsequent drunkenness with Claudia was the fact that Nicholas had, in said drunkenness, addressed the Swappeez package to Peter, and that Peter was the one at home when the package arrived, so Nicholas could not even hide it and pretend he’d never ordered it in the first place. Instead, he came home from the clinic, after a day of administering flu shots to likely already flu-ridden children, to find Peter sitting on the floor with a box open in front of him, holding a pair of Swappeez in his hands, looking bemused.

“Good lord,” Nicholas said, before he could stop himself, and Peter looked up at him, confusion sliding easily into amusement when he caught the look on Nicholas’ face.

“Oh my gosh,” he said and then started giggling, “you were so drinking with Claudia again.”

“Yes,” Nicholas admitted, somewhat reluctantly.

“Someone should, like, take the internet away from you,” Peter said. He looked down at the Swappeez in his hands and then pulled out a bag of accessorizing buckles from inside the box. His grin only grew wider. “These are actually pretty cool.”

“Good lord,” Nicholas said, rubbing one hand across his eyes, “You’re not wearing those.”

“Oh my gosh, you can’t tell me what to do,” Peter said, “you bought them for me, they’re mine, I’m wearing them forever.”

Nicholas looked at him, somewhat despairingly. “I’m not having sex with you,” he said. “Possibly ever.”

“Liar,” Peter said and then pulled the sandals on, wiggling his toes. The fact that Nicholas felt vague stirrings of attraction even at that likely proved Peter correct. Peter looked up at Nicholas through his eyelashes.

“C’mere,” he said, and Nicholas found himself obeying, without thought. Peter reached up with one hand, pulling Nicholas down to kiss him. “You are so terrible at this.”

Nicholas blinked down at him. “Excuse me?” he said, feeling as if he should be offended, but not yet certain of the reason.

“You were trying to buy me a Christmas present, don’t even lie.” He kissed Nicholas, again, and then again, as if he could not help himself. “Seriously, just buy me like a box of fudge. A big box.”

Nicholas blinked at him, again. “You want fudge for Christmas.” To Nicholas that seemed … somewhat banal.

“I like fudge,” Peter said shrugging, and Nicholas thought suddenly, of that day on the boardwalk, Peter taking his hand and shrugging, saying, I’m mostly going to put out for you. He smiled.

“Well, then,” he said. “Fudge it is.”

The End. Until They Get Gay Married!
Nicholas/Peter, Tess/Claudia | R | 4281

They were at He’s Not Here when the news broke; Vasya was the first to know because he had, Nicholas thought, a vast and terrifying spy network and so knew of everything that happened in tristate area before anyone else did. That, and he compulsively checked his phone, his e-mail, and, more to the point, the news, despite the fact that he should be checking none of them while working.

“Hey, you fuckers!” he shouted across the bar. Reflexively, Nicholas turned around, Peter peering over his shoulder; he had been wrapped in Nicholas’ arms - Nicholas trying to keep some measure of control over his off-color dancing. “The Senate’s not a bunch of fucktards, after all! It’s time to get gay married!”

“Oh my gosh,” Peter breathed out, and then, louder, “Oh my gosh!” throwing his arms around Nicholas’ neck, making the sort of ecstatic noises Nicholas was not accustomed to hearing out of him in public. Nicholas held onto him not entirely certain of what he was feeling, aside from a good measure of shock.

He was more surprised by the fact that Peter did not propose to him that night, though, than by the fact that the New York senate was not composed of…well, Vasya’s summation was accurate if rather vulgar.

“Drinks are on the fuckin’ house!” Vasya said, which resulted in Nicholas being unconscionable drunk in public and having ill-advised sex with Peter in the restroom, which itself was purely a result of Nicholas’ aforementioned drunkenness. When he awoke in the morning, a pounding behind his temples and Peter nosing at his shoulder, he was suitably horrified by his own behavior, which somehow led to him blowing Peter beneath the sheets.

His life, at times, was inexplicable.


Six months later, again at He’s Not Here (although this time with only Tess for company, which was unfortunate enough on its own) Nicholas was ruminating - he would admit he was dangerously close to brooding - over the fact that Peter had not once, after that night, talked of marriage and had certainly never proposed to him. Nicholas would admit that left him feeling… fretful and uncertain of himself. And yes, he would admit, unhappy.

