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In My Life (I Love You More)

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In My Life (I Love You More)

August 1, 2018

Paul Narita applauded with a brilliant smile on his handsome face. He cupped both hands around his mouth and let out an extra loud catcall when his father, John Black, appeared.

John held a champagne glass in one hand, Marlena Evans' hand in the other. He twirled Marlena to the middle of the room.

Their closest friends and family joined them in celebrating their engagement. John and Marlena rented a private room in Salem's newest upscale restaurant for an intimate gathering. Their actual wedding was still a few weeks away.

"I'd like to thank everyone for joining us tonight," John proclaimed.

The crowd cheered while Paul wrapped an arm around his boyfriend, Sonny Kiriakis.

Sonny smiled at Paul and grabbed two champagne flutes from a passing waitress.

"I know I speak for myself and Marlena when I say our wedding has been a long time coming."

Paul heard Belle let out a loud shriek of agreement.

"Tonight, we're surrounded by our wonderful friends and beautiful family."

Paul looked at the other occupants at his table. So many siblings and stepsiblings he never knew existed until a few short years ago when he came to Salem.

His half-brother Brady Black and wife Madison James. His half-sister Belle Black and husband Shawn Brady. His stepbrother Eric Brady and girlfriend Nicole Walker. Carrie Brady and husband Austin Reed, who Paul didn't think were related to either John or Marlena but arrived from Switzerland the other day for the occasion. And his stepsister Sami Brady and husband EJ DiMera.

He even had nieces and a nephew sitting one table away.

So many people Paul would never have known if he hadn't injured his shoulder. If he hadn't come to a Podunk town where he could recover in peace. He wouldn't have met his family, his father. He wouldn't have reconnected with Sonny.

Paul could have lived without all the drama with Sonny and Sonny's on-again-off-again boyfriend Brian. But that didn't matter, he and Sonny were together again and this time it would last.

Paul was almost certain of it. Whatever little insecurities he developed watching Sonny with Brian would heal in time.

Either way, Paul couldn't believe all this was waiting for him in Salem. A father, a large family, a place to belong. Even with the insanity of Salem and his family, it was worth it.

Paul couldn't imagine how things could get any better.

"I love you," John gazed at Marlena with stars in his eyes. The luminous smile on her face said more than ever she felt the same way.

"I agonized over a present that would show you just how much love I had. I thought of diamonds and jewels but none of them would ever be as beautiful as you."

Marlena let out a bark of laughter but never stopped smiling.

"After all these years, I know you better than anyone. And as much as you'd enjoy rings or bracelets, you'd prefer something from the heart."

John put down his champagne glass. He put his arm around Marlena's waist and turned her toward the entrance to their private room.

"After thinking long and hard about what would make you happiest, I knew exactly what to do. I'd give you something you've loved before you ever even saw his face. Something you've wanted back in Salem for years. Something you tided yourself over all this time with visits and European vacations. Something you play word games with every day even though you've never won a single round. Something with pictures splattered over every inch of your office."

Marlena's face went from quizzical to elated, looking every which way.

"Nonstop from Zurich, your pride and joy," John imitated a drumroll, "William Robert Horton."

Paul wasn't sure whose scream was louder, Marlena's or Sami's. Either way, he didn't get a good look at what happened next. Every person at the table but him and Sonny jumped to their feet. Crowding around Marlena and an outline of a male body.

"Do you know who that is?" Sonny leaned over to ask Paul. He almost had to yell, the volume in the room skyrocketed.

"Sami's oldest," Paul said. "I've never met him but Marlena and Sami have pictures of him everywhere."

None of the pictures either had were current, though. Most showed a cherub-faced infant or a bright-eyed preteen. There were a few of a teenager just shy of manhood. But none that prepared Paul for Will as a grown man, live and in person.

Paul gestured with his head toward his migrated family.

"Let's go."

Paul pushed and elbowed his way through the group, something he grew accustomed to in all situations with them. When he got to the front, he had the perfect view of Marlena's face and Will's back. He watched Marlena press her face in the neck of a surprisingly tall young man. Her arms squeezing him tight.

Paul couldn't hear everything they said as everyone else was too loud. But he heard a few snippets.

"I missed you."

"I can't believe you're here."

He's certain he even heard the phrase, "my favorite grandchild" thrown around.

The rest of his family watched the two with fond looks on their faces. All except for Sami who screeched at Austin and Carrie, "how could you keep this a secret from me?"

Paul kept an eye on Will. He looked at the short dirty-blond hair in front of him. Looked at the way Will hunched over to hug Marlena and squeezed her just as hard as Marlena squeezed him. Looked at the way his dark blue shirt framed Will's unexpectedly wide shoulders and trim waist.

Paul definitely noticed the way Will's pants clung to him like a second skin. That when he hunched over to hug Marlena, his back curved, butt popping out.

Paul jostled to the left when an elbow hit his side, Sonny's.

When Paul glanced at him, Sonny had an indifferent expression on his face, eyes on Marlena and Will.

"Oh my goodness," Marlena finally pulled away from Will, wiping tears from her eyes. "I still can't believe this. I can't believe you're here."

Will didn't get the chance to reply. His mother threw herself at him, nearly toppling him to the ground with the force of her hug.

Sami threw her hands on Will's face, squeezing his cheeks and murmuring nonsense.

"Moooom," Will whined with a laugh.

It was a nice laugh, Paul thought.

He didn't get the chance to meet Will for almost an hour. After Sami, came Will's siblings, Johnny and Allie. The two clung to Will, barely letting anyone near him.

Paul watched Will stick his hand out for EJ to shake. Only for EJ to knock it aside when he pulled Will into a hug nearly as tight as Sami and Marlena's.

Lucas fought his way through the crowd, seizing Will in his own tight grip. Holding him for a good five minutes before he let go.

Next, Eric squeezed Will hard, lifting him off his feet. When he let go, he slapped the back of Will's head with a loud, "you couldn't send a text and let me know you were coming?"

After, Brady kissed the top of Will's head before pulling him into a headlock and giving him a noogie.

Belle, much like Sami, squeezed Will's cheeks, murmuring about how much Will had grown.

Paul stifled a laugh when Will said, "you saw me a year ago."

"You've grown since then."

Other friends and family approached Will, monopolizing his time. Still, Paul couldn't pull his eyes away. He didn't even notice when his father approached him.

John clasped Paul's shoulder, laughing when Paul jumped.

"I think she liked my gift," John said, tilting his head toward a radiant Marlena.

"You think?" Paul laughed. "If she didn't already agree to marry you, she would now."

"Wait, have you met Will yet?" John asked. He looked between Paul and Sonny. "No? Well, come on, Sami can stop hogging him."

John pushed Sami aside, shooing the kids away to the other side of the room where there was cake.

"Will, come here a second, kiddo."

"Sure thing, Grandpa."

John threw an arm around Will, turning him to face Paul and Sonny.

"Will, this is my son Paul. Paul, this is Will."

Paul got a good glimpse of dark blond fringe highlighting extremely blue eyes. Dark brows, pink lips, and a smattering of five o'clock shadow.

Oh no.

Will met Paul's eyes with a wide grin that brightened his whole face.

"Hi," Will greeted. He swept his eyes up Paul's form before biting his lower lip.

"Hi," Paul parroted back, voice lower than normal.

Everyone else around them fell away, including John and Sonny. All Paul saw was Will and his blue eyes and his white smile and the dip in his collarbone.

"Nice to meet you," Will purred, eyes twinkling.

Paul gulped.

Oh, no. He's hot.


 

Chapter Text

August 1, 2018

Oh, no. He's hot.

Paul stared at Will, smile frozen on his face. He could see his father giving him an odd look out of the corner of his eye but he couldn't look away.

Will licked his lips, before sticking his hand out for Paul to shake.

"Uh – nice to meet you too," Paul replied, holding onto Will's hand for a moment too long.

When Will pulled his hand back, Paul's palm felt warm and tingly.

"I missed this kid," John squeezed Will tight against him, rocking him back and forth before kissing the top of his head.

"I missed you too," Will laughed, leaning his head on John's shoulder.

"We pulled off the perfect surprise," John said. "I haven't seen your grandmother this happy in a long time."

"I'm glad you convinced me to come," Will admitted.

Paul watched his father and Will interact with a bewildered smile. He heard many stories about the infamous Will but it was another matter entirely to see him in the flesh.

And what lovely flesh he had.

"You haven't been back to Salem in a long time, right?" Paul asked, trying to clear his thoughts. Focus on what he did know about Will already.

"No, not at all," Will said. The most adorable expression came on his face when started thinking. His nose scrunched up and his lips pursed. "I haven't been back in, wow, eleven years."

"It's been that long?" John questioned before nodding. "I guess it has."

"I don't think anyone's ever told me why you left Salem," Paul said. "I know both your parents are here and I always wondered…"

Paul trailed off when Will smiled even wider than before.

"I was a problem child," Will declared, lifting his eyebrows. "My parents sent me away for my own good. I went off to Zurich with Carrie and Austin and I loved it. So, I never came back."

"Even though we begged," John added, nudging Will.

"I was happy there," Will shrugged, smile dimming. "It was a novelty at the time."

Paul felt it deep in his chest when Will stopped smiling.

"But," Will put his head back on John's shoulder, "someone convinced me to visit."

"Long visit, right?" John confirmed. "I need you here the whole month."

"Yeah, yeah, you get me for all 31 days of August," Will promised.

"That's a pretty long time," Paul said with a smile.

"Long enough to get to know – mmm – Salem again," Will said with a teasing look in his eyes.

Paul got the feeling Will meant something else entirely. Someone else agreed. They cleared their throat, elbowing Paul.

Sonny

Paul almost forgot his boyfriend was there.

"Oh – Sonny – right – sorry, Will, this is Sonny. Sonny, Will," Paul flustered to introduce them.

"Hello," Sonny attempted to crush Will's hand when they shook.

"Hi," Will said, giving him an odd look when he took his hand back.

"Sonny Kiriakis, Titan board member," Sonny listed.

"Okay," Will tried not to laugh. He looked at John briefly, the two sharing a smirk.

"And what is it you do?" Sonny questioned.

"I'm an electronic trading analyst for UBS Wealth Management." At the blank look on Sonny's face, Will added, "I do a lot of math."

"They were alright with you taking the time off?" John asked.

"They don't care where I am as long as I get my stuff done," Will replied. He pointed between John and Paul. "You two work together with Uncle Steve, right?"

"Steve's your uncle too?" Paul wondered.

"Too?" Will lifted one brow.

"Steve Johnson is my uncle," Sonny declared. "My mother's brother."

"Oh, cool. He's married to my aunt. Well, great aunt. My grandpa's sister if we have to be technical," Will explained.

"I thought you just called John your grandpa?" Sonny asked almost a little desperately.

"Hmm? Just a habit," Will shrugged. "He's been with my grandma so long and I always did when I was younger."

Will looked at John again.

"Do you want me to stop?"

"Don't be stupid, kid," John cuffed Will on the back of the head in almost the same spot Eric did earlier. "You were my first grandbaby even if not by blood. And it's been awful without you here."

"Aw," Will squeezed John's bicep and cooed. "I love you too."

John shoved Will away with a snort.

"I'm getting back to my bride. Paul," John said but pointed at Will. "Make sure this one doesn't get into any trouble."

"I would nev – oh, I can't even say that with a straight face."

John laughed as he walked away.

"So," Will said once left alone with Paul and Sonny. "How do you two know each other?"

"Oh – uh – well, Sonny and I-," Paul looked wide-eyed between Will and Sonny, head twisting back and forth.

"Paul is my boyfriend," Sonny stated, linking their arms together.

"Really?" Will lifted his brows, amused. "I wouldn't have guessed that."

"Why not?" Sonny asked in a clipped tone.

Will shrugged.

"I don't know, a vibe, I guess. Plus, you kind of look alike. And I just thought, since this is Salem, it wouldn't surprise me if you were related."

Paul opened and closed his mouth while Sonny made a strange squawking sound.

"Anyway," Will continued, ignoring their reactions. "How long have you been together?"

"A few days," Paul said.

While at the same time, Sonny said, "years."

Will watched with growing amusement as they squabbled.

"What? No, we haven't," Paul looked at Sonny incredulously.

"We might not have been together the whole time but it still counts."

"No, it doesn't. I wanted to be with you and you were too busy waffling between me and Brian."

"Who's Brian?" Will asked, eyes moving side to side watching them.

They both ignored him.

"What did you want me to do? I had a whole life before you came to Salem. And, most of the past few years, I wasn't with Brian, not really."

"Well, you certainly weren't with me either. Last week when I asked you to the party tonight, you finally made a decision and said yes. So, no, we haven't been together for years. In fact, we haven't even been together for a week."

"That really clarified things for me, gentlemen, thank you," Will covered his mouth with his hand, trying not to laugh.

"It doesn't matter when we started dating. All that matters is we're together," Sonny glanced at Paul before looking pointedly at Will. "Happy and together with so much history between us."

Before anyone could say anything else, Marlena rushed back to Will's side.

She hugged him tight again, pressing one palm to his cheek.

"I still can't believe you're here," she gushed. "I hate only seeing you for a few days at a time on vacation."

"Well, you get me all month," Will promised. He closed his eyes, leaning into her hand before pulling away. "No more face touching. Do you know how many people have pinched my cheeks in the last hour?"

"I know, sweetheart," Marlena replied. "You're used to your other cheeks getting all the attention."

"Grandma!" Will gasped before bursting into laughter.

Paul found the blush on his cheeks and the flush from his laughter very attractive.

"What? Like I don't know what goes on in your life? Carrie tells me these things," Marlena teased. "Like that one boyfriend, the one in high school? What was his name?"

Will covered his face with his hands, response muffled.

"Julian and do we have to talk about this in front of strangers?"

"It's just Paul," Marlena dismissed. "He's family. Now, what did Austin catch Julian doing to you when you were 16? Something to do with your butt and his phone?"

"Stop it," Will begged around a laugh.

Marlena pulled him into another hug, swaying Will side to side.

"You're beautiful and I love you and I don't ever want you to change, especially your cute little hiney."

Will outright giggled when Marlena gently swatted him on the butt.

"Now," Marlena turned to face Paul. "Oh, Sonny, I didn't see you there."

"Seems to be going around," Sonny mumbled under his breath.

"I take it you've met Will?" she asked, gazing at Will with unmitigated pride.

"Yes," Sonny said in a flat tone.

"Good," Marlena either didn't hear his tone of voice or chose to ignore it. "Now, Paul, Will hasn't been in Salem in so long. And I know how overwhelming the place can be particularly when so many relatives are going to hound him. Do you think you can show him around again? Help him acclimate himself to Salem?"

"Oh, yeah, sure," Paul responded. He took a large gulp of air when Will beamed at him.

"Excellent, you are too sweet," Marlena praised. "I'm going to steal Will now but why don't the two of you meet in the morning? You are staying at the penthouse, right, Will?"

"That was the plan," Will replied, arm around Marlena's waist.

"Good, Paul, why don't you get there around, let's say, 9?"

"Okay, yeah, great," Paul licked his lips several times, heart pounding in his chest when Will batted his lashes.

"We'll see you then," Marlena pulled Will away.

"Bye," Will looked over his shoulder.

He smirked proudly when he noticed Paul's eyes had to quickly slip back up from where they once stared at his butt.

Will also laughed when he heard Sonny berating Paul as soon as they walked away.

Marlena knocked her head close to Will's, whispering in his ear.

"Don't think I didn't notice those eyes you were flinging at Paul, young man."

"Who?" Will asked with an innocent smile. "Me?"

"Mmm hmm," Marlena teased. "Well, you can thank me for asking him to show you around later."

"Aw, Grandma," Will squeezed her hip. "You do love me."

"What can I say?" Marlena shrugged. "I have a good feeling about you and Paul."

Chapter Text

August 2, 2018

Will, John, and Marlena arrived at the penthouse around two in the morning. Marlena and John wished Will a good night and went to bed. Will couldn't sleep even if he wanted to.

Jetlag had Will in her painful clutches. Between the party, reuniting with almost all of Salem, and the seven-hour time difference, Will wasn't getting any sleep that night.

Instead, Will switched out his contacts for glasses and changed into a pair of threadbare sweats and a tank top. He set up his laptop at the dining room table and got in some work. Spending hours poring over data, crunching numbers.

Will loved numbers. He loved complicated algorithms and the thrill that accompanied a solution. Pen and paper, computer programs, Will adored them all.

It was why he focused his university studies on mathematics. While he enjoyed playing around with computers and even sitting down to write, he couldn't envision either as a viable career.

Math led Will to analytics and he loved his job.

Marlena and John woke somewhere around eight. They flitted in and out, checking on Will. Marlena, in particular, sat next to him and watched him work for a while. Absolutely adoring the look in his eyes while Will double checked his work.

"Here," Marlena set a glass of water in front of Will at quarter to nine. "You can't survive on coffee, young man."

"I can try," Will murmured but took a long sip from the glass. "Thanks, Grandma."

Will leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms and rolling his neck in a circle. Marlena cringed when she heard several bones cracking.

"Can you talk for a minute?" Marlena asked, sitting in the chair on Will's right-hand side.

"Hmm?"

"What was that yesterday with Paul?"

Will shrugged, rearranging his papers.

"When you and Grandpa explained all the stuff with Paul and everything you didn't mention one little detail."

"Oh? What detail is that?" Marlena asked, concerned for a moment.

"You didn't tell me he looked like that," Will tossed his papers aside, giving Marlena his full attention. "You could have sent along a picture. I mean, geez, it's like looking at a freaking Monet or something. A little warning, my god, I could have spontaneously combusted."

Marlena let out a small chuckle which expanded to a loud laugh, head thrown back and hands clapping.

"I told you he used to play baseball. You could have looked him up," Marlena said around her laughter.

"Do you think I have time to look up former American sports players?" Will asked. "If you told me he looked like that I would have."

Marlena shook her head, shoulders heaving.

"Have you seen his face? He belongs in a Disney movie, Grandma."

"Yeah, my first clue you were gay was how often you watched Mulan as a child. I can't think of any other reason you would watch the male lead singing shirtless a hundred times in a row."

"Li Shang's the hottest Disney character and no one can convince me otherwise."

"Cartoon characters aren't supposed to be hot."

"Whatever," Will dismissed. "All I'm saying is Paul looks like an actual Disney prince and no one thought to tell me."

"I told you he was gay," Marlena reminded him.

"That doesn't mean he's hot. All you had to do was send me a picture of him in his uniform," Will pointed out. "You have to stick to the facts."

"Well, you know, he isn't just a pretty face," Marlena said. "He's very sweet and loyal and just as beautiful on the inside."

"Yeah, uh huh, whatever. What's the deal with that Sonny guy?" Will asked. He took another drink of water, hands shaking.

Maybe a whole pot of coffee was a bad idea.

Marlena scoffed, crossing her arms over her chest.

Will grinned at the spitting image of his mother.

"Sonny Kiriakis is not good enough for Paul," Marlena stated. "He's done nothing but lead Paul on since the moment Paul got to Salem."

"I don't think I've ever heard you say anything mean about anyone that wasn't a DiMera," Will pointed out with a small frown.

"Paul wants to date Sonny and that's fine. I just don't want to see Paul get hurt again and I know I will."

Marlena reached over and grabbed Will's hand, squeezing it.

"I don't expect the two of you to fall madly in love with each other or anything like that. But I think you and Paul could become great friends and support one another. And," Marlena smiled, head tilted to the side, "if you happen to find each other along the way, well, I would love that."

"You know, I'm not staying in Salem," Will reminded her while squeezing her hand back.

"Never say never," Marlena sing-songed. "You always said you'd never come back to Salem either and here you are."

"I had a compelling reason to come."

"Maybe you'll find a compelling reason to stay."

"Don't get your hopes up, Grandma," Will told her with a teasing grin. "Just because I fell in lust at first sight doesn't mean he did. We haven't even had a proper conversation."

"Oh, don't you worry," Marlena patted the top of Will's hand. "But, just in case things do work out, you should probably stop calling John your grandpa. Might make things a little awkward."

Will snorted before reaching over the table to grab his phone.

"I'll keep that in mind. But, for now, I have some calls to make."


Right at 9 o'clock, Paul knocked on the door.

"Son," John said as he answered the door. "I didn't think we had any work to discuss today."

"We don't," Paul responded, walking inside. "Marlena invited me over. She asked me to show Will around Salem."

"She did?" John frowned, walking toward Marlena and Will. "Why? Will lived here before. It hasn't changed that much."

"Don't ask me," Paul said.

Paul followed him into the dining room. He glanced at the myriad of papers, pens, calculators, and spreadsheets.

He saw Will standing in the corner, talking on the phone in a low voice.

"Paul's here," John announced. He stood behind Marlena's chair, both hands on her shoulders. "I didn't realize Will needed a personal guide."

"I thought it would be nice for them to get to know each other," Marlena confessed. She smiled fondly at Paul. "You two are so close in age, you know. I'm sure you'll become great friends."

"I'm sure we will," Paul agreed, slipping his hands into his front pockets.

As the conversation died down, Paul could hear Will on the phone. He wasn't speaking English.

Like many parts of Will, Paul found it unexpectedly attractive.

"Sorry," Will said, turning to face them. "Had to catch my boss before he left for the day. Oh, Paul, hi."

Will stopped, one hand sliding up to his mess of hair. He'd spent the night running his fingers through it as he worked. He'd been awake over twenty-four hours. Spent over nine hours on a plane from Zurich to Chicago yesterday. Spent another four hours driving down to Salem. Rushed to make his surprise entrance and came back here to work for almost six hours straight.

His hair was a mess. His clothes were several years old and fraying at the edges. The bags under his eyes must have been horrendous. He even wore his dark-rimmed oversized glasses. And here was Paul, handsome, charming, and unfairly sexy in nothing but a pair of jeans and a dark shirt.

"Hi," Will dropped his hand from his hair. "I am not ready to go at all."

"It's not a problem," Paul smiled. He eyed the almost see-through tank top Will wore, the bulge of his biceps and the sharp curve of his shoulders.

"I'll just go and," Will pointed out of the room, "shower and everything."

Paul watched him go, eyes on the way Will's sweats stretched across his backside.

When he turned to face his father and Marlena again, his face flushed. His father looked at him quizzically while Marlena smiled mischievously.

"So, the wedding is coming up," Paul said, desperate to change the subject. "Do you need any help?"

"We have everything covered," Marlena promised him. "It's only a few weeks away, now. Have you scheduled your fitting for your suit?"

"Not yet," Paul answered with a sheepish grin.

"Good," Marlena's eyes sparkled. "You can take Will with you. He'll need something too."

"Right, sure," Paul agreed.

John looked at Marlena out of the corner of his eye.

The three chatted about the wedding and the party the night before for a while more.

"Will was such an unhappy child," Marlena said, speaking about her joy at seeing Will in Salem again. "Sami and Lucas were, well, I love them, but they were a mess then. There was so much going on when Will was born and his whole childhood. John and I weren't much help either. Carrie and Austin taking him when they moved was the right choice. He was on such a terrible path. Taking him away from that was the best. But, oh, I missed him. Emails, texts, letters, phone calls, they barely got me through his absence."

"You're really close," Paul said with a soft smile. It reminded him of the relationship with his grandfather.

"Always have been, always will be," Marlena said.

"You aren't that close with your other grandkids," Paul pointed out.

"Will's a different case than the others," John stated. "He's special."

"Of course, I am," Will said as he walked into the room, hair wet and smile bright.

"Let me look at that precious face," Marlena moved to his side, grasping his face.

"Grandma," Will huffed trying to pull away.

"Isn't he handsome, Paul?" Marlena winked at Will before turning to Paul.

Paul, face flushed, licked his lips and nodded.

It was all too true. In ratty sweats and a tank top or in the dark wash jeans and blue shirt he wore now, Will was all sorts of attractive.

Marlena let go of Will after giving him a noisy kiss on the cheek.

"You two kids have fun now," Marlena told them. "But, make sure you keep dinner open, both of you."

"Sure thing," Paul said with an easy smile.

"Do you need me to clean up my mess?" Will glanced at the dining room table. He managed to cover every square inch of it with his work crap.

"No, leave it," John said. "It's fine."

"If you're sure," Will said, grabbing his phone. He looked over at Paul, eyebrows raised. "Shall we?"

Paul followed Will toward the exit after saying their goodbyes. John and Marlena walked them to the door.

After they left, John turned toward Marlena with crossed arms.

"What are you scheming?"

"What?" Marlena asked, taken aback.

"Don't try that innocent look on me," John smiled, pulling her close. "I know better. You're up to something."

Marlena placed her hands on John's shoulders, looking up at him through her eyelashes.

"I think Will and Paul really hit it off last night. I want them to get to know each other."

John shook his head, lips pursed.

"Paul finally got Sonny back. After all that back and forth with Brian. Paul's happy, now, Doc. I don't want anything to mess that up."

"Maybe he is. Maybe he isn't. It's out of my hands, now. I simply gave them a little push to break the ice."

"I hope you know what you're doing," John advised.

"I always do," Marlena leaned up on her tippy toes to give John a sweet, gentle kiss.


"So," Paul said when he and Will walked out onto the sidewalk. "Where should we go first?"

"I'm pretty hungry," Will said.

"Breakfast it is," Paul stated. "Do you have a preference or anything?"

"I only ate at the Brady Pub when I used to live here, so," Will shrugged. "Whatever you suggest."

"I know a place," Paul said. "It's a little ways away, not a lot of people know about it."

"Lead the way," Will smiled.

The two walked in the early morning sunshine, elbows knocking into each other every few steps. Each time, they'd smile at the other but neither moved farther away.

Paul cleared his throat.

"You're not wearing glasses now," Paul pointed out.

Will's face turned a lovely shade of pink, lips pressed together.

"Nope," Will agreed. "Contacts. My eyes are kind of sensitive so I can't wear them all day or they dry out. But, yeah, I usually wear glasses at home. Or when I'm working."

"It looked like you were working pretty hard for nine in the morning," Paul said. He kept glancing at Will every few steps they'd take.

"I never went to bed," Will confessed. "As soon as we got back, I changed and put on the glasses and got to work."

"You couldn't sleep?" Paul asked.

Almost on cue, Will yawned big and wide.

Paul thought it looked cute.

"No," Will laughed. "Jetlag. I can't sleep on planes either so I've been up a while. I'm gonna try to make it to tonight and hope I can reset my internal clock."

"How far ahead is it where you live? Wait, where do you live?" Paul couldn't remember the name of it. He knew it was somewhere in Europe.

"Zurich, Switzerland," Will answered. "And it's seven hours ahead, so not too bad."

"Switzerland," Paul mused. "Why Switzerland?"

"Carrie and Austin were moving there and I went with," Will shrugged. "Zurich's gorgeous. It looks like something out of a fairytale. But it's ultra-modern and I love it."

"You must if you're still there," Paul stated. "I don't really know anything about Switzerland at all. Is it safe for you to live there? I mean, as a gay man?"

Will grinned at the sheepishly concerned look on Paul's face.

"They're pretty progressive there, yeah," Will said. "They don't have gay marriage yet but registered partnerships are a thing. It's not perfect but it's a work in progress. I've never had any real problems."

"Other than the boyfriend your uncle caught," Paul said, remembering the story Marlena alluded to the night before.

"I can't believe she brought that up," Will covered his face with his hands. "I can't believe you remembered it."

"Inquiring minds," Paul teased. "But, we're here."

Paul stopped in front of a quaint coffee shop and tea room.

"Nice," Will said, looking over the storefront. "I don't remember this from before."

"It's only a few years old, I think," Paul said as he held the door open for Will.

Inside the store decorated with antiques and mish-mashed furniture. Nothing matched, not even the chairs and tables.

Will liked it immediately.

"What are you having?" Paul asked, walking up to the counter.

Will glanced at the handwritten chalkboard of the menu. They didn't have what he would drink back home listed.

"A cappuccino and a muffin," Will said, digging in his pockets for a money clip. "Here."

Will handed Paul a $10 bill.

"I've got it," Paul argued, pushing Will's hand away.

Will lifted one brow, staring him down. When Paul didn't back down, Will smiled, wide and bright. He folded the money and slipped it into the front pocket of Paul's jeans.

"I'll find a table," Will cooed, patting the pocket with the money, hand just shy of somewhere inappropriate.

Will waltzed away with a swagger in his hips, sitting down in front of a large picturesque window.

A few minutes later, Paul sat across from Will, sliding a large ceramic cup and a small plate in front of Will.

Will was proud to see a red flush to his cheeks.

"It didn't sound like this was your normal order," Paul said, ignoring Will and the money.

"They probably call what I like something else," Will shrugged. "Café mélange, it's just black coffee with a crap ton of whipped cream on top."

"Do you want me to get you that?" Paul reached out for Will's cappuccino. "I can get you whatever you want."

"Nope," Will threaded his hands around the mug. "Next time we come here, though."

"Okay," Paul agreed with a shy smile. "Now, I believe you were gonna tell me that story with your uncle and the boyfriend?"

"I didn't agree to that," Will said, looking at his drink.

"Come on," Paul nudged Will's leg under the table with his foot. "I'm curious."

Will shook his head, face scrunched together.

"Please?" Paul asked, sticking out his lower lip in a ridiculously cute pout.

"It's embarrassing," Will whined, uncurling his hands and laying them flat on the table.

"Hey," Paul covered one of Will's hands with his own. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to. It's okay."

Will looked at Paul's face, earnest and sweet. He heaved a big sigh.

"For starters, Austin is the worst helicopter parent. Which, when I first moved in, was perfect, I loved it. But I grew up and Austin held on even tighter. So, the more he hovered, the more I pushed. It's kind of a thing I do.

"Anyway, I had my boyfriend over when I was 16. Like my first ever boyfriend and no one was there but us. Austin wasn't supposed to be home for another hour. And we were fooling around a bit, naked making out and everything. And Julian was talking about how nice my ass was and how he really wanted a picture of it for – uh – alone time. And I was young and hopelessly in love and so completely flattered. And he's Swiss so he's got this gorgeous accent and I was so far gone for him I would have done anything he wanted.

"So, he's taking these pictures of my butt and neither of us paid attention and Austin comes barging in my room. And he flips out, starts chasing Julian around the house. He's screaming. Julian's screaming. I'm screaming.

"Needless to say, the pictures were destroyed. I was grounded for all eternity and Julian and I didn't last much longer after that. Apparently, having a professional boxer threaten to kill you isn't the way to a teenage boy's heart. Who knew?"

Paul threw his head back, shaking with laughter.

"Yeah, okay, I met Austin the other day. I wouldn't want him threatening to beat me up either. But," Paul broke out into more laughter.

As embarrassed as Will felt, he didn't mind Paul's laughter at all.

"Of course, Austin told my mom who told my grandma and everyone pretty much found out about it," Will added causing Paul to laugh even harder.

Will wanted to keep Paul laughing forever.

"You can only imagine what it was like any other time I brought a guy around," Will said. "It was so much worse than an open door policy. Carrie would try to do a background check. Austin would swing a pair of his boxing gloves around."

Paul had to put his green tea down. He was laughing so hard he almost dropped the cup.

"Austin would always say," Will lowered his voice, imitating Austin's voice eerily well, "'You ever see the beginning of Rocky IV? Good movie.'"

Paul wiped the tears of laughter streaming down his face.

Will lifted his cappuccino to his mouth, smiling at Paul over the rim.

Unbeknownst to Will and Paul, Sonny stood on the other side of the street watching them through the window front.

Chapter Text

August 2, 2018

Will admired Paul's laugh over the rim of his mug. It took a good minute for Paul to calm down.

"Ah," Paul let out a few more chuckles, "I'm okay. I'm okay."

"Glad my pain amused you," Will said without any heat.

"Sorry," Paul sniffed, wiping under his eyes. "I haven't laughed that hard in a long time."

"You have a nice laugh," Will said with a shrug. "I don't mind listening to it."

Paul's eyes flashed to Will's for a long moment before looking away.

"Sounds like your uncle's pretty protective of you," Paul said, taking a large gulp of his tea.

"Yeah," Will nodded. "He's the best in an overprotective, helicopter dad, I'll kill anyone that looks at you wrong kind of way. He drives me crazy but I still love it. Carrie and Austin basically raised me and they never had kids of their own so, it worked out for all of us."

"Were they always accepting of you?" Paul asked, leaning his elbows on the table. "I mean, when you came out and everything."

"They were ridiculously chill about it," Will explained with a laugh. "I was 15 and pretty much the last one to figure it out. I talked to Marlena for a whole month about it all. She was perfect, as always. But I was so worried how everyone was going to handle it. Then at dinner one day, I said, 'Austin, Carrie, I'm gay'. Carrie said she always knew. Austin said he loved me and to pass the salt. That was that.

"Telling my parents was another story. They both flipped out for a while, threatened to bring me back to Salem. I've seen my parents and Carrie and Austin fight but this one was the worst. I blew up on everyone and said Salem wasn't going to stop me wanting dick. In the end, I got my way."

"Wow," Paul commented.

"That's par for the course with my family, though," Will smiled and gave a half shrug. "My parents came to visit and apologized and it sort of put us on a better track. Oddly enough, EJ was the one to talk sense into them both. Which also helped me and EJ get along a little better too. All's well that ends well, I suppose."

Will took a drink of his cappuccino before slamming the cup down. A bit of the coffee slipped over the sides and made a mess of the table.

"Actually, I was talking with my grandma before you picked me up earlier. About my first crush," Will said.

"Yeah? Who was it?" Paul asked, leaning closer across the table.

"You know the movie Mulan?"

