"Thank you so much for the gesture, David." Wheeler hugged him, smiling sunnily as she couldn't keep her cheeks from blushing. "I'm so glad you're here."
"Well, my best friend who has no taste is picking a pair of rings for his wedding, so how can I not be here?" He laughed, giving her a hug back. Behind them, Ives was rolling his eyes, but he was smiling as well. Neither of them could hide the happiness on their faces, and he was also happy for them.
"Alright, alright." Ives pulled Wheeler back into his arms and David shook his head. "I have no taste, but I decided to stay friends with you all these years, so don't even talk about that."
"Befriending me is the best choice you've ever made, right after proposing to her." David said with a smirk, and the couple blushed in unison. God, they were adorable. People in love.
The shop assistant came back with the rings placed beautifully in a box, looking at the two lovebirds with a warm smile. "Here are your rings, it's our pleasure to have you here. Thank you for choosing Tiffany & Co."
After that, David decided to say goodbye to the lovebirds and went home. He had been knowing them for so long - Ives was his best friend since high school and Wheeler dated Ives since he started his first job - and they became inseparable after that. To be honest, David was over the moon when they found each other. He was always proud of his ability to read people, and from the moment he saw them together, he knew they would come to this day. The day when they happily planned a big and beautiful wedding, and then live happily ever after or something. And the pair of rings he helped them choose and paid for - they were the least he could do to show his blessings towards them. The rings were expensive, but money wasn't as important as finding someone who would spend the rest of their lives with you, help you get through all troubles and fight for you every time. David, of all people, understood the difference.
"Excuse me!" He said, walking faster as he saw the door of the elevator starting to close, and managed to hold it open in time.
He got in, pushed the button and waited. The box slowly slid down from the fifty eighth floor to the parking lot. He had a day off today, just to make sure he had enough time to help them choose the best rings, but now that everything's done, maybe he would just get home and have some rest. David was never a fan of partying. He preferred being quiet and alone with his thoughts, and maybe it was the reason why he had always been alone. Ives had Wheeler, but he never had anyone. Sometimes, just sometimes, he was envious of what they had, what so many people had but he didn't. But then work was eating up all of his time, and the ones surrounding him were not interested in anything but for his money.
The elevator suddenly opened half way, and he checked the floor - it was the fourth floor, where the shopping mall was. A stream of people started to flow into the elevator, the loud chattings and cramping made him roll his eyes. The space got narrower and narrower, with people and bags and boxes squeezing in, and suddenly, someone yelped and grabbed David's hand.
Instinctively, he held the hand back firmly and stopped the person from falling face first into the ground. It took a while for the man to finally get back on his feet, and David stepped over to pick up some bags for him. When finally took back his balance, David realized it was a young man, or at least, younger than him. He was tall and lean, had messy blond hair, and the bluest green eyes (?) David had ever seen. Alright, that sounded dumb, but they were really strange, with every movement of his, the sparkling color inside his irises shifted a little, and even under the horrible lighting of the elevator, David was mesmerized.
"Oh God, I'm so sorry." The young man let out an awkward laugh as the door of the elevator closed and they continued to move down. The people around them were looking, and he seemed shy. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. You?" David asked him back, finally letting his hand go, and the other man pulled it back with a blush on his cheeks.
"I'm alright. Thanks for helping me." He said quietly as the people in the elevator stared, and David decided to just nod. The warmth from the hand was still lingering in his palm.
When the door opened and people started to get out, he followed the young man out of the elevator, hands still holding some of the bags. He glanced at it for a second - all groceries and some home appliances.
"Here's yours." He said, giving the other man the bags, and smiled as he thanked him again and again.
"If you weren't there, I would have fallen over. It would be such a mess. My name is Neil, by the way." He ducked his head shyly, and David shook his head.
"You're welcome, Neil. I'm David." He chuckled, holding the bags out to return them to Neil, but his arms were holding so many different types of things that David wondered how he could take all of them into the elevator in the first place. They struggled for a while, before he asked. "Hey, you know what, let me take this to your car. You seem busy enough with all of those."
Neil's eyes went wider for a second, and then quickly shook his head. He reached out to take the bags and tried to hold them with the last unoccupied fingers he got. "It's not necessary. Really. I can handle them. You don't have to do that."