That being the case, he never should have told Tess.

Tess gave him a look like he was deeply mentally unwell - which Nicholas resented, seeing as he was perfectly coherent for the six beers he’d had so far. “You do realize,” she said, “that you can propose to him.”

Nicholas stared down at the beer in his hand. He’d changed his mind, he’d had at least one beer too many for this conversation. “Now you’re just being a pussy,” Tess said, and Nicholas realized he must have said that out loud. He glared at his his beer, betrayed.

“Seriously,” Tess said, “are you going to sit there and tell me you think Peter would - Actually, never mind, you’re a dumb shit, I don’t want to hear what you have to say. I’ll tell you what we’re going to do, instead. Tomorrow,” and here Tess pointed at Nicholas, “You are going to look at engagement rings and I,” she said, signaling herself, “am going to come with you to make sure you don’t pussy out.”

Nicholas stared at her, blearily. “That is an exceptionally poor plan,” he said. He well knew how terribly shopping with Tess always went for him.

“Yeah, well,” Tess said, “it’s better than anything you’ve come up with so far. Which is pretty much just going to bars and moping about how your boyfriend doesn’t want to gay marry you because you’re a dumb shit. You don’t get to make plans any more.”

“That,” Nicholas paused to look down at the beer in his hand, thought of the three bars he had been to in the last two weeks, and sighed, “is probably for the best.” Tess looked surprised for a moment, before smiling the sort of smile that Nicholas knew meant he would regret acquiescing to anything she said. At the moment, though, he mostly felt melancholy and possibly a little drunk and couldn’t motivate himself to care much.

“Alright,” Tess said, “So tomorrow, 8 o’clock, ring shopping. Seriously, set your alarm because otherwise I’m waking you myself.”


True to her word, Tess showed up at their apartment at exactly 8 o’clock the next morning, banging on the door like she meant to break it down. Nicholas had, in fact, never set his alarm, not because he had forgotten, but in the hopes that Tess would forget, not because he did not want to buy a ring, generally, so much as he did not want to buy a ring with Tess, so it was Peter who opened the door to her and said, “Oh my gosh, it’s too early to be loud, what do you want?”

“Don’t worry, Princess, I’m here for Nicky,” she said. “You can go back to getting your beauty sleep.”

“What are you guys doing?” Peter said, scrubbing one hand across his face.

“State secret,” Tess said, and Peter’s brow furrowed slightly, “I’m serious, Nicky, put on some pants, we’re going.”


The first shop Tess brought him to was… extravagant. The number of diamonds encrusted on the rings crowning their center display case was just short of tasteless, the sort of thing one would buy for a super model or perhaps a princess. Nicholas simply stared. “Good lord,” he said, and Tess peered down at the case as well.

“It’s not… okay yeah that’s pretty tacky,” she said. “But we’re not looking at the fucking ridiculous case, okay, we’re here for normal people rings,” which was apparently exactly what she needed to say to summon an elegant looking sales assistant from nowhere. Nicholas was much reminded of Medieval demons summoned by naming. He nearly expected to hear the flap of leathery wings.

Perhaps he was still drunk from the night before. It would be a better explanation for why he had so easily folded to Tess’ pressuring than an actual desire to shop with her.

“We have a wide selection of rings,” the assistant said, “our princess collection,” and Nicholas blinked in surprise at the name, though he likely shouldn’t have, “may be a bit too,” she looked Nicholas up and down - he nearly bristled in indignation before realizing he was wearing the sort of jeans that - well, probably did not make him look as if he were in the market for a princess anything - and sighed.

“Well,” the assistant said, clapping her hands together, briskly, “let’s see what else we can find.”


Two hours later, Nicholas left the shop with a list and more opinions about engagement rings than he had ever considered having before. He dragged one hand tiredly across his face and turned to regard Tess, who he blamed entirely for his newly acquired preference for Pavé bands.

“That,” he said, “was ungodly,”

“That,” Tess said, “was just the beginning.”

