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Cocoa Powder

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Kevin wasn’t one to get up at ass o’clock in the morning if he didn’t absolutely have to. Yet somehow, when Neil didn’t fully disentangle himself from Kevin’s legs before attempting to hop out of bed for his early morning run and brought them both tumbling to the floor, Kevin found himself unable to fall back asleep.

Neil rushed an apology and a fleeting kiss through a snort and left him sprawled on the floor in favor of getting dressed, Kevin grumbling to himself and rubbing sleep from his eyes. Neil aimed a half-hearted kick to his stomach as he walked out of their bedroom, calling out a “see ya!” over his shoulder. Kevin groaned.

“The hell are you complaining about?” That was Andrew.

“Neil kicked me,” Kevin whined.

“Probably deserved it.” Kevin rolled over to see Andrew heaving himself up in bed, his hair a complete disaster. His eyes found Kevin’s, and he took in his current state of lying on the floor. “What are you doing down there?”

“Neil,” he said.

“Ah.” Andrew rubbed at his eyes, his bare forearms pale against his dark shirt. Kevin grinned sleepily; last night had been a good night for all of them—the last week had been good, actually, now that it was just the three of them in the Columbia house for summer break with no one else around. Good week or no, Andrew still glared at him when he noticed. “Staring.”

“Mmm,” Kevin hummed, gaze unmoving. Andrew really was attractive; sometimes he forgot. It just made moments like these—where Kevin could stare all he wanted—all the better.

“Are you gonna stay down there or are you getting back in bed?”

“I don’t think I’m going to be able to fall asleep again.”

“Not what I asked.”

Kevin raised an eyebrow. His stomach grew warm at the offer in Andrew’s voice. “Yes or no, Drew?”

Andrew didn’t hesitate to answer, “yes.”

Fifteen minutes later saw them both sprawled over their bed, Kevin curled like an octopus around a pretend-exasperated Andrew as they fought for their breath back. When their sweat had cooled, Andrew wriggled out of his arms, deaf to Kevin’s weak protests. Kevin was absolutely useless after orgasm, so it wasn’t like he had been trying especially hard, but he still missed Drew’s warmth as soon as it was gone.

Andrew scoffed as he watched Kevin hug his pillow instead and bustled off to go shower. Kevin couldn’t be bothered to get up, much less join him. He let his eyes slip closed and drifted in a golden haze—at least until Andrew came back in and hit him over the head with a shirt or something and an order to get up. If you aren’t going to shower at least get dressed.

Kevin grumbled but didn’t move. He heard Drew moving around the room, opening the closet and pulling on clothes. The soft rustle of fabric calmed his racing thoughts along with his pulse, and could feel the warmth of a nap tugging at his eyelids.

“You’re pathetic, you know that?”

“You like it.”

“I assure you I don’t.”

“How are you so awake already? Don’t you hate mornings?”

“Yes, but at least I can be functional.”

“Good for you,” Kevin mumbled, and he could all but feel Andrew giving up on him.

“I’m gonna make breakfast. If you want to eat you need to come get it because I’m not carrying it up here.”

Kevin hummed and clutched the pillow tighter. He heard Andrew turn and walk out of the room, and Kevin promptly decided that an annoyingly awake Andrew was a problem for future Kevin to deal with.

“Kevin.” Through Kevin’s almost-but-not-quite asleep brain, he vaguely recognized that Andrew was speaking to him. He grunted in acknowledgement, not uncurling from around his pillow—which wasn’t a substitute for Andrew by any means, but was still a whole lot better than actually getting up, tracking him down, and bringing him back to bed.

“Kevin.” Andrew’s monotone voice came again, several moments later, and Kevin lifted his eyes to find Andrew standing at the foot of the bed, blank-faced as ever and staring at him. So he didn’t have to bother getting up or finding him. Two for three.

Kevin made what might’ve been an inviting noise, pulling back the covers and gesturing for him to join, and Andrew seemed to refrain from rolling his eyes.

“Get up. You’re helping me make breakfast.” Kevin blinked, disappointment settling in his mind a few seconds slower than normal. Andrew didn’t stick around to make sure he listened, and was out the door before Kevin could piece together a coherent response. With the knowledge that he might get a kiss if he followed directions for once, Kevin stood up with a great creak of his joints, getting dressed in the shirt and sweats Drew had tossed at him earlier, and ambled downstairs.

“Whassgoinon?” Kevin’s voice was gravelly as he padded trough the house (he cast a longing look at the couch on his way past the living room), and he idly wondered whether it was the lingering sleep or sex that made it that way. Probably the sleep.

He entered the kitchen; Kevin took in the mixing bowl filled with several different ingredients already in it and Andrew’s bored expression and resigned himself to his fate. He sighed.