"Oh my god," Paul burst into more laughter. "You had the hots for Li Shang?"

"Have you seen the way they drew him?" Will asked around a laugh. "And don't make fun. You probably thought he was hot too."

"I didn't think he was hot exactly," Paul shrugged. "I liked his character, though. I thought he was a total Asian badass. I'm pretty sure I dressed up like him for Halloween like five years in a row."

Will's eyes lit up.

"Sad I missed it. You kinda look like him."

Paul looked down at the table, licking his lips.

"Is that an Asian thing, Will Horton?"

"No," Will smiled. "It's a buff, badass, sexy character thing."

Paul chuckled, looking at the side of the room, biting his lower lip.

"You don't know anything about me," Paul pointed out.

"I know you do private investigating," Will said. He made a conscious effort to not say the word grandpa. "And with John and Steve involved, you're bound to get into dangerous situations. So, I'd say badass is probably an accurate description."

Will pulled apart his muffin, ripping it in half. He gestured to the second piece for Paul.

"And you never told me who your first crush was on," Will said.

Paul looked up at the ceiling and grimaced.

"Okay, since you were honest about your embarrassing cartoon character crush, I'll tell you mine," Paul sighed, reaching for the muffin Will offered. "It was John Smith from Pocahontas."

"Hmm," Will said, lifting up his brows. "My crush kinda looked like you. Yours kinda looked like me. Interesting."

"What's interesting?" a voice interrupted.

Sonny Kiriakis, standing extremely close to Paul.

"Nothing," Paul said in response. He straightened up off the table, hands in his lap.

Will put a piece of his muffin in his mouth, smiling up at Sonny.

"Paul's treating me to breakfast before we start a little tour of Salem," Will explained. "What are you doing here?"

"I saw you when I was walking by on my way to work," Sonny straightened his suit jacket out before putting his hand on Paul's shoulder. "I figured I would stop in and invite you to dinner."

"Sorry," Paul winced. "I already made plans."

"With who?" Sonny asked, eyes rushing to Will.

Will sipped his drink, calm and casual, pretending he couldn't see Sonny's accusatory eyes.

"Marlena and my dad," Paul explained.

"And Will?" Sonny snorted causing Paul to frown.

"Yeah and Will," Paul turned to face Sonny. "Is there a problem with that?"

"Ye-," Sonny started to say before Paul cut him off.

"In case it slipped your mind, I've spent the past few years watching you and Brian playing your little friend game. So, you might want to think long and hard about who you complain about me spending time with."

Will sat up straighter in his seat, much more interested in their conversation than before.

Sonny opened and closed his mouth several times before exhaling loudly through his nostrils.

"Fine," Sonny said through clenched teeth. "We can have dinner tomorrow."

"Sure," Paul replied smoothly.

Sonny glanced at Will again before leaning down to kiss Paul.

Will rolled his eyes, polishing off his muffin before he lost his appetite.

"Bye, Paul," Sonny whispered, slinking off.

"Bye, Sonny! Nice to see you too," Will yelled with a wave to Sonny's back.

"Sorry about that," Paul said, scratching the back of his head. "I don't know what Sonny's deal is with you."

"Well, I'm sure no one wants to see their boyfriend spending time with someone like me," Will replied with a teasing grin. "Who wouldn't feel intimidated?"

Paul shook his head and smiled.

"Although I might have detected a little trouble in paradise," Will admitted. "And no one did ever tell me who Brian is."

Paul crossed his arms and rolled his eyes.

"Brian is who Sonny was dating when I first got to Salem. He's this stupid, smarmy wannabe doctor."

"I see," Will nodded. "And there was some kind of drama, I take it."

Paul took a moment to gather his thoughts, not knowing how much to reveal to Will or not. When he met Will's bright blue eyes, though, something melted inside him.

Will revealed a snippet of his own past, an embarrassing one at that. He didn't even complain when Paul laughed in his face for several minutes about it.

Paul could trust Will with this.

"I always knew I was gay," Paul revealed, scooting his chair in closer and leaning across the table. "There was never really any doubts for me. But I loved baseball so much. I lived and breathed it. I gave up everything for it as a kid to train. Friends, a normal high school experience, even college.

"I didn't think I could come out and play, though. So, I kept myself a secret. Dated all sorts of beautiful female models and created this whole playboy lifestyle to cover up the fact that I was gay. I had a lot of one night stands with guys and that sustained me for a long time. Then I met Sonny at a party and we fell in love."

Will nodded, leaning across the table.

"At first, it was great, fantastic. We'd meet in a hotel room and that was our whole life. But Sonny wanted more and I don't blame him for that. He wanted a real boyfriend, someone he could take home and show off. I couldn't give him that. He asked me to marry him once and he didn't like my response. So, he left, me and San Francisco, where we lived.

"I played a few more years but Sonny was always in the back of my mind even through so many other flings. Eventually, I threw out my shoulder. I wanted to have my surgery and recover in peace, away from reporters and paparazzi and stardom. So, I came to Salem."

"Where you met Sonny again," Will said. "Found out you had a family."

"Exactly," Paul nodded. "Only Sonny was with someone else already, Brian. And Sonny couldn't make a choice. One day he'd tell me how much he loved me still and the next day I'd see him all over Brian. It went on like that for months, almost a year, actually. Then Brian said something to him, gave him an ultimatum. Stop spending time with me or lose him. Sonny picked Brian."

Will frowned, lips pursed.

"Only it didn't really last. Sonny and Brian were together but eventually, Sonny started showing up wherever I was and things went right back to their usual cycle. I got tired of it and started trying to date other people. I went out a few times with this one guy I knew, Derrick. And when Sonny found out, he said he was going to break up with Brian and we could be together.

"It ended up just like before. Sonny was with me but suddenly he was around Brian all the time. I threw in the towel and gave up. Said I couldn't do it anymore, the back and forth. Sonny and Brian got back together and a few months later it was over for them.

"I stayed away for a while but Sonny's always been the one that got away for me. So, I asked him to go to the party with me last night and here we are."

Now Will understood why Marlena didn't think Sonny was good enough for Paul.

He clearly wasn't.

"Wait," Will held up one finger, "there's something I don't understand."

"What?" Paul asked, taking a drink of his tea.

"Who in their right mind wouldn't pick you?"

Paul choked on his tea.

"I mean, really," Will worked himself up into a rant. He waved his hand in Paul's face. "Have you looked in a mirror? Have you seen all of this? You're gorgeous. And from what I've heard and seen, you're equally as beautiful on the inside. Who wouldn't want to be with you?"

Paul's mouth open and closed. He was speechless.

"Offended," Will said, hitting his fist on the table lightly. "I am offended. Stringing you along, you! What an idiot. What does this Brian guy even look like? Does his dick taste like Nutella? What could he possibly have that you don't?"

Paul stared at Will for several moments before shaking his head.

"He's a doctor and he's really smart," Paul looked down at the table, swirling his fingers through the mess of crumbs on Will's plate. "And he's stupidly handsome and Sonny's family loves him. He's not a washed up baseball player with no real skills."

"Hey," Will reached out and squeezed Paul's hand. "None of that. You have totally amazing skills."

"You've spent a little more than an hour with me," Paul said with a sigh, shoulders slumping.

"Yeah and in that time I've seen so much. You are an incredible listener," Will turned Paul's hand over, linking their fingers together. "You are obviously a great guy to show a complete stranger around town. You're obviously trusting to even talk with me about all this stuff. You're kind and considerate. You tried to make me feel better about my uncle catching me taking nudes."

Will considered it a great success when Paul smiled.

"Not to mention, John loves you. My grandma loves you. She couldn't stop singing your praises before you came over. Her opinion means more to me than anything so that alone tells me you're a great person. And hey, my own mother likes you and she hates everyone."

"Dad and I helped her out of a couple of small situations," Paul mumbled with a small smile.

"Okay, it's my mother. I know they were not small situations," Will teased. "Even EJ told me once in passing that you were okay. For EJ to even know who you are is huge."

"He only said that because of the Sami stuff," Paul shrugged sheepishly.

"It still counts," Will insisted. "Doctor or no doctor, you are all kinds of sexy and perfect with your badass private investigating job. And hey, I happen to be an expert at judging men. And you are an A+, perfect 10, and I insist you go as Li Shang for Halloween again this year. But only in his, I'll Make a Man out of You training outfit. And send me pictures. Lots and lots of pictures."

Paul rolled his eyes but laughed, squeezing their joined hands.

"Thank you."

"Anytime," Will reluctantly let go of Paul's hand and finished off his coffee. "But seriously, pictures. Lots and lots of pictures."


The rest of the morning Will and Paul spent walking around Salem. Not much changed since Will left, give or take a few restaurants and landscaping. It was still quite the trip for Will. Everywhere they went, there was someone cooing at the sight of Will.

Some of the people Will remembered, some he didn't.

Paul waved goodbye to Chad and Abigail DiMera while Will shook his head.

"What?" Paul asked, leading Will over to a bench in the park.

"I haven't seen Abigail since I was a kid," Will said. "And I know Chad's EJ's brother but I've never met him before."

"Really?" Paul asked. "How strange."

"Salem might not have physically changed but the people sure have," Will mused. "It's not even a twelfth of the size of Zurich but it feels like there are so many more people."

"I know what you mean," Paul agreed. "Before, my family consisted of my mom and my grandfather. Now, there are all sorts of half-siblings and step-siblings and their children and I can't even keep track of the family friends that always want to know your business."

"It's exhausting," Will leaned his head back on the bench, stretching out his legs so he could look up at the blue sky.

It was much warmer in Salem then he was used to. As someone who lived in a sweater in Zurich all year long, the sunshine and the heat felt wonderful.

"Is that why you stayed over in Zurich for so long?" Paul asked, turning to face Will.

He enjoyed the view of Will's profile and his body stretched out.

"Kind of, yeah," Will explained. "Salem wasn't good for me and I wasn't very good for Salem either. When I went to Zurich, I settled down. I made friends. I came out. I got a wonderful education. No drama outside of the usual. No serial killers, no murders, no sabotage or backstabbing. It was nice.

"After I graduated secondary school, I took a year off, my gap year. I traveled all over Europe. I couldn't see coming home to Salem after that. So, I enrolled at ETH Zurich and never looked back."

"What's that?" Paul asked.

"Swiss Federal Institute of Technology," Will said. "I got my degree in computer science and my masters in data science. I got work right out of school. Things are good for me there."

"And your family?" Paul wondered.

"Carrie and Austin are only a half hour away," Will shrugged. "It sucks not seeing my grandma or watching my brother and sister grow up. But, I don't know, maybe it's selfish wanting to stay away."

"I don't think it is," Paul gave Will a soft smile. "You're happy there and Salem hasn't given you a reason to stay."

"Not yet," Will turned to look at Paul.

"No," Paul repeated, "not yet."

Paul let his eyes sweep up and down Will's body before resting on his eyes. His blue, blue eyes.

Paul cleared his throat, looking away.

"So, you must really like math," Paul said. "I'm not that good at it, myself. And don't say anything about me being Asian."

"I wasn't going to," Will laughed. "God, you have a crush on one Asian cartoon character and suddenly everything I do is judged."

"Shut up," Paul laughed, hitting Will's stomach with the back of his hand.

His firm, flat stomach.

"But, yes," Will sat up to face Paul, "I like math and numbers and knowing there's an answer at the end of my equation. I almost studied writing and literature but I changed my mind."

"From writing to math, seems like a big leap," Paul pointed out.

"Writing is for me, something I like to do in my spare time. A way to gather my thoughts," Will shrugged. "I'm not comfortable with anyone else reading it or judging it. So, math. But, what about you? If you didn't play baseball, what would you have studied?"

"I don't even know," Paul admitted. He looked out across the park and shook his head. "Baseball was all I ever considered. And after I didn't have that, I didn't have much to do. I did some modeling and then I started working with my dad."

"Wasn't there something you liked, though?" Will pressed.

"It sounds pathetic but not really. I had baseball and I would work out and barely gave my studies a thought."

"Hey, working out is a hobby," Will argued. "I bet you could have gone into physical therapy or sports medicine or something."

"Maybe, I don't know," Paul said. "I like what I do now. I like helping people."

"Law enforcement," Will countered, lifting his brows up and down.

Paul stopped to think about it for a minute.

"Yes, I knew it," Will laughed. "You would make the best cop ever."

"There's more to that than just me in a uniform, Will," Paul teased.

"I know," Will let out a loud cackle. "Half my family was at one point in law enforcement. Most still are, so, I know. Grandp – I mean, your dad used to be a detective. It's genetic, Paul."

Paul quirked a brow at Will not using the name grandpa but ignored it.

"I guess it could have been nice," Paul reluctantly agreed. "But there are a lot of rules and regulations."

"Not in Salem," Will quipped.

"And, like I said," Paul gave Will a look. "I like my job now. It's not as glamorous as a professional athlete but I enjoy it."

"I know you do," Will waved his hand. "I just think you could do anything you want if you tried."

Paul pressed his lips together in an attempt to curb his smile. Being around Will felt incredible.

From the moment he stepped foot in Salem, Paul's confidence dwindled. He went from being headstrong and cocky to sitting on the sidelines, pining. Waiting for the day Sonny would notice how amazing he was.

Before, Paul used to think he'd wait forever for Sonny. Now, he wasn't so sure. If Sonny hadn't broken up with Brian when he did, Paul didn't know what he would have done.

Thankfully, though, Sonny was with him, for real this time. Brian wasn't a problem anymore.

He was almost certain of it.

Maybe.

"Hey, you know," Will pulled Paul from his thoughts. "You did get to live your dreams out for a while. That's amazing."

"It was," Paul nodded. "I wish I appreciated it as much as I should have. What about you, though? Did you dream about the glamorous world of – what did you say you did again?"

"Electronic trading data analysis," Will laughed. "Fancy name to say I crunch numbers and see what stocks look good. So, no, not exactly my dream growing up."

"That's what you do?" Paul frowned. "Why?"

Will shrugged.

"It's steady and pays well. Plus, it lets me take a whole month off whenever I need to. Can't complain too much."

"But if you don't love it…" Paul trailed off.

"I like it," Will argued. "I enjoy the work I do. I mean, with my degrees I could go into any data comprehensive field. So, I have options."

"Then why aren't you fulfilling your childhood dream?" Paul challenged.

"My dream was to become the scientist who clones dinosaurs like in the Jurassic Park movies. Since I have yet to find any dino DNA and could barely make it through human biology, I'm shit outta luck."

Paul bent over in half, roaring in laughter.

Will lifted his hands up, looking at Paul.

"Why is it whenever I tell you these things, you laugh at me?"

"I'm sorry," Paul tried to contain his mirth.

He couldn't.

Will sighed but smiled while Paul worked himself up into another laughing fit.

"Oh, man," Paul wiped at his eyes. "Sorry, sorry. I don't know what it is about you, but everything you say makes me laugh."

"Maybe you just need to laugh more often," Will said with a shrug.

"Maybe," Paul agreed. "I think I've laughed more with you today than in the past couple years."

"That's sad," Will pointed out. He straightened in his seat, smacking Paul's arm. "Alright, that's my goal."

"What goal?" Paul narrowed his eyes. "And why do I suddenly feel scared?"

"Hush," Will warned, flashing his eyes. "My goal is to make you laugh as much as possible until I leave."

"That so?" Paul asked, trying not to smile.

"Yep," Will nodded. "Now, let me tell you about the time I got arrested in the French Riviera for public indecency. It involves hot Moroccan men, my first time trying champagne, and me confusing the French verbs meaning to go and to have."


Later that evening Will and Paul met Marlena and John for dinner at a restaurant Will didn't recognize. They all squeezed together in an intimate booth. John and Marlena on one side and Will and Paul on the other.

"Did you two have a nice day together?" Marlena asked, placing her napkin over her lap.

Will turned to look at Paul. His eyes swept over the beginning of a five o'clock shadow and tiny little freckles on his nose.

Will faced his grandparents and sighed.

"It was perfect, actually."

Paul laughed and shrugged, eyes on the table top. But there was no ignoring the blush on his cheeks.

"Oh?" John asked, eyes sliding between Paul and Will, brows furrowed.

Paul opened his mouth to answer when their server arrived with a bottle in her hand.

"Can I offer anyone a sampling of our best champagne?"

Will and Paul looked at each other and howled with laughter.

Chapter Text

August 5, 2018

A few days after having dinner with John and Marlena – where Will and Paul refused to mention why the idea of champagne was so funny – Will and Paul met up for a suit fitting.

Will arrived first. He needed extra time to pick out dress shoes and a shirt. He didn't bother packing any.

By the time Paul got there, Will was already getting measured. They were each in a separate fitting room and didn't see each other for almost a half hour.

Will waited in the front for Paul to finish.

"Hey," Will greeted when he saw Paul. "How'd it go? I got pricked with one of those needle things in the thigh."

"What did you do?" Paul asked.

"She was measuring my inseam. My thighs are really ticklish. I'm pretty sure I traumatized her," Will shrugged.

"You're ridiculous," Paul stated. "No wonder my dad told me to keep an eye on you when we met at the party. And my fitting was fine. I didn't get stabbed since I'm not an idiot."

"Ouch," Will murmured.

Paul elbowed him in the side.

"You know I'm kidding."

"No," Will rubbed the inside of his thigh. "She poked me really hard."

Paul pushed Will again, jostling his body.

"I think I'm bleeding," Will insisted. "You'll have to check me over."

"You are not bleeding," Paul shook his head.

"I could be," Will argued. "Do you really want that on your conscience?"

"I think I'll live," Paul smiled.

"Fine," Will gave a dramatic sigh, rolling his eyes. He stood up straighter mere seconds after. "What are you up to today anyway?"

"Dad and I got a new case yesterday," Paul said with a frown. "It's kind of driving me nuts, actually. And Sonny's coming over for dinner at my place and I haven't gotten anything ready."

"It's noon, you've got time," Will pointed out. "And hey, if your case is giving you a headache maybe you should take a break. That always works best for me. When my eyes start crossing doing hypergeometric distributions and I forget g is greater than or less than n and -,"

"I get the picture, yeah," Paul cut Will off. "You take a break. But that's kind of what this is, the fitting."

"What? Getting fitted for a suit is a horrible break. It so does not count," Will argued. "And now you got me all worked up talking about distributions."

"You were talking about distributions," Paul scoffed. "I was having a terrible flashback to high school math."

"Well, someone was talking about it," Will dismissed. "And your break sucked. So, you should come with me to the lake."

"The lake?" Paul asked, crossing his arms.

"Yes," Will insisted with a bright smile. "I went there yesterday with my parents, EJ, Cheryl, and the kids. We had a picnic. It was nice, at first. When they started overwhelming me, I found this super awesome secret place. I want to show you."

"A super awesome secret place?" Paul asked, pretending to think.

"Yes," Will grabbed Paul's bicep and squeezed making a pouty face at him.

"Alright, yeah, show me this secret place," Paul told Will with a laugh.

Will wasn't listening. He was too busy admiring the muscles in Paul's arms, rubbing his hand up and down.

"Huh?" Will said a moment later.

"Let's go before you inflate my head," Paul grabbed Will by the wrist and pulled him out of the tailor shop. He held up one finger in front of Will's face. "And don't make whatever joke you were about to say."

"You thought it, not me," Will teased.


The two arrived at the lake almost an hour later. They would have gotten their sooner but Will's uncle, Bo Brady, stopped them. He insisted on talking to Will and Paul for a while, forcing Will to come by his and Hope's place within the next few days.

"I didn't think it was possible to be as related to as many people as you are," Paul confessed once Bo left. "And I thought Sonny knew a lot of people."

Will shrugged and withheld an eye roll at Sonny's name.

"Mom's a Brady, Dad's a Horton, and both their mothers are pretty important. I'm related to about anyone in this town through blood or marriage. In school, they had us make a family tree and present it to the class. Some went back generations and generations. I only went back to my great-grandparents and I still had about a hundred people on the damn tree."

"I can imagine, yeah," Paul chuckled.

"I mean, I don't even know how many kids my grandma Kate has," Will confessed. "Five? Six? Who knows?"

Paul laughed.

"And then when both sides of my family tree start marrying the other, well, I get lost. For instance, my mom's dad married my dad's mom and they had kids. So, my parents share siblings and those siblings are my aunt and uncle on both sides of the gene pool."

"Wait, what?" Paul took a moment to think it over. "You're giving me a headache."

"Oh, no, this one is even better," Will moved to stand in front of Paul, walking backward. "Belle. Her parents are your dad and my grandma. So, technically we're both related to her. She's my aunt and your sister. And Claire is your niece and my first cousin and my like third cousin. Because Shawn is my second cousin and Belle is my aunt."

"I'm gonna have to look at that family tree to make any sort of sense of what you just said," Paul stated.

"Don't bother," Will dismissed. "The branches get all intercrossed and it gets even more confusing. But, hey, at least, we're not related."

"That's a good thing?" Paul asked. He pushed Will to the side so he wouldn't walk backward into a tree.

Will looked Paul up and down, eyes twinkling.

"It's a very good thing."

Will turned back around to see they arrived at the lake.

"Okay, let's get in the water," Will suggested. He bent over to take off his shoes and socks.

"Get in the water? I didn't agree to that. I thought you were showing me someplace around here," Paul shook his head.

"I am," Will said. "It's on the other side of the lake."

"Then we can walk there," Paul stated.

"No, we can't," Will put his shoes and socks under the shade of a tree. "I tried yesterday. You can't get to it without doing some serious rock climbing."

It was early enough and Will led Paul to a more secluded spot than most people visited.

"We don't have swim trunks," Paul pointed out.

"So?" Will put his hands on the bottom of his shirt, lifting it up over his head.

"We can't – oh – uh – hmm," Paul licked his lips, losing his train of thought.

He stared at the miles of exposed skin before him. Will was all tanned skin and firm muscles.

Paul shook his head, focusing.

"We can't exactly go flouncing around in our underwear," Paul stated, trying his hardest to only look at Will's face.

"Sure we can," Will unbuttoned his jeans, pulling down his zipper. "It shows as much as swim trunks."

Paul turned his head to the side, looking out on the water. It took all his resolve not to turn and look at Will in his underwear.

His resolve didn't last as long as he thought it would. He turned to look over his shoulder and cursed himself.

Will was in light blue boxers that were one step away from being indecent.

"Well," Will said with a devious grin. "I'm getting in the water and I'm going to my super awesome secret place with or without you, Narita. You can either stay here or you can come with me."

"Will, I don't know," Paul shook his head, eyes on Will's bare thighs. He really did have a small mark from where the tailor poked him with the needle.

"Weren't you saying the other day how you don't get to have as much fun as when you were a big, famous sports star?" Will teased, walking backward to the water.

"I didn't say it like that," Paul argued.

"Well, why don't you live a little?"

Will flashed Paul another teasing grin before he turned around, walking into the water without looking back.

Paul lasted up until he saw the water wet Will's butt.

"What am I doing?" Paul mumbled to himself as he pulled off his shoes and socks. He looked all over to see if anyone could see them.

No one was close enough to pay attention.

Paul stripped down to a pair of navy blue boxers and followed Will into the water.

It was warmer than Paul expected. Clear, clean, and refreshing.

Will popped up next to him, hair wet and dripping into his face.

"I knew you'd do it," Will declared.

"No, you didn't," Paul argued.

He couldn't stop himself from reaching out and brushing Will's hair back. Now it was off Will's forehead and away from his eyes.

Paul could see more of Will's face this way.

"You might think you're a boring, wet noddle now that you're domesticated but I know better. I know there's still some of that cocky celebrity in there somewhere."

"Oh?" Paul lifted his brows, toes sinking into the sand at the bottom of the lake.

"Hey, no one who lives on one night stands for years is boring," Will unabashedly looked at Paul's chest. "I doubt anything is boring with you."

Paul dunked his head underwater to cool the blush off his face.

"Come on," Will gestured a little way to his right. "What I want to show you is this way."

Paul followed Will, the two swimming with the warm sun shining down on them. Paul briefly worried about Will's skin burning but he got distracted when Will dove underwater, butt sticking up in the air for a few seconds.

Priorities, Paul had them.

"It should be right around here," Will said a few minutes later.

Paul watched Will swim toward a rocky cropping of trees near the edge of the beach.

"Rocks?" Paul asked with a frown. "You made me swim over here for rocks?"

"No," Will huffed. "Be careful, though. Some of those things look sharp."

"How did you even find this?"

"I told you. My family was driving me crazy and I wanted to hide," Will admitted. "It's this way."

Paul watched Will push aside some tree branches to reveal a small opening.

"Follow me," Will urged. He was just small enough to fit into the round entrance.

Paul, while roughly the same height as Will, was a little broader. It was a tight squeeze for him to swim through the hole. But it was worth the momentary discomfort to make it to the other side.

"Wow," Paul breathed in disbelief.

They were inside a brightly lit cave. It was about twenty feet by twenty feet with a hole in the ceiling letting in sunlight. Underneath the light was a large rock arrangement that formed an island

Will swam right to it.

Paul followed, pulling himself onto the warm, smooth rock next to Will.

"This is incredible," Paul said, eyeing the layers of rock all around them, serving as the walls.

"I'm pretty sure we're right below that craggy tree grove," Will explained. "The one part of the forest that hasn't been flattened yet."

"Good," Paul whispered. "Something this beautiful shouldn't be destroyed."

"Yeah, the minute everyone finds out about it…" Will trailed off. "I think it's perfect here. Our own little oasis in Salem. It's the perfect place to relax and just breathe without anyone around."

Will sighed, laying back across the rocks, face in the sun.

Paul laid down beside him, eyes closed.

With the gentle lapping of the water, Paul could have fallen asleep if Will didn't interrupt the peace.

"Aren't you glad I forced you to come here?" Will asked in a quiet voice.

Paul opened his eyes and saw Will leaning on his side, facing him.

"Yeah," Paul turned over as well. "It's beautiful. Thank you."

"Well, when I saw it yesterday," Will gave Paul a half smile, "All I could think about was showing it to you."

Paul smiled back at Will, holding his gaze.

Will spent a few moments musing over the color of Paul's eyes. If they were brown or hazel or some beautiful shade between.

"You have freckles on your nose," Paul whispered. He reached out, fingertip brushing Will's nose.

"So do you," Will replied, cheeks pink.

Paul's fingers slid off Will's nose to rub along his cheekbones.

"Paul," Will breathed, inhaling sharply when Paul's hand slid past his ear to the back of his head.

Their heads moved in closer, tilting in just the right direction. Paul adjusted his shoulders, planting his knee firmly on the rock.

Just as their lips were seconds from touching, Paul's knee hit a wet spot and he slipped, falling into the water with an unceremonious splash.

Will flinched when the water landed on his face. He sat up and stared down at Paul in the water. He looked so spooked, almost like a small child denied a treat.

Will burst into giggles, falling over to the side.

"You think that's funny?" Paul asked, exasperated.

He didn't let Will answer. He simply grabbed Will by the ankle and yanked him into the water with him.

"Hey," Will complained once he surfaced, spitting out water.

"Gross," Paul laughed, "that landed on me."

Will waved his hand over the surface of the water, splashing Paul.

Paul sputtered before splashing back.

Their laughter and the sounds of water splashing filled the small cave. They didn't stop until Will jumped on Paul's back, arms tight around his neck.

"Give up?" Will asked, holding on as Paul tried to buck him off.

"Never," Paul replied with a loud cry.

He quickly, but carefully, flipped them around, pinning Will to the edge of the rocky island. Arms on either side of Will's head, bracketing him.

"Ha," Paul laughed. "Got you."

Will pushed his hair out of his eyes, a smile lighting up his face. His hands slid up Paul's arms and over his shoulders, hands linking behind Paul's neck.

"Yeah, you got me. What are you gonna do about it?"

They were both just tall enough to stand on flat feet with their heads above the water. They stood close, groins nearly touching. Faces only a few short inches apart.

Paul stared into Will's eyes. They were dilated with only a small rim of blue showing. He glanced down at Will's lips, so soft and pink.

All Paul wanted to do was lean forward and press their lips together. Dig his fingertips into the dangerous dip of Will's hipbones. Feel Will hot and hard against him.

They were alone, no one would find them. No one would ever know.

They almost kissed mere minutes before. Paul wanted to. He wanted to so bad.

Will licked his lips again, eyes falling shut. Dark lashes fanning out, face damp and bright and so, so tempting.

Paul shouldn't, couldn't.

He waited for Sonny for so long. He wouldn't throw that away for an almost stranger. No matter how funny or beautiful. No matter how Will made Paul feel: Sexy, wanted, kind, and smart and worthy of everything Sonny didn't give him for so long.

But no.

Paul backed away from Will, hands dropping from their spot on either side of Will's head.

"I guess I could do this," Paul said before splashing Will in the face again.

Will grimaced, water dripping from his eyebrows and across his nose.

Paul almost dreaded Will's reaction, what he might say next. Dreaded seeing his keen eyes and clever smile and tempting, tempting words.

Will wiped his face, swimming in closer to Paul. Face and eyes filled with mischief and humor and god did it make Paul's stomach tingle.

Will leaned in close, lips brushing Paul's ear.

"Race you."

Before Paul had time to even process, Will took off for the cave opening.

His warm laugh filled the cave and surrounded Paul.


Will flopped himself onto the sand at the lake's edge. Water teased his feet and sand covered him.

"I win," Will crooned as Paul followed a few short seconds after.

"You cheated," Paul dismissed, sitting cross-legged next to Will.

"I did not," Will gasped, turning to face Paul with an exaggerated expression.

"No? What do you call throwing a branch in my face and laughing when it slowed me down?"

"Good strategy."

Paul snorted, smiling down at Will fondly. His eyes swept over Will as subtly as he could.

Will was stretched out and wet. His boxers left little to the imagination and Paul tried his best not to leer.

Will did not have that problem.

He stared at Paul unabashedly. Stretched his arms behind his head, resting on his interlocked fingers all while he looked Paul up and down and back over again.

Paul noticed.

"Hey – uh – you're gonna get sunburned," Paul said, trying not to smile.

He shouldn't like Will's eyes on him so much but he did.

"I like the sun here. I miss actually feeling warm," Will replied, shading his eyes with his hand.

Will admired Paul for a moment longer before sitting up. His entire back, butt, and backs of his thighs were covered in wet sand.

When Will turned toward the spot they left their clothes, it was Paul's turn to blatantly stare at Will walking away.

"I don't think you should put your clothes on until you dry off," Paul said after he scrambled to stand.

It was hard to focus on details like mobility when Will's boxers clung to his round, pert butt.

"Weren't you the one complaining about swimming in our underwear?" Will asked with an amused smile. "Now you don't want me to get dressed. You can just say it, you know. You want me half naked for even longer."

Paul struggled to find his words because Will wasn't wrong. But he also wasn't right either, not entirely.

"I meant until you got all the sand off you," Paul said. "Actually, my condo isn't too far from here. You can rinse off in my shower."

"I think you're putting the cart before the horse, big guy," Will tapped Paul's stomach with the back of his hand.

"You know what I mean," Paul huffed out a laugh.

He refused to admit how bubbly Will's touch made him feel.

"I doubt anyone will even see us walk over there," Paul added. "I know a shortcut."

"Where is this condo?"

"Over there," Paul pointed to a modern looking building a mile or so away from the lake. "New construction, water view. Let's go."

"Most guys get me in their place before they get me undressed," Will said, picking up his clothes and shoes.

"I'm calling bullshit on that one, Will Horton," Paul picked up his clothes as well. He led Will in the right direction. "Between today and the champagne story, you clearly have a thing about public nudity."

"That's not the only thing I like to do in public," Will said, waggling his eyebrows.

He burst into a fit of uncontrollable giggles when he saw Paul's reaction.

After putting on their shoes, Paul took Will down a semi-hidden trail that wound around the lake and toward Paul's building.

Halfway there, Will stopped in his tracks, flinging his arm out to halt Paul's movements.

"Hey," Will said, touching Paul a bit more than necessary. "I know this place. Our spot should be right around here."

"Our spot?" Paul repeated, lips upturned.

"Yeah, look," Will gestured to the side. "This is where I tried to get to the cave from above."

They were about 40 feet away from the lake on a steep incline. There were trees and stumps and a collection of rocks blocking the way to a small drop off.

"I bet I could get there, now," Will said more to himself than Paul.

"Will, no," Paul half-laughed, half-sighed.

"Will, yes," Will replied. "Hold my clothes."

Will shoved his jeans and shirt into Paul's arms and started zigzagging his way toward the edge.

"You're in your underwear," Paul pointed out.

"So?" Will asked, slipping on a mossy patch. "Hey, there's an awesome looking boulder over here and the opening for our cave."

"Okay, good, now stop doing that," Paul requested. "You're making me nervous."

"Fine," Will agreed despite only reaching halfway to the boulder. "You're such a buzz kill."

Despite talking a big game, Will was a little disturbed being so close to a small drop off into the lake. It was a little high up for his liking.

Not that he would tell Paul that.

"I am not," Paul complained. "And I don't trust for a second that you're not going to get injured."

"I'm fine," Will said mere seconds before he tripped over his own feet, tumbling into Paul.

Paul, dropping both sets of clothes, caught Will and stumbled back a few steps.

"Whoops," Will said, face a few inches away from Paul's.

"Smooth," Paul pushed Will back onto steady feet but kept both hands on Will's hips.

Will squeezed Paul's shoulders, seconds away from saying something inappropriate when someone cleared their throat behind them.

An attractive, middle-aged, short-haired blonde woman Will didn't know.

Will didn't know her but Paul sure did.

"Adrienne, hi," Paul practically shoved Will away from him, causing Will to stumble even worse than he did mere moments before.