Nicholas stared at her, somewhat despairingly

“Hey, what, you’re going to buy something at the first shop?” Tess said, “You’re asking Peter to stay with you forever, and, no offense, but you’re kind of a loser. I’m thinking this hinges on the ring.”

“My,” Nicholas said, “thank you ever so much for that.”

“You’re welcome,” Tess said, “Now come on, we don’t have all day.”


Two weeks later, Nicholas was practically dreaming of engagement rings, and Peter seemed particularly suspicious of all the time he was spending with Tess. Nicholas was starting to run out of excuses (he’d run out of valid reasons at the end of the first week). They were curled up together on the couch - Sha was still ensconced there, and took up at least a third of the space usually reserved for people - Peter’s head resting on Nicholas’ shoulder and his fingers fiddling with the buttons of Nicholas’ shirt. Nicholas fully expected Peter to start undressing him at any moment, which would have been a great improvement on the utterly inane show they were watching - Peter had picked it, but Nicholas was fairly certain even he was no longer paying attention.

“So, like,” Peter said, “I think you’re planning something,” and Nicholas momentarily froze ready to start denying whatever Peter said next, before blowing out a breath and relaxing again.

“I - yes,” he said, deciding that at least partially honesty was for the best, “but it’s supposed to be a surprise.”

Peter twisted around a bit to look up at him, right into his eyes. Nicholas did his best to keep his breathing even and his face calm, even though at the moment, he was thinking, good God, I’m going to ask him to marry me and a little, he has beautiful eyes, which was the sort of thing that made Nicholas feel as if all this ring shopping were actually turning him into a girl. He sighed. Peter grinned at him.

“It’s totally for me,” he said, and Nicholas grimaced.

“I - yes,” he said, again.

Peter stroked his fingers lightly over Nicholas stomach. Nicholas blinked. “Um,” he said, right as Peter said, curling closer against him, “What is it?” and even though Nicholas knew Peter was trying to manipulate him, he nearly gave in. The question had been burning in his gut for two weeks now. Longer than that, if he were really being honest with himself. Even without a ring, he was about ready to ask, just so it would stop twisting in his stomach.

“If I told you that,” he said, “it wouldn’t be a surprise.” Peter immediately pouted. “That’s not going to change my mind, Peter.”

Peter let out an, “Ugh,” and dropped his head back on Nicholas’ shoulder, “Fine then. You can have your stupid secret,” and Nicholas buried his nose in Peter’s unruly curls, smiling.

“Thank you,” he said, gravely. “I appreciate your patience.”

“Yeah, well,” Peter said, “You’re only allowed to have it for like a week. I’m totally not waiting any longer than that.”

Frankly, Nicholas thought, he was sure he could take waiting a week longer. He laughed, softly and said, “Of course.”


When Nicholas finally found a ring, the circumstances were fairly anticlimactic. He didn’t even find it at a major jewelry chain or one of the what seemed like hundreds of online jewelers, but at a small, private shop, with an assistant whose cutting personality reminded him a great deal of Tess. Watching her and Tess interact was… humorous. Quite humorous.

“I guess that’ll work,” Tess said, as he held up the ring box. “You’re not totally tasteless.”

“Yeah, ‘cause you were such a great help,” the assistant - Catherine, whose closely buzzed hair and winding tattoos seemed so inappropriate in a jewelry assistant, they could only lend her greater credence - said, eyeing Tess, dispassionately. “Seriously, all the ones you picked out were ugly as fuck.” She jerked her head at Nicholas. “He’d have been better off coming alone,” to which Tess bristled and Nicholas did not even bother hiding a smile.

“You’ve been wonderful,” Nicholas said to her, then considered his words for a moment before adding, “although I’m not sure you should be talking like that about rings you’re supposed to be selling.”

Catherine shrugged. “Just telling the truth,” she said. “I’m not some kind of used car salesman. People have to wear these things for years, they can’t trade them in when they realize they’re shitty.”

“Ah,” Nicholas said, “Quite,” and Catherine rolled her eyes.

“Come on,” she said, “let’s ring that baby up so you can get her,” she jerked her head at Tess, “out of my shop.”