David was about to argue, but Neil insisted on taking the bags back, so he just let the man do it - and unsurprisingly, he couldn't. David had to stop himself from chuckling as he watched Neil angrily trying to pick up all things at once, but his human hands could only do two thirds of the job, and those poor hands were already becoming red all over with the handles of the bags digging into his flesh. He looked tired, arms shaking slightly at the weight, and even though he tried his best, he somehow couldn't pick them all up.
"Need a hand?" David asked gently, trying not to make him refuse again out of pride, and when the bag of all purpose flour went flying straight onto the floor, Neil gave up.
"Yes, actually. Please." He sighed. David smiled and knelt down to gather the fallen groceries for him, and when the man stood up, he saw Neil's eyes were getting red.
"...Are you okay with this? I mean, if I did anything offensive..." He asked, not sure what to do - and Neil shook his head and cleared his throat. He obviously tried to wipe his wet eyes, but then his hands were all occupied.
"No, no, you were amazing. I'm so lucky. It's nothing--just, I hate that I can't even lift some stupid shopping bags by myself. I've been going shopping my whole life, damn it." He said, smiling, but the sign of sadness and tiredness was all over his face. "It's just--I don't have a car. I take the subway home. If I have to ask for your help now, I don't know who I'll ask when I get off of the subway."
"Oh." David hummed. He looked at Neil, who looked like he hadn't slept for the last twenty hours and ready to cry over anything, and decided that he could make some use of his time rather than going home and sleep. "I have a car. I can take you and the bags home. It won't take much time or anything, don't worry."
Neil stared at him in disbelief. "I… I can't bother you like that. You are too important to drive just a random nobody to their house."
"I don't have anything else to do, really." Apart from getting to know this very tired, but very attractive man that I just met a few minutes before, because God, his eyes and hands were so soft. "Just helping you out. And why do you think I'm important?"
"I barely know anything about high end stuff and I know an expensive suit and expensive watch when I see them." Neil gestured at David's wrist, where his golden Rolex was sitting, and the man was surprised with Neil's observation. "It's really great to receive your help, thank you so, so much, David, but I think I need to do things by myself. I also have to pick up my daughter from kindergarten, so I think I got to leave now."
Wait. Wait. He had a daughter?
"Yes, my daughter." Neil chuckled. "I'm a single dad. That's the whole concept of why I have to do things myself."
"Then let me drive you there to pick her up." David started to fall down this rabbit hole, but he didn't care. The fact that Neil had a daughter didn't stop him from being attractive, it even gave him such a sweet, endearing halo, and even if things didn't work out, David would say he spent some time helping people today. It was still a good thing. "You can barely take all these bags with you, how can you pay enough attention to her on the subway? It can be dangerous."
Neil hesitated, and David prepared to argue again, but he deflated and sighed at him.
"Thank you, David. You're a miracle."
He laughed. "Alright, let me help you get these bags to my car then."
Neil nodded and followed him as he took them to where he parked his car before.
"You ARE important." Neil mumbled as he looked at the car, and David chuckled. He opened the door for the other man.
"It's not that shiny, isn't it?" He said, getting into the driver's seat, glancing at Neil.
The man needed some time to get used to the interior of the car, looking around admiring everything, but he eventually sat still. "It could cost three times my flat, but nah."
David shook his head at the statement. "Show me the way, yeah?"
Neil nodded and they started getting out of the parking lot. A song came into the radio, and Neil's ears immediately perked up. David turned the volume on so the other one could listen, and smiled as he kept on driving.
Neil seemed to be into this song so much he started to sing along quietly without even noticing, and David just let him do it. It sounded quite familiar, but he wasn't sure if he knew the song. He just knew the band - it was Queen, he could recognize Freddie Mercury's voice from anywhere. The best thing about it was that Neil's quiet mumbling along with the lyrics, and it was like all tiredness disappeared from his features. He smiled his sunny smile and head swaying slowly at the melody.
"You seem to like the song." He commented half way, and Neil giggled.
"A rock slash folk song about time traveling astronauts performed by my favorite band in the world? Are you kidding me?"
"Ah, of course. British people love British bands." David rolled his eyes playfully, and Neil laughed again.
