Ethan kicked off his shoes as soon as he got home, tossed his backpack aside and plonked himself face first into the couch.
He heard a small chuckle behind him. Probably one of his dads checking in on him.
When Ethan turned his head, he saw his dad Paul standing there with an amused smile on his face. Ethan thought Paul was wearing such an odd combination of clothes: baggy grey sweatpants accompanied by a white tank top and an apron covering his whole odd looking outfit.
Ethan didn’t spare it a second thought. Growing up with two weirdos makes you immune to their weirdness, he thought.
“Hey Papa. I wish you didn’t sneak up on me like that, you almost scared me.” said Ethan tiredly.
Paul chuckled again. “Sorry, I just wanted to check to see if you’re alright. Busy day?”
“We had to learn so much today, I think I’ve forgotten most of my lessons.” he grumbled.
Paul sat down beside his son with a wry smile.
He wanted to tell him that schoolwork was only going to get harder as he grew older- but he decided against it. Instead, he squeezed Ethan’s shoulder lightly in an act of comfort.
“It’s ok, we all have those days. It’s alright if you forget things, especially in school. We’ll always be proud of you whether you do your very best or not.” Reassured Paul.
“Why, today your dad forgot to put his shirt on when he was getting ready. I had to tell him to go get one! Well, to be fair, he was still half asleep when he was getting dressed, poor man.”
Ethan giggled, stuffing his fist in his mouth.
“I bet he was really embarrassed.”
he was.” grinned Paul.
“He couldn’t look me in the eye for the better of 10 minutes. I kept saying it was ok and there was no need to feel embarrassed, but he didn’t budge! I think I might have hurt his ego. “
“Anyway, my point is that everyone has good and bad days. You’re still very little and have a lot to learn, so don’t beat yourself up for forgetting what you’ve learned, ok?” said Paul. Ethan sat up, brushed his black hair out of his face, and hugged his vati.
“I’ll take that as an ok.” smiled Paul, hugging him back. “Are you hungry?”
Ethan nodded. “Really hungry! What are we having?”
“We’re having meat, potatoes, and veggies.” Paul said. Ethan let out a small noise of disapproval at the mention of vegetables and wrinkled his nose.
“I know what you’re thinking, I know you don’t like eating vegetables, but if you manage to finish them all up I’ll give you a big bowl of ice cream after dinner.” Said Paul as he rose from the couch with a groan.
“Really?” asked Ethan hopefully.
“No, just kidding. You’ll get your ice cream when it’s weekend. You know we’re all cutting down on sugar.” Paul said as he entered the kitchen and turned in the doorway to look back at Ethan on the couch.
“Aw, come on!” Ethan said and crossed his arms with a pout, glaring up at his vati best a nine-year-old could.
Paul couldn’t help but chuckle.
“You look so much like Richard when you do that!” He exclaimed and turned back to the kitchen with a grin on his face before he could see the offended look Ethan had.
Paul heard a faint ‘ do not! ’ and then steps, accompanied by the dragging of a backpack against the floor, hurrying from the couch.
A few moments later, the creaking of the stairs to the loft was heard, and the door to Ethan’s room slammed shut.
Paul smiled to himself and headed off to the kitchen
“Y’know, it’s not fun to tease children, Paul.” Richard said, the moment he saw Paul enter the room. He’d been sitting in the kitchen the whole time and heard the entire ordeal.
“I’m not teasing children,” Paul interjected “I’m only stating facts!”
Richard raised an eyebrow at his boyfriend.
“Maybe so, but it wouldn’t hurt to give him a tiny bit of ice cream wouldn’t it? He is only nine after all.”
“No.” Paul said flatly. “You know we’re all cutting back on sugar.”
“It’s only one tiny bit. C’moooon Paulie.” Richard persisted, sounding almost whiny.
“Alright, I’ll make an exception, but only this once. And you have to help me with dinner!” said Paul, sounding defeated.
“Yay!” cheered Richard, shooting up from his chair and punching the air. “I knew you were a big softie.” he said, grinning, and briefly putting his arm across Paul’s shoulders
He let go of the other man to plant a gentle kiss to his brow. Despite Paul’s displeasure at being persuaded yet again by Richard to let their son have sugar when he specifically said “cut back on sugar”- he smiled.
“Looks like you did it, Reesh. You’ve persuaded me. Yet again!” Paul half-exclaimed, half-sighed while he started up the stove. He got the saucepan out of one of their cupboards and started heating it up.
“I just want us to cut back on the bad stuff, so Ethan doesn’t get caries or anything. Or you and I, for that matter.” Paul, who was by then idly standing with his arms crossed by the pan, turned his head to Richard and raised his eyebrows.
“I know. But as I said before, he’s still a kid and kids love sweet things. But I will tell him he must eat healthy things if he wants sweet things? How’s that?”
“That’s very reasonable of you, Richard, I’m impressed.” said Paul jokingly, looking pleased.