"Dude," Will complained.

"Paul," the woman, Adrienne, said with a pinched look on her face. Her eyes flashed toward Will before glaring at Paul. "What's going on here?"

"Oh – I – um – we were just – uh – I-"

Will saved Paul from himself.

"We were swimming," Will said, bending over to pick up his clothes and Paul's. "I'm Will, by the way."

"Adrienne," she gave Will a small, painful looking smile. "And a swim, did you say? It doesn't look like you can reach the water from here or, apparently, know what swim trunks are."

"It was impromptu," Will responded in a pleasant tone. "Paul was just satisfying my urge."

Paul withheld a groan, just barely.

"I bet he was," Adrienne said, giving Paul a strange look.

"Will is Marlena's oldest grandson. He's here for the wedding," Paul explained in a rush. "He wanted to show me something at the lake."

"I'm sure he did," Adrienne responded with narrowed eyes.

"It was kind of a secret, though," Will said in a mock whisper. "So, shh."

Paul less than subtly stomped on Will's foot.

"Adrienne is Sonny's mother," Paul said, scowling at Will.

"Oh," Will nodded a few times, wiggling his foot around. That stomp really hurt. "I can see the resemblance. You both get the same expression on your face when you look at me."

Adrienne stared at Will, long and hard.

"Yeah, that's the one," Will laughed, pointing at her face.

"It was nice seeing you," Paul said, grabbing Will by the arm and pulling. "But, we have to go, now."

"Uh-huh," Adrienne replied.

"Nice to meet you," Will called over his shoulder. After they turned a small bend, he turned to Paul and said, "I think that went well."

Paul gaped at him, eyes wide.

"She saw me holding you on a private pathway in our underwear. In what world is that considered a good impression?"

"You're the one that wouldn't let me put my clothes on," Will shrugged. "Also, what kind of closed-minded town is this where two gay men can't hang out in their underwear in public without it being a big deal?"

"Literally any town in the world," Paul said before groaning. "This is the worst. Adrienne already doesn't like me and she definitely doesn't like you."

"That's her problem. I'm awesome. You're a literal Disney prince. She should have just enjoyed the view and shut up. Now, how much farther? I'm freezing."

Paul glanced at Will, helpless to stop a smile from spreading.

"What?" Will asked.

"Nothing," Paul shook his head. "Nothing at all."


"Here," Paul opened the door to his guest bathroom and tossed Will's dried boxers inside. He kept his eyes closed. Even though he really would have liked to see Will through the glass shower doors, he needed to play it safe. "I stuck them in the dryer."

"You're the best," Will gushed over the sound of the water.

"Not really," Paul mumbled under his breath, closing the door.

If Paul was the best he certainly wouldn't have almost kissed Will twice. He wouldn't have invited Will back to his place right after, in their underwear. And he really, really wouldn't have offered Will a shower where Paul would fantasize about what Will looked like in the shower.

Because those boxers showed enough of everything and Paul had a wonderful imagination. He could fill in the blanks.

But, no. No.

Paul had a boyfriend. A perfectly wonderful boyfriend whom he loved and waited for, for so long.

Will was a nice friend and a pretty face and a sexy, sexy body that Paul wanted to feast on like a –

No

No

No

Paul had Sonny.

He was more than good enough.

Really

Paul took a fast, cold shower. He needed to get back to work. If he focused on that, he wouldn't concentrate on Will.

Will and his pecs and those divets in his hips. Will, who was sitting in Paul's living room in nothing but low-hanging jeans, barefoot, and without a shirt.

"Uh?" Paul said inelegantly.

"Hey, so, guess what?" Will stood up from the couch with a sheepish grin. "You were right."

Will turned his back to Paul. His shoulders and upper back were bright red and sunburned.

"You were the idiot who went in the water without any sunscreen," Paul said. He tried his hardest not to look at the dimples above the waistband. He really, really did.

One quick look wouldn't hurt.

"I forgot about it," Will shrugged. "It's not like I planned to go there. For all I knew you'd be busy today."

"I am busy today," Paul reminded Will. "You're just distracting. But, let me go get something. Wait here."

Paul moved into the master bath and found a bottle of aloe vera gel. After his arm surgery, Paul rubbed the gel on his scar so it wouldn't look too bad.

"Here," Paul said before tossing the bottle to Will. "I need to get to work."

"And how am I supposed to put this on?" Will cocked one eyebrow at Paul. "I can't reach my back."

Paul, halfway to his laptop, paused mid-step.

Will was right. He couldn't reach the majority of his burns.

With a smile, Will moved closer to Paul.

"Here," Will handed the bottle over. He sat at Paul's desk and opened his laptop. "You do that for me and I'll get your work set up for you."

"Okay," Paul whispered, squeezing some green gel into his hands.

Paul's condo was large and spacious with an open concept. The front door opened to a large living room with a fireplace and a giant TV. To one side was an eat-in kitchen with a huge island and on the other side was a dining room. Between the living room and the kitchen, Paul set up a workspace.

He could have used one of the spare bedrooms but he liked the view out here better. His desk was right next to the sliding glass doors that led to the balcony and a view of the lake.

It was beautiful, especially at sunset.

It was also beautiful while Paul rubbed aloe vera into Will's reddened skin.

At first, Paul wanted to put the gel over Will's skin and walk away. But his first touch of the silky smooth skin distracted Paul. Either from how hot it felt on his fingertips or from the gentle moan Will let out, Paul didn't know.

Before he knew it, Paul was massaging Will's shoulders and back.

"That feels so good," Will sighed, head bowed, chin almost touching his collarbone.

Paul dug his thumb into a knot on the side of Will's neck and tried with all his might not to react to Will's groaning.

"Aren't you supposed to be helping me?" Paul asked.

"Right," Will sat up straighter, letting out a helpless moan when Paul moved his hands down to his lower back. "Passcode?"

It took Paul a few seconds to focus before rattling off some numbers.

Once the computer loaded, it showed the documents Paul last worked with.

"What am I looking at?" Will asked.

"Simple case is turning out harder to prove than I thought," Paul admitted. His hands slid up and down Will's back even though the gel already soaked into his skin.

"Oh?"

"This lady hired us to see if her husband is cheating on her. So far, I can't find anything on his regular social media accounts. He works from home so it's not like he leaves often enough to tail him either."

"Well, if he's married it's not like he's gonna post anything incriminating," Will pointed out. "What's his name?"

Paul answered and watched Will's fingers blur over the keys faster than Paul could see.

"What are you doing?" Paul wondered. He kept both hands on top of Will's shoulders, leaning on him.

"Doing things I shouldn't," Will answered. "But, as I expected, here's your answer."

Paul moved even closer to the screen, face right next to Will's.

"You said you checked his regular social media sites," Will shrugged. "So, I did some digging."

Will found an account the husband signed up for on Tinder. He also found several steamy conversations he had with women he swiped right on. Including some conversations that offered meet up places and referred to past physical dates.

"Damn," Paul said in disbelief. "That took you like a minute to figure out. How did you even-?"

"I'm not exactly supposed to do it," Will admitted. "Probably illegal in several different ways, but, oh well. You have at least some proof for your client."

"Thank you," Paul gushed.

He turned his head to look at Will and realized how close their faces were once again.

They both jumped apart when the front door slammed open.

"I know I'm early but I needed a place to think. The office is crazy and my mom won't stop calling me," Sonny announced, throwing the door shut. He balanced a briefcase, a coffee tumbler, and his phone. "Why was your door unlocked anyway? You always harp on me about keeping it locked."

Sonny threw his bag on the couch, setting his coffee on a small table nearby. He kept his eyes on his phone, scrolling with his thumb before glancing up.

He did a double take when he saw Paul's hands hovering over Will Horton's bare shoulders.

"Sonny," Paul said as he took several steps away from Will. "Hi."

Chapter Text

August 5, 2018

"What the hell is this?" Sonny asked, throwing his phone on the couch.

Nothing could have prepared him for the sight of his boyfriend with his hands all over Will Horton's shirtless body.

Paul, backing away from Will with his hands up, said the first thing that came to mind.

"It's not what it looks like."

Will turned in his seat and snorted.

"That is beyond not the right thing to say," Will laughed.

Paul glared at Will while Sonny told him to shut up.

"I wasn't talking to you," Sonny hissed.

"Well, too bad," Will responded. He stood up and walked to the couch. His shirt was draped on the back of it.

When he was close enough, Will showed Sonny his back and said, "he was helping me with my sunburn."

"And you didn't have any other person who could do that?" Sonny crossed his arms, face stony.

Will shrugged before pulling his shirt on.

"It's not like I got sunburned and came all the way over here just to show Paul. I was already here. I couldn't reach my back. I asked Paul if he would help."

"Sonny," Paul said, "nothing happened."

"Nothing happened, huh? Then why is both your hair wet?"

"Because we took a shower," Paul replied before wincing. "Separate showers. I was in mine and he was over there and-,"

Will mercifully cut him off.

"We went to the lake. We were both gross. This place is nearby. My pasty ass got burned. All there is to it."

"The lake?" Sonny huffed. "When I asked if you were busy today you said you were working all day. But you can go to the lake with this-?"

"This what?" Will asked, facing Sonny with a sharp smile and a tilt to his head.

"Sonny, I didn't plan to go with him," Paul said, moving to stand between Will and Sonny. "We met at the fitting and I told him how I wasn't getting anywhere with my case."

"And I convinced him he needed to get his mind off it," Will said, narrowing his eyes. "To break out of his monotonous cycle and have some fun. We did and now we're here. And guess what? Paul had a breakthrough and now his case is pretty much solved."

"You had a breakthrough," Paul acknowledged. "I didn't really do anything."

"You made my back feel better."

Paul smiled before Sonny interrupted.

"None of that explains whatever the hell this is," Sonny pointed between Paul and Will with a pinched look on his face.

"Explains what?" Will rolled his eyes. "That your boyfriend has a friend? Is that not allowed?"

"I never said that," Sonny insisted.

"No? Sure sounded like it," Will retorted. "You'll have to deal with us being around each other anyway. Wedding and all that. And didn't you hear the news?"

"What news?" Sonny and Paul both asked at the same time.

"My grandma said since we're getting along so well and we're both in the wedding party, we get to walk down the aisle together."

Will grinned bright and carefree while Paul gulped and Sonny looked like he swallowed a lemon.

"It's pointless not to get along," Will added. "Because you'll be seeing a lot of me around until I leave. Might as well get used to me."

"He's right," Paul said with a brief glance toward Sonny. "Will and I are going to be around each other a lot and we're friends. It would be a lot easier if we all got along."

"Paul," Sonny said in a tight voice.

"Sonny," Paul countered, holding his gaze.

Paul had given up so much over the past few years for Sonny. He went through so much just to get to this point. He waited and he did whatever Sonny wanted him to while he got nothing back.

If they were ever going to work as a couple this time around, that wouldn't happen ever again. Paul wasn't a doormat anymore.

He never asked Sonny for anything. He never asked him to leave Brian alone. He never asked Sonny to leave Brian for him. He didn't ask for anything before.

Paul was asking for this now.

Sonny looked away from Paul and let out a loud sigh.

Without a drop of enthusiasm, Sonny asked, "Will, would you like to join us for dinner?"


"So, what is all this?" Will questioned, sitting next to Sonny on the couch.

Sonny spread out some paperwork and his laptop on the coffee table, going over everything.

"A presentation I'm working on for the board," Sonny explained. When he saw Will's blank face, he added, "the Titan board."

"Hmm," Will said. Without asking permission, he pulled Sonny's laptop toward him. "Powerpoint, how creative."

"This is my first major presentation and I need everything to be perfect."

Will skimmed through slides before he found something that interested him.

"Ooh, diagrams," Will cheered.

"Diagrams excite you?" Sonny asked judgmentally.

Paul, working in the kitchen, snorted.

"Don't get him started on math," Paul warned.

"Rude," Will yelled over his shoulder from the couch.

He examined Sonny's slides for a few moments before frowning.

"Do you have the data that goes with these?" Will asked.

"Huh? Oh, yeah, here," Sonny slid a folder with some paperwork toward Will.

He took his laptop back and went over several of his slides again.

Tomorrow was a big day for him at work. His chance to show the board he could live up to the Kiriakis name.

Sonny ignored whatever Will was doing. He had to get this right.

Will dug through Sonny's briefcase for a pen before flipping over a pile of papers and writing down a series of numbers and equations.

The two worked side-by-side as Paul cooked dinner. By the time Paul finished, Will was still writing down numbers, completely focused.

"Hey, earth to Will," Paul teased, waving a hand in front of his face. "Dinner is ready."

Will looked up and saw Sonny already moved to the dining room table. He stood up, taking a large stack of papers with him.

"So," Will dropped in a seat and spread the papers out. "I don't know who you got those stats from but they don't make any sense."

"What?" Sonny looked between the confusing jumble of numbers to Will several times.

"It's wrong. Whoever analyzed it didn't know what the hell they were doing."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm saying your entire presentation is garbage," Will pointed to a line of numbers near the bottom of the page. "You were saying there was significant growth and there wasn't. In fact, it's the opposite. And if you go ahead and tell anyone there was it would be a big, fat lie."

Paul looked over the papers as well but he didn't understand anything it said.

"The numbers are wrong," Will said with a frown. "I mean, who's your analyst? Next time, take it to a local statistics class. Geez. I'm actually offended looking at this."

Sonny looked up at Will with a panicked expression.

"What do you mean everything is wrong?"

"The numbers don't lie," Will shrugged. "You really should fire whoever gave you the data, though."

"Oh my god," Sonny mumbled, pushing away from the table.

"Hey, Sonny," Paul called out, following him.

"No, I have to fix this," Sonny whispered. He gathered all his things, stuffing them in his briefcase. "This is a disaster, oh my god."

"Hey, at least eat dinner first," Paul insisted.

"I have to get back to the office," Sonny shook his head. "There's still time to fix everything before the meeting. I have to fix everything."

Sonny rushed out the door, clutching his laptop and muttering to himself.

"Was it something I said?" Will asked with a frown.

"No," Paul sighed, heading back to the table. "You probably saved him a lot of humiliation. He couldn't give the board the wrong information."

"No kidding," Will responded. He picked up his fork and started eating, buzzing with excitement. "You know, it's been so long since I've done anything like that by hand. I forgot how much fun it is."

Paul shook his head, declaring, "you're a weirdo."

"If loving math is wrong, I don't want to be right," Will stated, nose in the air.


The two finished their meal over a never-ending conversation. Will painting Paul a rather vivid picture of the Zurich nightlife while Paul told Will about his glory sports playing days.

Once they finished, Will asked, "since your time with Sonny is a bust, you wanna get out of here? Find something wild and crazy to do?"

"I think I've had enough excitement for one day with you," Paul answered with a grimace. He cleared their plates from the table and brought them to the kitchen sink.

"What? No, come on," Will pleaded. "It's not even eight yet."

"Not tonight," Paul started working on the dishes. "Besides, Sonny wouldn't like it and I don't want to push him too much."

"Sonny's not even here," Will stated with an eye roll. "I thought we were friends. Friends go out together."

"Well, Sonny was friends with Brian too," Paul said. "And I hated every minute of it. I'm not going to do the same thing to him that he did to me."

"Am I the Brian to your Sonny?" Will asked with a teasing grin.

"Don't joke about that. It's not funny."

"Sorry, but I don't see the big deal."

"It's a big deal because I've already gotten too close to you too many times. And I don't need to develop a habit of doing whatever you want me to."

"Maybe there's a reason for that," Will said as he leaned against the counter next to Paul.

"It doesn't matter what the reason is," Paul refused to look at Will. He focused on washing the dishes. "I'm not going to hurt Sonny and I'm not going to put myself into a dangerous position. He'll be angry enough when Adrienne tells him what happened."

Will wished he didn't find Paul's sincerity and loyalty so attractive.

"So," Paul turned off the water, shaking his hands off. "All I can offer you is friendship."

"Okay," Will said with a shrug.

"Okay?" Paul narrowed his eyes.

"Did you want me to argue?" Will asked. "You have a boyfriend. I can respect boundaries. But you might want to think about why it's so easy for you to get close to me."

Will walked over to put on his shoes and socks.

"Thank you for spending the day with me," Will said once he stood up. "I had fun. We should do it again."

"Oh – uh – yeah," Paul said with a frown.

"I'll text you," Will gave Paul a smile. "See you around, friend."

Paul didn't know what to make of the inflection Will put on his last word. He also didn't know why he felt so uncomfortable watching Will leave.

Or why he felt Will's absence much more than he felt Sonny's.


Will sat at the bar of a local club. A quick google search led him to a place called the Spot. It wasn't on Paul's tour the other day of best places to visit but oh well.

As much as Will enjoyed spending time with Paul, he wasn't going to focus on him entirely. Paul was too nice, too loyal for anything more than friendship with Will and that was fine. It was. Will could live with friendship. He had a hard time making friends his entire life. It got easier when he moved to Zurich but not perfect.

It wasn't so much making friends as it was maintaining them. Inevitably, Will found a way to mess things up. For a long time, Will thought there was something fundamentally wrong with him. Friends, boyfriends, he held them all at arm's length.

He'd never had a boyfriend last longer than six months. Most of the people he hung out with were great and Will loved them dearly. But he didn't exactly have anyone to call a best friend. Never had anyone he could trust with his darkest secrets. Knew no one would ever understand Salem or his life there.

It was moments like this he wished he had someone to talk to about all this. Because Paul was all kinds of wonderful and interesting and possibly the nicest person Will knew. He'd only known him a few days but Will wanted him. Not just for a night, even though that could be fun too, Will wanted him for much longer.

When they were in that cave and Will thought they were going to kiss, he played it off as a joke. But he wanted to kiss Paul so badly, even if it was only once.

And if he had a best friend, he could talk to someone about it. But instead, he was in Salem. A place he swore several times over he would never return. Because nothing good ever happened in Salem. Happy endings didn't exist in Salem. Happiness came to Salem to die.

All those years ago, Will thought he would too. Drunk and scared and angry, always so angry. Who knows what else Will could have done in a town like this if he didn't get out when he could.

Here he was, a couple days into a trip and he was already moping at a bar because he couldn't steal a man from his boyfriend.

Pathetic

One thing Will promised himself he would never become.

After everything he saw between his parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles, no. Will Horton was never going to sit around, sad and pitiful, pining over someone who didn't want him. That might be the life his mother led or his father or even Paul but it wasn't Will.

It would never be Will.

"What are you drinking?" an attractive, dark-skinned man asked Will, leaning on the bar.

"Nothing yet," Will said with a shrug. "You offering?"

"Whatever you want," the stranger said, flagging down a frazzled looking bartender. "Can I get six rum and cokes and…"

The man looked at Will expectantly.

"A whiskey sour," Will supplied.

"Whiskey, huh?" the guy asked. "Not what I would have expected."

"My step-dad always gives me a bottle for my birthday," Will explained over the loud music in the background. "I have to make it bearable somehow."

"Why whiskey?"

"Inside joke," Will said, licking his lips.

The bartender came back over with the drinks.

"You wanna come sit with us?" the man asked. "My friends have a table over there."

"Sure," Will said, helping to carry the drinks over.

"What's your name, by the way?" the man asked.

"Will. You?"

"Kareem," he responded. "Here we are. Guys, this is Will. Will, my friends."

Kareem pointed to five other guys sitting at a booth in the back corner of the club.

"Dustin, Mateo, Neil, Tyler, and, the one with the long face, is Brian."

"Hey," Will greeted, eyes sliding over Brian in interest.

Wouldn't that be a fun little coincidence?

"You don't look familiar," Tyler said, scooting over to make room for Will. "I doubt I'd forget a face like yours."

"Smooth," Will commented with a laugh and an eye roll. "I'm visiting family."

"Really? Who are you related to?" Dustin asked, leaning across the table.

"An easier question would be who am I not related to," Will replied, taking a long sip of his drink.

"What's your last name?" Mateo wondered.

"Horton," Will responded. He laughed when all the guys nodded at the same time and said, "ah."

"Wait," Kareem said, "You mentioned something about a step-dad."

"Yeah, EJ," Will nodded, playing with the cherry in his drink.

"DiMera?" Kareem asked. "Isn't he married to Sami Brady?"

"Yeah, that's my mommy dearest," Will said.

"A Horton and a Brady with a DiMera for a step-parent," Dustin let out a whistle. "Fun family reunion."

"Depends on the day," Will offered. He glanced over at Brian who hadn't said anything yet. "So, why do you have a long face?"

"He is broken-hearted," Neil threw an arm around Brian and shook him back and forth. "For what? Like the tenth time?"

"Yeah, I don't get the big deal," Kareem rolled his eyes. "In another month, Sonny will be back in your orbit. Why bother worrying?"

"Huh?" Will asked, feigning confusion and pressing for details.

"Sonny Kiriakis," Mateo explained with an exaggerated eye roll. "I'm sure you know who the Kiriakis family is?"

"Well, I lived in their mansion when I was a kid, so yep," Will teased.

"Sonny and Brian are ridiculous. They met way back in college and have this dumb on again, off again relationship. Half the time Sonny's with Brian. The other half he's with this guy Paul. It's stupid. And I don't know why Brian puts up with it."

Will pursed his lips, curious about this other half of the story he didn't get to hear.

"I put up with it because Sonny's worth it," Brian huffed before chugging his entire rum and coke.

Will didn't get Sonny's appeal. He was nice enough looking but no way was he worth the hassle.

At least Will understood why Paul was so insecure over Brian.

Goddamn, he was good looking. All dark hair and blue eyes and a few days' worth of facial hair.

"So," Will cleared his throat, "what? If he's not with you this Sonny guy is with someone else? Doesn't seem like a fair deal."

"It's not," Dustin stated. "But we're friends with Sonny and Brian so we try not to play favorites. But, trust us, we're all over the drama. Sonny needs to pick someone once and for all."

"He did," Brian crossed his arms then said in a mocking tone, "Paul."

"Then why did I see you and Sonny talking in the square yesterday?" Neil asked with raised brows.

"Oh, great," Kareem threw his hands up. "It's already starting. This time it took, what? A week? A little more?"

"We said hi," Brian argued. "It's not like he declared his undying love."

"Not yet," Mateo replied. "But he will. As soon as he sees you with someone else, he'll run right back to make sure you aren't trying to move on. Sonny wants to have his cake and eat it too. Mark my words, the second he thinks you might be over him, he'll do whatever he can to sink his claws back into you."

"Don't talk about him like that," Brian warned.

"Guys," Kareem ordered, "Chill. We have a guest with us. Can you try to act civil?"

"Don't mind me," Will said.

He was learning all sorts of valuable things.

"Come on, we aren't here to talk about Sonny," Neil insisted. "This is a Sonny free zone from now on. In fact, I'd say the best way for Brian to get out of his funk is to find someone to pass the time with."

A smattering of agreement enveloped the table. All while Will smiled to himself.

This was fun.

"What about you, cutie?" Neil asked Will. "Any boyfriends at home we should worry about?"

"No," Will chuckled, face turning red from the steady flow of alcohol in his system.

"Hmm," Neil responded, giving Brian an entirely unsubtle look.

Brian rolled his eyes and stole Neil's drink.

Tyler and Mateo snorted into their cups while Dustin shot Will unnecessarily suspicious glances.

"Alright, enough of this," Kareem said, loud and clear. "Let's get on the dance floor and have some fun. You too Brian, no arguing."

Which was how Will found himself dancing without a care in the world, hips twisting, sweat rolling down the back of his shirt. He spent a little bit of time roaming from guy to guy, smiling and flirting without it having to mean anything.

It was fun and everything Will needed right now.

Somehow, Will found himself sandwiched between Neil and Brian. Neil grinding into his backside while Will held onto Brian's neck. Their foreheads touching, Brian sneaking his thigh between Will's.

Will let out a huff of laughter when a remix for Demi Lovato's Sorry Not Sorry came on. He couldn't relate to it more even if he tried.

"What?" Brian asked, finally starting to loosen up and relax.

"Like this song," Will responded, grunting when Neil gripped his hips even tighter. It caused Will to buck against Brian's thigh, eyelids fluttering closed.

Will whined when he felt two sets of lips on his neck. Brian on one side and Neil on the other. They kissed his sensitive flesh and licked up droplets of sweat, laughing into Will's skin.

"You guys suck," Will complained when they pulled away from his neck.

"Not yet he hasn't," Neil teased, swatting Will on the side of the thigh. "Consider this an early birthday present, Brian."

Neil drifted off to dance with the rest of the group leaving Will and Brian alone.

"Don't worry about it," Brian said when he saw Will's questioning look.

He grabbed Will's hand and led him toward the bar.

"What were you drinking?" Brian asked. He waited for Will to respond before ordering.

The two leaned against the bar top as they waited.

"Where do you live?" Brian wondered, eyeing Will up and down.

"Zurich," Will answered before adding, "Switzerland."

Brian nodded as their drinks arrived. He picked them both up and led Will back to the booth they sat in earlier.

"You always dance like that with strangers?" Brian asked, sitting so close to Will their thighs brushed.

"Do you?" Will countered with a wide grin.

"Not lately," Brian admitted.

"You should," Will said, licking his lips. "It's fun."

"Oh?"

"Mmm hmm," Will tilted his head back, neck exposed. "Hot guys and free drinks. What's not to like?"

"A favorite past time of yours I take it?"

"Something like that," Will responded, looking at Brian again. "Were you serious earlier? Wanting to find someone to pass the time with?"

"Depends," Brian said. "Tell me something about you."

Will thought about it for a moment before picking up the cherry in his whiskey sour.

"I can tie a cherry stem with my tongue."

Will bit off the cherry, swirling the stem around for a few moments. He brandished the finished result in Brian's face with a bright smile and lidded eyes.

Brian took the stem from Will, inspecting the knot. He gulped down his drink, slamming it on the table.

"God, that's hot," Brian mumbled, yanking Will into a kiss.

Will didn't react for a few seconds. Brian was all kinds of attractive but Will wasn't keen on getting involved with anyone else obsessed with Sonny Kiriakis.

Then again, no one said a drunken make out had to go anywhere.

Will dragged his fingers through Brian's thick hair, letting Brian push him onto his back.

Brian moaned into Will's mouth when Will yanked on his hair. The two grinding into each other. Will wrapping his leg around Brian's hips, pulling him closer.

The kisses were wet and sloppy and tasted like alcohol and bad decisions. But worth it.

So, so worth it.

Will gasped when Brian ripped Will's shirt up, hands splayed across his stomach.

As attractive as Brian was and as good as his hands felt on Will's skin, Will remembered what that Mateo guy said.

Once Sonny saw Brian moving on to someone else, he'd pay attention to him again. If Sonny was paying attention to Brian, Paul would be free for the taking.

Will Horton did come from a legacy of people who like to make things worse.

Will kissed from Brian's lips across his stubble and down to his neck. He tongued the area right above his carotid before sinking his teeth into the skin, sucking hard.

From the way Brian whined and bucked against him, he didn't seem to mind.

Will pulled off his skin with a loud, wet pop. He threw his head against the seat they laid across, grinning lazily up at Brian.

Brian muttered something Will couldn't hear before kissing Will again.

They would have kissed even longer if not for the loud snorts of laughter and catcalling behind them.

Will looked over Brian's shoulder to see some of Brian's friends goading them.

Will laughed right along with them and took Brian's hand when he sat up, pulling Will with him.


Will stayed at the club for another hour. He had a lot of fun. Dancing, drinking, and a few more wet kisses from Brian later, Will was ready to go home.

Brian offered to share an Uber with Will.

"That was fun," Brian told Will once they were sitting in the back of a Honda Civic.

"It was," Will confirmed.

"When I first saw you, I thought you looked like a tool, hot but a tool," Brian admitted which made Will snort with laughter. "But, you're pretty cool. We should be friends."

"Aw, I thought you looked like a sexy dbag," Will admitted, hand over his heart. "Match made in friendship heaven."

Because he could, Will leaned over and shoved Brian into the passenger window, nearly mauling him with his lips and tongue.

"Hey," their driver complained.

Will moved back to his seat, licking his lips.

"Sorry," he called. "Had to do it."

Brian leaned back in his spot, shaking his head at Will.

"You're kind of a slut," he told Will with a giant grin on his face, thumb digging into his own lower lip.

"Thank you," Will beamed, causing Brian to laugh.

"You and I could have had so much fun," Brian said, glancing at Will out of the corner of his eye.

"Ah, yes," Will smirked to himself, "if not for the ever elusive Sonny."

"I don't know what it is," Brian said, honest in a way he wouldn't have been without so many drinks to loosen him up. "I can't let him go."

Feeling his tongue a little bit loosened himself, Will said, "I don't get the big deal. He's an asshole."

"Kind of, yeah," Brian laughed. "I like that, though. Wait, how do you know Sonny?"

"We've met," Will looked out the car window, smiling when the car pulled up outside of Marlena's building. "Actually, Paul's dad is marrying my grandma at the end of the month."

"Small world," Brian muttered.

The car rolled to a stop.

"Yes, it is," Will said, opening the car door. "Thanks for tonight. I had fun."

"Hold on a sec," Brian told the driver and stumbled out the door to follow Will.

He walked Will to the entrance to the building.

"Tonight was a nice distraction," Brian told Will, standing rather close.

"It was," Will agreed. He swept his eyes up and down Brian before sighing. "Shame. I would have fucked the hell out of you."

Brian laughed before shoving Will into the door, holding onto his shoulders.

Will lifted his eyebrows, waiting for Brian to do something.

"You need an invitation or what, pretty boy?"

"You're kind of annoying as hell," Brian said before kissing Will long and deep.

They kissed until the Uber driver honked at them, causing them to break apart.

"See you around," Brian told Will, walking back to the car.

"Good luck with Sonny," Will called back. Under his breath, he said, "you're gonna need it against Paul."

 

Chapter Text

August 6, 2018

"Good morning, sweetheart," Marlena greeted Will when he slumped into the kitchen the next morning. "You look like hell."

"Geez, you couldn't even lie to make me feel better?" Will asked, pouring coffee into the largest mug he could find.

"You had fun last night, I take it," Marlena ignored his complaining.

She went to the stove and started making Will breakfast, just like old times.

"Went to a club," Will told her. "Met a few guys, it was nice."

"I'm glad to hear it," Marlena said.

"And I might have done a bad thing," Will admitted after a few seconds.

"What bad thing?"

"Well, okay, so you know how Paul's gorgeous and perfect?"

Marlena flashed Will a smile and nodded her head.

"I like him, Grandma. I mean, I like him and not only his face or his body. You were right. He is as gorgeous on the inside and the more time I spend with him, the more I feel it."

Marlena stirred some batter while looking at Will intently.

"And I know he feels something too. I know it. Because he's always looking at me and encouraging me and we've already almost kissed at least twice."

"When was this?" Marlena interrupted.

"Yesterday, after we got fitted for the wedding," Will said in a rush. "I showed him something I found at the lake and he almost kissed me. Then we went back to his place and it felt so right, Grandma. Being with him feels so right and I know if we spend more time together, something will happen eventually. But-,"

"But Sonny?" Marlena guessed.

"Yeah, Sonny showed up and he was mad I was there. Paul put his foot down and said we were friends and we all needed to get along. Sonny's whole presence ruined everything, though. Even though I didn't initiate anything, well not too badly, Paul was all 'ugh, back off, Will. I love Sonny, Will. We can only be friends, Will.'"

Marlena tried not to laugh at Will's impersonation.

"Well, sweetheart, Sonny is his boyfriend. Paul's been waiting for him for a long time. He isn't going to let Sonny go that easily."

"I know," Will pouted, elbows on the kitchen island.

"What did you mean, though? That you might have done something bad?"

"Oh, right," Will sat up straighter. "So, I was annoyed I realized I actually wanted Paul for more than his hot bod. I went to a club, met this guy who introduced me to his group of friends. And one of those friends just so happened to be Brian."

Marlena stopped what she was doing again to look at Will.

"I did a little recon and found out about this cycle with Sonny and Brian. Apparently, any time Sonny's with Paul, he runs back to Brian when Sonny feels threatened. Like if Sonny saw Brian hanging out with someone else or anything like that. That's what the friends said.

"That was in the back of my mind as we were all dancing and having a fun time. And I was hanging out with Brian and we started kissing."

Marlena stared at Will even harder.

"Don't give me that look," Will pointed at her. "It was just kissing. Anyway, I purposely left a giant ass hickey on him in the hopes of Sonny seeing it."

"Oh, okay," Marlena let out a relieved sigh. "I thought you were going to say something much worse."

"Like what?" Will wondered, gulping down his scalding coffee.

"That you slept with him or formed some sort of alliance to break Sonny and Paul up."

"I'm not my mother," Will rolled his eyes. "Or my father for that matter. Although I would have been all up on Brian if I could. Have you seen him, Grandma? And he does this thing with his tongue where-,"

"Alright," Marlena held up her hands and laughed. "TMI, young man."

Will laughed, drinking more coffee.

"Besides, the hickey was to manipulate Sonny. I don't want to manipulate Paul into anything. If we got together, I'd want it to be because he wanted to and not because he felt like I tricked him into it."

They sat in companionable silence while Marlena made Will pancakes. After she served him a large stack, Marlena sat next to him at the countertop.

"You really like Paul now, huh?"

"I do," Will said around a large bite. He finished chewing and swallowing before speaking again. "I can't help it. But, I mean, I don't exactly want to sit around like a pathetic loser waiting for him to notice me. And why should I? I'm leaving at the end of the month anyway."

"If you say so," Marlena replied. "Maybe I won't tell you who came by early this morning hoping to see you then."

