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“Come here often?”

Aaron's finger slips off the edge of his glass as he traces the rim, the easy comment bringing an easier smile to his lips. A couple drinks always loosen him up to something close to amicable—nowadays, at least. It never used to be like that. 

He gives his company a once over, the man encroaching on his personal space checking off every box from tall, to dark, to handsome, and Aaron is quick to roll his eyes. 

“Kinda stuffy for my taste,” he replies coolly. It’s honest. His collar feels tight where he’s liquor flushed and too dressed up, and he can assume it’s showing in the rosy apples of his cheeks. Andrew always poked fun—or however close Andrew could get to the concept—at how obvious it was when Aaron had been tipping the bottle. Andrew can talk all he wants, but Aaron knows Andrew’s blush runs down the back of his neck. Just because he can’t see it, doesn’t mean everyone else can’t either. Hypocritical bastard.

“Too upscale for you?” Is the cheeky response that follows his own rude commentary. Aaron doesn’t have the wherewithal to counter the truth, not when his company is also sporting a distracting blush. 

“The Andouille de Vire was a bit over the top.” The ice in his glass clinks around when he places it back onto the bar, tapping the side to order another. 

“I’ll be surprised if Jean doesn’t call me to complain about the cardiac arrest you just sent him into with the way you butchered that.”

“If I can’t pronounce most of the things on the menu, it’s probably not the place for me.” He turns back to his company and counts the freckles across the man's nose, a number he's drawn up more than a dozen times. There's always more in the summer, but Aaron loses count during the warmer months, Kevin's beauty marks acting as Aaron's personal version of counting sheep.

“Didn’t like it then?” Kevin looks sheepish at the admission, dropping his impromptu role of pickup artist. 

Aaron’s never been one for lavish; his upbringing never called for anything that couldn’t be cooked in ten minutes or less, and no amount of exposure to wine flutes or pressed tablecloths could ever rewrite that. He wasn’t even aware there were that many types of forks until tonight. Every part of Aaron was glad Kevin’s own upbringing with fancy dinners hadn’t quite followed him into his later years as necessity, though.

It was a nice evening, there was no doubting that, and Kevin was nothing if not doting—the sentimental bastard that he was. This part of Kevin was something Aaron had had to get used to, the idea as warming as it was nauseating. So much adoration after so many years without it was its own monster—but if it made Kevin happy to spoil him, who was Aaron to say no?

With that in mind, he decides to take pity on the nerves he sees hitching up Kevin’s shoulders. 

“It was alright.” Aaron watches the bartender pour what is probably a fifty dollar drink. Kevin relaxes only minutely and Aaron thinks maybe he should start saying what he means and not filter all his words through a selective lens. He brushes his knuckles against Kevin’s in a muted apology. “A meal always tastes better on someone else’s tab.”

Kevin snorts at that, sliding his way into the seat next to Aaron. He pulls his drink along with him, clinking it against Aaron's third round. He's pacing himself tonight: one drink at dinner, and the rest sparkling. Aaron thinks his next mouthful tastes a little bitter, but Kevin's glance remains nothing less than fond, even with temptation brushing his side.

The idle chatter of the other dinner guests fills the silence between them, and Aaron continues to brush his knuckles against Kevin’s, content to let the night pass around them.

The thing about nights going smoothly is that eventually they stop doing just that. It’s only when they’re outside—Kevin patting his pockets for a phone he left at home, and Aaron more than three sheets to the wind and entirely unhelpful—do they realize they’re out of a ride to get back home.

Aaron makes a couple attempts to power on his phone, his brain conjuring a vague recollection of the low battery warning before they got to the restaurant. He’s about to walk— stagger would be the better word—back in and call from inside when Kevin makes the dumbest suggestion in either of their lives.

"We could walk."

Aaron turns back, witty retort on the tip of his tongue, but stops short when he sees Kevin looking back towards home. He's wearing a small smile, the one he absolutely doesn't know rests easy on him when he’s lost in a happier thought. Aaron contemplates what will most definitely be a thirty minute walk—with Kevin’s strides. The benefits of being over six feet were never more obvious than in moments like these. Aaron adds another fifteen if they went at the pace he prefers to keep when he isn’t walking the full length of the hospital forty some odd times a day. 

Not to mention, he’s still swaying on his feet from indulging a little too much this evening.

Kevin’s smile turns his way, and Aaron knows he’s lost a war he didn’t even have a chance to fight in.

“Fine.”

“Fine?” Kevin says, holding out his hand. 

Fine ,” Aaron repeats, slotting his hand in Kevin’s.

They’re only a couple blocks from the restaurant when Aaron gets his own brilliant idea.

“Aaron, they aren’t heels.”

“I’m on my feet every day,” Aaron tries to bark, but the effect is stilted by the way he’s clinging to Kevin’s sleeve for balance. He remembers that he's wearing mismatched socks as he slips off his other shoe.

Kevin sighs, uncurling Aaron’s fingers from his jacket so that he can hold onto Aaron’s elbow, lest this become a scene. “And I play a professional sport, which also requires me to be on my feet every day—”

“I know. That’s why this will be easy for you. Now stop bitching and lift me up.” Aaron stands with his shoes linked under his fingers in one hand, the other patting Kevin’s arm to hurry him along. 

Kevin rolls his eyes, taking the shoes out of Aaron’s hand for the moment. He turns, kneeling down so Aaron can clamber oh so gracefully onto his back. It takes a couple tries.