“Fucking gladly,” Tess muttered, as Catherine took the ring from Nicholas, totaling up his purchase, before Nicholas could finally, finally go home with a ring box tucked in his pocket.


Of course, Nicholas thought, as he stood watching Peter curled up on the couch with Sha, where he’d fallen asleep watching the sort of television program Nicholas couldn’t even make himself watch at Peter’s request, choosing the ring was probably the easier part. Now he had to actually propose. Nicholas pushed himself away from the door and went to stand beside the couch, looking down at Peter. He looked vulnerable in his sleep, and Nicholas wanted nothing more than to gather him in his arms and -

“Oh my gosh, you’re being creepy,” Peter said, without opening his eyes. Nicholas huffed out a laugh; Peter’s eyes fluttered open, and he looked up at Nicholas, smiling. “You could just wake me up instead of staring, geez.”

“Yes, well,” Nicholas said, “then I couldn’t be creepy,” and Peter laughed, softly. Nicholas crossed the room to kneel in front of him, and Peter let go of Sha to set his elbows on Nicholas’ shoulders, hands clasped loosely behind his back. “Hello, Peter,” Nicholas said.

“Hi, Nicholas,” Peter said, grinning, then leaned down to kiss him. When he pulled back, Nicholas said, “We’re going to dinner on Friday.”

Peter blinked at him, surprised and then grinned again. “Is that my surprise?” he said.

“That’s part of it,” Nicholas said, “You won’t know what the rest of it is until we get there.” Peter pouted down at him. “That’s really not going to work, Peter.”

Ugh,” Peter said, letting his forehead fall against Nicholas’, “you’re so lame.”

“I just like to keep you guessing,” Nicholas said, then stood, drawing Peter up and off of the couch with him, “Now, come on. There’s no need to sleep on the couch when we have a perfectly serviceable bed.”


Friday came both too slowly and too quickly for Nicholas nerves - slowly because he did not know how much longer he could keep the question in, and quickly because… well, he did not know what he’d do if Peter said no. The very idea was terrifying.

Peter, on the other hand, seemed perfectly content and also perfectly oblivious to his case of nerves, which was really only increasing them. When they arrived at the restaurant - small and private, and the only one Nicholas could find that he could both afford to rent for the evening and that would also let him rent for the evening - Peter looked up at the sign, and then down at the door which said, quite clearly, Reserved.

“Huh,” he said, “I totally didn’t forget our anniversary. I know I didn’t.”

“You didn’t,” Nicholas said, but did not expound upon it, simply guided Peter through the front door and into the restaurant, where a single table was set and a waiter standing, ready to take their orders.

“Huh,” Peter said, again. “What did I forget?”

“Nothing,” Nicholas said, too nervous to even smile. “Come on,” already pulling off his coat to set on the back of the chair, with the ring box in its pocket.


By the time they were half-way through dinner, Peter had ask no fewer than three times what was going on, and each time Nicholas had not managed to ask what he had specifically brought Peter here to ask. At this rate, he would never manage to propose.

Nicholas, who had been watching Peter eat, not able to eat nearly what Peter was for nerves, blurted out, suddenly, “I’m going to - I’ll be right back,” and stood up hastily before Peter could do more than blink at him in confusion. He retreated to the restroom, to stare at himself in the mirror. He felt as he might actually like to throw up. Good god he had not been this nervous since - actually he was fairly certain he had never been this nervous. He loosened his grip on the sink enough to turn on the tap and splash water on his face, which did not particularly help - he felt terribly misled by pop culture. He toweled his face off, and then looked in the mirror, again.

“Right,” he said, because he could hardly hide in the bathroom forever, and if he did not manage to ask, now, the question would simply keep eating at him. He took a deep steadying breath, and then pushed through the bathroom door again and headed back to their table. Peter was looking down and away from him, and when he turned at the sound of Nicholas’ approach his eyes were wide and startled. Nicholas saw why when he reached the table because Peter was - God help him, he was holding the ring box.

Nicholas froze entirely. For once, his thoughts had completely abandoned him.

“I, um,” Peter said, and he appeared to be trembling somewhat. “Your phone rang. I went to get it, and, um - “ he looked down at the box, again, and then back up at Nicholas. “It looks like, um, an engagement ring.”