"What? Who?"

"Paul," Marlena patted Will's hand and gave him a sly look. "Finish eating, I know he's meeting up with John for lunch at the pub at twelve. That'll give you plenty of time to pretty up."

Marlena ruffled Will's hair when he started cramming pancakes in his face.


Three cups of coffee and a long shower later, Will left the penthouse. He still had an hour to kill so he headed to the DiMera mansion. Sami, EJ, and Johnny lived there. Allie lived with Lucas and his fiancé Cheryl Connors but visited often.

School didn't start for another few days so both the kids were home. So were Sami and EJ.

They all sat in the front room of the DiMera mansion. The kids running around playing games while the adults talked about how Will's visit was going.

"Yeah, I've met some people," Will admitted.

"People like Paul Narita?" Sami asked as she and EJ shared a smirk.

"Oh, god, what do you know?" Will narrowed his eyes at them.

"Nothing," Sami said. "Mom said she thought the two of you could be good together."

"Plus, we have eyes," EJ replied. "We saw the way you were looking at the poor man at the party. I thought we were going to have to get a mop for your drool."

"Not that Paul was any better," Sami pointed out.

"His eyes were glued to your arse for half the night," EJ conceded.

"Paul and I are friends," Will sighed. "Even if I do like him he's hung up on stupid Sonny."

Sami snorted in the back of his throat.

"Sweetie, there is no competition between you and Sonny Kiriakis. I'm not even saying that because you're my pride and joy and I love you."

Will laughed and shook his head.

"I'm serious," Sami said. She smacked EJ's arm and ordered, "back me up here."

"It's true," EJ acknowledged and even managed to sound sincere. "In addition to your looks, you are well-rounded, funny, and engaging. I highly doubt you need to worry about anyone let alone a Kiriakis."

"Thanks," Will responded with a smile.

He and EJ came an awfully long way from Will trying to kill him and leaving Salem in the aftermath.

"And, you know," EJ stretched his arm over Sami's shoulders and smiled at Will. "The company is always on the lookout for new analysts. If you stayed in Salem, you'd have a higher chance of things developing between you two."

"Uh-huh," Will replied in a flat tone.

Ever since Will graduated, he'd hear variations of the same speech. How he could still have the same career while in Salem. That he'd be closer to this relative or that relative or, in this case, this possible boyfriend.

Will hadn't ever given it much thought before.

He glanced at his phone and noticed the time.

"Gotta go," Will stood up. "Grandma's sending me to crash Grandpa and Paul's lunch date. John and Paul. God, I am never gonna get used to that."

"Who said you had to stop calling him that?" Sami asked with a murderous look on her face.

"Grandma," Will said with a smile. "I agree. It's pretty creepy wanting to date John's son if I'm always calling him Grandpa."

With several hugs and promises to see them again soon, Will left. He even arrived at the Brady Pub before Paul and John.

So, Will made himself right at home sitting on top of the bar just like he did when he was a kid.

"Get off of there, you goober," Eric Brady said around a laugh, swatting Will with a towel.

"No," Will swung his legs back and forth. "I'm reliving my childhood. Stop bothering me."

"He's cute," Nicole Walker said, stepping into Eric's arms. "Leave him alone."

"Thank you," Will told her. "Is Grandpa Roman here? I have a request."

"This should be good," Eric whispered to Nicole. He yelled into the back. "Dad, Will wants you."

Roman walked from the kitchen and sighed when he saw Will.

"What are you doing? You're getting my clean bar all dirty."

"I am not," Will argued. Just because he could, he rubbed his butt all over the bar. He laughed when Roman took the towel from Eric and hit him with it too.

"I give up," Roman sighed. "You're a lost cause."

"Hey, Grandpa," Will said with a giant smile. "Guess what I want to eat?"

"No can do," Roman shook his head. "It's not on the menu anymore."

"What? No, this is me, Grandpa. Every time I came in, that's what I'd have. Okay, I have to have this chicken."

"Sorry," Roman shrugged. "Recipe left when Ma did."

Will held a staring contest with Roman.

Will won.

"Ugh, fine," Roman pointed a finger in Will's face. "But don't you go bragging about this. I'm only making it for you."

"What?" Eric complained. "I've been begging for years."

Will stuck his tongue out, legs swing back and forth again.

"It's 'cause I'm everyone's favorite."

"You're the favorite because no one ever sees you," Eric countered with a smile.

He laughed when Will flipped him off.

"Wow," John said, walking over to them with Paul right behind. "Classy."

"I have a mug at home that says classy, sassy, and a bit smart assy," Will replied.

"Best birthday gift I ever gave you," Nicole said, giving Will a high five.

"That could be a many a people in this family," John gave Eric a look. "Many, many people."

"Not Paul," Will flashed him a bright smile.

"That's true," John threw an arm around Paul's neck, mussing up his hair. "He's a good kid."

"Dad," Paul complained half-heartedly.

After all these years knowing him, Paul still relished every minute he got with John.

"Since you're all here, why don't you join us for lunch?" John suggested as he let Paul go.

"We already ate," Eric said, gesturing to himself and Nicole. "And we've both need to get back to work."

"Raincheck," Nicole promised as they walked toward the door. She pointed right at Will. "You young man, owe me a coffee date."

Her eyes flickered toward Paul.

"Tell me when and where," Will replied with a knowing smile.

"Looks like it's just the three of us," John glanced over at Will. "Unless you're planning on staying up there all day."

"Nah," Will hopped off the bar and followed John to a table. "Reliving the old Salem days is all."

Paul looked confused when John let out a long, loud belly laugh.

"I remember those days," John nodded. He turned to Paul and said, "we couldn't keep this one out of trouble so he was always here causing mischief. Or down at the police station stealing everyone's badges."

"They were detectives," Will said, waving one hand in the air. "They should have been able to follow the clues I left behind."

"You know, I don't think Bo ever did find that one," John said. "They had to issue him a new one."

"That's because Hope helped me," Will grinned.

John laughed again, shaking his head.

"I can picture that," Paul admitted. "Little Will running around causing headaches."

"Always into something," John agreed. "And it was only his fault half the time. He's just a magnet for trouble."

"It's a gift. What can I say?" Will sighed.

"What kind of trouble?" Paul asked, looking between Will and his father.

"You wanna take this one, kid?"

"Oh, goodness," Will leaned back in his chair to think. "Let's see. There was the time I was kidnapped. Or the other time I was kidnapped. Or the other time I was kidnapped. Or the time my head split open in a car accident and I had brain surgery."

"What?" Paul asked, leaning across the table. "You're joking."

"Afraid not," John admitted.

Will slammed both his hands on the table, leaning forward.

"Or I could tell you about the time I almost drowned at the pier."

Paul's eyes got wider and wider the more Will talked.

"Oh, what about the time a tiger almost mauled me? I still can't go to the zoo. Hell, even Tigger gives me the heebie-jeebies."

"Now, I know you're making this stuff up," Paul argued. "A tiger? Really?"

"Its name was Horton too," Will added with a sigh. "Who would have guessed bringing a predator to Salem would end in bloodshed?"

"What?" Paul repeated again, incredulous.

"Once I moved away I stopped having near-death experiences," Will said, lifting both hands in the air. "Unless you count the time Carrie took me to the Lindt factory on free sample day and I ate my weight in chocolate. But that only resulted in me puking for three days, not death."

John gave Will a judgmental look.

"Free. Sample. Day," Will stressed.

A waiter came over and took down John and Paul's order. Roman already handled Will's. Only a handful of minutes later, their food arrived.

John got a hamburger and fries while Paul opted for a salad. Will nearly salivated when he saw his.

"That isn't what I think it is?" John asked, hands wrapped around his burger.

"What?" Paul glanced at Will's plate.

"It is," Will licked his lips. "I have been waiting years for this. Since Grandma Caroline's last visit."

"That's not even fair," John sighed. "Now my burger is tainted."

"What?" Paul repeated. "It looks like fried chicken with some sauce on it."

John groaned, shaking his head in disbelief. While Will gave Paul a deeply, deeply offended glare.

"This, Paul whatever-your-middle-name-is Narita, is not just fried chicken," Will explained. "This is the greatest fried chicken in the whole world. This is what Grandpa Shawn started serving after a trip to New Orleans. Something so good, so delicious, they could only sell it once a week because they'd always sell out. This is not just Louisiana fried chicken. It's a religious experience. This is the absolute best meal you could ever have in your life. And you don't get any because it's all mine. Ha!"

Will pulled his chicken thighs apart, savoring each and every bite.

Paul felt himself grow hot hearing the borderline pornographic sounds coming out of Will.

Will licked his fingers and his lips, sucking off any bit of sauce he could find. He wasn't even halfway done when Paul and John finished eating.

John glanced down at his phone and said, "Excuse me, boys. I gotta take this."

Paul almost wanted to follow him. He didn't think he could handle sitting all alone with Will slurping his fingertips and moaning like a whore.

Will looked up at Paul through his lashes. While the chicken was orgasmic, he played it up just a little.

"Here," Will ripped off a small piece, tossing it in Paul's empty salad bowl. "Try it. Your life will never be the same."

Paul doubted it very much but ate it anyway. He held it in his mouth for a few seconds before chewing and swallowing.

"Damn," Paul said. "You're right."

"Told you," Will teased.

"That's delicious," Paul admitted.

He reached across the table only for his hand to get slapped.

"Back away from the chicken," Will ordered. "I am not giving up any more to you."

"Then let me get some of the sauce on the plate," Paul said, fighting with Will over the plate.

"Hey, no, that's mine too," Will complained.

"Please," Paul pleaded, throwing his hands up when Will threatened to claw him. "You can't just give me a taste."

"Fine," Will said, pleased with himself. "I'll share if you do something for me."

"What?" Paul asked.

Will thought about this before he showed up at the pub. He wanted to experience something with Paul, just the two of them, where they could bond.

"I want to go to a baseball game," Will said.

"Okay, sure, now gimme," Paul reached for the plate.

Will pulled it farther away.

"Not so fast. The Cardinals and Giants play tomorrow in St. Louis, doubleheader. We're going."

"What, Will? I don't wanna see the Giants," Paul shook his head.

"You were just telling me the other day how much you miss baseball. I bet there are so many players you still know. So many staff members, coaches, trainers. It'll be awesome. And I haven't been to a baseball game since I was like ten."

"Why can't we see the Salem U team play?"

"What? No," Will made a silly face. "I want real teams. And I want popcorn and a hot dog and beer and I want you to sit with me and tell me everything you miss. Or what they're doing wrong. Or which player you really hate. Come on, it'll be awesome."

"Will," Paul sighed.

"Please?" Will stuck out his lower lip and batted his lashes.

"No."

"Please?"

"No."

"Please?"

"No."

"I'll give you some chicken."

"The answer is still no."

"I'll drive."

"I've seen you drive. No, thank you."

"Please?"

Will got up, plate and all, and walked to John's empty chair.

"Please, Paul. I never got to see you play but I want to experience this with you."

Paul looked into Will's big blue eyes and felt his resolve crumble.

"What time do we have to leave?"

"Yes," Will jumped in his chair and did a little dance.

Paul rolled his eyes but couldn't stop smiling.

"As payment," Will split the last of his chicken with Paul. "And see, I was right about the chicken and I'll be right about the game."

"What's the secret to getting this chicken anyway?"

"You gotta be Will Horton," Will sang, shoving his index finger in his mouth and sucking.

 

 

Chapter Text

August 7, 2018

"Here," Will shoved a to-go cup in Paul's face when Paul opened his front door, bright and early. "I got you something for the road."

"Thanks," Paul said around a yawn. "So, are we doing this?"

"Yep," Will rocked forward and back on his heels. "The first game starts in two and a half hours. Plenty of time to get there and get situated."

"Alright," Paul reached back into his condo to grab his wallet and keys. "Let's do this."

Paul locked up before directing Will toward the elevator and pushing the button for the parking garage once inside.

"What kind of car do you drive?" Will asked, holding on to his cup of coffee.

"Guess," Paul said, chugging down some green tea.

"Hmm," Will turned to face Paul.

His face was scrunched up in concentration, a look Paul found particularly adorable.

"You aren't too flashy. But, your condo is nice and modern. I'm going to say something like a midsized Audi."

"Afraid not," Paul replied as the elevator opened. He walked over to a Range Rover and hit his key fob to unlock it.

"Nice," Will appraised.

"Thanks, now, buckle up," Paul ordered.

"Yeah, yeah," Will dismissed, following directions.

"I saw you flying around town the other day in that sports car," Paul said, sounding like an old man. "Whose was it, anyway?"

"EJ's," Will responded. "And are you secretly a 70 year old? Because I'm pretty sure going 40 miles an hour in a 35 zone is not speeding."

"I am cautious," Paul argued.

"Cautious, boring, whatever," Will teased.

"Hey, with my job I have to be careful," Paul insisted as they headed off to St. Louis.

"A private eye who wants to be careful, what a shame," Will smiled. "Which reminds me."

Will pulled out his phone, opening snapchat. He flipped the phone between him and Paul, searching through filters before he found one he wanted.

"Are you gonna do that all day?" Paul asked, pulling out onto the highway.

"Yes," Will insisted, moving to Instagram to make a story. "I will document our every move so we can always treasure these friendly outings."

"Friendly, huh?" Paul snuck a glance at Will.

"What else would they be?" Will asked. "You told me you wanted Sonny. I'm not gonna waste my time pining for someone when I don't have a chance."

"Oh," Paul responded, licking his lips.

He didn't know why that took the wind out of his sails.

"I mean," Will shrugged. "Unless you're upset I still want to be your friend. In which case, you should probably turn back around and-,"

"No, I'm glad you want to be friends," Paul interrupted. "I am. I just wasn't expecting you to be so blunt."

"You're not used to anyone telling you the truth?" Will wondered.

"No, I am – I mean, I think – maybe. I don't know," Paul sighed, taking a moment to think. "I know my family is honest with me, sometimes even when I don't want them to be. But other people-,"

"Sonny," Will supplied.

"Yeah, Sonny," Paul agreed. "I don't feel like he tells me everything I need to know."

Will could have used this moment. Should have used this moment. He could have played up Paul's insecurities. He could have needled and made everything worse.

But he wouldn't.

As much as Will liked Paul, and he did, more than he anticipated, he didn't want to hurt Paul.

Paul loved Sonny. Will could learn to live with it.

Besides, Will would rather Paul choose him on his own and not because he manipulated the situation. Well, not too much manipulation.

"Well, that was before, right? Your relationship is new now. It takes time getting used to someone even if you've dated before. I'm sure you've both changed since the last time you were together. You'll have to work together to make sure you don't repeat any of the same bad cycles."

"Who are you and what did you do to Will Horton?" Paul asked with a laugh. "That sounded like helpful advice for me about Sonny."

"It was, you ass," Will huffed but still smiled. "You wanna be friends. I can be your friend. I'm just saying, you two haven't been together long. Things take time. And if you want him to be honest with you, you should be honest back."

"I am honest," Paul responded.

"Oh, so what was the other day? You know, when he walked in on you rubbing my half-naked body? When you said it was nothing and he didn't need to worry."

"You weren't exactly honest either."

"Yes, I was. I just neglected to mention a few details. Besides, Sonny's not my boyfriend. And I'm sure you didn't mention our little cave excursion either or what his mother saw."

"Because nothing happened in the cave," Paul argued. "And he still hasn't mentioned what Adrienne saw. He's been busy with work, thankfully."

"Something almost happened, twice," Will smiled back at Paul's hard gaze. "If you don't want to tell him, fine. But you can't complain he's never honest with you if you don't. Although, I am surprised his mom hasn't talked to him."

"Especially since he lives in the same place."

Will couldn't withhold a snort. The idea of Sonny living with his mommy and daddy was too funny.

Ignoring Will, Paul added, "Plus, you know, Adrienne isn't my biggest fan."

"What? Why?" Will turned as far as his seatbelt would let him. "You've got perfect son-in-law written all over you."

"Wish she saw it that way. I think she blames me every time Sonny and I wouldn't work out. Plus, she thinks Brian's amazing."

Will took a large gulp of his coffee so he wouldn't have to answer. He wasn't sure yet how to play the Brian card with Paul.

"Here," Will grabbed Paul's tea and held the cup up to his mouth, tilting it just right for him to get a drink.

"Thanks," Paul offered after swallowing.

"Sure," Will said. "Your phone hooked up to the Bluetooth in here?"

"Of course, take it."

Will spent the next few minutes scrolling through Paul's playlists. Teasing some of the more embarrassing selections and reminiscing over songs that were popular ten years ago.

"Oooh," Will said once he found something he liked. "I love this band."

Paul glanced at Will in disbelief when Tokyo Fab blared out of the speakers.

"Are you serious? They're awesome," Paul gushed. "Sonny…"

Paul trailed off.

"Sonny what?"

"Sonny actually hates them. So, I don't get to really listen to them around him. Or anyone for that matter."

"Before me," Will interjected. "Oh, hey, so you know how we were talking about being honest?"

"What?" Paul asked, narrowing his eyes at Will.

"Why do you assume the worst?"

"Do the words champagne and Monaco ring any bells?"

"I didn't know as much French then as I do now."

"Wait," Paul glanced at Will. "How many languages do you know?"

"Fluent, three," Will said. "English, obviously. Swiss German and regular German."

"Swiss German?"

"They have their own dialect. I'm passable in Italian and French, now, at least."

"That's awesome," Paul insisted. "I only know English and Japanese."

"I know like three things in Japanese. Well, besides singing what I'm pretty sure are the right lyrics to songs."

"What things?" Paul asked, dying to hear Will butcher his language.

"I can say Arigato, Sumimasen, and, Watashi wa dōseiai-shadesu."

Paul burst into laughter.

"Of all the phrases in the world you memorized how to say, 'I'm gay'?"

"It might be relevant one day," Will grinned. "I can tell you, can't I?"

"Now, you're distracting me," Paul shook his head. "You were going to tell me something? Something to do with honesty?"

"Oh, right. Damn, I hoped you would have forgotten."

"Will," Paul complained.

Will stalled, not sure if he was ready to tell Paul anything yet.

"Well, I'm honestly glad you decided to come with me."

"And that I offered to pay for everything?" Paul asked with a shrewd look.

"Of course, that goes without saying. And I'm glad we can still be friends. Oh, and I want to do something nice for Grandma and John but I might need your help. I made out with Brian the other night. And I'm pretty sure my mom is trying to-,"

"Wait, wait, back up," Paul ordered, eyes flashing between Will and the highway. "What did you say?"

"I might need your help with something for Grandma and John."

"After that."

"My mom is trying to guilt me into staying."

"Will."

"What?"

"You made out with Brian? Are you serious?"

"It was an accident?" Will said sounding more like a question than anything else.

"How do you accidentally make out with someone?" Paul asked in a tight voice.

"Well, I went to this place called the Spot after I left yours. And a guy named Kareem bought me a drink. Introduced me to his group of friends, which included Brian. There was dancing and some whiskey sours and before I knew it there was a tongue in my mouth."

Paul held onto the steering wheel so hard his knuckles turned white.

"And I'm only telling you because I found out something interesting about Brian and Sonny. Those guys are friends with Sonny too, right?"

Paul nodded.

"Well, they all think Sonny's gonna go back to Brian. That there's a pattern to their makeups and breakups. Once Sonny sees Brian moving on with his life, Sonny starts showing an interest in him again. Which sounded an awful lot like what you and Sonny deal with too."

"What else did they say?"

"Nothing about you, they all seemed kind of sick of the whole situation. And, you know, Brian said he was hung up on Sonny but he threw himself at me so he can't be that committed."

"Great," Paul rolled his eyes. "So, if he's not panting after Sonny, I can see him all over you. Like that's any better."

Will got the feeling he wasn't supposed to hear that.

"We were having fun," Will said. "Nothing serious."

"And you two only kissed?" Paul turned to stare at Will.

His face was so soft and wounded, eyes Bambi-like and soulful.

Will didn't want to hurt him.

"There might have been some grinding," Will rushed out. "But clothes were on and we parted ways."

Paul deflated.

"Hey," Will patted Paul on the arm. "Now you know how to keep Sonny away from Brian, right? Just keep Sonny so busy he won't have time to notice what's going on with Brian. That's good, right?"

As much as Will didn't want to give advice on how Paul could keep Sonny, he'd do anything to get that haunted look out of his eyes.

"And hey," Will kept his hand on Paul's bicep and squeezed. "Your arms are totally bigger than his. Not that I saw his but from what I felt while dancing and from what I saw in those boxers of yours the other day, arms aren't the only thing that's bigger."

Paul let out a soft snort.

"I almost got a smile out of you," Will poked Paul in the side. He picked up Paul's phone again, searching for a song. "And I haven't made you laugh in a long time. Aha!"

He found just what he was looking for: A Little Help From My Friends (English version). If his plan didn't work, he'd use the Japanese version. If nothing else, it would help him with his goal of making Paul laugh more often.

For now, he'd start with English.

Using his hand as a microphone, Will started to sing, serenading Paul.

"What would you think if I sang out of tune? Would you stand up and walk out on me? Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song and I'll try not to sing out of key. Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends. Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends. Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends.

"Sing it, Paul!"

Paul, trying not to show how amused he was, rolled his eyes and shook his head.

Will huffed but continued to sing.

"What do I do when my love is away? Does it worry you to be alone? How do I feel by the end of the day? Are you sad because you're on your own? No, I get by with a little help from my friends. Mm, I get high with a little help from my friends. Mm, gonna try with a little help from my friends."

Will, overdramatic, handed his pretend microphone over to Paul.

Paul sang into Will's hand, "Do you need anybody?"

"I need somebody to love," Will took his hand mike back.

"Could it be anybody?" Paul crooned.

"I want somebody to love," Will answered, eyes right on Paul.

Will moved as close as his seatbelt would let him to sing in Paul's face, "Would you believe in a love at first sight?"

Paul put his hand on Will's forehead and pushed him away, "Yes, I'm certain that it happens all the time."

Together, the two sang at the top of their lungs, complete with drum solos and guitar riffs, the rest of the song and every song after.


"I'm so excited," Will said as he buzzed with energy, legs tapping and twisting his whole body.

"I knew letting you get that double espresso was a bad idea," Paul commented.

"It was the best idea," Will argued.

The two arrived with plenty of time to spare before the first game started. They walked around outside Busch Stadium which included a stop in a coffee shop. Now, they were making their way to the actual stadium.

Paul had a few tricks up his sleeve for the day. Will said he wanted to experience baseball with Paul and an experience was what Paul would give.

"Where are our seats?" Will asked, almost dancing around Paul. "Are they good ones? Because if we're up super high I'll have to go back to the car and get my glasses."

"You don't need to change into your glasses," Paul said. "Although it sounds like you need a better prescription if you can't see out of your contacts."

"I can see," Will dismissed with a hand wave. "I just have old man vision."

"Trust me," Paul gave Will a blinding grin that nearly stopped Will in his tracks. "You're gonna love it."


"Holy shit," Will whispered over and over much to Paul's amusement.

They entered the stadium through a private entrance flanked with a baby grand piano. Will's fingers itched to play it but Paul put a hand on his shoulder and forced him to move along.

They walked down a marble hallway to an expansive suite with wooden accents and more chandeliers than Will could count.

And despite the game beginning in only a few minutes, they were all alone.

"What?" Will asked, looking between Paul and the open space around them. "What?"

"I know some people," Paul said, faking modesty. "So, the room's all ours. Oh, look, they sent us stuff."

Will ran to the other side of the room where an entire table was covered in Giants paraphernalia. Everything from jerseys to hats to pillow pets and blankets.

"Hey," Will held up an obnoxious black and orange jersey and flipped it over. "Cool, huh?"

It had Paul's name and number on the back.

Paul froze, heart constricting at the sight.

"Wear it," Will ordered, shoving it at Paul's chest.

"No," Paul pushed it away. "I'm not wearing that."

"Yes," Will insisted.

"No."

"Yes."

"No."

"Yeeeeessss."

"Noooooooo"

"Fine," Will flashed Paul a mischievous look. "I'll wear it."

Before Paul could say anything, Will pulled off his t-shirt, flashed Paul some skin, and yanked the jersey on over his head, buttons and all.

"Hmm, this probably wouldn't have fit you," Will said, smoothing out the jersey. "It's a little tight on me."

Paul, too busy staring at Will, didn't reply.

Will Horton in a jersey with Paul's name on it was not even fair.

"Here," Will slapped a hat on Paul's head. "Get in the spirit."

Will grinned at him before waving his hands around.

"Where's my phone? This, the world needs to see. Here, you hold."

Will handed his phone over to Paul so he could position himself just the right way. He stood nice and close to Paul with his back facing the camera. Paul obligingly lowered his head so the logo on his hat showed up as well as the name on the back of Will's jersey.

"There," Paul tossed Will his phone back. "Now, let's find some seats."

As the entire suite was empty, Will and Paul had their pick.

After the anthem and the game began, Will moved in close to Paul.

"Alright, give me all the dirt," Will said. He held up a program he found with a list of the lineups. "Who's good? Who's bad? Who's 'roid raging?"

"You wanna know baseball or you wanna know gossip?" Paul asked.

"Both," Will insisted. He adjusted the cap on his own head so it faced the wrong direction.

He couldn't see Paul out of it if he wore it the correct way.

"Okay," Paul settled into his padded seat and said, "the guy coming up to bat now. He's a decent hitter. But he can't stay away from high ones. Watch."

Will waited, watched the pitcher wind up, and the player strike because the pitch was too high.

Just like Paul said.

That's how they spent the next few innings. Every player Paul recognized, he accurately predicted the outcome for each team.

"We're going to Vegas next," Will decided. "Putting your skills to real use."

"Really?" Paul laughed. "Mr. Mathematician wants to gamble?"

"It's not a gamble if I know you'll get the right answer," Will insisted. "We'll go to a sports betting place and rake in the dough. Also, mathematicians are the best in Vegas. I could count cards all day."

"You'd get us kicked out in about 5 minutes," Paul teased. "You cannot do subtle."

"How do you know?" Will asked.

"Look at you," Paul eyed Will up and down.

Over the course of the last hour, Will piled himself in the remaining Giants attire. Besides the jersey and hat, he wrapped a blanket around himself, cuddled the pillow pet, put a tattoo on his face, and was drinking a soda out of a cup that said: "I HEART THE GIANTS".

"What?" Will looked down at himself. "If you think this isn't subtle, just be glad I didn't know you when you played. I would have embarrassed the hell out of you."

"That I don't doubt," Paul responded with a smile.

"So," Will elbowed Paul in the side. "Do you miss this?"

Will gestured to the large stadium around them.

"Like you wouldn't believe," Paul answered. He leaned back in his seat, face pensive. "The crowd, the smell of the grass, the game itself."

Paul closed his eyes, head on the back of his seat.

"This was my entire life for years. Not just playing in the MLB but baseball in general. Since I was old enough to pick up a plastic bat and play T-ball. I sacrificed everything to play. I wasn't ready for it to end."

Will turned his whole body to face Paul.

"Hey, we don't have to stay here. If it's too much for you, I mean, I didn't even think about that. I just wanted to have some fun together."

"No," Paul shook his head and opened his eyes. "I don't want to go. I am having fun. Once my career ended, I pretty much ignored everything baseball related. Pretended it didn't exist. I kept in touch with a few people but that faded with time too.

"I focused on Sonny. I originally lost Sonny for baseball and I figured if I didn't have baseball I could have Sonny. But everything was a mess with us for so long. Between Brian and the time we spent apart, I don't know. It was easier to fixate on everything in Salem than on what I lost. I mean, I got a family out of it, a giant, confusing, crazy family that I love. So, it's not like I have nothing now."

"It's just not the same thing," Will added. "And you don't have to justify your feelings, not to me. You can miss baseball and like what you have now. They're not mutually exclusive events. And I should know. I'm the stats expert."

"Yes, you are," Paul agreed. "After you convinced me to come with you, I started looking forward to it. I called up some people that are still with the organization. I wanted to go all out."

"And I appreciate it," Will promised. "But I don't want you to suffer because of it."

"I'm not," Paul insisted. "A little emotional but in a good way. Part of the reason my life was all about baseball was that I loved it. And getting to experience all this with you is pretty amazing."

Will's face turned a lovely shade of pink.

A color Paul appreciated but didn't mention.


At the end of the first game, Will and Paul left the stadium for a late lunch. After they finished, they went back inside for the second game. This time, Paul couldn't stop Will from playing the baby grand before going back to their private space.

The second game went much the same as the first. Will goofing around, taking videos. Paul predicted everything before it happened and feigned annoyance at Will's antics. Throwing popcorn in each other's mouth, cheering each success like it was a World Series win. Will drinking all of Paul's beer before Paul got the chance, laughing his head off each and every time.

When the game concluded, Paul had one more trick up his sleeve.

They spent the next few hours in the visiting team's clubhouse, mingling with Giants personnel. Paul introduced Will to former coaches, trainers, and players. Will even watched as Paul spoke with a few reporters, all interested in the legendary Paul Narita.

They went out to dinner with a few of the guys. Will watched Paul interact with his old friends, trading stories, and bragging rights.

Will even pretended he didn't overhear several conversations about him.

Each Giant player wondered if Will was Paul's boyfriend, expressing shock when they found out he wasn't. Asking why Paul brought Will, doted on Will if he had someone else at home.

Paul never had a very convincing answer.


Will and Paul didn't get back in the car and on the road until well past midnight. Despite their early morning and long day, both were still wired.

"Tonight was so much fun," Will said as he glanced through all the pictures and videos he took throughout the day.

"It was," Paul agreed, beaming. "I mean, I know I told you I was okay with it but I was still nervous. It was like I never left, though. Nothing changed between me and the guys. They didn't care I came out. They didn't care if I wasn't playing anymore."

"But, they still cared about you," Will interjected.

"Yeah, they did," Paul nodded. "So, thank you for forcing me to do this. It was perfect."

"You're welcome," Will laughed. "I'm pretty sure I should be the one to tell you that, though. It was my idea but you paid for everything."

"We can both thank the other, then," Paul offered.

He kept glancing over at Will. Unexpectedly pleased at how relaxed and satisfied Will looked.

When Will helped himself to Paul's phone and played more Tokyo Fab, singing without a care to how he sounded or how ridiculous his dancing looked or that he wasn't singing anything close to Japanese, Paul felt more content than he had in a long time.

Chapter Text

August 10, 2018

Three days after their baseball adventure, Will and Paul met at their second suit fitting. Again, they separated into different fitting rooms.

Paul couldn't help but laugh at how the employees hovered and fussed over Will.

"Geez," Will whispered as they left. "What was with them? I could barely take a step without everyone asking me if I was alright."

"You did get stabbed in the leg a week ago here," Paul shrugged, holding the door open for Will. "They must be making up for it."

"Well, they need to stop it. It's freaking me out."

"Or maybe they're enticed by the magic that is Will Horton," Paul teased, nudging Will with his elbow.

"They did get to see me standing around in my underwear," Will commented.

"Case closed, dollface," Paul said with an atrocious Humphrey Boggart impersonation.

Will snorted, covering his face with his hand.

"Oh my god, you're awful. And it's taking everything I have not to make a private dick joke."

"I walked into that one," Paul said, stuffing his hands in his front pockets. "Anyway, where are you heading off to?"

"I'm meeting Nicole for coffee," Will told him. "I told her to meet me at our spot, the coffee house you took me too."

"You two were serious about that?" Paul asked.

He couldn't stop smiling at the idea of Will considering it their place. Without asking, he walked with Will in that direction.

"Yep," Will confirmed. "I've known her since forever and she's dating my uncle. We play nice together. Actually, she was pretty helpful when I first came out. Eric was kinda weird about it since he's so religious or whatever. But Nicole talked it through with him and he realized I'm exactly who I'm supposed to be."

"That's awesome. When I came out it wasn't really too big of a surprise to my mom or my grandpa. They didn't know exactly but they weren't blindsided by it. I was already out by the time I found out who my dad was and met all my family here."

"How did you come out? I don't think anyone ever told me."

Paul let out a loud sigh.

"It's pretty much my own fault. I was so careful when I was playing ball not to get caught or hook up with someone who'd blab. But, Salem's a small town and nothing stays a secret for long. Someone must have seen me with Sonny and leaked it to the press. Because I woke up one day with all these photographs of me kissing Sonny in the hospital on the front page of the newspaper."

"So, you got outed? It wasn't your choice?"

"I mean, in hindsight it was a good thing, but, no, I didn't get to choose when or where. It was also when the whole Brian saga started because Sonny was dating him when the pictures surfaced. So, I guess I can't complain all that much about what happened with the three of us afterward. I knew Sonny was taken and I didn't care."

Will wrinkled his nose at the tone Paul used. It was uncharacteristically ugly.

Now that Will thought about it, Paul seemed a little off the past couple of days. Will hadn't seen him in person but they sent each other a few texts. Paul's were short and to the point which Will didn't mind.

Seeing Paul in person, listening to him talk, Will got the feeling something was going on with him.

Will grabbed Paul's arm, forcing him to stop walking.

"What?" Paul asked, denying Will's touch felt electric on his bare skin.

"Are you okay?" Will wondered. "You don't seem yourself."

"Because you know me so well?" Paul scoffed, picking up his pace and walking even faster.

Will hurried to catch up.

"Maybe not too well but I'd say I know you."

Paul didn't say anything.

"I know you like green tea and drive like an old lady."

Paul's lips twitched.

"I know you'd rather the people around you are happy than if you are yourself."

Paul slowed, back to walking at a normal pace.