“You’re a nuisance,” Kevin says as he stands, hoisting Aaron up so he stops sliding around. Kevin’s kind enough to let his vertigo settle before picking up where they left off in their trek back to the apartment. 

Aaron drapes himself over Kevin’s shoulders, taking his shoes back when they’re offered. He presses a small kiss to the spot just behind Kevin’s ear—the one Aaron uses to his advantage when Kevin’s getting fussed over something.  

“You were never this sloshed at Eden’s,” Kevin says, not unkindly. 

“Don’t drink much anymore,” he says, nosing along Kevin’s neck. The fuzzy way the world moves around him in Kevin’s rhythmic strides makes his eyelids fall heavy. He wants to feel bad about having that last drink, suddenly hyper aware of the situation through the haze. “S’okay, right?”

Kevin hums his question rather than ask it outright.

Aaron buries himself a little further into Kevin’s collar, disregarding his own curiosity for the far more important matter at hand. “You’re wearing that cologne I got you.” 

“I wear it a lot, Ari.” 

Aaron snorts, nipping gently at Kevin’s pulse. “You never call me that anymore.” 

“Do you not want me to?”

That’s the opposite of what Aaron wants, actually.

It was a name Kevin had given him years ago when he was as sloshed as Aaron is now. Well, less of a given name, and more Kevin trying and failing to slur Aaron’s name around too many kisses and not enough air. It had been silly then, and Aaron is embarrassed by the way it still makes the tips of his ears colour even now.

“S’fine,” is all he manages to mumble, though.

“Okay, Ari.” 

Aaron continues to pepper kisses along Kevin’s pulse, paying little mind to whether or not they have any passing audiences. Once upon a time this was difficult for both of them. Now Aaron can’t find it in himself to imagine there’s anyone else other than him and Kevin on the road home. 

He must doze off for a minute, stirring to the sound of Kevin saying his name like a question. He murmurs his nonsensical reply into Kevin’s neck, eyes blinking open slowly to see that they’re still a ways from their apartment. Aaron groans in disappointment, wanting nothing more than to be horizontal, slipping into that comfortable haze only a full belly and a few drinks can offer. 

“I’m happy we can do this.”

Aaron hangs up on sleep too soon, focusing on the tone he doesn’t hear often from Kevin. “Whaddya mean?”

“This,” he shrugs, pulling Aaron up with the gesture. “It’s nice.” 

“Trying to say you enjoy my company, Day?” His words slur around his smile and he’s glad Kevin can’t see him. 

The thing about Kevin is, when no one else is around to see it—when no one else is there to put him on some kind of pedestal—he relaxes into this. Objectively, Aaron knows Kevin is talented. He’s always known this. Up until a certain drunken confession, however, Kevin was just another person in his life—albeit one he was rather fond of—talent or not. He didn’t put much investment in sitting the exy star up on the same pedestal everyone else did. 

Then Kevin became his person and well, the pedestal became less of a thing Aaron had to crane his neck to see and more of a chair across the table when they were having lunch, or the couch cushion next to him on a night in. 

Maybe that’s why they worked; the small part of Kevin that wanted a break from the limelight, and Aaron more than happy to oblige him.

So Aaron isn’t all that surprised that when Kevin answers simply, the way he does when he doesn’t feel he needs to explain anything, his answer is resolute. “I do.” 

Aaron can’t find the want to tease him for it. He feels the same way, after all. 

“Not so bad yourself,” Aaron says, stretching forward enough that he can almost reach the queen piece. Kevin does him the service of turning his head so Aaron can give it a quick peck. “‘m gonna sleep the rest of the way.”

“We’re only a couple blocks from home.”

“Just drop me off in bed.” 

“Want me to hold your hair back too?”

“Shut up.”

 

 

&&&

 

 

Aaron has never liked moving. 

He is always reminded of how much useless stuff he has— how does a post grad even have this much furniture —and just how much he will have to pick up to make up for all the inbetween essentials he’s still managed to never obtain. Between him and Kevin, there was enough for three runs in Matt’s truck and that must have been a surprise to both of them if Kevin’s exasperated sighing on the second run was anything to go by. 

Neil had volunteered his help, and by proxy Andrew’s. It was probably more for Kevin’s sake than Aaron’s, but Aaron had prodded Andrew for Neil’s favorite pizza in hopes that would settle any debt Neil would try to hold over on them… Like helping Andrew and Neil move in a few months.

Worse than moving was helping someone else move.

(Kevin would volunteer them anyways, and Aaron would only bitch about it for half the car ride there. Kevin called it ‘compromise.’ Aaron called it ‘losing.’)

So, after three trips in Matt’s truck, two trips to the store, and an absurd amount of trips up and down six flights of stairs, Aaron is exhausted. He’s mentally trying to organize what else a kitchen could possibly need, continuously getting distracted by a couple paint splotches on the ceiling from the previous owners, when he hears someone knock at the bedroom door. 

“There you are.”

“Here I am,” Aaron parrots. He doesn’t have the energy to look at where Kevin is standing in the doorway, probably looking smug. Not all of them have an endless stamina to work with. Aaron decides that needs to be said aloud. “Not all of us have the stamina of demigods, Kev.”

Wait, that wasn’t quite right.

“You don’t usually complain,” Kevin says, the sound of his feet padding closer to the bed. 