“It,” Nicholas could hardly think of what to say - as a matter of fact, he could hardly think at all. “Yes.”

“You were going to, um,” Peter said, and then simply stared at him seemingly overcome.

Nicholas could hardly force out the, “Yes,” that came next, but as soon as he did, Peter was out of his seat, and as good as throwing himself at Nicholas, who staggered in order to keep them from tumbling straight onto the floor.

“Oh my gosh, oh my gosh,” Peter said, his arms wrapped tightly around Nicholas neck, a sort of shocked, overwhelmed happiness in his voice. “Yes. Yes, yes, yes.”

“I,” Nicholas said, feeling rather overwhelmed, himself, “I didn’t actually ask.”

“Oh my gosh, shut up, I said yes,” Peter said, and then he was kissing Nicholas, warm and generous, and Nicholas found himself incapable of doing anything more than holding on to Peter and kissing him, in return. Peter was shifting in his arms, in a way that was all too familiar, and Nicholas broke off the kiss to say, “I am not having sex in the middle of a restaurant.”

“The waiter’s not even here! He’s in the back!” Peter said.

“He’s still in the building. And anyone could walk in,” Nicholas said.

“Oh my gosh, they’re not going to,” Peter said, “There’s a sign on the door!”

“Yes, well,” Nicholas said, “It doesn’t warn them that what they’re walking in on would be pornographic,” and before Peter could argue any further - and also because Nicholas was not entirely sure he would not give in if Peter did - he said, “Come on, we’re going home.”


They took a cab back to the apartment because Nicholas had no desire to wreck his car on the drive home, which would undoubtedly happen being that Pete seemed incapable of keeping his hands off of Nicholas. As it was, he thought the cab driver was deeply unimpressed with them. His gaze was fixed firmly on the road, and he, dangerously, never seemed to glance back in his rear-view mirror, likely because the one time he did, Peter had his hands in inappropriate places.

“Peter,” Nicholas said, the third time Peter’s hand had snuck up a little too far on his leg, and he had to push it away, “Would you stop that.”

“Oh my gosh,” Peter said, pulling back from where he’d been sucking kisses down Nicholas throat, “You’re lucky I’m not undressing you right now.”

“Peter, we’re in public,” Nicholas said, feeling mildly scandalized.

“We’re in a cab, it’s totally not the same thing,” Peter said.

“There’s someone else here,” Nicholas said. “Anyone could look through the windows. It’s absolutely the same thing.”

“Oh my gosh, you’re such a prude,” Peter said, then looked down at his hand on Nicholas’ thigh - the one on which he was wearing his engagement ring - and smiled, looking happier than Nicholas had ever seen him. He looked back up at Nicholas, through his eyelashes and said, “I love you.”
Nicholas stared at him, feeling momentarily overwhelmed - he was going to be with Peter forever. “I - God, come here,” he said, dragging Peter as close to himself as he could, without actually pulling him into his lap, kissing him deep, and said nothing, this time, when Peter’s hand slid up obscenely high on his leg.

When they arrived at the apartment, Peter tumbled out of the cab, giggling, flushed pink and happy, and Nicholas turned to tip the cab driver well over what he usually would have - the driver did not look affected one way or the other, which likely meant he had to deal with this more often that Nicholas would ever like to. He was hardly finished counting out the money and handing it over when Peter was dragging him towards the door with an, “Oh my gosh, come on.” He had a great deal of difficulty unlocking the building’s front door, being that Peter was pressed up against his back, nuzzling behind his ear, graduating to nipping at his throat before the lock finally gave.

“You are completely impossible,” Nicholas said, but now he was the one dragging Peter down the hallway, towards the elevator, jamming his finger against the UP button. Peter tugged on his hand to turn him around, then backed him against the wall beside the elevator, setting his hands on Nicholas cheeks and lifted up on his toes, to kiss him, pressed tightly up against his body. Nicholas lifted his hand to run his fingers through Peter’s hair, then to grip it tightly, tilting his head, changing the angle of the kiss. Peter made a high, frantic noise against his mouth, which was the exact moment the elevator chimed and the doors opened. Nicholas dragged Peter inside, stabbing blindly at the 4th floor button - he got the 5th and 7th before he managed it - before backing Peter against the wall. The noises Peter was making were maddening, and Nicholas was quite seriously considering revising his policy on public sex, but the elevator reached their floor before he could entirely make up his mind - which was for the best really, seeing as they scandalized Mrs. Plamen, the 75-year-old widower who lived next door to them, enough when the doors opened.