“You’re helping me bake brownies.” Andrew’s tone left no room for argument.

“I didn’t know you baked.”

“I do now.” He got the feeling Andrew was deliberately missing the point, which was something he did frequently these days—especially when the point had something to do with acknowledging the this between them: Andrew and Neil and Kevin and their feelings, or whatever he wanted to call the comfort and security and warmth they shared. Andrew must’ve gotten bored of puttering around by himself, and—dare Kevin think it—wanted his company. The thought warmed him.

Kevin, his brain lagging dreadfully due to the fact that he was still half-asleep, stupidly asked, “What are you baking?”

“Brownies, Kevin, I literally just fucking told you,” Andrew shot back immediately, digging around in a drawer for some utensil.

That piece of information finally found purchase in his mind, and Kevin came a little more to full awareness. “Brownies are not a breakfast food, much less a full nutritional breakfast. That much sugar isn’t–“ Andrew promptly shut him up with a look cast over his shoulder. Kevin cleared his throat. “So...what do you want me to do?”

Andrew jerked a thumb in the direction of one of the cupboards. “Get the cocoa powder. Top shelf. Might be behind something.”

Kevin shuffled over to the cupboard in question and opened it, looking for...what kind of packaging did cocoa powder even come in?

“How long ago did you buy this shit?” Kevin mumbled, though his eyes obediently started flitting between the different boxes, reading labels. He hadn’t realized there was so much stuff in this kitchen. It wasn’t like they ever made use of it during their short trips during the school year, and Andrew had shown little interest in cooking before today—although maybe Kevin had simply missed it.

“Nicky bought a bunch of cooking staples when we moved into the house,” Andrew said by way of explanation.

He reached up to shuffle a few of the boxes around to look at their labels, searching for the mysterious cocoa powder box, before he paused, a sudden realization dawning on him.

“Andrew.”

Andrew said nothing. Kevin knew he was listening.

“Andrew,” Kevin tried again, and felt a curl of amusement rise in him. His eyes found the back of his blonde head, and saw that he had not paused in his stirring.

“...Yes?” Andrew sounded as if he was rather exasperated by his very existence.

“You could have just said you needed me to grab something out of your reach for you.”

Andrew stilled for a beat, before returning to his stirring as if Kevin had said nothing. “I’d like to finish this sometime today, Kevin.”

Kevin shifted towards him, leaning his hip on the counter and crossing his arms. “Drew,” he said knowingly, and he could hear the smile in his own voice before he could feel it on his face.

Andrew finally turned away from the bowl and faced him, his eyes narrowing at Kevin’s knowing look and leisurely pose. Kevin could practically see the cogs turning in his head: Andrew’s attempt to get him to grab the one ingredient out of his reach had been exposed, but Kevin knew that under no circumstances would he climb onto the counter or use the step stool that Nicky had bought as a gag ages ago. Equally unlikely was the chance that Andrew would admit to needing this small bit of help from him—but: he needed that cocoa powder.

“I hate you,” Andrew said instead, sounding like he meant it.

Kevin only grinned wider. “I know you do, shortie.”

“I am not short; you’re just tall.”

“Yet you can’t reach your cocoa powder unassisted. Why don’t you just climb on the counter or use the step stool?” Andrew glared at him as if he had asked him to transfer to the Ravens.

“I can reach it perfectly fine.”

Kevin made a then-go-right-ahead gesture, but Andrew didn’t move; he kept glaring at Kevin. Someone had to cave, but Kevin refused to be first.

“Kevin.”

“Yes?”

“Just get the damn powder.”

“Okay.”

Neither of them moved.

“Kevin.”

“Andrew.”

“Can you stop being a pain in my ass for ten fucking seconds?”

“Nope.”

“This is emotional manipulation. I am being psychoanalyzed in my own home.”

“Yep.” Andrew arched a brow. “Would it kill you to admit that you might need help?”

Andrew stared levelly at him; Kevin stared straight back. It was one of Kevin and Neil’s long-standing missions to get Andrew to admit he wasn’t invincible—and in fact on occasion needed help—and although Drew might have conceded the point once in a therapy session, they continued to try to needle it out of him in low-risk, domestic situations such as these. They knew their attempts amused Andrew more than annoyed him, and as he had never told them to stop, they kept at it. Right now, though, Andrew was being more of an ass about it than usual. Not that it particularly mattered; Kevin had all day, and he was a professional pain in the ass himself.

The front door opened, and Kevin could see the fresh hope of salvation bloom in Andrew’s eyes, desperate to escape the hole he had steadily been digging himself into, though would never admit it.