Aaron snorts and rolls his head up to watch Kevin’s approach. He presses his knee against Aaron’s leg to make room and it’s with tremendous effort that Aaron is able to scoot the four inches that Kevin commands of him. Aaron goes back to staring at the ceiling as Kevin settles next to him. 

“Not many people try to speedrun moving two hours away either.” He isn’t sure suicides on the court ever left him this winded, the occasional twitch of his muscles reminding him just how many he has, and how many he probably pulled. Kevin doesn't even look winded. It’s hardly fair. Sure, Aaron hasn’t been on a court in some time, but no one should look this good after that much physical strain. A few strands of Kevin’s hair clinging to his forehead are the only indicators they had spent the better half of twenty four hours upending their roots anew. 

Kevin’s smiling down at him, fingers trailing along Aaron’s ribs in a slow display of affection. 

“Did you unpack the bathroom stuff yet?”

Kevin pushes up the hem of Aaron’s shirt, hand ghosting over his abdomen. “No.” 

“What about the kitchen?” 

“Still in boxes,” Kevin hums, leaning down to drag the shirt up a few more inches with his teeth. 

Aaron swallows too loud in his own ears. “Have you done anything today?”

Kevin shoots him a look, fabric still between his teeth as he speaks: "More than you." 

He looks ridiculous and Aaron wants to kiss him stupid. 

“Wow, rude," he deadpans, brushing the hair back from Kevin’s eyes. Another witty retort dies in Aaron’s chest when Kevin licks a quick stripe up his sternum and Aaron thinks that’s as good a reason as any for waiting to unpack the apartment. Kevin presses a few more teasing kisses to his chest, dragging what little noise he can get out of Aaron with so little effort. It never takes much. 

Kevin makes it up to the hollow of Aaron’s throat before he speaks again. “We should christen the apartment.” 

Aaron snorts. “Who says that anymore?” 

“The guy hoping you’ll forget we have things to do and let him pin you to shower wall.”

“Compelling argument.” Aaron hums like he’s merely entertaining the idea. Kevin’s scruff rubs up against his jaw, and that’s another good point he can’t refute. His arms fall heavy around Kevin’s neck, pulling him close and keeping him nestled against Aaron’s pulse. It’s a shame when his legs tremble with the attempt to wrap up around Kevin’s waist. “Kev.”

Kevin trails another line of kisses up to Aaron’s chin, “Is this your way of telling me to do all the work?”

“No—” 

“Performance anxiety is a very real thing, Aaron,” Kevin smiles against his lips.

Aaron pushes his face away, groaning. “You’re such a shit.”

“Good thing I already got you to sign the lease,” Kevin says with faux relief. He props himself up over Aaron, grin crooked and perfect.

“As I was saying: no . It’s me asking if Andrew left any of the pizza from earlier,” Aaron says, stretching his arms above him on the bed. It distracts Kevin from answering too quickly, and Aaron gets to add a small addendum. “...and if we have anywhere to be tomorrow.”

Kevin’s eyes fall back to Aaron’s as his grin quirks a little more at the corner. “There might be some left.”

Aaron runs his hands up under Kevin’s shirt this time, feeling Kevin’s breath hitch with every pass of his blunt nails. “We can go as many times as the number of boxes you get put away.”

“So I am doing all the work.”

I’m providing all the motivation.” 

Aaron knows Kevin and Kevin knows that; understands that Kevin and a challenge go hand in hand. So, it’s no surprise to either of them when Kevin rolls off the bed without further prompt, offering a hand to Aaron’s current state of dead weight. Kevin pulls him up with ease before leaning down to Aaron’s height. He’s expecting a kiss, but Kevin leans past him, voice just above a whisper next to his ear.

“Hope you’re ready to make good on that deal.”  

One of Aaron’s knees locks for a reason that has nothing to do with their moving day. 

 

 

&&&

 

 

It doesn’t take much to see that Kevin isn’t an outdoorsy person. His aversion to the outside world isn’t entirely his fault—living in a dungeon most of his young life didn’t give way to too many boy scout lessons. Aaron himself isn’t some druid of the woods or anything, but he had seen actual grass growing up and that seemed a novel concept among the circles he ran in. 

So it was a surprise when Kevin suggested they go camping for their vacation. 

It isn’t really camping—the cabin with a stocked mini fridge and hot tub—and it isn’t really a vacation—Kevin on forced medical leave for a twisted ankle. 

(The only reason Aaron lets him leave the apartment at all is because he knows a Kevin at rest is only tolerable for about seventy-two hours. After that it starts with fidgeting, followed by an apparently intense need to drive Aaron up a wall, and ends with both of them teetering on the edge of their respective sanities).

Aaron thinks a vacation is a wonderful alternative. 

They’ve already been here a couple days, and Aaron’s made himself cozy next to the fire more often than not. It’s still early in the season, the night air chilly enough to warrant the blanket he’s been dragging around with him since he found it yesterday. It’s not his fault his circulation is poor, he thinks, now bundled in one of Kevin’s jackets with the aforementioned blanket draped around him. He can’t really complain, though. The fresh air is good for both of them, cool as it is. Nothing can fix the city smog and Andrew’s gift of second hand that lives rent free in his lungs of course, but Aaron’s trying out this whole ‘glass half full’ thing lately. 

It works half the time.

He can see a few stars poking through the veil when Kevin’s voice sounds behind him.

“If I knew camping would be this easy, I’d have suggested it years ago.” 