“Can you please get the steaks out from the fridge? You can peel the potatoes and chop the veggies.”
“Yes sir!” Richard said and pushed himself away from the counter, on which he’d been leaning for their conversation.
He gathered the requested ingredients, put them beside him on the counter and got out a chopping board.
He rummaged in the cutlery draw to find a peeler and then got to work.
Richard felt was somewhat slow at peeling, frowning at the peeler every time it dared near his finessed nails, but Paul threw him encouraging faces to tell him that he was doing a great job.
It made Richard feel a bit better.
Paul was busy tenderizing and then seasoning the steaks well with garlic powder, various herbs and some spices.
Richard hoped Paul didn’t overcook the meat- but he wouldn’t mind if he did, as Paul’s cooking was usually pretty good anyway.
When Richard was done peeling the potatoes, Paul filled a pot with water, waited until it boiled and placed the potatoes in. Next, he grabbed assorted vegetables and rinsed them quickly and started chopping, making sure his fingers were tucked away from the blade.
“You know this is the first time I've seen you actually work this hard.” grinned Paul. “Perhaps being a chef is your calling.”
Richard swatted him with a tea towel.
“I’m just teasing, love.” laughed Paul, dodging the hit.
“You’re busy enough with playing with me in the band and taking care of Ethan. By the way, how did the application to be a teacher go?”
“Good, I guess. I find out if I get accepted or not next week.” said Richard, fidgeting with the towel in his hands.
“God, I’m so nervous,” He admitted “what if I don’t get the job? And if I do get the job, what if the kids hate me?”
“Just live in the moment, Reesh! You haven’t gotten a response yet.” said Paul patiently as he put the steaks on the frying pan. “And I’m sure that if you do get accepted, they will adore you and your cheesy jokes. They won’t hate you for it, no. Kids can’t hate.”
“But Paul, I’m annoying, aren’t I?” Richard said
“Sometimes.” said Paul, turning over the steaks. “But so am I. Now don’t fret, stress doesn’t suit your handsome face.”
“I-yes. Yes, I’ll try to relax now. Thanks, Paul.” Richard said, running a hand through his hair and sneaking his hand across Paul’s waist.
“Maybe I’m getting worked up over nothing.”
“It’ll be alright. Come and sit down, dinner is ready.” Said Paul, getting the plates and cutlery. Richard made a move to help but Paul ushered him back to his seat.
“I’m fine, Reesh, You’ve helped me enough.” He leaned in closely, lips almost touching Richard’s ear.
“I’ll be sure to thank you properly tonight.” he said with a wink. Richard could feel his face burn and tried not to think too much on what Paul had planned for him.
“I’m going to go and get Ethan and tell him dinner is ready.” said Richard, getting up again and heading towards the staircase and knocking on Ethan's door when he reached the top.
The door opened and there stood Ethan in his pajamas rubbing his eyes tiredly, black hair tousled like a bird nest.
Richard couldn’t help but smile at how similar Ethan looked to him.
“Hey little man, did I wake you?” asked Richard gently.
Ethan shook his head. “Nah, just really tired. I was about to go to sleep though.”
“I just came to tell you that dinner is ready. You can go straight to sleep after you finish eating ok? We don’t want you to go to sleep with an empty stomach, do we?” said Richard, fondly mussing his hair.
“I’ve also convinced your vati to let you have a bit of ice cream after dinner. But he said that you must eat your veggies, ok?”
Ethan’s eyes lit up and he hugged his dad’s waist tightly.
“Really!? Aww, thanks! I will eat everything! You’re awesome, dad!” Ethan yelled as he ran down the stairs and rushed into the kitchen, almost slipping, making Paul gasp in concern in the process. Richard chuckled to himself when he came downstairs and saw Paul’s expression.
“He’s excited to eat.” Richard stated plainly, watching Ethan scramble up onto his seat.
“I can tell.” said Paul amusedly, piling food onto all of their plates.
“Vati, dad, I could eat half a cow!” exclaimed Ethan, propping his knife and fork up before cutting up his meat with some difficulty.
“Here, I'll chop it for you.” offered Richard as he got Ethan’s plate for a moment, dicing the meat into smaller pieces.
“Thanks!” Ethan said as he started to scoff his food down fast, causing him to almost choke twice.
“Woah! Careful now, your food won’t grow legs and run away!” said Paul, clapping him gently on the back. “No need to go so fast, little one.” Ethan was about to say something with a mouthful of food but Paul gestured for him to finish his mouthful first. With one massive and what looked to be a painful swallow, he looked at his dads apologetically.
“Sorry it’s just love your food vati.” smiled Ethan, scooping up some potato and carrot onto his fork.
“You’re a very sweet boy. Thanks darling.” Paul said, placing a kiss on his forehead before finally sitting down to eat his own food with Richard following suit.
“You are welcome!” said Ethan. “I sort of forgot to eat today too since I was busy playing with Rosa at lunchtime.”