"I know you love your dad and my grandma and every other member of your extended family. I know you love white pizzas and seasonal beers. You know all the words to every Beatles song even if you prefer the Tokyo Fab versions. I know you work out five days a week and your favorite color is green. And the first time your grandfather took you to a baseball game you cried your team didn't win. So, he took you for ice cream, cookies 'n cream. That was the beginning of a tradition between the two of you. And-,"

"Okay, I get the point," Paul said with a reluctant smile.

"And I've only known you ten days," Will beamed. "Imagine what I'll know by the end of the month."

Paul laughed when Will wiggled his eyebrows up and down ridiculously.

"Anyway," Will said once he heard Paul laugh, "what's wrong? Is it me?"

"No," Paul replied and then hesitated. "Well, no, not really."

"That doesn't sound reassuring," Will frowned. "What did I do?"

He tried to think back over the past few days. Will did try to keep things friendly between them. He hadn't even said anything offensive.

Well, too offensive

"It's not anything you did. It's more or less what I did but you're involved so Sonny's blowing it out of proportion."

"Ah," Will nodded. "Sonny."

Now it all made sense.

"He was already pretty pissed at me over what Adrienne saw. You know the two of us in our underwear thing?"

"Oh, trust me, I'm not forgetting that anytime soon," Will said with an innocent grin.

"Anyway," Paul continued, "he knew we were going to a ballgame together. I told him you wanted to see a game and I agreed to go. But, apparently, I didn't clarify it was in St. Louis. Or that it was a Giants game. Or that I dropped a couple of grand on the venue."

"Wait, what? You paid what?"

Paul waved his hand dismissively.

"I wanted to go all out. I got a bit of a discount but I knew how much that suite would cost. It's not even a problem for me. But Sonny was acting like it was all this huge deal."

"How many thousand?"

"Huh?" Paul glanced at Will.

"How much was that space, Paul?"

"You don't need to know," Paul insisted. "And neither did Sonny. But he saw what you tagged me in on Instagram and was flipping out. It was ridiculous."

"Flipping out, how?" Will asked, giving Paul an odd look.

"He was making such a fuss about all of it. That I took you to a game. That I took you out of state. That I introduced you to my teammates. That I paid for things. Hell, that you took pictures of it. He even made a big deal about you wearing all that free stuff."

"Are you sure it wasn't because I was wearing something with your name on it?"

"Look," Paul sighed. "I know some of that stuff sounds bad but it wasn't like we had some romantic getaway or anything. We went to a baseball game. If Sonny ever gave me an indication he wanted to go, I'd take him to a game. But he never has."

"Alright," Will didn't believe that for a second. "So, say you went with someone else. I don't know, Brady, or someone. Would Sonny have cared?"

"No," Paul said, exasperated. "And I even asked him that. If it was because I did all that stuff with someone else or because it was with you."

When Paul didn't elaborate, Will figured out the answer.

He couldn't blame Sonny either. Even if it did make him a hypocrite considering Sonny's own past with Brian.

"Sonny didn't even care at first," Paul added. "I saw him the afternoon after the trip. We had a lunch date and he was going on and on about his board meeting."

"How'd that go, by the way?"

"Don't ask," Paul rolled his eyes. "It went well and he didn't even mention once that you saved him with your analysis."

Will wasn't surprised.

"He spent the majority of lunch talking about his meeting and that's fine. I'm glad it worked out for him. But, at the last minute, he asks how the game was and I was telling him the score and the stats and how much I missed it all. Then I mentioned how you like Tokyo Fab too and he didn't believe me. He said no one liked them. Implied you were only pretending so I'd like you or something stupid. So, I pulled up your Insta story from the ride back when we were singing."

Will remembered it fondly. It was the last video he took. It was near the last ten minutes of their ride and both were fading fast. They still found the energy to sing When I'm 64, though.

"And he realized we were out late and that we didn't see Salem U play. And it exploded into this giant fight and I don't even know. I mean, I understand on some level. He was jealous we were doing things together that I never got to do with him. But, he doesn't get to tell me what to do or begrudge me for having a friend.

"I gave up my entire life to stay in Salem and wait around for Sonny. And I gave up every friend I made here while Sonny threw Brian in my face every chance he got. I don't care if he's mad we spend time together. He doesn't get a say in this."

Will suddenly had a little more pep in his steps. At the same time, though, as Paul's friend, he had to play devil's advocate.

"As happy as that makes me, and it really, really does," Will said. "If Sonny did any of this stuff with Brian, you'd be pissed. Not that I think Sonny has the right to tell you what to do but, you know how it feels to be in his shoes."

"Maybe I'm glad he gets the chance to experience how it feels."

"Hell, I like it," Will admitted. "But I'm petty and vindictive. You're not."

"I let Sonny think he ruled my life and there could never be anyone but him for me. I'm not stupid, though. I know I could get whoever I wanted whenever I wanted. Sonny should've known that too. Instead, he's spent the past few years assuming I would always be there waiting for him. And I know why too."

"Why?"

"Because he's punishing me for rejecting his proposal back in San Francisco when we first dated. I hurt him then. He's been putting me through all this bullshit here in Salem because of it. And I'm done. I can hang out with whoever I want. I can go wherever I want. And I can buy whatever the hell I want."

Will really, really shouldn't find Paul's confidence sexy at a time like this.

Who could blame him?

The two slowed to a stop when the coffee shop came into view.

"Sorry about that," Paul told Will, facing him head-on. "I didn't mean to vent."

"I don't mind," Will said. "I asked what was wrong. I'm glad you felt comfortable telling me."

"Well, a lot of it was about you," Paul reminded Will. "Who better to talk about with it than you?"

"Oh," Will let out a sardonic chuckle and rubbed his left eyelid. "Literally anyone else."

"Maybe," Paul conceded with a small grin. "But I didn't want to talk to anyone but you."

Paul looked into the store while Will bowed his head, smiling like an idiot.

"Looks like Nicole's already in there," Paul admitted. "I better go, anyway. I've got a few cases to go over with my dad and Steve."

"Let me know if you need any more help," Will offered.

"I'll text you," Paul promised.

Paul started to walk away before he turned back around and pulled Will into a hug.

"Thanks again for listening," Paul said, eyes shut tight, enjoying the feel of Will in his arms. "I appreciate it."

"Oh – um – yeah, well," Will struggled to find an answer. He just clung to Paul, chin tucked over his shoulder. He teasingly sang, "I get by with a little help from my friends."

Paul let out a loud laugh, pulling away from Will.

They stared in each other's eyes, an arm's length apart. Would have continued staring if someone hadn't shoved past Will to get to the coffee shop's front door.

"Right," Will let out a nervous laugh and licked his lips. "I'll see you around."

"Yep, soon," Paul agreed.

Neither moved.

"I gotta go," Will pointed behind him at the door. "Nicole's waiting."

"Sure," Paul nodded, hands in his pockets.

"Right, well – uh – bye," Will said, finally heading inside.

Paul waited until the door closed after Will to leave.

Will found Nicole at the same table he and Paul used the other day.

Their table

"Hey," Will greeted. "Can I get you something?"

"No need," Nicole gestured to the table. There were two cups of coffee and a plate of biscotti. "I got it covered."

"Oh, great," Will sat down, helping himself. "So, what's up?"

"Not much," Nicole said, dipping her biscotti into her cup and swirling it around. "Finished a big project at work. Eric and I are thinking about buying a bigger place. Oh, and you're totally in love with Paul Narita."

Will choked, spraying bits of cookie all over the table.

Disgusted, Nicole brushed a few crumbs off her dress.

"What?" Will spat out after gulping down a swig of coffee.

"I saw everything," Nicole gestured out the large window in front of her.

She had a perfect view of passersby, including the spot where Will and Paul stood.

"The smile on your face, that hug," Nicole shook her head. "You've got it bad."

"I barely know the guy," Will argued half-heartedly.

"Oh, please," Nicole dismissed. "I saw all those posts you made yesterday. And I know you, kid. I've known you since you were in diapers. I also know what you look like in love and it's this."

Nicole waved her hand in front of Will.

"Okay, yeah, I like Paul," Will admitted, ignoring her knowing smirk. "But we're friends. In case, you didn't notice, he's got a boyfriend."

"So?" Nicole snorted. "In case you didn't notice, I wasn't just watching you. I saw how he behaved with you too. What were you even talking about, anyway?"

Will made a face, pursing his lips.

"What?" Nicole asked.

"He was telling me about a fight he had with Sonny," Will sighed. "A fight about me."

"Yes," Nicole clapped her hands together. "This is perfect."

"No, it's not," Will rolled his eyes, biting into his cookie again, chewing hard and loud.

"It is," Nicole insisted. "It means Sonny sees how Paul acts with you too. Which means he'll hold on even tighter, smothering Paul and ultimately leading to your triumph."

"Whose triumph?" a voice interrupted, Eric.

"Yeah, I heard the names Paul and Sonny. What gives?" Brady wondered.

The two men grabbed chairs and crammed themselves at their small table.

"Who invited you?" Nicole asked before giving Eric a kiss.

Will and Brady made the same face at the sight, sticking their tongues out and shivering in revulsion.

"You said this was where Will wanted to meet," Eric shrugged. "I got curious."

"Now, what were you talking about?" Brady asked.

"Nothing," Will rushed out.

At the same time, Nicole said, "Will's in love with Paul and I'm envisioning their life together."

Will glared at her and hissed, "traitor."

Eric and Brady looked at each other before nodding.

"Good," Eric declared.

"Sonny's awful to my brother," Brady declared. He looked Will over before shrugging. "You and Paul would be pretty cute together. I approve."

"Agreed," Eric added. "Paul deserves nice things and, Will, you are a gem."

Will looked around the small table quite confused at this turn of events.

"Now," Brady said, "the real problem isn't getting Paul and Sonny apart. The real problem is keeping them apart permanently."

"True," Eric agreed with a nod. "We know sooner or later they'll break up. That's when we make our move."

"We?" Will asked.

They ignored him.

"Things are already looking up," Nicole divulged. "I was spying on Paul and Will here outside just now. I could feel the sexual tension from in here."

"I was picking up vibes at Dad and Marlena's party," Brady said. "Now, to speed this whole thing up all we have to do is put Sonny in Brian's vicinity."

"Oh my god," Will covered his face with both hands. "What are we even talking about?"

They ignored him, again.

"John's bachelor party is coming up," Eric realized. "Paul's going. I'm sure Will's going."

"And we won't even have to manipulate the situation," Brady clapped Eric on the back. "Good thinking."

"Why are you doing this to me?" Will slammed his hands on the table, glaring at everyone.

"Because you're our favorite," Brady answered with a shrug. "Johnny and Allie are too small to be interesting. All Claire does is whine. And there's you who we get to see on fancy European vacations. No brainer."

"Besides," Eric added with a bit more finesse, "you and Paul have a lot of things in common. You could be a good fit. We love both of you and seeing you happy and together would be great."

"Except I'm still leaving at the end of the month," Will pointed out. "And just because I have a crush on a guy doesn't mean you all have to do whatever the hell it is you're doing."

"That's the beauty of it," Nicole lifted her coffee mug up at Will in a salute. "We don't have to do anything."

"And never say never about you leaving Salem," Eric smiled. "Salem's interesting that way. Anyone that tries to leave always comes back."

"Yeah, just like with the mob," Will replied under his breath.

Will shook his head, sitting up straight.

"Can you please just stop? Paul has made it pretty clear he loves Sonny and I'm just a friend. I don't need anyone else making a mess of this."

Will drained the rest of his coffee and stood up.

"I'm going. Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop trying to help."

Nicole waited until the door closed behind Will before saying, "so, which one of us brings in Sami?"


Will wandered through Salem with his headphones on. He didn't know what was playing. He just wanted to drown out his thoughts with something loud and full of bass.

Situations like this, a group of seemingly helpful relatives sticking their nose in his business, was one of the many reasons he stayed away from Salem for over a decade.

No one could leave well enough alone.

And even if Will did want Paul, he had no intention of becoming a typical Salem resident. He wasn't going to wait around on the sidelines, plotting and scheming.

He might tweak a few situations, smile, flirt, and spend time with Paul. But, Will drew the line at familial plotting.

What would even happen if Paul found out? He forged his own bonds with Brady and Eric. Will didn't need to jeopardize their relationships because he had the hots for Paul.

Even if Paul and Sonny broke up, there's no telling what would happen with Will. And he refused to become a part of whatever game Paul, Sonny, and Brian played.

Besides, Will's life wasn't in Salem. He had an apartment, friends, and a career. Sure, he didn't have as many family members but he had Carrie and Austin. They were more than enough.

In Zurich, Will didn't get recognized anytime he left the house. He didn't have family members or family friends breathing down his neck. Less than two weeks in Salem and Will already had the makings of a scandal.

Will was right when he told Paul before.

Salem wasn't good for Will and he wasn't good for Salem.

More proof of that slapped him on the arm and shouted his name a few times.

"Hey, Will. Will? Will!"

Will jumped almost a foot in the air when a strong hand grabbed his arm. He turned on his heel, fist raised and seconds away from punching whoever the hell scared him.

"Easy there, cowboy," Brian said around a laugh. "I called your name a few times."

"Oh, right," Will paused the music on his phone and pulled off his headphones. "Sorry."

"What are you doing here, anyway?" Brian asked.

With a frown, Will glanced around him. He didn't realize it but he walked all the way to the hospital. He also didn't notice Brian was wearing scrubs until now.

"Walking," Will shrugged. "You?"

"Break," Brian explained, holding up a cardboard drink holder with several Starbucks containers. "The coffee's shit at the hospital. I try to escape whenever I can."

"Yeah, if only," Will scoffed, grabbing one of his elbows, eyes on the ground.

"What's that mean?" Brian wondered.

"You ever feel like Salem's too small?" Will asked, gesturing to the world around him.

"More than you'd believe," Brian stated, dead serious. "Why? Are you thinking about running away? Back to wherever you said you live?"

"Zurich and I'm thinking about it," Will replied. "I've got a few more weeks left, yet."

"Right, something about a wedding," Brian recalled.

"You've got a good memory for someone inhaling jack and cokes the other night," Will said with a small smile.

"Oh, please. The Spot is infamous for cheap drinks with barely a drop of alcohol in them. But, speaking of that night, the guys and I were gonna go out again soon. Bit of a birthday celebration. You should go."

"Whose birthday?" Will asked.

"Mine, actually," Brian smiled. "It's today but I'm on call the next few days. So, we'll celebrate later on in the week."

"Happy birthday," Will responded with a nod. "And that sounds like fun. I'm in. Just let me know the details."

"Phone," Brian held out his hand.

Will handed his phone over and watched Brian put in his name and number.

Without the buzz from cheap drinks, Will was pleased to note Brian was as good looking as he remembered.

Good looking, friendly, knew how to have a good time.

Will understood why Paul worried about him.

"There," Brian gave Will his phone back. "I sent myself a text so I have your number too."

"Cool," Will slipped his phone in his back pocket. He nodded toward the hospital. "What do you even do in there?"

"Nearing the end of my residency," Brian said with faux modesty.

"What are you specializing in?"

"Neurology," Brian admitted. "Mostly vascular diseases of the brain and spine, cerebral aneurysms, carotid stenosis, stroke, transient ischemic attacks, and arteriovenous fistulas and malformations."

At Will's glazed over eyes, Brian laughed and gave him a light shove.

"I mostly assist doing angiograms and putting in stents, minimally invasive surgeries, that kind of stuff."

"Oooooh," Will said with a shake of his head. "Yeah, you didn't have to use the fancy words, dude."

"Force of habit," Brian shrugged.

"You know, I had brain surgery once," Will stated. "I was a toddler, though, so I don't remember much other than my head hurting and everyone being really angry."

"Really?" Brian asked, slipping into doctor mode. "Do you know what kind?"

"Nope, no clue," Will shrugged, slipping his hands in his front pockets. "I have a pretty gross scar, though."

Will bowed his head. While balancing the coffees in one hand, Brian dragged his hand through Will's hair, rubbing his thumb over a surprisingly thick amount of scar tissue along Will's scalp.

"What the hell did you do as a toddler?" Brian asked after Will stood up straight.

"Got thrown from a car window into a tree," Will answered.

"Ouch," Brian winced. "Looks like a craniotomy scar. They probably had to repair a skull fracture and sawed you open. You wouldn't have a scar like that nowadays, though."

"I don't really notice it," Will shrugged.

"You ever get any follow up done on it? Because I'm curious what your brain looks like now. I could-,"

Will cut Brian off with a sharp bark of laughter.

"I've had guys want me to show them parts of my body but definitely not the inside of my brain."

"All I wanna do is put a catheter up your arteries and squirt some dye in there," Brian said. With a lewd grin, he added, "of course, it goes in the artery by your groin, so…"

"Now, it all makes sense," Will teased. "Anyway, should I get you a birthday present or something?"

"No," Brian said before smirking, looking Will up and down. "Unless you wanna give me another kiss."

One look at his face and Will knew he wasn't serious.

Didn't mean Will couldn't have some fun with him, though.

"It's your birthday," Will shrugged, sliding in nice and close.

He put his hands on both of Brian's shoulders, feeling the strength underneath them. Will moved so close his nose brushed Brian's. He could feel Brian let out a shaky breath when Will whispered, "happy birthday."

Then he gave Brian a wet, noisy kiss on the apple of his cheek, cackling when he saw Brian's reaction.

"You suck," Brian half-heartedly complained.

"That's payback for you and Neil teasing me the other night," Will shrugged.

"What? This wasn't payback enough?" Brian turned his neck to the side, showing off the fading hickey Will left behind. "I gotta get back. I'll let you know what we plan."

"See ya, birthday boy," Will snuck in a quick kiss on his other cheek before watching Brian walk away with a wave.

Brian seemed nice.

It might do Will a world of good to have a friend in Salem he wasn't related to nor had any plans to sleep with.

Will turned to head to Marlena's place when he startled, jumping yet again.

"Geez," Will put his hand over his hammering heart. "A little warning, dude. Oh, but, hey, I heard your meeting thing went well. That's cool. Congrats and stuff."

Will gave Sonny an awkward smile without looking directly at Sonny. It felt like everywhere he went lately Sonny made a surprise appearance.

Despite Will's growing feelings for Paul, it wouldn't kill him to make nice with Sonny. Even though a really, really big part of him did not understand how someone as amazing as Paul and someone as interesting as Brian both wanted Sonny.

When Sonny didn't say anything to him, Will glanced at him.

It took Will a moment to realize what he was seeing.

Sonny, holding a gift-wrapped box with a bow on it, glared at Will with a thunderous expression on his face.

Will looked at the box in Sonny's hand and back over his shoulder at the hospital.

The hospital Brian worked at. Brian, whose birthday was today and whom Sonny didn't need to hand deliver a gift to.

Not when he had someone like Paul for a boyfriend.

Will crossed his arms, eyes narrowed.

"What are you doing here?" Will asked, short and clipped.

"Me?" Sonny scoffed. "What the hell are you doing here, with him?"

Sonny pointed to the spot Will and Brian stood moments before.

"That's none of your business," Will stated.

"It's none of my business?" Sonny spat. "It's completely my business. What? Going after Paul wasn't enough? Now, you have to go after Brian too."

"What are you even talking about? I wasn't even doing anything with Brian. We were talking."

"Sure, with your mouth all over him and his hand all over your head."

"Yeah, big romantic moment, Kiriakis," Will huffed with a wide smile. "We were talking about angiograms and craniotomies, not that any of our conversations are your business."

"How the hell do you even know him, huh?" Sonny asked. "And talking about brain stuff? You couldn't think of any other way to go after him?"

"I'm not going after anyone, oh my god," Will gave Sonny an exasperated look.

"Yeah, right," Sonny rolled his eyes, shifting the box in his arms. "I saw your Instagram shrine to my boyfriend."

"Oh, I'm so sorry I took pictures of me and my friend having a good time," Will mocked. "I didn't realize Paul's face was copyrighted material."

"That was what? Two, three days ago? So, what? Paul wouldn't sleep with you so now you're here working on Brian?"

"What's it to you?" Will asked, giving Sonny a wide, carefree smile with only the slightest trace of mockery. "What if I was here for Brian? Why do you care?"

Will didn't give Sonny a chance to respond.

"Last time I checked, Brian wasn't your boyfriend. So, Brian can sleep with whoever he wants and you don't get a say. Just like I can do whatever I want and your opinion means jack shit.

"And I find it oh so interesting that you've been throwing a fit over my friendship with Paul and yet here you are hand delivering a birthday present to your ex. The ex you know Paul has issues with."

"You don't know anything about Paul," Sonny said through gritted teeth.

Will laughed and rolled his eyes.

"Keep telling yourself that."

"Spending a few hours with him doesn't mean anything," Sonny sneered. "You don't know him, not the way I do. No one does and no one ever will. It doesn't matter how many times you throw yourself at him. He isn't going to leave me. Paul's never going to want anyone over me."

"You have an awfully high opinion of yourself," Will said with another wide smile. "Now, did you think Paul was pinning after you when he was playing baseball and having wild one night stands? Because from what he told me, that doesn't seem like the case."

Sonny took a deep breath, exhaling loudly.

"Stay away from Paul and Brian."

"Why?" Will asked, staring right at Sonny. "Am I not allowed around the men you know? I mean, I saw Brady about an hour ago. I guess I better stay away from him too, right? Or it's only men you're afraid want to sleep with me instead of you?"

"Sounds like it's the other way around," Sonny stated, lips pursed.

"Really?" Will lifted one shoulder, looking as demure and sweet as he could. "When you give Brian that present, why don't you ask who gave him that hickey on his neck?"

Will grinned when Sonny's face turned red, a vein in his forehead bulging.

But, like before, Will wouldn't let him say anything.

"Oh, and for your information, Brian invited me out to celebrate his birthday. After he ran over to talk to me when I walked by the hospital. Just like when Paul walked me to my coffee date with Nicole earlier. See, I'm not doing any of the chasing. I just have to be in their vicinity and they flock to me.

"And so you know, if I was going after Paul, or Brian for that matter, you'd know it. Believe it or not, Paul and I are friends. Hell, Brian seems like a fun guy to have around. Maybe we'll become friends too. Because as crazy as it sounds, I like being around them and they like being around me."

Will turned to walk the other way before he spun on his heel and flared his nostrils.

"One more thing," Will glared at Sonny. "Paul's a good person. He's funny and generous and he cares a lot. And for some reason, he wants you. But there's only so much he can take before you push too far and lose him for good.

"So, maybe you could try not to be a giant bag of dicks to him this time around, huh?"

Will shoved his earbuds back in his ears and set off, ignoring whatever nonsense Sonny was yelling behind him.

Chapter Text

August 10, 2018

After his run-in with Sonny, Will marched all the way back to the penthouse, filled to the brim with emotions.

Will walked into the penthouse, tossed his key down, and faceplanted on the couch next to Marlena.

Marlena put down her book, looking at Will with alarm sprinkled with fond amusement.

Will, face in a couch cushion, let out a loud, muffled scream.

"What's wrong, sweetheart?" Marlena asked, rubbing up and down Will's back.

Will flipped over; twisting and turning so he could put his head in Marlena's lap.

Without him needing to ask, Marlena ran her fingers in his hair, scratching his scalp.

"I hate Salem," Will complained with his lower lip sticking out.

He saw the Giants pillow pet he brought home the other day on the couch and squeezed it hard to his chest.

"Why?" Marlena asked, smiling.

"Too many people," Will grunted.

John, engrossed in his IPad, walked into the room and paused when he saw Will and Marlena. He waited out of sight to give them their privacy.

"Too many people?" Marlena repeated. "Or too much of one person?"

"Both," Will answered, closing his eyes. "I can't do anything here without someone breathing down my neck, questioning me."

"What do you mean?"

"I'm here for you and Grandpa. I want to see you get married and be here and spend time with you. I love you both and there's nothing I wouldn't do to finally see you get married. But everyone else is driving me crazy. Our family won't leave me alone and Paul is messing with my head and I hate Sonny, Grandma. I hate him."

John lifted one brow, paying closer attention.

"What happened?" Marlena asked, stroking through Will's hair.

She knew Will. The best thing for him at times like this was to listen and let him know she cared.

"I can't help the way I feel about Paul," Will whispered.

It caused John to take a step closer to hear.

"He's, you know, everything anyone would ever want. He's wasted on Sonny. I don't even know if Paul realizes the things he does around me. He was telling me about this giant fight he had with Sonny, about me. About our baseball trip and I get it. If I was Sonny I'd freak out too. But Paul wasn't trying to impress me or seduce me or whatever Sonny thinks. I told Paul I wanted to experience baseball with him and Paul delivered.

"And then Paul said how he told Sonny he wasn't gonna stop seeing me. He told me he liked that Sonny understood how he finally felt about Brian. And I don't know what to do with that. I don't know what to do about any of this. Then I made the mistake of talking to Nicole and she told Eric and Brady. And Mom and EJ know how I feel. I'm sure it's only a matter of time before they all get together and plot to ruin my life."

Marlena smiled, scratching Will's scalp and listening to him rant.

"And I ran into that Brian guy and we were talking and laughing. He seems nice. He invited me to hang out with him and his friends again. And today's his birthday and we were joking around and Sonny saw us. Which led to this big confrontation and I don't know if I should tell Paul or not."

"Tell Paul what? That you and Sonny fought?"

"No," Will looked up at Marlena. "Sonny was bringing Brian a birthday present."

Marlena winced while John frowned.

"I don't want Paul to think I'm telling him to break him and Sonny up. Because I'm not. Or I don't think I am. But, if I don't tell Paul that's just as bad. And what if Sonny's going to tell him? I mean, I told him he needed to treat Paul right. Maybe I got through to him?"

Will scrambled to sit up. He looked at Marlena with wide, trusting eyes.

"Grandma, what should I do?"

"I think you should tell-," Marlena started to say.

"Not tell Paul," John interrupted.

He walked over to officially join them, sitting on Will's other side.

"I know my son, kid," John said, hand on Will's shoulder. "I know all about his history with Sonny. And Paul's happy, now. He's waited a long time for this new opportunity with Sonny. We need to let them work things out for themselves."

Marlena flashed him a stern look and a frown marred her pretty face.

"So, leave it alone?" Will asked.

"Right," John nodded. "They don't need any outside forces barreling down on them. But, trust me, Paul's happy and in love. He and Sonny will work through their problems. So, don't worry about this."

"Okay," Will let out a deep sigh. "Right, okay."

Will stood up and put his pillow pet back on the couch.

"I'm gonna relax some before I meet Dad for dinner," Will said. He flashed a half smile at John and Marlena. "Thanks for listening and helping."

"Anytime, kid," John answered.

Marlena smiled until Will left the room. Then she rounded on John and smacked his arm.

"What was that for?" John asked, rubbing his aching bicep.

"Why did you tell him that?" Marlena demanded. "Paul needs to know the truth."

"Well, he doesn't need to hear it from Will."

At Marlena's affronted expression, he quickly added, "you know I love Will. I'd do anything for him. But Paul is happy. He's got Sonny back. They're settling in together."

"Is he happy?" Marlena asked. "Because I've seen him with Will and Paul's never smiled as large or laughed as deep with anyone else."

Marlena stood up, grabbing Will's pillow pet.

"So, maybe you should take a better look before you try to convince Will to do something stupid."

John grunted when the pillow pet hit him in the face.


Will met his dad around seven o'clock at a sports-themed diner Will had never been to before. While cozy, the place seemed nice. Several giant TVs every few feet with different sports teams on each screen. Plus, plenty of cheap drinks and greasy food.

"Hey," Will greeted, slipping into a booth across from Lucas. "I'm not late, am I?"

"No, no, definitely not," Lucas said. He wrapped his hands around a glass of Dr. Pepper and smiled at Will.

"Cheryl and Allie in the bathroom or something?" Will asked, glancing at a happy hour menu.

"No, the girls stayed home. Cheryl wanted to give us time to ourselves."

"Nice of her but she could have come. I love spending time with both of them."

He meant it too. For once in his life, Will actually liked and approved of his parents' partners. The majority of his life, Will wanted his parents together. He did whatever his little child and preteen mind could scheme up to make it happen. For so long, he never understood why they didn't work. They loved each other and they loved Will. So, why couldn't they all be happy together?

Now that he's older, Will got it a little bit better. His mother was all blunt edges, hiding all her vulnerable parts behind sharp smiles. She was cutthroat, obstinate, and needed someone to compliment her hard exterior. Whereas his father was strong but kindhearted and wore his heart on his sleeve. He needed someone softer, someone who enjoyed the simpler things in life.

A part of Will would always want his parents together. He'd always cherish those few happy years they had. But, a part of Will also suspected his parents' lives would have been easier without Will in them. Something he confirmed as true since Sami and Lucas seemed to blossom as soon as Will moved to Zurich.

Still, Will loved Cheryl. She was sweet but stubborn in all the right ways. She'd text him photos from her and Lucas' lives in Salem. They'd recommend books or movies for the other. Cheryl was even the first person to hug Will after he graduated from university, beating out his parents and Carrie and Austin. Hell, Will suspected she cried more than his parents did that day too.

And EJ, well, no one could ever confuse EJ for a good person. But, for the most part, they worked through their differences. Will no longer felt a searing anger in his belly every time he saw EJ. After a few confusing teenage years, he no longer felt a strange fluttering in his chest every time he saw EJ either. He was a good parent to Johnny and even Allie. A surprisingly decent husband, so far, to Sami. Will loved him. In so much as a person can love the step-father they once tried to kill and had a disturbing number of wet dreams over.

Will was happy for his parents and their respective partner.

It was a new feeling, a good feeling.

Will quite liked it.

"Well," Lucas grinned at Will, "Cheryl loves you too, bud. But, you've been so busy since you got here. We haven't had much father-son time."

"Are you okay with it being here?" Will asked, eyeing a large tray of alcoholic drinks float past their table.

"Yep," Lucas nodded. He gestured to his bubbling soda. "I am all set. So, what have you been getting up to?"

Will gave his father an abridged version of his time in Salem. As easy as things were in their relationship now, Will didn't want to bring up his newfound feelings for Paul.

"Spending time with everyone," Will divulged, "especially Grandma. Well, Marlena, that is. I haven't spent much time with Grandma Kate."

"Don't blame you there," Lucas said under his breath.

Will rolled his eyes, causing Lucas to laugh.

"I've worked a little bit here and there, you know. Met some guys at a club. I'm gonna hang out with them again soon. So, that'll be fun."

"And Paul?" Lucas asked with a sly look.

A little too sly.

"What about him?" Will countered, already on edge.

"You tell me," Lucas shrugged. "Sami mentioned something about the two of you hanging out together."

"Oh, yeah," Will let out a breath he didn't know he was holding. "Grandma asked him to show me around Salem. Give me a feel for the place again. He's really cool."

"Cool, huh?" Lucas gave Will a knowing look.

"…yes," Will said, looking at Lucas out of the corner of his eye. "Why?"

"Nothing," Lucas said. "I mean, he did some modeling for the company a while back. Just a few charity events but he's a decent looking guy. Pretty nice, too. And you're obviously young and attractive."

"And?"

"And nothing," Lucas replied with a smile. "Pointing out facts."

"Yeah, I bet you are," Will responded. "Did Mom put you up to this?"

"No," Lucas said a little too fast. "I'm your father. I'm curious about these things."

"Uh-huh, sure. Can we talk about something else now?"

"If you want," Lucas smiled.

"Yeah, I want," Will said before clearing his throat. "Tell me about that new project for work."


Will and Lucas stayed out until well past eleven o'clock. Talking, stuffing their faces with pizza and wings, and laughing.

Will made it to the penthouse and wished Marlena and John a goodnight. He took out his contacts and was ready to strip down and bathe when his phone distracted him. A near constant buzzing overwhelmed his phone as he received text after text.

One from almost every friend he had back in Zurich. All with a variation of the same message: a lot of laughing emojis, a quip about him being famous, and a link.

With a growing sense of unease, Will opened a Buzzfeed post. A post dedicated to his baseball trip with Paul. All the pictures and videos Will posted served as evidence of "Paul Narita's sexy new boyfriend".

At least they didn't drop Will's name.

For the most part, the post was complimentary. The author spent the whole time squealing over how adorable they were. How comfortable they looked together. How sweet it was Paul rented an entire suite for them and introduced him to his former team.

It was a shame it wasn't true.

Against his better judgment, Will read the comments.

Some were predictable. People complaining about them being two males or biracial. People praising Paul for coming out and showing back up on the scene with a man on his arm. People complaining Paul disappeared from the showbiz world. That he wasn't doing more to promote acceptance and tolerance in sports.

Some were downright filthy, causing Will to blush or overheat from their wild imaginations.

After responding to his friends, assuring them he wouldn't date anyone famous without telling them, Will called Paul.

He could have texted or waited until morning. After reading the post, though, Will wanted to hear Paul's voice.

It made his life only half as pathetic he kept looking at the post over and over, wishing it was true.

Also, Will didn't think Paul would answer.

He was wrong.

"Hey," Paul answered after only two rings. "It's late. Are you okay?"

"Hey," Will replied, sitting on the edge of his bed. "Oh, yeah, I'm fine. Just had a question for you. Wait, I didn't wake you up or anything did I?"

"No," Paul said.

Will could hear the smile in his voice.

"I couldn't sleep," Paul added. "It's kind of embarrassing, actually."

"Why?" Will wondered.

"I've been watching K-Pop videos for hours," Paul admitted. He continued over Will's laughter. "I watched one on YouTube which led to another which led to another. And here I am."

"Don't tell my sister," Will warned. "She's obsessed with that BTS group."

When Paul didn't say anything for a long moment, Will laughed again.

"You were so watching them, weren't you?"