Neil came into the kitchen a sweaty mess, his hair pushed back from his face with a bandana and his ridiculously small running shorts stuck to his legs. He paused as he took in the scene before him: Andrew and his mixing bowl, Kevin and his knowing smirk. Both had taken a small moment to appreciate the sight of a sweaty Neil, but promptly remembered where they were when he asked, “What’s going on?”

They both spoke at the same time.

“Kevin is being an unhelpful prick.”

“Andrew is refusing to admit he’s short.”

Neil’s suspicious expression slackened into amusement. “So the usual, then?” He made his way over to the sink, grabbing a glass from the cupboard above it—which just so happened to be the one next to the cupboard Kevin had left open. Neil eyed the cupboard and looked at the mixing bowl next to Andrew, clearly putting two and two together, but said nothing as he filled his glass.

There was a moment of silence as Neil drank. Then he set his glass down with a clink, mirrored Kevin’s posture as he leaned against the counter, and asked, “What’re you making, Drew?”

“Brownies,” he answered.

“But he’s hit a bit of a roadblock,” Kevin added, amusement flaring again, “The last ingredient happens to be on a shelf out of his reach. I think cocoa powder is necessary for chocolate brownies, yes?”

“Little shit,” Andrew said.

Neil looked thoughtfully at Andrew, a little upward tick at the corner of his mouth. “More like a tall shit.” Andrew’s glare darted to Neil, but quickly returned to Kevin.

He stood up straight and turned to face Kevin fully, moving into his space. Kevin immediately opened his arms to him, and Neil walked into his embrace, nuzzling his nose into Kevin’s chest. Kevin leaned down and pressed a kiss into his mess of hair, wrapping his arms around his waist. He shot a look at Andrew over Neil’s head, a look that said see, he chose me. Who’s the asshole now? Andrew glared back.

But Kevin got cocky too early. Neil’s arms came up around his neck, and Kevin happily pulled him flush against him, his own arms tightening. He barely got to enjoy the feeling of Neil pressed against him before Neil took advantage of Kevin’s tight hold and jumped.

“The fuck are you doing?” Kevin groaned as Neil’s socked feet found purchase against his thighs, pushing himself up with his hands on his shoulders. Kevin grappled to keep Neil steady, clutching at his legs and hoping Neil would really figure out whether he wanted to remain on the ground or be held aloft as soon as possible.

“Don’t drop me,” Neil said offhandedly, wobbling as he stretched even higher for some ungodly reason.

“Stop tempting me, then.” Neil leaned farther forward, and Kevin hoped his grip wouldn’t slip, something that seemed awfully likely the longer Neil’s pelvis was so goddamn close to his face.

Neil made a noise, presumably of success, and tapped his shoulder twice. “You can put me down, now.” Kevin loosened his grip, and Neil slid down his front, the container of cocoa powder clutched victoriously in his hand.

Neil slipped out of his arms and handed Drew the box. “You...traitor,” Kevin hissed when he finally found his words. “You’re enabling him. You’re letting him get away with more of his short person bullshit.”

“I’m short, too, you know,” Neil said, sounding offended. “You don’t understand what it’s like. Andrew may care about his dignity or whatever, but I don’t mind stooping to the level of climbing another person.”

Andrew hummed in agreement. “Knew there was a reason I kept you around.”

“I hate you,” Kevin mumbled, directing it at both of them.

“That’s my line.”

Kevin sniffed. “I hope your brownies taste like shit.”

“Go lay down, tall child.” Andrew turned his back on him, diving back into his cooking. Neil moved a few inches into Drew’s line of sight, and Kevin watched as they exchanged murmured yeses and a short kiss. Neil pulled away and smiled lazily. Andrew went back to mixing with a monotone, “you smell terrible.”

Neil scoffed but obediently retreated, lips quirking at Kevin’s face as he brushed past him. “I haven’t forgiven you,” Kevin muttered, but carded a hand through Neil’s hair as he passed anyway.

The sound of Neil heading upstairs had barely faded before Andrew called over his shoulder to him. “Kevin hasn’t showered yet; take him with you.”

Kevin glared at him as Neil’s footsteps retraced themselves. “You just want to get rid of me.”

“I actually just want to cook in peace. Go bother Neil for a change.”

Sighing (that seemed to be most of what Kevin was doing these days; he guessed that was the price of having two partners: double the amount of exasperating situations) but recognizing defeat, Kevin straightened up and made his way to the living room to intercept Neil—though not before dropping a kiss on Drew’s hair and earning a ‘gross’ in response.

As an eager Neil dragged him away and got to work on thoroughly distracting him, Kevin resigned himself to deciding that maybe, maybe, Andrew could get away with it. Just for today.