Aaron snorts, moving his feet a little closer to the fire. It crackles, sparks landing near Aaron’s shoe. He pays it little mind, burrowing further into the warmth of Kevin’s coat. He really does wear the cologne Aaron bought. “This isn’t camping and you know it.”

Kevin passes his hand over Aaron’s shoulder as he sits down on the log next to him. “And you’ve actually been camping?”

“I have.” Kevin mulls that around in his head for a moment, likely trying to remember a trip he wasn’t there for. Aaron goes on, “Mom took me once.”

It isn’t often Aaron brings her up, a disconnect there even after all this time. His memories of her swing to and fro, sometimes hollow and other times haunting. Tonight, they’re in the positive direction—as close as they can get, at least.

“I was still pretty young, though.” He kicks a little dirt into the fire, sparks catching again and singeing his laces. Kevin taps his knee to coax his foot back and Aaron obliges, if only because he kind of likes these shoes. “I could probably recognize the place if I saw it, but I can’t remember the name. We went frog catching at one point.”

Aaron turns to Kevin to find him staring, expression unreadable. He blinks, backtracking through whatever he said that might have dredged up something for Kevin as well. It only lasts for a moment before Kevin is shuffling closer, stealing half of Aaron’s prized blanket to cover his own shoulders. Aaron allows it, the idea of sapping Kevin’s body heat a good trade off. The crinkle of plastic catches his attention and he watches Kevin pull out a bag of marshmallows from inside his jacket. Aaron opens his mouth in wait, Kevin instead taking the opportunity to kiss the corner of Aaron’s mouth before trying to toss him a marshmallow. It misses and bounces off into the fire.

“You sure you’re a professional athlete?”

Kevin watches the ball of sugar swell and burn before grabbing another. “On good days.”

Kevin doesn’t miss the second time and Aaron looks around as he’s chewing for the sticks they discarded their first night. He spots them and leans back to snag them, anchoring himself to Kevin’s arm to keep from falling back. 

They roast a couple in silence, Aaron’s toasted golden—Kevin’s looking more ashen than sugar. It would disgust Aaron if he hadn’t already witnessed this all on day one. Kevin had made him try one and Aaron came to the quick conclusion that they tasted far better on Kevin’s lips.

“Did you get to see any stars that time?”   

“It was overcast that night.” To the great surprise of no one, his mother wasn't all that great at planning.

Kevin gets that look in his eye again and Aaron wants to ask what’s gotten into him when he tugs on Aaron’s sleeve.

“I found something earlier. I want you to see it.” Aaron squints, apprehensive at the first sign of a surprise. Kevin returns the unspoken accusation in monotone. “It won’t bite.”

“That’s reassuring. Thank you.” 

Kevin’s eye rolls skyward as he stands, careful not to catch Aaron’s beloved quilt in the fire. He starts walking back towards the cabin and Aaron realizes that’s about all the explanation he’s going to get. Bidding the fire a somber farewell, he follows Kevin’s path back inside, the light of the cabin’s porch a warm welcome in the dark. 

He peeks around for Kevin, expecting… well, he’s not sure what he’s expecting. Aaron wanders further inside, past the kitchen and down the hall towards the bedrooms. The master bedroom is open, and he peeks inside to see a ladder that wasn’t there before, leading up and out past the skylight. It takes a little bit of maneuvering, but Aaron manages to keep the blanket around his shoulders—til death do he and this textile part—as he climbs up to where he assumes Kevin went. 

There’s a cushioned seating nook greeting him when he pops up over the ledge, and Kevin making himself comfortable amongst the pillows thrown around him. He pats the spot next to him when he sees Aaron, reclining back into their midst. Aaron clambers up the rest of the rungs and stands over the spot Kevin motioned towards in contemplation.

“What?” 

“I’m going to share the love of my life with you.”

Kevin stares at Aaron like he has three heads. “...What.”

Aaron answers by draping the blanket over both of them, curling into Kevin’s side when they’ve made themselves snug. It’s only then does Aaron finally look up to see what Kevin wanted to show him.

The trees are parted just so over the cabin, Aaron’s eyes widening at the view that greets him. The stars peek through the clearing, bright and glittering. He’s seen stars, sure. He knows they’re beautiful and all kinds of other poetic notions Aaron’s never been very good at articulating, but being in the city really has done him a disservice when it comes to things like this.

Oh.

“Told you.”

Aaron thunks his head into Kevin’s arm and Kevin responds in kind by resting his cheek to Aaron’s crown.

“I didn’t think stars actually twinkle,” Aaron comments, eyes following a trail of brighter stars.

Kevin must be looking at the same one’s, because his hand comes into Aaron’s line of view, finger following the same curved line as he speaks, “That’s Hydra.” 

“Pretty sure that’s Jupiter,” he adds, noting what Aaron thought was just a bigger star. Kevin’s hand drops before pointing a little higher, circling a section of sky that Aaron tries to follow. “Which makes that Virgo.”

Aaron’s brow furrows. “How do you know that?”

“I never got out much as a kid,” Kevin shrugs. “Figured if I couldn’t see them personally, I could read about them to make up for it.”

“That is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Says the guy who’s never really seen them either and doesn’t know their names.”

Aaron doesn’t want to admit he has a point.

“What’s that one?” Aaron asks, pointing up at another bright spot in the sky. 

Kevin shifts under him, and Aaron doesn’t have to look to know he’s sat up and squinting. 