"Please, everybody loves Queen. Name an American band that is cooler than Queen."
"I wouldn't even participate in this competition." David raised a hand. "Nope. No American vs British here."
"Because you know you'll lose." Neil mocked, and he just rolled his eyes, smiling.
They sat there, enjoying the melodies for another while, when Neil suddenly raked his hand through his blond hair, messing it up in such a careless but so attractive way. "But David, thank you so much for today. I was in a horrible mood in the mall but you changed it all."
"It's just helping you with your bags. Not that big of a deal." David said gently, and Neil shook his head.
"It is to me." He sighed. "Everything is spiraling out of my control. I was so stressed I could just stand there and scream if you didn't help me carrying all those bags. Makes me feel like I'm not completely on my own in this damn world."
"What's the problem?" He asked worriedly, but Neil hesitated.
"Oh, it's just my landlord's being difficult, my job is failing me, and a million other things, but I don't think I should dump it all on you. Complaining is never good." He shrugged. "And I guess I'll find a way. I just need some time with Willow and I'll clear my head enough to think. But thank you for trying to listen."
"What a beautiful name for the girl." David commented, and Neil smiled brightly.
"She deserves the world."
"How old is she?"
"One and a half." Neil answered, eyes gleaming with affection. "Loves pumpkins and desserts, loves animals, and has the fakest tears ever whenever she wants something from me."
"Is it hard work, taking care of her by yourself?" David asked.
"Well, it is. But I'm never tired when I'm with her. She's very sweet." Neil's cheeks got rosy just from thinking about his little girl.
"I can't wait to meet her."
And then when they came to the kindergarten, Neil got off of the car to pick her up inside. David waited for a moment, thinking about the smile on Neil's face when he talked about his daughter and felt warmth blooming in his chest. Neil wasn't the most attractive man David's ever met, in fact, he was quite worn out dealing with all of the problems, but there was something about his smile that made David want to cup his cheeks and kiss him. It was very weird, he had to admit. But maybe it wouldn't be weird if he could ask Neil out after this.
After a short while, he could see Neil crossing the street with a baby in his arms and a tiny backpack on his shoulder and David had to stop breathing for a second. They were so...adorable.
"Hey." Neil greeted as he got back into the car with Willow in his arms and the little one immediately looked around with wide eyes, obviously surprised with their surroundings.
David smiled at her when she turned her eyes onto him, and then started the car. The sweet voice of a baby filled the small space as Neil cooed and talked to her. He introduced her to David, and she babbled and waved her tiny chubby hands at him. He told her to be polite to Mr David, and she made some petulant sounds as answers that David didn't understand, but still found adorable. Especially whenever she called Neil dada because God, it melted his heart right in his chest. He never liked kids before, to be honest, they always yelled and they were extremely annoying, but when he saw Neil holding Willow in his arms and she smiled at him with her big puppy eyes that looked so much like her father's, he suddenly understood. He finally understood why people would go through so much trouble just to bring these little loud alarm clocks to life. Just looking at Neil's soft hands soothing her, rubbing her backs made David's insides melt with sweetness. After a while, Willow started yawning, so he turned the music off so Neil could bring her to sleep, murmuring a quiet lullaby.
Just like that, with the last sunshine of the day drifted through the golden hair of both the man in the passenger seat and the baby in his arms, the peaceful sight engraved itself into David's brain for what feels like forever.
"There you are." He said as the car stopped in front of the building where Neil lived, and the other man gave him a grateful smile. He whispered quietly, trying not to wake up the sleeping baby in his arms.
"Thank you so much. Please just wait for me for a second, I need to put her to bed and I'll be back for the groceries." He said and got out of the car.
David decided to get out too - and picked up some of the bags and followed him. He still needed David's help with them anyway.
At some point, Neil noticed the man behind him, and he stopped on his track, eyes widened. "Oh. You don't have to do that."
"But I want to. Just make sure you keep Willow safe when you walk on the stairs."
Neil's cheeks turned pink slightly, and he nodded. He led David to his flat, opened the door, and then took him inside. He placed the sleeping baby in a small cradle in the small kitchen, and David put the bags onto the counter.