"Maybe," Paul said after a loud sigh. When Will wouldn't stop laughing, he cleared his throat. "You had something to ask me, I believe?"

"Right," Will let out another few chuckles before sobering up. "Well, I have two questions. First, do you ever go on Buzzfeed?"

"I try not to, why?"

Will ignored him.

"Second, do you still have a publicist?"

"…No, why?"

"You might wanna look into one," Will said.

"Again, why?"

"Well," Will took a deep breath. "There's a post about you. Well, about us, really."

"A post?"

"It seems like the type of thing a publicist would be needed for to clarify things."

"Clarify things?"

"Are you gonna repeat everything I say?"

"Will," Paul complained.

"It's all the pictures and videos I took from the baseball trip," Will divulged. "And I guess most people assumed we were not just friends."

"So, they thought we were a couple?"

"Essentially, yes," Will sighed. He flopped backward on his bed and pulled his glasses off. "Are you mad?"

"No, of course, not," Paul said. "It's not your fault."

"It kind of is," Will pointed out.

"You were playing around," Paul dismissed.

He got up from his bed and wandered to his desk and laptop. It felt narcissistic to google his own name but Paul wanted to see everything for himself.

While they were at the game, Paul didn't look at anything Will took. And despite his initial complaints, he thought it was cute Will documented everything.

He looked at everything when he got home, though. Watched all the Instagram stories. Liked all their pictures together. He was even working up his courage to ask Will to forward copies of them all so he could keep them.

But, looking at the pictures and videos spread out, Paul understood why they assumed he and Will were a couple.

No one was there to see why Will was wearing a jersey with his name and number on it. No one understood the two of them singing Why Don't We Do It in the Road was for laughs and not a suggestion.

No one knew Paul went all out, introducing him to teammates and coaches because he knew Will would appreciate it. Because Will cared that Paul left baseball behind and never looked back. Because Will reminded Paul there was more to baseball than being a star.

Of course, people wouldn't understand all that and believe he and Will were just friends. And they were.

Just friends

No matter what Paul felt.

Only friends

Looking at a picture of himself with an arm around Will's neck, gazing at him with stars in his eyes didn't make that too convincing, though.

He also better understood why Sonny flipped out over the pictures. And he dreaded seeing Sonny's reaction to this if he found out.

"Maybe a publicist isn't too bad of an idea," Paul told Will.

"It would clear up some of the confusion over us," Will agreed. "Or make it worse."

"True," Paul replied with a frown. "Sort of a damned if I do, damned if I don't, though. I don't care if everyone thinks we're a couple but Sonny'll flip. But if I say we're just friends then people will still speculate and everyone will wonder who I am dating. Then they'll wonder if I'm dating Sonny why was I with you. I don't know."

"Yeah, about Sonny," Will bit his lower lip.

He knew John told him not to tell Paul about the present. A part of Will understood why. He'd already made a mess of things for Sonny and Paul. In all likelihood, he'd make more of a mess before his trip was up too.

Will wasn't sure if he wanted to tell Paul what he saw because it was the right thing to do. Or if he wanted to do it because it would cause a lot of drama for Paul and Sonny.

Until he figured that out, he probably shouldn't say anything.

"Hmm?" Paul asked around a yawn.

"I saw him earlier," Will said, revealing a half-truth. "And I don't think he'll appreciate seeing this at all. And I don't blame him. If you were my boyfriend I would want everyone to know."

Will covered his eyes with his palm.

"You know what I mean," Will added, clearing his throat.

"Yeah," Paul whispered. "I do."

If Will was his boyfriend, he'd want –

No

No, just friends.

They're just friends.

Friends

"Thanks for giving me a heads up," Paul said. "But I need to go to bed. Do some thinking about how to handle this."

"Yeah, sure," Will replied. "Goodnight, Paul."

"Night, Will."

They both went to bed that night with the other on their mind.

Chapter Text

August 13, 2018

Three days later, Will sat across from Carrie and Austin at the Brady Pub. He listlessly poked at a pile of French toast, elbow on the table.

"Oh, no," Carrie put her cutlery down and sighed. "I knew this was going to happen."

Will spent the first half of breakfast denying anything was wrong. But Carrie and Austin knew him too well.

They wore him down and it all came spilling out.

His ever-growing feelings for Paul. His struggles with Salem and his overbearing family. The likelihood of him doing something stupid the longer he stayed.

"I will kick his ass," Austin threatened, hands already clenched into fists.

Will rolled his eyes.

"This is why I didn't want to tell you. You both overreact."

"Overreact?" Carrie asked. "Look at you! You're all slumpy and sad and this is why I didn't want you to come. Salem is not good for you."

"That's it," Austin pushed his plate away and motioned to stand up. "We're all going back home. This trip is canceled."

Will threw his head back against the booth, covering his face with his hands.

"You'll move back to your old room. You can work for me. I'll keep you safe and you'll never leave my sight again and you will date when you turn 30 as per our agreement when you came out."

"I didn't agree to that," came Will's muffled response.

"Austin," Carrie grabbed his arm and pulled him back into his seat.

"See, this is what happens when we leave him alone," Austin looked at Carrie. "Not even two weeks in Salem and anarchy. And technically, young man, you are still grounded."

Will uncovered his face and gave Austin a petulant look.

"How could I possibly be grounded? I'm in my twenties."

"For that stunt you pulled when you were a teenager," Austin pointed his index finger in Will's face. "With that dumbass you were dating and your camera happy ass."

"That was almost seven years ago! When are you going to it let it go?"

"I will never unsee it," Austin pointed to his eyes. "My sweet innocent baby defiled for all the world to see."

"It was one guy," Will argued.

"Sweet, innocent?" Carrie mouthed to herself.

"I told you, you were grounded for ten years. You've got three more years on your sentence. No boys. No parties. No Salem. Pack it up. We're going home."

"Would you do something about him?" Will asked Carrie.

"Baby," Carrie put her hand on Austin's thigh, "remember what we agreed? We'd check on Will and you'd not turn into a raving lunatic?"

"He shouldn't have brought up the pictures!"

"You brought them up," Will argued, exasperated.

"No, you're unhappy. I promised you when we moved to Zurich that would never happen again, especially here."

"I didn't say I was unhappy," Will sighed. "I said I was overwhelmed."

"Because of a guy," Austin insisted. "One who obviously doesn't deserve you if this is how he's treating you."

"He isn't doing anything to me," Will argued. "I'm the problem, me. It's not his fault he wants someone else. I'll get over it. I'll get over him. Then everyone will stay out of my business and I will spend time with Grandma and make sure she has the happiest wedding of her life, dammit."

"Thank you," Austin leaned back in his seat with a self-satisfied smirk. "My work here is done."

Will stared at him with a blank face while Carrie tried to hide her amusement.

"And watch that language," Austin teased, taking a sip of coffee. "I didn't raise my boy to be a heathen."

"You're an asshole," Will said, kicking under the table at Austin's legs.

"Oh, that's what I get for knocking some sense into you?"

Austin kicked Will back before holding up both hands.

"I know I didn't raise you to use your legs in a fight either."

Will couldn't hold in a smile as he punched Austin's palms, alternating between jabs and crosses.

When Will least expected it, Austin reached out and grabbed his wrist, pulling him across the table in a mock wrestling match.

Half the Pub's occupants watched as Will and Austin bumped the table, sending silverware crashing to the floor.

Carrie covered half her face with her hand, pretending she didn't know them.

"At the table, really?" Carrie hissed at them. "I thought you two stopped this when Will turned twenty."

Will evaded Austin's hold and leaned back in his seat, face flushed with happiness.

"Really?" Carrie glared at Austin.

"What?" he asked with a perfectly innocent expression. "Look how much better he looks now."

Carrie was reluctant to admit Austin was right.

"Are you sure you'll be okay?" Carrie asked Will.

"Yeah, I'll survive," Will said. "Things don't seem as bad when I talk to you two."

"Which is why you should have come to us to begin with," Austin pointed his fork at Will. "And I follow you on Instagram. I saw all those pictures. You're lucky I waited this long to talk to you about them."

"I haven't seen you around," Will shrugged. "And I didn't want to bother you."

"You are never a bother," Carrie said, reaching across the table to squeeze Will's hand. "But, you should have talked to us about all this, first. What do we even know about Paul except he's John's son? We barely even met him. Now, if I could just-,"

"No background checks," Will pulled his hand away.

"That was one boyfriend," Carrie responded. When Will raised an eyebrow and stared, she sighed. "Okay, fine, all of them. But it's for my own peace of mind."

"I can't punch him but she gets to do background checks?" Austin huffed. "That's not fair."

"No one is doing anything," Will stressed. "Can we please change the subject?"

"Fine," Carrie agreed. "What are you up to today?"

"I'm gonna pick Johnny and Allie up from school," Will replied. "Then tonight I'm going to a birthday party."

"For who?" Austin wondered.

"Brian, he's a guy I met," Will explained. "He's celebrating with his friends tonight and asked if I'd go. So, why not?"

"You keep your pants on, buddy," Austin pointed at Will with his fork again.

"Austin," Carrie scolded. She looked at Will and said, "you have fun but make sure you're safe."

"I will," Will agreed. "What about you two? What are you doing?"

"We're having dinner with your mom and EJ," Carrie explained.

Austin grunted.

"He's not that bad," Will told his uncle. "If I can get along with EJ now, you can."

"I was not swayed by glamorous summer vacations and extravagant gifts," Austin gave Will a sharp look.

Will rolled his eyes, stuffing a giant forkful of French toast in his mouth.

"He didn't buy my love," Will said with his mouth full. "We bonded on those trips. Talked things over and found a middle ground. And I earned that trip to Euro-Disney thank you very much."

"Well, good for you," Austin replied. "Doesn't mean I have to like the guy."

"But it does mean you have to be civil," Carrie reminded him. "If Sami and EJ can try for us, we can try for them."

"Please, Austin?" Will asked, pulling out his best puppy dog eyes. "I don't like it when you two fight. It makes me so, so sad."

"That doesn't work on me anymore, kid," Austin laughed. "You are not as cute as you used to be."

"Yeah, I am," Will sat up straighter. "And I can so get you to do what I want still."

"Nu-uh, buddy," Austin denied. "I am a wall of steel."

"Wait and see," Will teased. "Before this trip is over, you're gonna be eating those words."

He finished up his food and chugged the last of his coffee.

"I'm gonna head out, now. I wanna see if I can catch Dad, Cheryl, and Grandma Kate at work."

"Fun group," Carrie quipped. "Have a good time tonight and be safe."

"And keep your posts tonight Austin-friendly, please," Austin interjected.

"Sure thing," Will said.

He slipped out of the booth, pushed Austin out of his way, and gave Carrie a kiss on the cheek. He even stayed still to let Austin kiss him on the forehead.

"Love you both. Try not to kill Mom or EJ, please."

"I make no promises," Austin mumbled, grunting when Carrie elbowed him in the side.

Once Will left, Austin told Carrie, "I need to find a gym."

"Why?"

"If I can't punch Paul or EJ, then I need access to a weight bag."


After breakfast, Will had a busy day. He spent a few hours with his father, Cheryl, and Kate. Their work wasn't particularly interesting to Will, but he enjoyed them enough to make up for it.

After, he picked up Allie and Johnny from their first day of school. Will bought them ice cream cones and they walked through the park. He let them ramble about their new teacher, the friends they saw, what they ate for lunch. Anything and everything they wanted to tell him.

Will missed the majority of their childhood. He'd see them during breaks from school and summer. But it wasn't quite the same. Calls, texts, and Facetime were great but not always enough. Not when they'd never lived together, never even lived in the same country for longer than a month.

There was, of course, the matter of him shooting Johnny's father before he moved to Switzerland. But EJ didn't begrudge him anymore, so maybe that was a nonfactor.

Either way, Will appreciated his time with the twins. Tried to cram in as much time with them whenever he could.

Somedays he wished he could see them more often, wished he was closer to them. But he would have to move to Salem for it to work.

That wasn't something he was willing to think about.

After helping with first-day homework and eating dinner, Will came back to John and Marlena's to get ready for his night out.

Will showered and shaved. Spent longer on his hair than he normally would. Spritzed his best cologne and wore his tightest jeans.

Growing feelings for Paul or not, Will was gonna dance without a care, flirt with boys, get free drinks, and look damn fine doing it too.

First, he had a birthday present to buy.


"Hello, all," Will greeted, walking up to the group of nicely dressed men he met several days ago.

Several voices echoed his greeting, Neil, Mateo, Tyler, Kareem, Dustin, and Brian.

"Hey," Neil nodded back, looking Will up and down.

"Can we go in now?" Dustin whined. "It's too damn hot out here."

"Yeah, sure," Brian agreed. "My coworkers can meet us inside."

"Wait," Will held everyone up. "Pictures first."

They spent the next several minutes posing and playing around in front of each phone.

After going inside and snagging a table, Will handed a small, slightly smooshed package over to Brian.

"Here you go, handsome, happy birthday."

Brian quirked a brow at Will but opened his gift with aplomb.

He let out a sharp laugh causing the rest of the group to look over at him, anxious to see what he got.

"I'm not wearing this," Brian told Will with a perplexed expression.

"Oh, yes, you are," Will argued.

He crawled over Neil and Mateo, sitting on the tabletop, forcing Brian into his gift.

"Yay," Will beamed, phone out and recording his work.

Brian, face blank, blinked at Will's phone wearing a bright rainbow-colored sash with the words HOT AND GAY AF.

"Oh my god," Tyler laughed. "This is the greatest thing I've ever seen."

"Laugh it up," Brian huffed. "I'm not wearing this."

"You so are," Will insisted. He grabbed Brian's wrist and yanked, forcing him to crawl over the table top with him. "Now, let's go get some shots."

Brian headed for the bar while Will headed for the dance floor.

"Dumb-dumb, the bar's that way," Brian indicated with his head.

"Oh, sweetheart," Will patted Brian on the face as condescending as possible. "I haven't paid for a drink in, well, I've never bought one. Come on."

Will pulled Brian along, hips twisting and body swaying.

They didn't even make it through a whole song before Will and Brian were throwing back free shots of tequila.


A little over an hour later, Will lost his shirt, downed two tequila sunrises, and surrounded himself with Brian's female coworkers on the dance floor.

Between one song and the next, one of the women yelled out, "body shots!" and Will found himself taking a shot of tequila, licking a line of salt out of the ample cleavage of one lovely doctor, and sucking a lime out of her mouth.

"That's the closest I've ever come to kissing a woman," Will informed her after popping the lime out of his mouth.

"Aw, your first straight kiss," she cooed.

Brian and Tyler sidled up to Will with a shot in each hand.

"What do you say, Horton?" Brian asked with a grin.

Which was how Will ended up flat on a tabletop with a lime in his mouth and Tyler licking the dip of his collarbone.

Lime juice slipped over Will's lips and down his neck when Tyler bit down and sucked the lime out of his mouth.

"Nice," Brian commented.

"Your turn birthday, boy," Tyler said, slapping Brian on the side of the thigh.

"Wait a sec," Will said, lifting his hips off the table and pulling out his phone. "Stupid thing was digging into my ass."

"I would have pegged you for liking that type of thing," Brian remarked causing Will to roll his eyes.

"Plastic's nice but I prefer the real thing," Will replied, leaning back.

Tyler laid out another line of salt on Will's skin, picking up Will's phone.

This was the type of moment Instagram live was meant for.

"You're switching spots with me after this," Will told Brian before popping another lime in his mouth.

Brian, face flushed from alcohol, hair mused and sweaty, still wearing his ridiculous birthday sash, looked Will up and down. Looked at his glistening skin, the trail marks of lime juice down his neck. Instead of leaning over Will like Tyler did, Brian climbed on the table, straddling Will's hips. Brian held Will's gaze and bent his head, dragging his tongue up Will's sternum. He felt Will's heart pounding in time with the music from the club. Felt his hips struggling to stay still.

Brian sat up, threw back his tequila, and bent over Will's mouth making as big of a mess of the lime as he could.

Then he hopped off Will and the table with the biggest smirk Will had ever seen.

"I hate you," Will told him, sitting up.

"No, you don't," Brian replied, unbuttoning his shirt.

"Oooh, you're right," Will knocked Brian's hands out of the way. "I don't hate you."

As soon as every button was undone, Will made a large production of shoving the shirt open, hands wandering any which way he pleased.

Brian leaned back against the tabletop, smile on his face while Will sprinkled a line of salt near his lower belly.

Will dropped to his knees, nuzzling Brian's exposed hipbones before slurping up all the salt. He slammed down his tequila, rose to his feet, and grabbed the back of Brian's head, smashing their mouths together.

Will sucked the lime into his mouth and quickly spat it out, holding Brian's neck in place and chasing the taste of tequila from his mouth.

"Happy birthday to Brian," Tyler said in an unnaturally loud voice. All the women around them catcalling and cheering.

Will broke the kiss to look over his shoulder at him.

Will's own phone was pointed in his direction.

"Really?" Will complained, snatching his phone away from a laughing Tyler. He glanced at what Tyler was doing and shrugged. "Sorry, Austin. Hope you didn't see that."

"Come on," Brian ordered. "Let's go get some more free drinks."

Will grabbed Brian's rainbow sash and pulled him away.


Paul flipped through the guide on his TV, trying to find something he and Sonny could both enjoy. So, far they hadn't found much.

Eventually, Paul settled on The Goldberg's reruns.

Paul spent the majority of the day filing paperwork. His least favorite part of his job and something his dad and Steve always pushed onto him. But someone had to do it.

After work, Sonny came over for dinner. Things were still tense between them, doubly so since the Buzzfeed article.

Paul went ahead and gave his old publicist a call. She sent out a small blurb insisting Paul and the man with him were friends. That Paul was happily taken by someone else.

Paul didn't bother checking the website again to see any new comments. He didn't want to know what they thought.

Sonny, as Paul predicted, was not appeased. And Paul didn't blame him but he didn't know what to do to fix things.

For so long, all Paul wanted was Sonny. When he injured his arm, he was terrified. He picked the smallest town he could think of to perform the surgery so he could recover without the possibility of the media finding him. He didn't just find peace of mind. He found Sonny too.

Sonny who Paul thought about almost daily since he left him in San Francisco. Paul thought it was a sign from God. Recovering in a hospital and Sonny Kiriakis, the one that got away, appeared.

But he wasn't there for Paul. He was there for Brian.

Brian, the stupidly handsome, confident, successful intern at the hospital Paul was admitted to. Brian, Sonny's long-time boyfriend, who did not take kindly to Paul kissing Sonny when he saw him. Brian, who didn't want Sonny and Paul near each other.

But, as an intern, Brian was busy. He'd spent upwards of 100 hours a week at the hospital. He'd ignore Sonny's calls, texts, and go days without seeing him.

Sonny turned to Paul. Out of loneliness, unresolved emotions, Paul didn't know and Paul didn't care. He had Sonny where he wanted him and he wasn't going to let go.

But, starting a relationship the way they did, with Sonny leaving Brian without so much as a warning, left too much unsaid and was too unstable to last.

The next few years, Paul spent in limbo. Desperate for even a scrap of Sonny's attention, resenting Brian, confidence in himself and Sonny waning.

Finally, after so much false hope and faulty beginnings, Sonny and Brian were over. Sonny said it was for good this time. That he couldn't handle Brian's career taking precedence. That he couldn't deal with Brian's flirtatious nature, his desire to go out with his friends whenever he could. How Brian didn't deal well with Sonny's overbearing mother and the nature of the Kiriakis family business.

This time around Paul waited a few weeks before jumping into anything. Then his dad told him about the party he was throwing. Said it was a special night for Marlena. He was giving her the surprise of a lifetime and Paul wanted nothing more than to have Sonny by his side.

Only Marlena's surprise of a lifetime ended up shocking Paul just as much. Because Will was a burst of sunlight, blinding and bright and warming Paul inside and out. With his wide smile and his contagious laugh and his ability to say all the wrong things at the right time. To tell Paul such unabashed truths, things that settled on Paul's skin, tattooed him for all the world to see.

Where Paul felt every part of himself he'd lost since coming to Salem rise up inside him. Where one glance into Will's eyes made Paul fill with confidence.

And he knew he shouldn't. Will shouldn't mean anything to him. He shouldn't think about him or consider him, not when Paul had Sonny.

It'd been three days since Paul saw Will and it felt like a punch to the gut. Paul could feel it in his chest, a Will-shaped ache that texts no longer filled.

Will shouldn't mean anything to Paul. Paul should know, first hand, how dangerous of a game he was playing. He should never want to put Sonny in the same position Sonny put him in over and over.

Maybe Paul was bitter and petty, despite what Will said. Maybe the only reason he couldn't let this go was that he wanted to hurt Sonny the way he'd hurt Paul. But it didn't feel that way. Being around Will didn't hurt. It wasn't awkward or uncomfortable the way being around Sonny felt recently.

Since Paul met Will.

Life was less complicated before Paul met Will.

Maybe life would go back to the way it was once Will left.

If Will went back.

Paul needed to stop thinking about Will, especially when he was with Sonny.

He loved Sonny. He had for years. He hadn't stopped before and he wouldn't stop now.

Whatever he felt for Will would pass.

Maybe

Eventually

Paul sighed, throwing his arm around the back of the couch and Sonny's neck.

Sonny chuckled at the TV, moving in closer to Paul.

Paul smiled at him before grabbing his phone. He planned to play a new game he downloaded when he saw a notification for a live Instagram feed, a few minutes old.

Will

Paul tapped on the link automatically. He'd seen some photos Will posted the past few days. Allie and Johnny's ice cream covered faces. Will's face crammed next to Sami's, the two looking more alike than Paul ever realized. Lucas' exasperated face while Will laughed at him.

Paul expected something cute, something with Will's family.

Instead, he saw Will mauling Brian's mouth, deafening bass in the background, a large crowd of women egging Will and Brian on.

The video ended with Will glancing over his bare shoulder, lips wet and swollen, skin flushed. He mumbled something and reached toward the camera. The point of view wobbled, settling on Brian's smug face before cutting off.

"Was that Brian?" Sonny asked, turning on his knees and grabbing Paul's phone.

Paul didn't try to pull the phone away. He was too stunned, disgusted, hurt, terrified, turned on, too much of everything and nothing at all.

It took a few moments, but Paul snatched his phone back.

"I gotta make a call," Paul mumbled, jumping over the back of the couch.

"Now?" Sonny asked. "What was in the video?"

"Nothing," Paul answered, distracted. "Something on Instagram."

"Fine," Sonny rolled his eyes. He waited for Paul to walk into his bedroom before saying, "I'll just look myself."

Paul paced back and forth while he dialed Will's number.

He didn't know what he was doing, why he was calling.

Paul should feel relieved. If Brian was distracted by Will, he would leave Sonny alone. But if Brian was distracted, Will would be too.

That seemed deplorable to Paul. No matter how hypocritical it was.

"Pick up, pick up," Paul mumbled, turning to pace to the other side of his bed. "Come on."

"Hello?" Will answered, voice slurred and echoed.

The music wasn't as loud where Will was.

"Are you in a bathroom?" Paul asked, distracted.

"Yeah," Will laughed. "What's up?"

"I – uh – what are you doing?" Paul asked.

He didn't even know what he was doing or why he called. He didn't know what to do now.

"I'm in a bathroom. What do you think I'm doing?" Will asked. "Or was doing, I'm washing my hands now."

Paul heard a spray of water.

"Are you at a club?" Paul wondered, already knowing the answer.

"Yep," Will replied. "Best birthday party ever."

Will let out a loud laugh followed by an undignified snort.

"How much have you had to drink?"

"So many," Will answered a little too loudly.

"I can hear that," Paul replied under his breath.

"You know what would make this party even better?" Will asked, voice high and still too loud.

"What?" Paul rubbed his forehead.

"If you were here," Will said. "Everything's better when you're around. And I haven't seen you in so many days, Paul. So many. And I miss you."

Paul let out a surprised chuckle, biting his lower lip.

"I miss you all the time," Will added with a sigh. "'Cause you're so sweet and smart and sexy and I want you so bad, Paul."

"Will," Paul whispered, standing up straight.

"But you have Sonny and he doesn't deserve you and you don't want me and I have to drink all the tequila and you should be here. But Brian's here and it's his birthday so that would be bad. Because you don't like each other. He's not so bad, you know. But he's not you. Why would Sonny ever pick him over you?"

"Weren't you just making out with him?" Paul asked, trying not to take everything Will said to heart.

"That's just fun," Will dismissed. "Teasing each other. He's only a friend. Not like you."

"I'm not your friend?" Paul asked, licking his lips.

"So much more," Will replied with a long, dramatic sigh. "But I'll be good. Promise. I'll be a good friend. Promise."

"Yeah," Paul swallowed. He closed his eyes tight, face scrunched together. "Are you okay? Do you need a ride or something?"

"I'm good. Maybe I'll get a ride from Brian," Will giggled. "That was a joke."

"Uh-huh," Paul smiled despite the unpleasant feeling in his stomach.

"I'm not gonna have sex with Brian. Although, I haven't gotten any since I left Switzerland and it's starting to get on my nerves."

"You're gonna be so embarrassed when you remember this call tomorrow," Paul declared.

"Maybe," Will yawned, slumping against the bathroom wall. "Along with a hangover."

"All those so many drinks catching up to you already?" Paul asked, grinning.

He wished he could see Will like this. All soft words and soft eyes, rambling innocent truths.

"Don't be mean," Will groaned.

Paul didn't get the chance to answer him. Someone came into the bathroom with Will, one of Sonny's friends.

"There you are," Tyler said. "We were looking for you. Come on, parties shifting to Brian's place. We're gonna order a million pizzas and guzzle some water."

"Give me all the carbs," Will ordered, wrapping an arm around Tyler's shoulder. "Oh, wait. I forgot to say bye. Bye, Paul. I miss you and I'll see you soon."

Will blew several kisses into the phone before Tyler took it away.

"Whoever this is," Tyler said, holding Will's phone to his ear, "Will is going now."

"Yeah, bye, Tyler," Paul said.

"Paul?!"

He could hear Tyler questioning Will in the background but he hung up.

Paul tossed his phone on the bed, running his hands through his hair.

Because that conversation made anything clearer or easier.

And now he had to deal with whatever reaction Sonny had to whatever mess he saw on Instagram with Will and Brian.

Great, exactly what Paul wanted to do.

Chapter Text

August 14, 2018

When he woke, Will was certain an elephant was sitting on his head. In reality, it was Neil's giant arm flopped over Will's face.

"Ugh," Will groaned, throwing Neil off him.

After partying at the Spot, the whole group walked to Brian's apartment only a few blocks away. They ordered delivery for the only pizza place opened late in Salem. It was cheap and chewy but Will ate a whole box himself.

Everyone passed out around four in the morning spread about Brian's living room. Kareem and Dustin snuggled up on an armchair. Brian took up the only sofa all by himself. Will ended up on the floor next to Neil. Tyler's head rested on Will's stomach while Neil threw his arm over Will's head sometime in the night.

Will eased Tyler off him and sat up, rubbing his aching eyes.

He slept in his contact lenses.

With a glance at the cable box, Will saw it was barely past eight. Way too early to get up.

After tossing out his contacts and using the bathroom, Will shoved Brian over on the couch.

"What?" Brian muttered with his eyes closed.

"Move over," Will ordered.

He manhandled Brian onto his side and slid in next to him, Brian's front to Will's back. Their legs tangled and they barely fit but it didn't matter.

Both were asleep in the length of one breath to another.


Next time Will woke, it was because of a bright flash going off in front of him.

"Dammit, dude," Kareem said in a voice too loud to be a whisper. "Take the flash off."

"Too late," Brian complained, one arm wrapped around Will. "What are you doing?"

"We're commemorating the end of your birthday celebration," Mateo said, phone still pointed at Will and Brian. "You two are too cute."

"Yeah, are you guys on your way to coupledom?" Neil asked from his spot on the floor. "Because I don't think I've seen Brian this touchy-feely with anyone."

"What?" Will asked with a frown, squinting.

He couldn't see worth shit without his glasses or contacts.

"They do make out a lot, don't they?" Tyler mused.

Will and Brian sat up, staring at their friends with matching expressions on their face, a mix of puffy-faced hangover pain and confusion.

"Do you think I date every guy I make out with?" Will wondered, rubbing his eyes.

"No?" Dustin asked, looking at everyone else for help.

Will laughed at Dustin's face.

"You can, in fact, kiss someone just for fun," Brian informed him.

"So, you two are friends who kiss and cuddle and lick various body parts whenever you want?" Dustin pressed.

"When did I lick him?" Will asked lifting one brow.

"When you did body shots," Dustin replied with a huff.

"That doesn't count," Will insisted with a roll of his eyes.

"Yes, it does."

"No, it doesn't. Tyler slobbered salt up off me. Why aren't you bothering him?"

"Because Tyler didn't spend the entire walk home with his tongue down your throat. And we didn't wake up to see Tyler snuggled up behind you."

"Technically," Tyler interrupted, "I did use Will as a pillow when I fell asleep. His giant pecs are awesome."

"Yeah, weren't you on the floor with us?" Neil asked, looking up from scowling through his phone.

"Your giant cave troll arm woke me up," Will said, rubbing at his eyes again. "I made Brian share."

"You still never answered us," Dustin crossed his arms. "Are you two together or what?"

Will looked at Brian and said, "he's your friend, you deal with him."

"Dustin, shut the hell up. Your voice is even more aggravating than usual."

"So, what? You two are friends who play around with each other?"

"Sure, why not?" Brian asked, eyes closing, leaning his head back.

"What? Like you guys haven't all messed around together?" Will rolled his eyes.

"Uh – no."

"Nope."

"Not really."

"God, you guys are lame," Will said with a shake of his head.

"And you mess around with all your friends?" Neil asked, wiggling his brows up and down suggestively.

"Only the cute ones," Will said with a coy smile. "Why? You wanna have some fun?"

"I wouldn't say no," Neil laughed.

"Aw, but see, Will here already has a crush," Tyler said with a smirk.

"What?" Will frowned.

"Yeah, I had to drag your phone away to stop the second-hand embarrassment," Tyler proclaimed. "You were even blowing kisses and everything."

"Oh, god," Will mumbled.

He hoped that was just a dream but apparently not.

"So, when were you going to tell us you had the hots for Paul Narita?" Tyler asked with a glance at Brian.

Brian popped his eyes open to side eye Will.

"You guys didn't know that? Do you not follow Will on Instagram?" Kareem asked.

"Or go on Buzzfeed?" Neil added with a snort.

"We're just friends," Will said with a sigh.

"Unfortunately?" Tyler pressed with a grin. "It sure sounded like you wanted more last night."

"Are we not gonna mention who Paul's dating?" Dustin asked with a less than subtle nod toward Brian.

"Sonny," Brian answered with a blank look.

"Hence why Paul and I are only friends," Will said, giving Brian a small, pained smile.

"How do you even know him?" Kareem wondered.

"His dad's marrying my grandma, again. Well, I consider his dad my grandpa so it's kind of confusing but Paul and I aren't related," Will waved his hand. "Again, we're friends."

"And it's not awkward at all that you want Paul and you make out with Brian for fun?" Dustin asked. "Okay, whatever you say."

Will didn't realize before this morning how irritating Dustin was. Although it cheered him up when Brian flipped Dustin off.

"And what is Paul gonna say about all the Insta posts you two did last night? What's Sonny gonna say?" Dustin asked, ignoring Brian's gesture.

"Oh my god," Will groaned, running his hands through his hair. "Someone feed me and get him to shut up."


"Gimme, gimme, gimme," Will made grabby hands at a large plate of bacon, eggs, hash browns, and toast placed in front of him.

The group arrived at the pub, ordering the greasiest, biggest breakfasts they could.

"You're an idiot," Roman shook his head at Will before handing out the rest of the plates.

He came back a few moments later with a small stack of chocolate chip pancakes Will didn't order.

"Thanks, Grandpa," Will declared with a squinty-eyed grin.

Roman tousled his hair and moved on to other customers.

"Do you know everyone in this town?" Neil asked taking a sip of coffee.

"Pretty much," Will answered before getting distracted by his mountain of food.

The group ate in almost near silence. With some coffee and food, Will felt closer to human. Now, if he only had his glasses, he'd be golden.

In fact, Will sent a text to his wonderful and beautiful grandmother asking if she could pretty, pretty please bring him his glasses.

While working on his pancakes, Will glanced toward the door when he heard it open. He did a double take when he saw Sonny walk inside.

Attempting to look nonchalant, Will kept an eye on Sonny and frowned.

He walked straight to the bathroom.

A few seconds after, Brian's phone buzzed across the table top. Brian looked at it before excusing himself.

Will contemplated for half a minute before following them.

The bathrooms at the Brady Pub were not glamorous. Just one simple unisex bathroom with a deadbolt down a small hallway.

Perfect for simple spying. If anyone caught him, he'd say he was waiting his turn. Also, the door was thin. If he stuck his ear against it, Will could hear enough.

And from what he heard, Sonny wasn't happy.

For the most part, all Will heard was Sonny yelling. He caught his own name several times before Brian burst in, even louder than Sonny.

Will got the gist of it.

Sonny saw the video from the night before and was throwing a fit over it.

For some reason, Will found it amusing.

Until he remembered Paul was dating Sonny. Sonny, who traveled to a restaurant to meet his ex-boyfriend in the bathroom to yell at him about kissing someone else.

Of course, the Will part of it all might have had something to do with it but still. Sonny had no reason for clandestine meetings with anyone.

When Will heard the deadbolt turn, he hustled to the end of the hall. He turned just around the corner, back to the wall.