“Spica.”

“Can’t believe I’m dating a nerd.”

“I majored in history, Ari.”

“Don’t remind me.”

“You read medical books for fun .”

“This isn’t about me.” Aaron links his fingers with Kevin’s under the blanket, free hand pointing out another series of what could be a constellation for all he knows. He’s not the expert tonight. “What’s that one?”

Kevin continues to list off the constellations he can remember and Aaron makes a mental note to take more trips like this in the future.

 

 

&&&

 

 

Kevin has always been objectively attractive. He loves to run his mouth till he’s pushing the limits of what the human lungs can account for, and that’s usually when he stops being attractive—to most. 

Aaron would love to say he isn’t an exception, but there’s not too many things Kevin could say right now that would deter him from the unbuttoned shirt and painted on leather pants that are leaving very very little to the imagination. 

“Andrew picked them out.”

Or he can say that.

“I am begging you not to talk about my brother when I’m halfway to climbing you like a tree.”

“You asked.”

Aaron idly wonders if it’s possible to suck the attitude out of someone. 

He loses that train of thought—he’ll come back to it later—as Kevin shifts his weight to his other foot, resuming that arrogant slouch he only does when he knows he’s won an argument. Aaron can’t really say he’s wrong in that regard. He didn’t have a fighting chance the moment he stepped in the door. Being fashion forward has never been Aaron’s forte, but Kevin has done more than his fair share of magazine spreads in the last few years, and they love accentuating all of Kevin’s ass. 

Assets. 

Mostly his ass, though.

A smile pulls at the corner of Kevin’s lips and Aaron shoves him onto the couch before he has time to say anything else that might kill a fantasy Aaron didn’t know he had until ten minutes ago. 

Aaron doesn’t waste any time in planting himself in Kevin’s lap, putting the earlier question of resolving attitude problems to the test. Kevin’s hands slip down beneath the waistband of his scrubs and Aaron tries his best not to indulge Kevin too much—god forbid he finds out how much Aaron’s into this. The teeth grazing at Aaron’s neck in soft encouragement show he’s doing a spectacular job so far, and he grinds down just to indulge himself . The sound of leather on leather greets him and it’s enough to make him dizzy. 

Kevin keeps kissing bruises into his collar and Aaron is beginning to think foreplay is incredibly overrated, his hand snaking between them to press heavily between Kevin’s legs and move this along. Aaron is pretty positive that leather isn’t made to stretch terribly well and with the way Kevin’s gone from panting to groaning against his skin, it’s not far from the truth. 

He barely gets the zipper undone, fingers dipping between leather and skin, and attempts to pull them down just enough so he can—

He gives another tug. 

“How did you get these on in the first place?” His voice comes out far more breathy than he likes.

Kevin’s voice is equally as strained—a win in Aaron’s mind. “Very carefully.”

Aaron would laugh if said piece of fabric wasn’t presenting him with the greatest challenge of his life. He pulls at them experimentally a few more times, sliding them a couple centimeters with each tug. Kevin stills his hand when Aaron makes another attempt.

“Here, just—” Kevin manhandles him by the hips off the couch and that would be hot too, if it weren’t for the way the motion drops Aaron unceremoniously onto the floor. Kevin doesn’t spare an apology, lifting his own hips in an attempt to get the pants off. Aaron can’t complain about the angle though, and makes the executive decision to watch Kevin struggle for a bit. 

Kevin falls back to the couch after a minute or so, heaving a sigh from a valiant effort. He squints at Aaron who’s made no move to help. “Is this amusing to you?”

“I’ve always found watching you struggle pretty amusing, yes,” he says deadpan. There’s a traitorous twitch at the corner of his lips. “Lift up again. You push, I’ll pull.” 

“We have to work on your dirty talk.”

“Kevin Day, I will leave you here on this couch.”

“Okay, okay,” he says rolling his hips up and Aaron is once again briefly distracted by the way Kevin’s abs flex to hold the position, barely a tremble in the muscle. “Aaron.”

“Right, right. Calm down,” Aaron replies, as if he wasn’t the impatient one a few minutes ago. 

He gives a count of three with no luck. A few more tries and Aaron slips, colliding with Kevin’s chest. Kevin lets himself drop back to the couch, Aaron following in a heap, and they share a quiet, aggravated sigh.

Then there’s a slight jerk of Kevin’s chest, and then another.

Aaron raises himself up to see what the issue is and Kevin is rubbing a hand over his mouth, pointedly looking up at the ceiling, a sure sign Aaron has come to recognize as Kevin doing his damn best not to start laughing at something that will surely piss Aaron off. His chest jumps again and the absurdity of the situation catches up with him. He rests his forehead against Kevin’s chest and finally lets Kevin’s aborted laugh escape out of his own chest. 

“This is stupid,” he thinks outloud, and that’s what finally gets Kevin to crack, a hand bracing Aaron’s shoulder to keep from knocking him off the couch with the way his laugh shakes them both. 

It’s a moment before either of them catch their breath. Aaron focuses the last bits of his amusement into kissing down Kevin’s sternum, landing on the hipbone peeking out from under his now least favorite fabric. Fantasies be damned.  

“Now what?” Kevin asks, running a hand through his hair. 

Aaron sighs, longsuffering, placing one final kiss to the little skin they were able to expose before sitting back on his heels. He doesn’t miss the way Kevin’s fingers twitch at the gesture. “I’ll go get the scissors.” 