"You are a miracle." Neil sighed. "I wouldn't know what to do without you."
"You're still a great father. This is just some small help from a bystander."
"Hey, is it alright if I ask you to stay for dinner?" Neil asked, gave him a small pleading smile. "Just a thank you for everything you've done for me today. It's been ages since we have a guest and I've been dying to cook something other than baby food."
He tried not to sound too eager because of course, of course he wanted to have dinner with Neil and spend time talking to him and getting to know him better. David cleared his throat. "Yes, it'll be nice."
"Great! Great." Neil laughed, and then quickly led him to the dinner table a few feet away, pulling the chair out for him excitedly. "Then you can relax here, I'll cook."
"I guess I'll keep an eye on Willow for you." He sat down, and Neil gave him a bright smile.
"You'll love this, I promise." Oh, I already love this so much. If David knew anything about cooking, he would try to help Neil, but he figured he should keep his hands to himself. The dining table was right next to the kitchen counter, so he could still see everything Neil did and admire the beautiful movements of those slender fingers. Neil hummed quietly to a song he didn't know, and sometimes glanced at Willow in the cradle to make sure she was still sleeping well.
He had an old apron around his torso and looked so domestic David could feel the caring and nurturing nature seeping through his skin.
"Tell me something about yourself, David." Somewhere between making pumpkin cream soup and frying a fillet, Neil asked. "You know everything about me and I still know nothing about you. What do you do for a living, for instance? I imagine it being very important."
"I run a law firm in the city center." He said, trying not to be too specific. "Working all the time."
"That's fancy." Neil chuckled, looking around. "You must think I live in a cave, sorry. But we have a garden here, though. Isn't that cool?"
"Really?" David looked around, and saw the green space behind the glass door on the other side of the room. There seemed to be a lot of plants out there, and some of them had fruits on them. "It's actually pretty great here. It feels...like home. More like home than my place, obviously."
"So why were you in the mall, anyway? I didn't see you having any shopping bags."
"I went there to help my friends choose their wedding rings." It was really happy, but he couldn't help himself from feeling upset. "They're getting married next week."
"A memorable event, I must say." Neil nodded, and suddenly asked when he looked up. "It may sound rude asking this, but do you think it'll last?"
"I do think they'll be a happy, loving couple until they die. Never doubted them for a bit. Why did you ask?"
"Then why are you frowning?" Neil tilted his head at David, lips curled up into a small smile.
He stuttered. He looked up at Neil's eyes, biting his lip. It would be horrible if Neil saw him blushing. "I…"
"Pardon me if the question is uncalled for." Neil shrugged and turned aside to take care of the sizzling pan.
"I… I didn't mean I'm not happy for them. I am. It's just--" David let out a small huff. "I hate being a third wheel. I cringed so hard at their silly romance, but God, I wonder what it feels like, all the time. Having someone who cares so much."
"Alexa, play Queen's Somebody to love." Neil made a joke, and David burst into laughter.
"Come on, I'm serious!"
"I know! It's just really funny, you're a handsome wealthy upper class lawyer who runs a whole firm. Women should surround you. Being single for a person like you is impossible."
"But I want them to adore me for the wonder that I am." David deadpanned, and Neil giggled. "Not because of my money, my firm, or anything else. I just want someone honest and wholesome, that's all."
"Yeah, well, that might take some time. Those people will come naturally, since they aren't drawn in by your money and fame. But I'm sure they'll come. You're also very sweet and wholesome, so I'm sure you'll find the right person soon."
"Why, thank you." David rolled his eyes, laughing. Neil did come naturally, didn't he? Unexpectedly, even.
"Anyone should feel lucky to--" Neil's voice was suddenly drowned by the loud cry of Willow, making both of them jump from their spot. Neil tried to leave the pot to get to the little girl, but the food was making him too busy. David decided to take a risk and took the baby up from her cradle into his arms, and started to rock her slightly, hushing her.
"Your dada's cooking, Willow." He whispered against her cries, rubbing her back. Tears were flowing down her face as she screamed, and he could see Neil's twitching in his spot. The man's parental instinct was probably going haywire. David tried to sooth her with his voice, hoping that she would stop. "He's very busy cooking your favorite pumpkin soup, baby. But he can't do that if you cry. He's going to be so sad."