"Don't walk away," Sonny pleaded. "Brian!"

"No," Brian hissed. "You wanted Paul, you got him. You don't get a say in what I do now."

Will took a step over and managed to bump right into Brian.

"Ow," Will complained when Brian knocked him into the corner of the wall by accident. "Dude, what the hell?"

"Sorry," Brian muttered. He gave Will's elbow a cursory glance before saying, "you'll live."

Then he stomped back to the table stony-faced.

Will rubbed his elbow and looked at Sonny, feigning confusion at his presence.

"Sonny," Will said, eyes wide and laying it on thick, "when did you get here?"

"Oh, shut up," Sonny complained with an eye roll. "I know exactly what you're doing."

"Trying to go pee?" Will asked, eyeing the bathroom door behind Sonny.

"I knew what you were doing the other day. I knew it," Sonny pointed a finger at Will's face. "You aren't gonna rest until you get one or the other, are you?"

Will crossed his arms, smiling.

"Yeah, you figured out my evil plan. I won't stop until I ruin your life one man at a time. Get over yourself, Kiriakis."

"Stay away from them," Sonny ordered.

"No, Brian and Paul might pathetically do whatever you want but that's sure as hell never gonna happen with me."

Sonny's jaw clenched and he straightened the lapel of his suit jacket and shoved past Will.

"I'm starting to think you don't deserve either of them," Will said, raising his voice.

"Yeah, and you're a slut," Sonny called over his shoulder, loud enough for most of the pub to hear.

He rushed out the door without looking back.

Will sat back in his seat at the table, tossing a napkin in his lap.

Neil, Tyler, Kareem, Mateo, and Dustin stared right at Will. Brian sat at the table with his arms crossed, glaring at his cup of coffee.

"What?" Will asked. "You think that's the first time someone's ever called me a slut and not in a good way?"

"You lead an interesting life," Tyler said with a whistle.

"It is the first time someone said it in English, though."

Tyler, Neil, and Mateo laughed while Kareem and Dustin looked uncomfortable.

Will definitely knew which ones were closest with Sonny, now didn't he. Might explain why Dustin irritated him so much.

"You're not," Brian said with a tight voice. He looked at Will, hold his gaze. "Don't listen to him."

"Thanks but don't sweat it. If I listened to everything Sonny told me, I'd have no life. He really does not like me."

"Can't imagine why," Dustin muttered a little too loudly.

"Shut up, Dustin," Brian ordered right away. "What is your damn problem?"

Dustin rolled his eyes, grumbling to himself.

"Knight in shining armor," Will teased, rewarding Brian with the last slice of his bacon.

"I think you've got another one coming your way," Tyler said, torn between amusement and concern, eyeing the door.

"Oh, for the love of – Paul," Will greeted, feeling the eyes of everyone at the table on him. "What's up?"

"I was meeting with my dad at the penthouse," Paul revealed. He glanced at the table of guys, eyes skipping over Brian. "Marlena said to bring you these."

Paul held out the case for Will's glasses.

"Oooh," Will grabbed the case, shoving his black, thick-rimmed glasses on his face. "You are my hero. Brian, you're downgraded."

"Wouldn't be the first time," Brian said with a sardonic smile before taking a large bite of Will's bacon.

"Yeah, I'm not playing that game," Will stated with a shake of his head. "I'm friends with you both, not taking sides."

"No," Dustin interrupted, "you just make out with one and want to make out with the other."

"Do you want me to kiss you? Is that what this is?" Will asked with a sharp glare. "'Cause I'll do it if it'll get you to shut up."

Dustin's face flushed, lips clamping shut.

"Well, this has been sufficiently awkward," Neil declared. He stood up, tossing some bills on the table. "I'm out."

One by one everyone left until it was just Will, Paul, and Brian.

"So," Will looked between the two of them, drumming his fingers on the table.

Brian rolled his eyes, standing up.

"Thanks for coming last night," Brian told Will. He left some money on the table, hands shoved in his pockets.

"Thanks for inviting me," Will responded with a smile.

"See you around," Brian said before walking away.

He ignored Paul entirely.

Will looked up at Paul, pushing his glasses up with his index finger.

"I'm in the mood for ice cream," Will declared. "Wanna come?"


"Why was everything so tense when I came in?" Paul asked as he and Will walked around the park, licking ice cream cones.

"Uh -," Will didn't know if he should tell Paul what happened.

John didn't want Will to mention Sonny and the birthday present. What would his policy be on telling Paul Sonny met his ex-boyfriend in the bathroom of a restaurant?

Will knew what they were saying. They were having the exact same argument Sonny and Paul seemed to keep having – Will.

Would knowing that help Paul in the long run? Would it make everything worse? Would it make it seem like Will was trying to break Paul and Sonny up? And what about Brian? He didn't plan the meeting and he did tell Sonny off.

It might not be need to know information.

Maybe

Probably not

Will should tell him.

But he didn't.

"We discovered Dustin's apparent hatred for me," Will said which was true.

"He's pretty close with Sonny," Paul pointed out.

"I figured that out," Will made a clicking noise with his tongue. "He's also pretty uptight about sex. It'd be funny if he wasn't so annoying."

"He always seemed repressed, yeah," Paul agreed.

Will glanced at Paul, licking his ice cream.

"Dustin doesn't get that when Brian and I kiss, it's just for kicks."

Paul tensed, refusing to look at Will.

"That it's mostly a game," Will added, gauging Paul's reaction. "Because I don't like him that way and he doesn't like me. It's just fun."

"Some way to spend time," Paul said around a sigh.

"Excuse me, Mr. King of the One Night Stands?" Will gave Paul a pointed, wide-eyed look. "Like you don't know how much fun it could be?"

Paul turned to the side, laughing.

"Hey, look," Will pointed to their left. "Playground is empty. Let's go."

"What? Why?" Paul asked but followed.

Will headed for the swing set. He sat down, pumping his legs while eating the rest of his ice cream.

"I haven't done this in more than a decade," Paul stated.

"Really? I did it a few days ago with my brother and sister," Will divulged. "I forgot how much fun it was."

They swung in silence for a few moments until Paul cleared his throat.

"Maybe I could understand why you and Brian play around with each other," Paul admitted. "Doesn't mean I have to like thinking about it."

"You should. We're prime spank bank material," Will teased. "I'm starting to think you and Brian could work out some of your issues if you just-,"

"Don't even say it," Paul warned with a giant smile on his face.

"And I could help facilitate. Warm the two of you up. Finally get to indulge in some double penetra-,"

"You can't say things like that," Paul insisted, head thrown back in laughter.

"Have you met me? It took like an hour into meeting Brian for my mind to go there."

"I guess I can add threesome to your list of fantasies," Paul said once he recovered from his laughter.

"Oh, sweetie, you're so cute," Will leaned his head on the chain of the swing.

"What?" Paul asked, forehead wrinkling.

"It's not a fantasy if you've already done it."

"What?"

"If a hot older couple asks to fuck your brains out, you don't say no."

"You're ridiculous," Paul shook his head, eating the cone part of his ice cream.

"What did I do?" Will asked, practically shoving his entire cone in his mouth.

Will planted his feet, twisting himself and the swing chain around and around.

Paul looked at Will with a small smile.

He didn't know how anyone could be so infuriating and interesting at the same time.

Paul let out a small chuckle when he got a look at Will's face.

He had ice cream everywhere.

Paul finished his own cone before standing up. He waited for Will to come back around; he was still twisting his chain.

"Hey," Paul grabbed Will's seat, stopping him in his tracks. "You are absolutely covered in ice cream."

Will dug his heels into the sand, keeping himself from moving. While Paul wiped traces of mint chocolate chip ice cream from his face.

Will stared up at Paul, enjoying the expression on his face. Such concentration and fondness as he swept his thumb over the apple of Will's cheeks and along the side of his mouth.

Paul swallowed heavily when his thumb brushed Will's mouth. He didn't even know if it was on purpose or by accident.

He did it again. Eyes and thumb tracing the outline of Will's plush mouth, hypnotized.

Will pressed a tiny kiss to Paul's thumb.

Paul pulled his hand back, moving several steps away.

Will lifted his feet, elbows tucked in. A few seconds later, he and his swing swung around and around with his eyes closed.


Will and Paul parted ways not too long after. Paul used work as an excuse but Will knew it was because of what happened.

What always seems to happen when they're together.

He spent a while alone in the park, enjoying the silence and solitude.

Life was much easier when Will was in Zurich. Life was always easier for Will in Zurich.

After a while, a text from his mother sent him toward the DiMera mansion. Nothing could ever have prepared him for the sight that met him.

Brother and sister playing in the backyard, normal. Mom and EJ enjoying a glass of wine on the patio, also normal. Dad, Cheryl, Austin, Carrie, Eric, Nicole, Brady, and Madison, not normal.

"Isn't this one of the first signs of the apocalypse?" Will asked as he walked into the expansive backyard.

Sitting around a large patio table was just about everyone in his family.

"Hey, guess what?" Austin asked. "EJ and I found something to bond over."

"Oh, god."

"We both have a disdain for the things you post on Instagram," EJ answered in a dry tone.

"I gave you one instruction yesterday," Austin told Will, pointing a finger at him. "One and you didn't follow it."

"You told me to keep my pants on," Will shrugged. "Pants were on."

"You knew what I meant," Austin argued.

"Next time be specific," Will responded.

He helped himself to a glass of wine as well and leaned against the arm of Sami's chair.

"No one wants to see you doing body shots," Lucas interjected. "What were you thinking?"

"I didn't take the video," Will said. "And I didn't do anything wrong. Besides, it's no one's business what I do."

"It is when it ends up as news on Buzzfeed," Nicole said. "It was an update to Paul's update. The internet thinks you're dating Brian now and some other less than favorable things."

Will groaned.

"If I'm here for a lecture, I'm leaving."

"Actually, you're not," Sami grabbed Will's wrist when he tried to walk away. "We're here because we've all come to an agreement about you."

"What?" Will asked, narrowing his eyes.

"It took a long time convincing some people," Nicole's eyes swept over Austin and Carrie. "But we all agree. You need to date Paul."

"Especially over Brian," Eric said.

"I'm not dating Brian," Will took a large mouthful of wine before shaking his head. "How do you people drink this? It's awful."

"If you're not dating Brian, what was last night?" Austin demanded.

"How many times do I have to have this conversation today?" Will asked himself. "I can kiss a guy without having to date him."

"And how many times have you kissed him?" Cheryl asked, highly amused.

"That is irrelevant to the conversation," Will answered with a sniff. "Aside from the fact that I don't want to date Brian, I can't date Paul. He's – you know – with someone else."

"Yeah, yeah, Sonny, who cares," Brady answered. "I live at the mansion with the guy. All he's done is bitch and moan about you and Paul or you and Brian to his mommy. He'll get over it."

"Now, most of us here know Paul," Eric said. "And we all know you. We know this is perfect."

"I didn't want to agree but they sold me," Austin admitted with no small amount of reluctance. "But, I get to do some threatening."

"With me," Lucas told him with an eye roll.

"Me as well," EJ added.

"Why are you people the way you are?" Will asked.

Everyone ignored him.

"I know how much this scares you but I know this is what you want," Carrie said. "I've seen how you look when you talk about Paul. You get this look in your eye I've never seen before."

"And I've seen the way Paul smiles at you," Nicole added. "He could probably light up the whole of Salem with the megawatts on that thing."

"Not to mention," Sami said, patting Will's thighs. "If you didn't care about Paul, you wouldn't worry about breaking up his relationship. If it was simply sexual, you'd have slept with him by now."

"This is ridiculous," Will shook his head. "Why do I not have a single normal relative? Well, Belle's not here, so, there's that."

"Her and Shawn will be here in an hour," Sami said with a wince. "They had to deal with Claire first."

"Belle agrees with getting our favorite brother with our favorite nephew," Brady declared. Then he frowned and said, "that didn't come out right."

"Why are you doing this to me?" Will asked, head tilted toward the sky.

"Because we love you," Sami answered, rubbing his knee.

"I was talking to God," Will informed her. He yelled up at the sky, "why God why?"

"Enough of the dramatics, William," EJ said. "I thought you'd feel pleased we're all getting along."

He none too subtly pulled Will's glass of wine out of Will's reach.

Will did a double take at EJ, scoffing. He could handle alcohol without trying to shoot someone now, thank you very much.

"Yes, I'm so glad you're all bonding over ruining my life," Will replied with an exaggerated eye roll. "It couldn't be something normal, no. It has to be this."

"Not ruining, sweetie, making everything better," Sami said with a nod and a smile.

Will looked back at the sky, yelling, "why God why?"

Chapter Text

August 17, 2018

Wedding planning was in full force. Marlena's penthouse was invaded with, what seemed like, every female in Salem. To save money, everyone was helping make favors and decorations.

Will got roped into it as well. If he had to wrap another piece of candy in ornamental burlap he was going to scream.

He escaped to pick up his suit, desperate to get away from it all. He couldn't deal with the overwhelming feeling of the walls caving in on him with that many busybodies around.

Not to mention, he knew something was going on with Grandma and John. Whenever he was around them at the same time, things got awkward.

He was beginning to regret coming to Salem at all. He should have shown up for the wedding and immediately left. Or, better yet, do what he did with his mom and EJ - persuade Grandma and John to get married in Europe.

But, like a sucker, he let John convince him nothing bad could happen in a month. Nothing bad, indeed.

He only started falling for John's somewhat happily taken son; made an enemy of Paul's boyfriend; befriended a man Paul hated and Sonny couldn't stay away from; created an unholy union between his usually feuding family members; oh, and caused tension between the couple who were getting married in five days.

But, yeah, nothing bad will happen, Will. It'll be fine, Will. Salem's changed, Will. Come stay for a month, Will.

What a load of crap.

Hoping to clear his head, Will took a detour before picking up his suit. With everyone in the penthouse distracted, Will snuck into his room and shoved a pair of swim trunks and a bottle of spray-on sunscreen into a backpack.

Now, Will relaxed in the secret cave he showed Paul. He needed the peace and quiet more than he ever thought possible.

He laid on his stomach on the small rocky island. He leaned his head in his arms, eyes closed. The warm water of the lake lapping at his toes. The only sound in the cave was the water brushing along the rock walls and an occasional burst of wind.

This was why Will left Salem. He shouldn't have to hide in a literal cave to find a place to breathe.

The last time he lived in Salem he was so angry. So resentful of everyone and everything, Sami, and EJ most of all. Will hated who he was back then. Hated how he felt every second of every day.

Lost and confused and pulled in so many directions without any room to think.

He was an awful son, an awful stepson, an awful grandson. He wanted everyone's lives to be as miserable as his. And he blamed everyone and anyone else but himself for his actions and attitude.

He didn't understand how any of his family members could do what they did. He didn't understand how Sami and Lucas and Austin and Carrie could have a revolving door of partners and lie and cheat and not care at all who they hurt in the process.

And EJ.

EJ

There were days, times, where Will wished he had killed him. Brief moments where Will thinks about what EJ did his mother, to his father. How he pulled Will's family apart piece by piece until there was nothing left.

Then Will sees the way EJ looks at Johnny and Allie both. Sees how hard he tries with them. Sees the way he looks at Sami when EJ thinks no one is looking. Remembers EJ convinced Lucas and Sami Will being gay wasn't a choice or a byproduct of their awful parenting.

Remembers EJ traveling all the way to Zurich, alone, to talk to Will when he was 16. That he laid out every awful thing he'd ever done not just in Salem but in his entire life. He told Will everything, even the time he shoplifted a bag of Jelly Babies when he was seven.

EJ told Will everything and let Will rage. He didn't defend himself when Will screamed and yelled or even when Will hit him as hard as Austin taught him to.

EJ held Will when he cried afterward. He left that same night, never asking Will for anything.

A few months later, he came back with Sami and the kids. Took them to the Italian countryside for a few weeks. Sami worried when Will and EJ would disappear for long hikes without anyone else. They used the time to talk, bond.

(where Will developed a confusing and entirely inappropriate crush that lasted for several years)

At the end of the trip, EJ presented Will with every shred of evidence he could find that Will was the one to shoot him.

They burned it together.

The next vacation, EJ brought them to England. They saw where he grew up and met Susan.

The break after that, they went to Belgium. Lucas and Cheryl came too.

To celebrate Will's graduation, they went to Disneyland Paris. EJ proposed beneath Sleeping Beauty Castle. Sami said yes. Will said yes the night before too when EJ asked for his permission.

Sami and EJ married in the same Italian countryside they spent their first family vacation. Will walked Sami down the aisle and cried into Marlena's shoulder during the ceremony. Cried because his mother looked so beautiful. Cried because Sami and EJ were so happy. Cried because Will almost took the opportunity away from them. Cried because Johnny and Allie wouldn't stop giggling and cheering. Cried because Will worried it wouldn't last. Nothing ever did.

But, several years later, Sami and EJ were still together. It was the longest relationship his mother's ever had.

It scared the hell out of Will.

He wasn't under any grand delusions. He knew he was a combination of his mother and father's worst traits. He was stubborn and did stupid, impulsive things simply because he could. He was petty and vindictive and selfish. Sometimes he enjoyed starting metaphorical fires simply because he liked to watch the chaos spread afterward. He didn't know how to keep friends or lovers or do anything but push people away because he refused to be like his family. Like Sami or Lucas or Austin or Carrie or any of his aunts and uncles and cousins and grandmothers or grandfathers, anyone and everyone he'd ever known.

Will tried so hard to keep himself in check. Tried so hard in Zurich to reign in his impulses and desire to cause chaos and heartbreak. But, in Salem, it felt inevitable.

Because all Will wanted was to go along with everything everyone told him. He wanted to steal Paul out from under Sonny's nose. He wanted to push and cajole and ruin their relationship, the one that Paul waited years to have.

All because he could if he tried. He could tear them apart and run back to Zurich leaving a trail of broken hearts in the aftermath.

He wanted to so badly and it scared the hell out of him.

That wasn't who Will wanted to be. But it was what Will saw growing up.

And almost his entire family wanted him to do it. Encouraged him to do it.

But he couldn't.

Will wasn't going to become what Salem expected of him. He wasn't going to become something he hated.

No matter how much he wanted to. No matter how badly Will wanted Paul.


Once goosebumps spread over his skin, Will headed back to shore. He'd been in the cold, damp cave much longer than he anticipated. He needed to get his suit before the tailor closed. And, if he was feeling nice, he'd stop for coffee for the ladies on his way back.

Will rushed out of the lake, shivering. The temperature dropped while Will was in the cave. A cropping of clouds turned the sky overcast, blocking the sun.

As he walked along the shore, teeth chattering, he heard several voices calling his name. A little further down the beach, next to a volleyball court, were Neil, Tyler, and Brian.

Will held tight to his things and jogged over.

"Hey," Will said, tossing his bag on the ground and wrapping his towel around him.

"You alright?" Neil asked with a small frown.

"Yeah, you're looking a little pale there," Tyler said.

"Cold," Will answered, sniffling.

Brian immediately put his hand to Will's forehead, drifting down to his cheek and the back of his neck.

"You, my blond friend, have a fever," Brian declared.

"Great," Will sighed, shoulders slumping.

Just what he needed on top of everything. He could imagine the wedding now. Someone will ask if there are any objections and Will will sneeze.

"Come on," Brian grabbed Will's bag and put an arm around his shoulder. "I've got some meds in my car. Be back, guys."

"Yeah, I bet you do," Neil muttered under his breath.

Will waved morosely to Neil and Tyler with a sad, pathetic frown.

"Brian's either gonna play a very different kind of doctor with him," Tyler said. "Or…"

"Or he's gonna ask Will to do something stupid about Paul," Neil supplied.

"All aboard the Hot Mess Express."

"Choo choo."


After changing into dry clothes in the lake's public bathroom, Will sat in the passenger seat of Brian's car. Brian stood outside the door, handing Will an unopened bottle of water and a small package of Tylenol.

"Here," Brian said.

"Thanks," Will said after swallowing the pills and handing the wrapper to Brian.

"Don't mention it," Brian tossed the wrapper on the car floor and leaned against the open door. "What were you doing here all alone anyway?"

"Wanted to clear my head," Will shrugged before giving a whole body shiver.

Brian frowned, rubbing his hands up and down Will's arms.

"You need a ride home or something?" Brian offered.

"I still have an errand to run," Will shook his head. "It's fine."

"No, it's not," Brian said. "Let me go tell the guys and I'll be right back."

Will closed his eyes.

He always got sick when he was stressed. He spent every finals week in college in a fog of medicine and cough syrup.

Before Will knew it, Brian was back. He started the car and put the seat warmer on for Will.

"Did you feel alright when you woke up?" Brian asked after Will gave him directions to the tailor.

"Define, alright," Will said with a sigh. "I'm fine. I always get sick when I'm stressed out."

"Hmm," Brian noted. "Not a good idea to mention that to a doctor. Now I'm gonna hound you every day until you're better."

"Are you gonna give me a physical?" Will teased.

Brian rolled his eyes and shook his head.

"I don't think either of us will appreciate it all that much when you're bright red from your fever."

Will flipped the visor down and looked in the mirror. Sure enough, his face was overly flushed and his eyes were red and watery.

"Gross," Will complained.

"I've seen worse," Brian replied. "At least I saw you shirtless again before you got dressed."

"Speaking of," Will looked Brian up and down.

He was still in nothing but a pair of swim trunks and flip-flops.

Brian was good looking, very good looking. And he was nice and charming and a good kisser.

But he wasn't Paul.

Will hated Sonny. He really did.

He didn't deserve Paul or Brian.

"Yeah, I know, super impressive," Brian teased, flexing his arms dramatically while turning the steering wheel. "Stop number one."

Brian pulled into a spot outside the tailor, idling while Will went inside to get his suit.

Will hung the plastic-wrapped suit up in the back seat before settling into his seat again.

"So, hey," Brian licked his lips, pulling back out onto the street. "I want to ask you something. Well, suggest something, I guess."

"Hmm?" Will asked, leaning his head against the window.

Brian took a long time to answer.

"I was thinking since you want to be Paul and I want to be with Sonny, we-"

"No," Will answered, eyes closed.

"You didn't even hear what I had to say."

"It doesn't matter. I'm not going to break them up or try some manipulative scheme. So, no."

"It's not manipulative. It's not even a scheme. If it works, we both get what we want. If not, well, we had fun trying."

"Had fun trying what?" Will cracked one eye open, looking at Brian.

"Okay, look," Brian took a deep breath. "I love Sonny, yes. But I can't take any more of this back and forth bullshit. He says he wants Paul, fine. Whatever. If that's what makes Sonny happy, I'm all for it. But, I've been down this road before and it always ends the same way.

"Sonny breaks things off with me when he realizes how much work it takes to be a doctor. That most of the time my career is going to come first. He can't stand that. He couldn't stand it even when we were first going out before Paul even came to town. Paul exasperated the problem because he doesn't have a life and is always at Sonny's beck and call."

Will frowned at that but remained silent.

"Anyway," Brian continued. "Sonny breaks things off with me. He goes to Paul. I keep going, doing my thing. Then Sonny comes waltzing back into my life like he never left. He starts texting and calling and running into me places."

"Planning meetings in bathrooms," Will added.

"Exactly. And I always take him back. I tell him if he's my boyfriend he needs to be my boyfriend, not Paul's. He stays away from Paul for a while before he does the same thing to Paul that he did to me."

"Why do either of you put up with him?"

"Trust me, I ask myself all the time. Some days I know the answer, some days I don't."

"If this is all following the pattern, what do you need me for?"

"Because something is different this time," Brian turned to face Will when he stopped at a red light. "You, Will, you're what's different."

Will pursed his lips.

"Because Paul's never had friends that lasted. Sonny chases them all away or gets Paul to turn them away. But, you're still here. And hell, you're my friend too."

"Yeah and Sonny hates me," Will pointed out.

"Exactly," Brian said, starting to drive again. "Sonny cannot stand you, like at all. Do you know how many messages I've gotten in the past few days about you?"

"Oh, god," Will mumbled.

"Sonny is terrified of you," Brian said with a wide grin. "Because he's always had Paul's attention and mine. There might have been flings between for both of us, but never anyone like you."

"Someone like me," Will said using a dull tone.

"Yeah, you know why Sonny's threatened by you, right?"

At Will's blank look, Brian rolled his eyes.

"Because you know everyone in this town and you're smart and hot and you've got my attention and Paul's. Sonny can't stand it or you. Which is why I need your help."

"With what?" Will asked, massaging both temples.

"I love Sonny but I'm not blind to his faults," Brian stated. "I know he's an asshole and most of the time I like that. But I can't take more of this situation. I thought for sure at the beginning of the month him and I were over for good. Then he started talking to me again and you came into my life. And you're perfect for this situation."

"What situation?"

"You want to be with Paul and from what Sonny's been bitching about, Paul might want you too. And I know if I showed anyone even the slightest bit of attention, Sonny would come running my way. Now, if I gave you that attention, he'd lose his mind.

"So, I was thinking, if you and I went out on a few dates, we'd see what happened. Maybe Sonny and Paul would decide to break us up. Maybe they'd decide it was for the best and stay together. I don't know. But I think it's worth figuring out."

"You want to pretend to date me so Sonny will get jealous and break us up?" Will asked, staring at Brian in horror.

"No," Brian gave Will a sharp look. "I want to really date you and see what Sonny and Paul will do."

"No," Will huffed.

"Why not?"

"Because I don't want to date you. "

"Yes, you do."

"No, I don't."

"You don't have to lie to me. You can have the hots for me and Paul. Sonny does. It's a natural occurrence."

"Shut up, Brian. I don't want to date you. I don't want to manipulate Paul or Sonny. And for the record, this is the exact definition of a scheme."

"Then don't call it a date. Call it two friends hanging out together. We have fun, don't we?"

"I have never been around you sober for more than fifteen minutes."

"You're a lot more agreeable when you're drunk."

"Brian, this is stupid."

"It's not. We're friends and we get along. Obviously, there's some kind of chemistry between us or else we wouldn't make out every time we're drunk."

"That's for fun!"

"So is this," Brian insisted. "I'm not saying we fall in love and get married. I'm saying if we hang out and if Sonny and Paul have a problem with it, well, good. If they don't, we know for sure how they feel and we've bonded or whatever."

"I'm fairly certain this is how I was conceived," Will sighed, hand over his face.

"Huh?" Brian gave Will an odd look.

"My dad wanted his brother's girlfriend. My mom wanted her sister's boyfriend. Schemed together to separate them, slept together. I was the result."

"It's not like I can get you pregnant," Brian pointed out. At Will's sharp look, he added, "I won't get pregnant either if you're so sensitive about who's sticking it where."

"And you wonder why I'm sick from stress," Will said with a long, deep sigh.

"It was just an idea," Brian said.

"Stupid idea," Will grumbled, arms crossed.

"Genius idea," Brian argued. "They'll either get jealous and want us for themselves or stay together."

"No," Will stated. "I'm not doing anything to break them up. If Paul breaks up with Sonny, it'll be his own choosing. I'm not going to manipulate him into anything. And I am not a part of whatever sick game you have with them either."

"Yeah, you are," Brian said. "Even if you don't want to be."

"And what's gonna happen if you do get back together with Sonny?" Will asked. "Do you think because I'm around he's gonna stay away from Paul? No, he won't. He'll just do to you what he's doing to Paul now. The same thing he always does. Because if he hates me being Paul's friend, what the hell is he gonna do if I was dating him?"

"Alright, I didn't think about that," Brian admitted as he pulled up outside Marlena's building.

"Look," Will sniffed, rubbing his hand under his nose. "I like you, Brian. I do, even if you are an asshole."

"Gee, thanks," Brian quipped.

"Shut up, I'm trying to say something nice, you dillweed," Will ordered. "You deserve better than Sonny. You might not want better than Sonny but you deserve better. And I don't want to see you get hurt in all of this."

"Thank you," Brian replied with a sincere smile. He reached across Will and opened his door. "Let me walk you inside. I'll feel better knowing you're drugged up and put to bed."

At Will's quirked brow, he rolled his eyes.

"You know what I mean."


When Will opened the door to Marlena's penthouse he almost forgot why he left.

Every woman in his life, plus a few extras, were in the living room. And every single one of them turned to stare at Will and Brian, particularly at Brian in his swim trunks and nothing else.

"Ignore them," Will muttered under his breath, easing Brian into the room. "Just follow me and ignore them."

Brian, holding the bag with Will's suit, did his best to follow Will's instructions. That was until he saw Adrienne Kiriakis near the back of the room.

Then Brian couldn't help himself from putting his hand on Will's lower back, thumb hooking into a belt loop on Will's jeans.

"Medicine?" Brian asked.

"This way," Will said, rushing down the hall and out of sight before everyone overcame their shock.

Brian rummaged through a medicine cabinet, reading labels on all the bottles.

Will stood beside him, taking his contacts out. Once he finished, he brushed his teeth and wiped his dripping nose on his arm.

"Here," Brian handed Will two pills and left the bottles on the counter. "Every four to six hours with plenty of fluids."

"Uh-huh," Will filled a small cup next to the sink with tap water and threw back the pills. "Thank you."

"Where's your room?" Brian asked, standing close to Will in the small bathroom.

"This way," Will opened the door and slammed it back shut. Sami and Nicole stood outside with their arms crossed.

Brian snorted, opening the door for Will.

"Hi," Brian said, yanking Will out by the hand. "Which way?"

Will led Brian a little further down the hall. Well aware his mom and Nicole were following.

"Will," Sami said in a saccharine tone. "Can I talk to you?"

"Uh," Will looked over his shoulder at her and shook his head. "No."

"Come here," Sami ordered through a painful smile.

"Can't," Will replied. "Doctor's orders."

"Sorry, ladies," Brian said with a confident, charming grin. "Someone has a fever and I'm making him lie down."

"Wait, what?" Sami frowned.

Sami and Nicole tried to crowd around them, hands reaching for Will.

Will rolled his eyes but let them palm his forehead and cheeks.

"I don't feel good," Will smacked their hands away. "Brian drove me home and wanted to make sure I was okay."

"Wait until you get my bill," Brian said, rocking forward and back on his heels.

"Right," Nicole nodded but kept looking at Brian suspiciously. "Well, we'll let you two get to it then."

She had to drag Sami away.

Will knew as soon as they were out of sight they'd tell everyone else what they'd seen.

"Is it always like this with you?" Brian asked.

"When in Salem," Will sighed, kicking off his shoes and pushing down his jeans.

"Something you trying to tell me?" Brian teased as Will threw his jeans near the closet.

"Leave me alone," Will whined, pulling back his sheets. "I'm gonna have to explain to every woman in there that, no, I'm not sleeping with you."

"You're the one who let me come with you," Brian shrugged. "Here."

He pulled off Will's glasses and stuck them on his side table.

"I'm sorry I made your life more stressful," Brian admitted as he pulled the covers up over Will's chest.

"You didn't, not really," Will said, snuggling into his pillows, eyes closed.

"Yeah, I did," Brian admitted. "Adrienne Kiriakis is out there."

Will popped both eyes open and glared at Brian.

"Get some rest," Brian kissed Will's forehead and flipped the lights off when he walked out of the room.

He laughed when he heard Will yell out, "I hate you," behind him.


Before he made it out the front door, Marlena stopped Brian. She knew Brian from his work at the hospital and, of course, his rivalry with Paul.

"Brian," Marlena called, forcing him to stop beside the front door.

"Hi," Brian said with a polite smile.

"Is Will alright?" Marlena asked.

"Yeah," Brian nodded. "I left some pills on the bathroom counter for him. He's just a little stressed and was in the lake when the temperature dropped outside. I'm sure he'll be fine in time for the wedding."

"Oh, good," Marlena nodded with a small smile. "Well, I'm glad he's got someone so invested in his health."

"Right," Brian said. He glanced over her shoulder and saw all the women blatantly staring. Adrienne was no longer there. "Will's great."

"Yes, he is," Marlena replied. "Thank you for taking care of him."

"Sure, anytime," Brian told her before waving and saying, "I'll see you around."

"I'm sure you will," Marlena replied, closing the door behind him. "Not if I can help it."

"Mom," Sami said, rushing to her side. "What are we going to do?"

"There's only one thing we can do at a time like this," Marlena said in a calm tone. "Trust me."


Paul opened the door to Marlena and his dad's penthouse with his spare key. The whole place was pitch black.

"Hello?" Paul asked, setting down a small to-go container from the Brady Pub near the door.

Why would Marlena ask him to come over if no one was here?

Paul checked his phone one more time. Marlena sent him a new text asking him to check the guest room.

With a sigh, Paul walked down the hallway and turned a light on in the guest room. He didn't know why Marlena wanted him to check Will's room if he wasn't even – oh.

Will was home. Fast asleep in his bed at five o'clock in the afternoon.

Paul almost left the room, flipping the light back off before he paused. Will's breathing was a little funny and his skin was a strange color.

Paul moved further into the room, sitting on the edge of the bed. He touched Will's forehead. It was hot.

Will groaned when Paul brushed his hair away from his forehead, eyes fluttering open.

"Hey," Paul whispered.

Despite the off coloring, the heat in his face and the bleary look in his eyes, Will was beautiful.

"When did you get here?" Will asked, sniffing.

"Just now," Paul answered, cupping Will's cheek. "I'm glad I did. You're burning up."

Will closed his eyes, nuzzling Paul's hand.

Paul smiled.

"I need that back," he said.

Will shook his head, grabbing on to Paul's wrist and snuggling into it.

"Real fast," Paul promised.

He laughed when Will whined.