“I paid a lot for these,” Kevin groans.

Aaron has no sympathy for this situation anymore, denying him as it is. “It’s the pants or your twelve ounce steak. Take your pick.”

Kevin's pointed look doesn't share in the amusement the comment brings Aaron.

— 

Destroying a pair of pants isn’t nearly as satisfying as Aaron thought it would be. Kevin certainly seems to be feeling better though, if not a little fussed about a minor loss in cash. He’s tucked himself into a pair of sweats that Aaron finds more familiar— significantly more comfortable —and still riding around the same place the leather did earlier. Aaron always thought his favorite part of Kevin was his hands, but his hip bones are making a compelling argument. 

It’s not a bad sight. 

Kevin gives the tattered remains one more pitying look, tossing them aside and silently volunteering to work through the sentient pile of laundry they’ve neglected to fold this past week. He tosses a couple shirts up onto the washer next to Aaron, who decides he should probably get comfortable too. Shimmying out of his work attire, he grabs one of Kevin’s shirts, the article loose and baggy around his hips. Dating someone nearly a head and a half taller does occasionally have its benefits. 

He hops up onto the washer, once again happy to be of no help in favor of watching the way Kevin’s back muscles roll every time he bends down. It’s domestic, the combination stoking the fire at the base of Aaron’s spine from earlier. Maybe it wasn’t the leather—or it was and Aaron’s easy like that. The sight of Kevin Day folding laundry should not bring him up to that level previous, and yet here Aaron was, working himself up to say Kevin’s name without being obvious. 

“Hey,” is what he manages. 

Kevin turns, blessedly deaf to the way Aaron barely got that much out. He still has a shirt half folded in hand when he sees that Aaron’s changed, hones in on who’s shirt he’s wearing and promptly drops the one he was trying to fold at the silent command Aaron hasn’t given. 

“These should be easier to take off,” Aaron says, leaning forward enough to hook his fingers into Kevin’s waistband for show. 

Kevin lets himself be tugged forward, slotting between Aaron’s legs. “They were kind of sexy for a minute there, right?”

“Oh, unbelievably.” 

“I’ll let Andrew know you liked them.”

“You really don’t know how to stop talking, do you?”

“I’ve been told as much.”

— 

Aaron is proven right very quickly about a few things. 

One: As expected, sweats are far easier to take off. 

Two: You can indeed suck the attitude out of someone.

Three: Sex ontop of a washing machine is far clumsier than any porn would have you believe, but it does lend to the perfect height for Kevin to make Aaron forget all about their earlier mishap. 

The irony of having to set the dial to "delicate" is not lost on either of them.

 

 

&&&

 

 

Aaron’s tired. 

The kind of tired that seeps into his bones and begs the question: how many times can he reasonably miss the key in the lock before he gives up and sleeps on the doormat leading into their apartment. There’s another slow breath before he finally gets it right, the slide of the lock practically a harmony in his ears as he drags himself inside. His jacket gets tossed haphazardly onto the counter, bag landing somewhere close. He doesn’t bother to check where, leaving the light off as he kicks his shoes aside. His balance wavers, forcing him to dig his shoulder into the wall for support.

Rounds were exhausting and all he wants is to crawl into bed and forget he has to do it all over again tomorrow. 

There’s a brief moment where he registers something distinctly lavender floating through the air, but it’s the faint glow from the hall upstairs that really garners his attention. Then it’s the foreign feeling of something sticking to his feet that really wakes him up. He leans down in the dark to pick up the offending scrap: a rose petal. 

“Weird.”

Aaron entertains the idea that he’s walked into the wrong apartment for all of a moment, but a quick glance at the messy pile of Trojans blankets on the couch and medical books littering the coffee table reminds him that this is in fact his apartment and there truly is a trail of petals leading up stairs into the hall bath. 

He takes the bait. 

He’s quiet as he pads up the stairs, mostly avoiding the petals for reasons he isn’t quite sure and doesn’t plan on unpacking. The bathroom door is cracked and that smell of lavender grows as he peeks his head around the doorway. 

There’s the flicker of several candlelights, burning for quite a time based on the black of the wicks, and rose petals scattered around the counter, a trail leading up to the bath itself. It’s a pretty picture, one out of some cheesy romance novel Aaron would have made fun of in his younger years. He was tempted to now, but the sight of Kevin Day snoozing in a bubble bath makes Aaron bite his tongue till he can taste iron. 

Kevin’s head is lulled onto one shoulder, bound to give him a kink if he stays like this much longer, lips parted in the way that only the truly asleep can manage. His arms rest on either side of the tub and there’s a mess of bubbles clear up to his chin and Aaron kind of wants to make fun of that too. One of Aaron’s favorite books is gripped in Kevin’s hand—half submerged in the water and well beyond saving—but the sentiment makes something twist in his chest and he can’t find himself terribly angry.

Aaron wants to take a picture, recalling too late that his phone is somewhere downstairs buried in his bag. The idea of possibly waking Kevin from such comfort bothers him right up until he remembers the threat of drowning is imminent. 

Time to ruin the moment.

“I know I said ‘surprise me’ when you asked what I wanted for my birthday, but a burnt down apartment and a drowned boyfriend is really getting creative.”

Kevin doesn’t startle as much as blink away the sleep from his eyes, heavy lidded and rolling to where Aaron finally steps fully into the bathroom, pretending to survey the scene as if he hadn’t been a voyeur for the last five minutes. 