“Oh, Rosa Lindemann? Rosa-mary..? Lord, I forget her name. It’s too long!” Said Paul, pleasantly surprised.
“Till and Flake’s kid? It was so long ago I saw her!”
“I think so. She remembered me before I remembered her.”
“You two always had such fun with each other! You would collect dirt outside, mix it with water, and call it potions.” He laughed and raised his eyebrows and smiled at Richard, who shook his head.
“Well, no wonder you’re hungry, if you hung out with her instead of eating. Let me know if you want more, ok?” said Paul.
“Ok!”. Ethan said happily, eating the rest of his meal in comfortable silence, soon having second helping.
For such a small boy, he sure can eat a lo t, Paul thought. Richard was on his second plate too and after that they were both full.
“Can’t eat another bite,” groaned Ethan, clutching his stomach “I feel like I could explode.”
“Same here.” said Richard.
“Are you both too full for chocolate ice cream?” asked Paul.
“Vati, please do not mention food right now, I feel like i’m gonna vomit.” said Ethan with a grimace. He got down from his seat and went to give Paul a hug around the middle. Paul gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“Thank you for the nice food, Vati! I think I will go to bed now. Goodnight!” Ethan turned to Richard and gave him a tight hug and made his way upstairs.
“Don’t lay down just yet ok? You’ll get indigestion. Wait 10 minutes before going to bed!” Paul called out. Ethan’s groan was the only response he got before he heard the door close with a click.
“I’ll have some ice cream, Paulchen.” Richard said eagerly.
“Alright, I suppose you can. Besides you’ve been a good boy and eaten everything, you can have three scoops.” he declared with a smile. “Although I don’t know how you’re fitting all this in.”
Richard snickered. “That’s what you said last-”
“Shut up, Richard.” Paul said, a light red tinge covering his cheeks. “You know what I meant.”
“I know, I know.” Richard said, grinning. “I’m just messin’ with ya.”
Paul smiled lightly.
“Now, let’s have some ice cream.” He said, extending his arm to try and reach the freezer door from where he sat. Wasn’t a very big success.
Richard stood from his chair, stretching his back out for a moment, and took Paul’s hand off the handle. The freezer was opened, the ice cream was retrieved, and all was well.
“Hey, Paulchen, we should’ve let this warm up before dinner! It’s all cold now!”
“Ah, shit, you’re right. We can wait for a little while, though. We have time.” Answered Paul, taking the ice cream box out of Richard’s hands and putting it on the table.
“But I don’t wanna wait! I’m all warm after the food. Look at me, Paul, I’m sweating!” Richard whined, putting Paul’s hand on his cheek, and fanning himself.
“You can be such a baby, Richard, some beets and steak won’t leave you sweating. Why can’t we just cuddle for a while until the ice cream’s approachable enough for your taste?” Came Paul’s comeback. He pulled his hand from Richard’s cheek and stood up from the table.
“Fine, then. We can cuddle on the couch.” Richard obliged, running a hand through his hair. He put away the dirty dishes in their old dishwasher and walked into the living room.
Paul came behind him.
“Aren’t you gonna wash your hands?” He asked with furrowed brows.
“I used cutlery, and the cutlery is washed. I didn’t get my hands dirty, Paul.” Said Richard.
“But-” Paul started to protest, but dropped it. He knew Richard couldn’t be convinced in that.
He sat down on the couch with a sigh and felt Richard do the same.
A few clicks and a little snapping was heard as Richard stretched his arms over his head and laid one across Paul’s shoulders.
Richard’s lips met Paul’s forehead, where the bleached hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and stayed there. He breathed in the scent of Paul’s hair and closed his eyes.
Paul took his other hand and put his legs over Richard’s, leaning onto his shoulder and gazing absentmindedly at the black TV.
Richard started tracing his fingers lightly across his boyfriend’s neck, causing Paul to shudder.
He averted his gaze from the TV to Richard, looking up at him, as if he was unsure as to what Richard’s intentions were. But whatever it was, he was up to it.
Richard leaned in to give him a soft kiss, gradually turning heated after a few moments.
He kissed the skin where Paul’s ear met his cheek, felt the cold earring there, and let his hand creep into Paul’s hair.
Richard lingered there for a moment, breathing in Paul’s ear, softly kneading his hair, before he went back to his neck and then finally his lips again.
“Reesh.” said Paul, slightly breathless.
“We...We probably shouldn’t do this here.” Paul said, a flush rising to his cheeks. “Later, I promise.”
“I guess you’re right.” Richard buried his face in Paul’s neck and wrapped his arms around his back. “Just wanted to see if you were in the mood.”
“I am, but as I said, we can do it later tonight. Let’s just cuddle for now.” Paul replied, kissing his cheek.
“I need a break, and so do you.” He continued, sighing lightly, shortly followed by a yawn, and closed his eyes.
“Don’t you fall asleep on me on the couch!” Richard said, half amused and half annoyed.
But he really didn’t mind. They could stick around on the couch for a while and go to bed later.