Nicholas only managed as much as an, “Ah, I’m terribly sorry - “ before Peter cut in with, “Oh my gosh, stop lying and come on,” as good as dragging him down the hall by his shirt collar. Once they hit the door - quite literally - Nicholas fumbled for his key, made all the more difficult by Peter refusing to let go of his shirt or pause in kissing him. That Nicholas got the door open at all was a matter of sheer luck, and then they were tumbling into the apartment, Nicholas using their momentum to press Peter against the wall opposite the door. Peter made a startled noise against his mouth, when his back hit the wall, and then he was arching against Nicholas, scrabbling at his shirt collar and doing a very poor job of undoing the top buttons.

“Oh my gosh,” Peter said, tugging at the shirt, “Off. Off, now,” with which Nicholas could only agree, although he had to take a moment to convince himself to pull away from Peter at all - when he did he was quick to shed the shirt, not perhaps as quickly as he would have liked due to all the infernal buttons, but quickly enough. Peter took the opportunity to shed his own shirt as well, not having particularly more luck with his buttons than Nicholas had with his own. As soon as he had it off though, Nicholas was pressing him back against the wall with his body, kissing him, running his fingers up Peter’s sides. Peter panted into his mouth.

“Nicholas, Nicholas,” he said, in between kisses, sounding frantic, keeping Nicholas tight against himself with his fingers through Nicholas’ belt loops.

“Shh,” Nicholas said, soothingly, and then, contrarily, pulled away from Peter and dropped to his knees, tugging at Peter’s belt, which was an utterly god-forsaken article of clothing, one which Nicholas was considering never letting Peter wear again. Peter did not seem to know what to do with his hands. He flattened them against the wall, first, then set them on Nicholas’ shoulders, and finally, tangled them in his hair. When Nicholas looked up at him, Peter was biting his lip, looking down at him. “Nicholas,” he said, in a trembling sort of voice, one Nicholas had never heard him use him, before. He rested his forehead, momentarily, against Peter’s stomach, breathing deeply, trying to memorize the moment, then pulled Peter’s pants and trousers down to take him into his mouth.


Afterwards, Nicholas lay on his back, in their bed, panting up at the ceiling, while Peter curled into his side, head resting on his shoulder, short curls brushing his throat, making sleepy, contented noises. Nicholas could feel the cool point that was the ring on Peter’s finger, where Peter’s hand lay over his heart. He lifted up one hand, settling it over Peter’s, fingers brushing over the ring, rhythmically. Still, though, he wondered…

“Why did you never talk about getting married?” Nicholas said, looking down at Peter. “It’s been seven months since it was legalized. I was… ” He did not say worried, but Peter seemed to understand, even so.

“I didn’t want to like pressure you into it.” Peter said, and Nicholas blinked at him, surprised. “I mean, I thought maybe you didn’t want to because I’m way younger than you and… stuff.” Nicholas could only imagine what stuff involved - Peter could be unfortunately vague, at times, as if he assumed, after all this time, Nicholas could simply intuit what he meant.

“Well, I do,” Nicholas said, then winced at how obvious that was and added, “Clearly.”

“Yeah,” Peter said, tangling his fingers through Nicholas’ own, smiling, happy, “I kind of got that part.”


[personal profile] wwmrsweasleydo 2011-11-18 05:12 pm (UTC)(link)
I love this story -- or these stories perhaps I should say. The characters are just quietly adorable and the real life is very real and of course it's funny and sweet. I was totally engaged all the way through. Part of me wishes there was more, but actually it felt like just the right amount. Thanks for sharing.

When I read the summary on the artist sign-ups I was caught by the idea at once and it's all as lovely as I was hoping it would be. Sorry it's taken me so long to read it after posting. RL etc blah, blah.

Ok, I'm off to check out the art now.