“Have to keep it a little interesting,” Kevin mumbles around a mess of bubbles as he shifts up. He wipes them off, revealing that lopsided grin Aaron constantly has to avoid looking directly at. His eyes travel to the one dimple Kevin sports and Aaron suddenly thinks he wouldn’t mind soaking his clothes if it meant he could crawl in to kiss the stupid thing out of sight. “You should join me.”

“I’d put money on it being cold.”

Kevin must not register that he’s still holding the book when he dips his hand in to test the water. There’s a beat and he frowns as it floats a couple inches before placing it back on the rim of the tub. “It’s lukewarm, at best.”

Another beat. 

“I’ll buy you another copy.”

“It’s whatever.” Aaron steps up to the tub, peeling his new paperweight off the rim. He wrings it out, drops creating a small valley in the bubbles. Kevin watches him lazily, arm now propped up behind his head and Aaron can rest a little easier knowing he won’t have to hear about his posture issues in the morning. 

Aaron unbuttons the end of his shirt sleeve, rolling it up past his elbow and pushes past the bubbles to the drain. He gives it a tug and listens to the water slowly start to slip away.

“Not your thing?” Distinctly pruning fingertips run across the nape of his neck and he jumps at the unexpected contact. He’s got a scowl ready, but Kevin isn’t grinning from getting his collar wet. He’s looking thoughtful as he thumbs just under Aaron’s ear. 

“I said it was cold.” He’s distracted long enough by the bubbles trailing down Kevin’s arm, he nearly forgets about what he was trying to do. Kevin shifts, making to get out of the tub and Aaron snags his ankle under the water to still him. “I said it was cold.”

He turns the faucet, hushing Kevin’s hiss with a click of his tongue that says this is your fault and you know it . It starts to warm quickly enough, and Aaron stands, ignoring the offending sight that is Kevin looking far too pleased with himself, content to shrivel away if it means Aaron might join him.

Kevin breathes out a low wolf whistle when Aaron removes his scrub top.

“You’re shameless,” Aaron sighs, undoing the knot of his bottoms and tossing both in the hamper. 

“Maybe,” is all Kevin replies, reaching forward to turn the tap off. 

Aaron toes off his boxers and plays mental tetris to see how he wants to slide in next to the sleazy grin staring up at him. He settles for pressing his back against Kevin, tucking neatly between his legs and silently thankful for Kevin’s insistence on a larger tub with the last move. Kevin politely keeps his hands to himself till Aaron’s comfortable and the water curls up just under his chin. The tiredness from before threatens to tug him under further, but there’s an arm looping around his middle, keeping him where he’s at. He melts back into Kevin, a sigh escaping him and along with it, the day’s aches.

Lips press to his crown and Aaron’s drowsily aware of Kevin rubbing small circles into his hip. 

“Wash my hair?”

Kevin snorts, already leaning over the side of the tub and snagging a bottle of shampoo. “Bossy.”

“You fell asleep trying to romance me. I’m owed some compensation for my grievances.”

Kevin gently nudges him forward and Aaron starts regretting the simple request because now he has to move and that might be a modern day tragedy. It’s only a few inches, just so that Kevin can maneuver himself up to tilt Aaron’s head back but it feels like a mile. 

Water is cupped over his head as Kevin begins to work his fingers through Aaron’s hair. He fights the urge to slump forwards, the ministrations of a careful hand tipping the scales in his battle to stay upright. 

Kevin must sense this, dragging blunt nails across his scalp. “Come on, tip back a bit.” 

Aaron can still follow simple commands and lets his head lull back. Warm water rushes the bubbles back into the bath, a careful hand covering his eyes from any stray drops. It's a kind gesture—nice even—and Aaron isn’t sure who replaces his arrogant, headstrong boyfriend in these quiet moments, but he’s grateful for the attentiveness. 

A couple more passes of water and Kevin is pulling Aaron back against him, the bubbles threatening to pull him down into their depths. He thinks that wouldn’t be so bad.

Kevin returns to tracing small shapes across Aaron’s thigh while he watches the faucet drip a steady rhythm into the tub. 

“Want me to read to you?”

Aaron almost inhales a clump of bubbles as he murmurs just above the water. “From the sopping wet copy?”

Kevin ignores the obvious sarcasm. “It’s one of your favorites. I think I was just getting to a good part.” 

Aaron makes a noncommittal noise and Kevin picks the book up off the side of the tub, slipping his other hand from the water to thumb to the page he was on. The pages stick together and Aaron watches Kevin carefully peel them apart to reach the page he had dogeared, just before sentencing the work to its watery grave. Aaron’s read this enough times to know Kevin was indeed at a good part. He doesn’t say as much, instead turning his head to the side where Kevin is resting his arm along Aaron’s shoulder to place a small kiss there. Kevin’s voice is a low rumble in his ear, a calm sort of metronome. 

“Want me to wake you in a bit?” 

Aaron nods and there’s another press of lips to the top of his head. Kevin’s free hand finds Aaron’s under the bubbles, linking their fingers together. 

 


&&&

 


“Do you remember the first time we spoke?”