Willow's eyes went a little wider at the word pumpkin, and David could see the tears sparkling in her big doe eyes. "Do you want to be good for dada? So he can be happy?"
She replied with a shaky babble, and he shushed her some more. "That's right, little girl, dada's very tired and busy. If you want to make him happy, you shouldn't cry all the time. Alright? Alright? Do you love dada?"
David could feel Neil's shocked stare from behind him, but somehow Willow finally stopped crying, and he couldn't feel more relieved.
"That's right. Such a good girl."
"Huh. No one has ever been able to do that." Neil said, and he turned around looking at the man.
"You mean calming Willow down?" He asked, holding the girl closer to his chest, hearing her quiet sniff.
"Hm." Neil nodded, smiling. "She's very...conservative. She only lets me touch her. She trusts no one else. No one."
"Guess I'm just lucky." David looked at her, cooing, and she immediately grabbed his beard. "Ow. Ow. Willow."
Neil let out a laugh as he turned the stove off and quickly walked over to them, taking Willow into his arms to rescue David's poor beard. "You handsy thing. It's not a good thing to do to a guest!"
Willow looked at his father, and then turned to David, pointing at his beard with some random baby sounds.
"I'm sorry, did she hurt you?" Neil sighed and shook his head, reaching a hand to check, the other hand carefully held Willow's grabby fingers out of the way. "She's just so interested in grabbing things and I don't know why! I used to wear glasses but she keeps taking them and throwing them away."
"It's fine. I'm fine." David assured the man, smiling. "She's just curious about the world around her."
Neil didn't drop his hand, though. His fingers gently glided on David's chin and jawline, blue eyes traced the feature along with the touch, eyelashes flickered ever so slightly. David couldn't keep his eyes off of the gorgeous blue and the warmth radiating from their touching skin. From such a small distance, with almost nothing between them, he could even take in the faint scent from Neil, the homey, warm scent of honey and the fireplace in Christmas. His hand was soft, and his lips looked even softer.
"I'm curious about something else." Neil's whisper was almost inaudible, but David could feel the slight tremble of uncertainty in it. He decided to just close their gaps and covered those soft lips with his, moving slowly and carefully against Neil, pouring all of the gentleness into his kiss. Neil returned the kiss with the same amount of softness, caressing his tongue and mouth sweetly and understandingly, as if the man had kissed him a thousand times. Or probably kissed someone else a thousand times, but he didn't care. He would have left the moment he knew Neil had a daughter if he cared. They moved closer as David wrapped his arm around Neil's waist and squeezed his hip slightly, feeling the texture of his flesh through the thin fabric. Their kisses were calming and therapeutic, almost. Draining all of the worries and unhappiness and tiredness away from him, instead, filling him with comfort.
"Dada! Dada!" Willow punched against Neil repeatedly with her little fists as she was squished between the two men, and they quickly let go of each other, panting and laughing.
Neil bit his lip, cheeks turned bright red after the kiss. "God, I'm sorr--"
"You really need to stop apologizing all the time." David shook his head, getting closer more carefully this time to place another kiss on Neil's lips. "It's fine. You're a wonderful kisser."
"Dada!" Willow reached over and punched against David's shoulder as well, and his eyes widened. "Dada!"
"I suppose she likes you enough to make you her second dada." Neil chuckled as he kissed back. "Or she just wants to replace me with you."
"You would never want to replace dada, would you?" He leaned down a little to look at Willow, and the girl spreaded out her tiny hands to touch his face.
"Willow, let Mr David have his dinner now." Neil rocked her slightly, giving David the utmost feeling of being a part of a small family. Beautifully warm and lovely. "He's hungry. Be a good girl."
She took her hands back but looked at David with a toothy smile.
The night ended up with them finishing dinner, washing the dishes, putting Willow to bed and falling asleep next to each other. Neil looked like he was too tired to do anything wild, anyway. And David didn't mind. So he just held Neil against his chest as they drifted off, feeling each other's warmth and hoping that Willow wouldn't cry any time soon.
"So… now we are…"
"Officially in a relationship, aren't we?"
"I… yeah, that's--that sounds nice."
"I thought so too."