Aaron perks up from his heavy lidded trance, focus shifting from the documentary down to where Kevin’s head rests in his lap. His hair’s mussed from each pass of Aaron’s fingers through the dark lockes, and Aaron knows he’ll have to wash it before their dinner tonight if he wants it to cooperate. The narrator off screen says something about larger cats grooming one another and Aaron drops his chin back into his palm where it had been perched on the arm of the sofa. Static creeps up his arm from where it had apparently started to fall asleep.

“When you tried to recruit Andrew?”

“No. When we talked.”

Oh. That time.

“No.”

“Yes, you do,” Kevin says, rolling over, and Aaron has to fight the urge to mirror the lazy smirk looking up at him. 

“I try my best to forget,” Aaron replies, finally shaking the static out of the ends of his fingertips.

“How could you want to forget about almost getting knocked out by The Kevin Day?” 

“Oh, lucky me ,” Aaron deadpans. He pulls at Kevin’s cheek, which just encourages the other man to grin all the more. He settles back against the couch, laying his hand flat to Kevin’s chest, the soft thump under his palm steady and warm. “I should have asked for your autograph—right over my bruised sternum . I didn’t even have proper gear on.” 

Kevin’s grin tries to go for apologetic, but it falls somewhere around too fucking amused . “I distinctly remember you telling me I was handsome.” 

“Bullshit. I had the wind knocked out of me. I wasn’t concussed .”

Aaron had barely stepped out onto the court when a ball had sailed directly into his stomach. He’s still not completely convinced it was an accident. Kevin didn’t miss shots and Aaron wasn’t that ignorant of what was going on around him. Maybe he was aiming for Andrew. Aaron would have asked, but the world was still spinning in technicolor when Kevin had leaned over him, scrutinizing rather than offering a helping hand. 

“You really need to learn to dodge if you’re not going to take the pass.”

Kevin was a lot of things—more positives than he would ever give name to himself—but he had topped the list for being a complete prick for a while there.

“An incredible first impression from The Son of Exy —”

“You know, I’ve heard that before. A fan favourite.”

“—and for the record, I said you were ‘ cute till you opened your mouth. ’”

“And yet, here you are.” 

Aaron flicks him in the side of the jaw and Kevin catches his hand to link their fingers together. “And yet, here we are.”

Kevin’s smile softens around the edges, mirth exchanged for something fond. Aaron can’t decide if he should cover Kevin’s eyes or his own. The decision is made for him when Kevin’s pocket vibrates and he pulls out his phone with his free hand to tap away at the screen. It gives Aaron time to let the feeling of something bubbling in his chest fall back to acceptable sea levels. 

He thinks the conversation will fade as it does in these lazier times. Whoever wakes up to the evening alarm first will usher the other to get ready—usually Aaron, courtesy of dating a dead log when he's asleep. Kevin will wait on Aaron’s ability to outlast the water heater. Aaron will wait on Kevin’s ten step skin care routine. They’ll go out, eat a bit too much, drink enough to encourage stupid decisions, frot in the back of some cab—

Aaron’s pulled back to the present when he feels Kevin’s lips ghosting over his knuckles, phone discarded next to him on the couch. 

“I was thinking about tonight.”

Please say ‘stay home.’ Aaron surprises himself at the immediate thought. He won’t say it outloud, won’t ruin Kevin’s fun. Aaron knows he enjoys these things, and Aaron does too. It’s not that he doesn’t want to go out per se, but— 

“Let’s stay in.” 

“Oh, thank fuck,” Aaron says with too much relief.

Kevin snorts and raises an eyebrow, knowing better than to take Aaron’s admission as something negative. “Yeah?” 

“Yeah.” 

“I can’t help but feel you had alternate plans for our evening.”

“You really wanna know my alternate plan?” Kevin’s smirk returns and had it not been for the way he was pressing his lips down Aaron’s knuckles, Aaron would think to pinch him again. “My alternate plans were ordering pad thai and becoming one with this couch.”

A pause. “With you, of course.”

“I’m glad you factored me into such a thrilling night.” Aaron threatens to tug his hand away and Kevin tightens his grip the slightest. 

“You don’t mind?”

Kevin picks up his phone again, tapping a couple times and turning the screen to face Aaron. He catches the name of their restaurant and the words ‘ reservation cancelled,’ before Kevin turns the screen back towards himself. “We’re on the same page.” 

Kevin says like it’s a fact, like they’ve always been that way. Aaron thinks there’s truth in that.

“You said pad thai, right? The place closest to us, or the one on fourth? I think that other one’s closed on Tuesdays.” Kevin unlaces their fingers to tap at his phone with a little more ease. “I know you prefer fourth’s noodles, though.”

Aaron lifts the leg that Kevin’s currently using as a pillow, Kevin automatically following the motion to let Aaron up off the couch. He stops short when he feels Aaron’s hand cup the side of his face, bracing his elbow on the couch to catch himself. He blinks in that stupid way Aaron loves, like he’s caught off guard entirely by Aaron’s touch—as if Aaron isn’t in constant contact somehow when they’re like this. He presses a kiss to Kevin’s temple, long enough that it might leave it’s own mark. 

“Always.”

Kevin blinks again, gears visibly backtracking to see where their conversation branched. “Always?”

“Us. The same page.” Kevin smiles back at him and that bubbling in Aaron’s chest rises once more. He supposes he can allow one more piece of vulnerability for the occasion. “And the part about the noodles.” 

Kevin laughs and Aaron thinks Kevin gets it—gets Aaron. 

“The important part. Of course.”

He taps the queen piece a couple times.

“The most important part.”