Paul hurried back to the front area and grabbed the container of soup Marlena insisted he get. He grabbed a spoon and a napkin from the kitchen. Then he grabbed some aspirin and found a washcloth and wet it with warm water.

Paul walked back into Will's room, sitting down next to him on the bed. He wrapped one arm around Will and helped him sit up.

"I don't wanna," Will complained, leaning against the headboard.

"You need to eat something," Paul argued. "Here, take this."

With minimal grumbling, Will swallowed some pills with water. Paul held the soup container with one hand while Will fed himself. With his other hand, Paul held the warm washcloth to Will's head.

"I leave you alone for a few days and this is what happens," Paul commented, looking over Will's face. "What's going on?"

"Stress," Will answered, eyes fluttering shut.

"Over what?" Paul wondered.

He set the soup and spoon on the side table and helped Will get comfortable again.

"Everything," Will sighed, hugging his pillow.

"Everything what?" Paul pulled the washcloth off Will's forehead, pushing his hair back.

"Me, my family, you, Brian, everything," Will answered.

Paul swallowed heavily.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"S'not your fault," Will replied, eyes drifting closed.

"I wish things could be different," Paul admitted, tracing one knuckle down Will's jaw.

"Me too," Will whispered.

Paul stroked Will's skin, fingers running through his hair until Will fell asleep.

It took a long time after for Paul to stop touching and even longer to walk away.

He wanted to stay by Will's side, wanted to take care of him, nurse him back to health. Wanted to be there when Will woke, wanted to sweep the sleep dust from his eyes. Wanted to lay next to him in bed, hold him in his arms.

Wanted to kiss Will whenever his nose crinkled, hold his hand, pull Will against him, hot and hard and aching.

Paul wanted Will.

He wasn't sure how much longer he could go without him.

Chapter Text

August 19, 2018

"I don't want to go," Will said for what felt like the millionth time.

"Shut up," Brady responded for what felt like the millionth time.

"Can I just go back to bed?" Will sniffed, pushing his glasses further up his nose.

"We did not go to all this trouble for you to ruin this," Brady informed him. "Eric and I have planned the perfect bachelor trip. And would it kill you to put on something nicer? Show off your assets? Go put on those pants you were wearing in that Insta video with that Brian douche."

Will, face blank, said, "sure, Brady. Let me go put on my tightest pair of pants for my grandfather and his friends."

"At least put on your contacts, work with me here, Horton."

"I have it on good authority I am equally if not more attractive in the glasses."

Eric sighed and grabbed a throw pillow. He put it on his lap and patted it.

Will flopped his head down, throwing his legs over Brady.

They were waiting for everyone else to arrive. They had an entire day dedicated to John's bachelor party. It was just past six in the morning and they planned to hit the road by seven.

"Maybe Will shouldn't come if he's still not feeling well," Eric said, frowning down at Will. "He's looking a little peaky."

Brady put his hand on Will's forehead and shrugged.

"No fever. He took some meds. He's fine. And if not, he can cuddle with Paul in the car."

Will groaned, kneeing Brady in the stomach.

"Ow, you little shit," Brady pinched the back of Will's thigh. "I'm starting to think you're not worth all this hassle."

"Children, behave," John said as he walked into the room. "We haven't even left yet and you're arguing."

"He started it," Brady insisted.

"Where are we even going?" Will asked, rolling onto his back. "And why do I have to be up at this ungodly time?"

"Who woke Will up and didn't feed him?" John asked with an amused quirk to his lips. "Or give him coffee?"

"I got it covered," Paul said, walking through the door.

He balanced two bags of pastries and several cups of coffee.

"Gimme, gimme, gimme," Will said, leaping off the couch.

He ignored Brady and Eric's pained cries when his flailing limbs attacked them to reach Paul.

"Hi," Will grinned, gazing at Paul through squinty, slightly puffy eyes.

"Hi," Paul responded, face lighting up at the sight of Will. "You look better."

"No, I don't," Will replied with a head shake. "But you're sweet."

"Right," Paul nodded. He looked at Will for a few beats before sticking his arm out. "Here, for you."

He handed Will a specific cup and waited for Will to take a sip.

Will's eyes lit up when he tasted it.

"Coffee and whipped cream," Will beamed.

"Your favorite," Paul smiled back.

"Where's my favorite?" John asked with an odd look on his face.

"Huh?" Paul finally tore his eyes away from Will. "Oh, I just got a regular coffee for everyone else."

Brady and Eric shared a smile.

"Did both of you pack what I asked?" Brady wondered while John's eyes flickered between Will and Paul.

"Yeah," Paul replied. "Bag's in my car still."

"Where are we going that we need tennis shoes, flip-flops, a swimsuit, and an overnight bag?" Will asked.

No one told him.


By 6:45 they were on the road in three cars. John, Steve, Bo, and Abe in one car. Eric, Brady, and Austin in another. For some reason, Will and Paul ended up all alone in Paul's despite it being the largest vehicle.

"Do you know where we're going?" Will asked, rubbing his nose with his wrist.

"Yes, and stop that," Paul ordered, knocking Will's hand aside.

"Where are we going?" Will repeated.

"Someplace down south," Paul explained. "Makanda, Illinois, Brady said it was an hour and a half away. Not sure what we're doing, though."

"Must be something I won't like if they won't tell me," Will frowned. "Jerks."

Then he sneezed into the crook of his right arm.

"Wow," Paul tried not to laugh. "You should have stayed home."

"I tried," Will crossed his arms with a huff. "Brady dragged me out of bed and said I had to go."

"Why?" Paul wondered.

"Uh -," Will trailed off. "Not entirely sure."

Will wasn't ready to tell Paul about their combined family's insane plan to get them together. Not when they were so close to the wedding.

Will wasn't going to ruin Marlena and John's big day nor was he going to cause a rift between Paul and the rest of the family.

"He's been kinda off lately," Paul admitted. "Brady, I mean. He's been asking all sorts of questions about Sonny, my relationship with him. It's weird."

"Huh, yeah, odd," Will dismissed.

He sighed in relief when his phone buzzed, giving him something to distract him.

Another message from Brian asking how he felt. Of course, he laced it with some inappropriate innuendo but it made Will laugh.

"What?" Paul asked, glancing between the road and Will. "What's that smile?"

"Brian," Will answered without thinking. "Uh…"

Paul sighed and gripped the steering wheel tight.

"Yeah," Will nodded, playing it cool. "Asking how I'm doing. I'm kinda his unofficial patient."

"Why?" Paul asked, trying not to look at Will.

"I was with him when I got sick," Will revealed. "Actually, I was at the lake by myself and ran into him and some other guys. He went into doctor mode."

"Right," Paul nodded, lips pressed together.

"He brought me home, gave me some meds, told me to go to sleep," Will added. "And then a certain someone woke me up."

"That was an accident," Paul insisted. "And I fed you, so don't complain too much."

"I wasn't complaining," Will promised. "It was nice. I wouldn't mind waking up to your face more often."

Paul was saved from answering when Will's phone went off.

Brian

"Hey – uh – now isn't a good time," Will said when he answered.

"You're stuffed up," Brian ignored Will. "Are you still taking a decongestant?"

"Yes, Doctor," Will rolled his eyes. "But seriously, not a good time."

"Alright, fine," Brian replied. "Call me later then. I've got something important to tell you."

"Okay, yeah, I'll talk to you later," Will said. "Gotta go, bye."

"Brian?" Paul asked after a few seconds of silence.

"Yeah," Will nodded. "He has to tell me something."

"Could be important," Paul replied with a frown. "Maybe you should call him back."

"I doubt it," Will said. "And besides, I don't want to talk to Brian right now."

"No?"

"Why would I? I'm with you. Now," Will grabbed Paul's phone from an empty cup holder. "What song do you feel like singing first?"

Paul kept his eyes on the road but he couldn't stop a grin from spreading across his face.


"No," Will said when Paul parked the car. "Absolutely not."

"What?" Paul asked, looking at the area. "This looks fun."

"Nope," Will crossed his arms and refused to unbuckle his seat belt.

Will's car door opened and Brady poked his head inside.

"Will's not moving," Paul pointed out.

"I planned for this," Brady told Paul. "Don't worry."

"Don't you touch me," Will threatened. "I will sneeze all over you."

"Your idle threats mean nothing to me," Brady said, unbuckling Will and wrapping his arms around his waist.

Will held onto anything he could grab, cup holder, seat of the car, seat belt, all while kicking at whatever he could get of Brady.

"Should you be doing that?" Paul asked torn between amusement and concern.

"I'm a trained Will professional," Brady said as he struggled with Will's limbs. "Eric, a little help."

Brady and Eric dealt with Will's thrashing limbs, Brady holding Will's front, Eric with the legs.

"Don't hold him like that," Austin warned, hands reaching out toward Will. "Brady, move your hand."

John, Bo, Steve, and Abe stood on the sidelines laughing without a single offer of help.

"Brady!" Austin hissed when he didn't listen.

"If he'd stop being a big baby, I wouldn't have to do this," Brady said, through clenched teeth.

Paul laughed, arms outstretched.

"Here."

Eric put Will's feet on the ground in front of Paul.

"You deal with him," Brady said as he let Will go.

Austin yelled while Will teetered on his feet.

"I got you," Paul grabbed Will by the waist and held him close when he tried to run off.

"I'm not doing this," Will insisted, head shaking back and forth over and over.

"Hey, hey," Paul cupped Will's jaw with both hands. "What's wrong?"

Will didn't say anything but his eyes were huge and his face looked even paler than before.

"Hey? Will? What's wrong?"

"He's terrified of heights," Austin said, making a fist and hitting Brady in the bicep within a blink of an eye. "Which you know so why did you bring him here?"

"It'll be fun," Brady shrugged, rubbing his arm where Austin punched him.

Paul glanced around them. They were in a densely forested area with majestic and lush trees. At the entrance of the parking lot, and what caused Will to freak out, was a large sign.

Shawnee Bluff's Canopy Tour – Strap in. Set off. Soar.

Complete with an illustration of a person ziplining.

Will let out a pathetic whine when the sound of a woman screaming in the distance reached them.

"Hey, it's okay," Paul pulled Will into a hug. "You don't have to do this."

"Well, everyone else is going," Brady said. "You could at least walk around with us even if he isn't gonna do it."

"Yeah, you only have to climb a few steep hills and look off a platform," Eric replied. "Not too scary or anything, right?"

Will clamped his hands over his ears, shoving his face in Paul's neck.

"Really?" Paul asked with a sharp glare.

"Hey, if he doesn't wanna come, here," Brady held out his keys. "He can wait in my car and we'll go."

"Are you kidding? I can't leave him like this," Paul said. "He's trembling for goodness sake."

"I'll stay," Austin insisted.

"No, it's fine," Paul held Will tighter. "I've got him. You guys go ahead."

"We've got reservations at a restaurant in a city about a half hour away from here," Eric said. "Let me send you the details. We can meet you both there."

"Unless you wanna stay, Paul," Austin offered. "I can peel Will off you. It's not a problem."

"No, it's fine," Paul replied. "Honest, you guys have fun and we'll meet up later."

"Wait," Eric said, calling everybody over. "Picture real fast."

Everyone crowded nearby with smiles on their faces. Except for Paul who glared at the camera and Will who kept his face buried in Paul's neck.

As the others walked into the forest, Eric looked back at Will and Paul.

"Well, that's one way to get them alone," he said.

"Although someone didn't have to hit me," Brady spat towards Austin.

"You didn't tell me you were gonna drag him out of the car," Austin shrugged. "I thought you were gonna tease him, not terrify him."

"It worked, didn't it?" Brady gestured behind them to the parking lot. "Paul's not gonna let Will out of his sight, now."

"What are you boys saying back there?" John asked with a raised brow.

"Nothing, Dad," Brady responded, jogging ahead. "Now, let's race to the first track."

Back in the parking lot, Paul ran his hands up and down Will's arms, trying to relax him.

"I should have stayed home like I wanted," Will mumbled against Paul's neck.

"I don't know why they dragged you here," Paul replied, trying not to focus on Will's lips brushing his skin. "Especially when you don't feel good still."

"I'm sorry you're stuck with me," Will said with a sigh.

"Hey, it's okay," Paul said. "I've done ziplining before. I'm not missing out. It's fine."

"But it's your dad and you don't need to babysit me," Will argued.

"I'm not complaining and I'm not leaving you alone. So, let's go back in the car and get away from here. I'll get you some more coffee and everything will be fine."

"Okay," Will agreed but still clung to Paul.

"You have to let me go," Paul pointed out with a wide smile.

"Can't," Will shook his head again.

"Come on," Paul shuffled Will towards the car, keeping his arms wrapped tight around Will's waist.

Paul managed to open the passenger door and get Will to sit down, slowly inching away despite Will clinging to the back of his shirt.

"Hey," Paul smiled when he saw Will's face again. "Your glasses are all smudged."

Will could barely see out of them after shoving his face against Paul's skin.

"I don't wanna be here anymore," Will whispered, eyes watering.

"Woah, hey, it's okay," Paul promised, tilting Will's head up. "I'll get you out of here."

Paul rushed to the other side of the car and got inside. He started the car and drove off, eyes glancing between Will and the road every few seconds.

"Sorry," Will mumbled as he threw his glasses on his lap, covering his face.

Paul didn't know if Will's sniffling was from his cold or from actual tears.

Most likely, a combination of them both.

"It's fine," Paul replied with a gentle tone. "Everyone's afraid of something."

"Not everyone cries like a baby when they even think about it," Will argued.

He scrubbed at his face before cleaning his glasses on his shirt.

"Maybe not," Paul said. "But you already don't feel good and Brady tried to kidnap you. Besides, I don't care if you cry around me."

"You just want me to barnacle myself to you again," Will said around a watery laugh.

"Now, that sounds more like the Will I know and lo – uh – like."

"Nice save," Will teased. He put his glasses back on and groaned. "That just made them worse."

"Look," Paul turned into a small shopping center. "Coffee and you can wash your glasses."

"And I get a cookie?" Will asked, lower lip protruding.

"And you get a cookie," Paul sighed, turning off the car and trying not to smile too big when Will cheered.


"I didn't even know you were afraid of heights," Paul admitted.

He and Will walked along a forested path across from the coffee shop. The day was hazy and overcast with a slight breeze. Perfect for a long walk in the middle of August.

"Not exactly something I like to brag about," Will replied, kicking a stray rock in his path. "I can handle some things, second stories and sitting in the nosebleed seats at concerts. But, anything that involves climbing high up or potentially falling to my injury-laden doom, nope."

"I don't think that was what was gonna happen," Paul remarked, nudging Will with his elbow. "Then again, I'm not afraid of heights, so I can't really say anything. Is there any particular reason you're that scared of them? Were you always this way? Did you fall off of something?"

Will frowned, focusing on the cup in his hands.

"Remember when we had lunch with your dad and I was joking around about all the terrible things that happened when I lived in Salem?"

"Who could forget that many kidnappings?"

"Well," Will took a deep, nasally breath. "I joke about the tiger but it still really scares me. It happened at a stupid, ridiculous circus and I was in this dumb clown costume as part of the show. And Mom and Dad were arguing and I ran off and climbed up a catwalk. When they found me, the tiger cornered us and Dad was yelling at me to climb and every time I looked down I kept thinking I was gonna fall and get mauled to death. And then we had to stay up there as people were panicking and Mom covered my eyes but I could hear the screaming and-"

Will broke off in a shiver.

"How old were you?" Paul asked in a low voice.

"Nine," Will answered. He gave Paul a small smile and added, "I don't like clowns anymore either."

"No one likes clowns," Paul chuckled.

Without thinking about it, he grabbed Will's hand, linking their fingers.

"I take it we aren't gonna watch IT together?" Paul said.

"I've seen that movie twice, actually," Will said with a smirk. "Never did make it past the clown room."

"Why?" Paul wondered.

"Hot date, scared Will, put two and two together, Paul, geez," Will laughed.

Paul rolled his eyes, infinitely pleased Will was sounding like his old self again.

Neither let go of the other's hand until they finished their drinks and headed back to the car.


Paul drove them to a town a half hour northwest, per the directions Eric sent him when they parted ways. It ended up being a lake town with a large expanse of beaches, a boardwalk, and several restaurants and shops.

"Now we know what we needed the swimwear for," Will commented as they parked and got out.

"Not that you should be getting in the water at all," Paul remarked.

"Fun times were had by all," Will grumbled to himself.

Paul and Will spent the next few hours walking through all the various tourist shops. They tried on cheesy hats and took pictures with ridiculous fishing gear.

It was well past noon by the time the rest of their group came into town. They all met for lunch at a marina where they explained how great of a time they had.

Will dealt with their teasing with only minimal amounts of complaining.

"What are we doing after this?" Paul asked once they finished eating.

He spread his right arm out where it just so happened to drape over Will's chair.

Something Austin, Eric, Brady, and John all noted right away.

"We're going out on the water," Eric gestured to the clear lake behind them. "We rented a yacht."

"Everyone get your bags and meet back here in ten minutes," John said, smacking his hand on the table.


They rented a yacht large enough to accommodate them all. They took turns fishing and jumping in the water, playing around, except for Will. He was banned from the water by just about everyone and found fishing boring.

It suited Will fine. Despite the sun hiding behind the clouds, he was content to lie on the deck in his swim trunks and let the ebb and flow of the water rock him to sleep.

(He would have preferred Paul rubbing his sunscreen on him but each time Paul offered, Austin elbowed him out of the way.)

Drops of water on his face woke Will and he opened one eye.

Paul, just out of the water, leaned over Will, dripping all over him.

"Hi," Paul smiled when he saw Will's eyes flutter open.

"Is this gonna be a habit?" Will asked around a yawn. "Anytime I try to take a nap, you're gonna wake me up?"

"I wanted to check on you," Paul admitted with a wince. "I can go if you want me to."

"Naw," Will sat up and yawned again. But didn't miss the opportunity to eye Paul's wet body, scrambling to put his glasses on. "It's kinda lonely here by myself."

"I'm sorry," Paul frowned.

At the moment, everyone else was in the water. Paul could hear them laughing and roughhousing. Someone found a beach ball floating in the water and they'd taken to playing water polo with it.

"You don't have to apologize for having fun," Will said. He leaned back on his hands, gazing at Paul. "Besides, I am more than enjoying my view."

Paul let out a breathless chuckle and looked away.

"Brady said they rented a cabin on the water," Paul ignored Will's shameless staring and pointed to a cluster of houses on the other side of the lake. "One of those ones. That's where we're staying for the night. And you're sharing a room with Austin. He was quite insistent."

Will rolled his eyes.

"Even if I wasn't in his room, I'd end up there. A year or two ago, I went with Carrie and Austin to Sweden for a week. My hotel room connected to theirs and every five minutes Austin was knocking on the shared door or sending me a text. I don't know what he thought I was doing in there."

Paul gave Will a pointed look.

"Not with them in the next room. I don't have a death wish," Will huffed. "Eventually, I gave up and just left the connecting door open because he would not give me a moment's peace."

"He loves you a lot," Paul said with a shrug. "I can't say I blame him for being so overprotective. You do find yourself in pretty ridiculous situations. I mean, I love my dad and the relationship we've built, but I would have killed to have something like you and Austin."

"John loves and respects you," Will told Paul, as earnest as he knew how. "Trust me, every time he ever talked to me about you, even in the beginning when he first learned who you were, he got this super proud, fond look in his eyes. And Austin's amazing and I love him but try having three father figures in your life and then talk to me about wanting my relationship."

"Yeah, how does that work?" Paul wondered with a wide smile.

"Not well for me," Will revealed. "The one time Dad, Austin, and EJ were all in Zurich at the same time was when I graduated from university. And I had a boyfriend. Or I did until all three of them scared him off. I still don't know what they said to him but every time I bump into him with mutual friends he turns tail and runs the other way, literally."

Paul laughed.

"It's not funny," Will insisted even though he was laughing too.

"It is," Paul argued. "And I don't know. I know my dad loves me. But sometimes I wish he was more, I don't know, Dad-like? Maybe?"

"What do you mean?" Will moved closer to Paul so their bare knees brushed against each other as they sat cross-legged on the boat floor.

"Like all the drama I dealt with about Sonny and Brian," Paul crossed his arms over his chest. "My dad was supportive and told me to hang in there and go after what I wanted. Which is great, it is. But he never told me his opinion on the matter. He never told me if he liked Sonny or if he thought I was making a mistake. He never told me if I was doing the right thing sticking around. He'd never sit Sonny down and threaten him or anything. I don't know. I guess I want that kind of a relationship."

"Oh," Will licked his lips and sniffled. "I bet John wants to. I'm sure he'd love to let Sonny know what he really thinks of him. Maybe he didn't think you'd appreciate it. I know he's stuck his nose in Brady's, Belle's, my mom's, Eric's, and even Carrie's relationships before. Maybe he's trying not to make the same mistakes with you. And, hey, if it makes you feel better, he did tell me to leave you alone."

"What?" Paul frowned, eyebrows furrowed and forehead wrinkled.

"I'm not exactly subtle with how I feel about you," Will's face and neck heated up, drifting down his chest. "And he was pretty clear that I needed to let you be with Sonny since you've wanted that for such a long time."

Will flashed Paul a small smile before letting it drop.

"So, I've been trying," Will added, lifting one bare shoulder in a shrug. "Probably failing spectacularly but, hey. I'm a work in progress and, at least, I know you're happy with Sonny. He's who you want to be with, right?"

Will poked Paul in the side, trying to liven up the tense mood.

"Right," Paul nodded, lips pressed together. "That's who I want."

If he ignored the lurch in his stomach, Paul could almost believe it too.

Chapter Text

August 19, 2018

"I remember one trip to Zurich," John explained with a smirking glance at Will. "I think Will was about thirteen, fourteen. I'm not sure."

Will rolled his eyes. He knew where this was going.

They arrived at their rental cabin just before the sun went down. John and Abe fixed up the fish they caught for dinner. Now, everyone sat on the back deck telling stories, enjoying the sunset overlooking the lake.

Somehow the topic got on Will's embarrassing antics. It started with Eric assuring him he didn't have to worry over his freak out that morning. Brady, conveniently, reminded Will of his even worse moments.

"I remember this one," Austin said with a chuckle, taking a sip of beer.

"Marlena and I were watching over Will while Carrie and Austin went out," John continued. "We had explicit instructions to make him eat some vegetables. When he refused I told him he wasn't getting up until he ate his broccoli. Well, this stubborn little brat sat at the table for over an hour, refusing to eat them. I told him to stick the damn things in his mouth and hurry up. So, he smiled at me and cleared his plate and I was feeling on top of the world. Nope, he took two steps, spat them out all over the damn carpet, and left."

"You didn't say anything about swallowing them," Will said over everyone's laughter.

"Marlena wouldn't even help me clean it," John shook his head. "Said it was my own fault for leaving you with a loophole."

"Yeah," Bo gave Will a look. "I remember one time I tried to babysit when he was a toddler. Even then, man, he'd get you on those technicalities. I told him to go to bed, he went just fine. Then I hear gigging about an hour later. And when I asked why he was still up he said, 'you didn't tell me to go to sleep. You said go to bed and I'm in bed Uncle Bo.'"

"But nothing can beat the time I found him throwing rocks at someone's window," Abe said with a mockingly stern look. "I asked why he was throwing rocks. This loud mouth little pipsqueak ten-year-old has the nerve to say since I didn't see him throw them, it didn't count. And that the dirt on his hands, the rocks near his feet, and the broken glass all around him was circumstantial."

"You still can't prove that was me," Will responded, taking a gulp of water.

Everyone banned him from alcohol until he felt better.

Paul's laughter over the stories almost made up for Will's embarrassment.

Almost


An hour later, with the sun down, everyone split into different groups. John, Bo, and Steve stayed at the table reliving their more dangerous ISA missions. Brady, Eric, and Abe were playing cards inside while Austin fiddled with an old record player.

Paul, meanwhile, was searching for Will. He made himself and Will some hot tea only he couldn't find Will. He wasn't upstairs in any of the bedrooms. Although, Paul put his PI skills to work.

Will's swim trunks and a towel were missing.

A little ways off from the back deck, closer to the water, was a hot tub.

"Here you are," Paul said, speaking over the sound of jets bubbling. "I was looking for you."

Will, eyes closed and head resting on the edge of the hot tub, said, "Here I am."

"I know you're still not feeling great," Paul tried not to stare at Will too much. The only light was a light over the deck and the faint glimmer of the stars and moon through the clouds.

Between that and Paul's memory of earlier in the day on the boat, he had a pretty good idea of what Will looked like. All corded muscles and miles of unblemished skin.

"I made you some tea," Paul added, setting the mug on a ledge next to Will's glasses.

"Thanks," Will rolled onto his side and finally opened his eyes.

The stared at each other for a few moments in the still night. The only sound beyond the bubbling hot tub was crickets and laughter from the patio.

"You wanna come in?" Will asked with lidded eyes.

Paul licked his lips, glancing over at the deck. Due to the angle between the patio and the hot tub, no one could see them.

Without another word, Paul pulled off his shirt and slipped off his jeans. He climbed into the tub in nothing but his boxers, sitting closer to Will than necessary.

"This feels nice," Will whispered, closing his eyes again. "The water, I mean."

"Yeah," Paul agreed, swallowing heavily.

"I thought about taking a bath but this seemed easier," Will said. "Plus, I couldn't exactly ask you to take a bath with me. Well, I could, but might get me in trouble."

Paul didn't want to think about himself in a bathtub with Will.

He did anyway. Bubbles and nothing but naked skin and a mischievous smile.

"Paul?" Will asked, turning to face him and startling Paul out of his thoughts.

Their legs touched, Will's knee on Paul's thigh. Faces much closer than they were a mere moment before.

"Hmm?" Paul asked, forcing his eyes to stop drifting toward Will's lips.

"Why are you with Sonny?"

"What?" Paul blinked a few times.

"I mean," Will stared right at Paul, focusing. "All the garbage with Brian and Sonny stringing you along. Why are you still with him, after everything?"

"I – uh – well, I," Paul struggled to explain.

He couldn't do it with Will so close to him, with Will touching him and looking at him with his wide, hopeful eyes. Paul had to look away from Will to even speak.

"The first time I was with Sonny, back when I was playing ball, I loved him. Loved him more than I'd ever loved anything. But I couldn't give him everything he deserved. One day we were together and happy but a secret. The next day, when I told Sonny I couldn't marry him, he was gone. He just walked away like it was nothing like I was nothing.

"I tried to move on but Sonny was always in the back of my mind. And when I injured my arm, I was so scared. But, then I saw Sonny and it was this perfect moment for me. Everything made sense. I might have lost baseball but I could finally have Sonny, except Sonny was with Brian. Sonny loved Brian and I had to watch.

"I thought maybe it was what I deserved for hurting Sonny when he proposed. I told him no. Why wouldn't he move on? And maybe if I stuck around, he'd see this time was different, I'd be different. It was so difficult. Watching Sonny with Brian when I knew he still felt something for me. He'd tell me how he wanted Brian but give me hope there was something for us.

"When I finally got Sonny, I promised myself I'd never let him go again. Only, things never worked out. Because Sonny couldn't handle the idea of Brian with anyone else even when he was with me. And I'd never tell Sonny to stay away. I let Sonny do whatever he wanted. I was afraid of what would happen if I tried to control things again the way I did when I was in the closet.

"It's stupid and not me but I was so afraid I'd lose him if I held on too tight. But I'd lose him anyway. And right before you came to town, when we started to see each other again, I promised myself this time would be different. And it is, for the most part. There are problems still but nothing we can't handle."

"Problems," Will repeated with a nod, pursing his lips.

"Yeah, you know," Paul answered vaguely, refusing to look at Will.

"I do know," Will responded with a sardonic grin. "Me."

"Not just you," Paul argued. "I haven't given Sonny the attention he's used to. I mean, that he deserves. This is a transitional phase for us but it's fine. We're fine."

"Okay," Will said, face blank.

"This time is different," Paul said, voice getting firmer with each word. "Sonny isn't chasing after Brian. He was upset the other night about you and him at the club but that was because of you. He's not interested in Brian anymore."

Will rolled his eyes, clenching his fists.

"How did you fall in love with him again?" Will asked, needing the subject off of anything relating to Brian. "You told me about San Francisco but what about in Salem. How did you fall in love again?"

"Again?" Paul frowned. "I don't understand."

"You were apart for years," Will explained. "If Sonny was in love with Brian, if he made a whole new life, how did the two of you fall in love again?"

"I was already in love."

"That doesn't make any sense."

"Yes, it does. I never fell out of love with Sonny. He left but I didn't stop loving him. When I saw him again things fell right back into place for me."

"But, you both changed," Will said, eyes tracing Paul's face. "You must have grown as a person in that time. Sonny must have. How could you love someone in the exact same way after all that?"

"We didn't change that much."

"You did, absolutely," Will stated. "You went from sneaking around in hotel rooms, terrified anyone would know you were gay. From a big, famous baseball player to a private investigator with a family and a place in Salem, out and proud. How could you not change?"

"That didn't change who I was," Paul shook his head. "Who Sonny was."

"You fell in love with someone when you were young and in a secret relationship," Will said in a flat voice. "And you're telling me, after years, not a thing has changed. You feel the exact same way then as you do now."

"Right."

"And you love Sonny the exact same way? Every part of him?"

"O – of course."

"You love Sonny Kiriakis, Titan board member as much as you did Sonny Kiriakis, secret boyfriend. You love the Sonny that promises he's with you even if he runs back to Brian in the end. That's who you love."

"Yes, Will."

"So, what's gonna happen with us, then?" Will asked, finally looking away from Paul.

"What do you mean?" Paul wondered.

"Sonny hates me," Will pointed out in a quiet voice. "And he already –"

Will cut himself off.

"He doesn't want us to be friends," Will added. "He's made that pretty clear to me. What are you gonna do when he finally demands you stay away from me?"

"He's not gonna do that," Paul said, having a hard time hiding his frustration.

"Yeah, he will. He tells me all the time, Paul."

"What are you talking about?"

Will turned his back away, rubbing his hand under his nose.

"Will," Paul moved to the other side of the hot tub to face him. "What do you mean?"

"Every time I see him, all he does is tell me how awful I am," Will shrugged.

In the dark and without his glasses, he couldn't see much of Paul.

"Tells me to stay away from you and from-" Will cut himself off again. "In fact, the last time I saw him he shouted to an entire roomful of people what a slut I am."

"What?" Paul spat.

"Because, you know, I'm so clearly trying to sleep with you," Will shook his head.

"Are you?" Paul asked.

Will froze.

"Is that what this is?" Paul asked, gesturing between them and around them. "You invited me in here, at night, alone. And I know you have feelings for me. You practically tell me every time you see me. Isn't that what you want to happen here?"

"I didn't make you take off your clothes and climb in here," Will said with a steely tone. The slightly nasal quality and the sniffle that came after ruined the effect a bit.

"But I wouldn't have with anyone else," Paul said.

"That's not my fault," Will replied. "And you're the one that tracked me down. I was fine by myself."

"I was trying to be nice," Paul argued. "You're sick. I made you tea."

"What do you think that says to me? Because I'm trying, Paul. I'm trying not to take the things you tell me or do for me to heart but it's hard."

"It's not my fault you have a crush," Paul stated, face blank. "You knew from the begging I had a boyfriend. I told you we could only be friends. Whatever you feel or whatever you misinterpret is on you."

Will looked away from Paul, clenching his jaw.

"You're the one that's trying to make me doubt my feelings," Paul insisted, using a tone harsher than Will ever heard. "But I love Sonny. I'm not going to leave him or cheat on him. And it doesn't matter anyway, does it? You're leaving at the end of the month and I won't see you ever again."

Will closed his eyes, throat constricting.

"And everything in my life will go back to normal," Paul added. "We won't have you around trying to come between us. Sonny will be happier when you're gone and so will I."

"Go away," Will whispered, voice breaking.

"And –"

"Get out," Will said. When Paul wouldn't move, Will flung a sheet of water at him, yelling, "get out!"

"Will, I – " Paul stopped.

Everything he said coming back to him.

"Will, I didn't mean -,"

"Get away from me," Will ordered, back ramrod straight and face perfectly blank.

"Okay, okay," Paul got out of the hot tub and grabbed his clothes. "I didn't mean – I meant – I'm sorry."

Will didn't acknowledge him.

He waited for Paul to walk away. Listened for John, Steve, and Bo to talk to Paul as he walked by them. When they didn't comment on Will's yelling, when they only teased Paul for swimming in his underwear, Will sighed.

This was so not what he signed up for when he came to Salem.

He didn't want to make Paul doubt his feelings for Sonny. Or, well, he did but not for the reasons Paul thought. Will wanted to understand.

Did Paul love Sonny in the here and now? Or was he in love with a boy in a hotel room he met all those years ago?

What did it matter anyway?

Will was just the slut trying to ruin their relationship and sleep with Paul, after all. Ironic, considering Sonny was the one meeting with Brian on the side.

But, who cared, right? Will was leaving in twelve days.

Paul and Sonny would be happier then.

That's certainly all Will should worry about according to Paul and Sonny.

Will's phone buzzed across the ledge of the hot tub, coming precariously close to falling inside.

"What?" Will answered without looking to see who it was.

"What crawled up your ass and died, today?" Brian asked.

"Don't ask," Will mumbled. "What? What do you want?"

"If you're gonna be this way I'm not gonna tell you what happened," Brian remarked. "And it's pretty juicy, babycakes. You'll have to get over your secret burning desire for me to hear this."

"I'm not in the mood to play with you, tonight," Will said.

"Okay, sorry. I tried to tell you earlier, you know. You never called me back."

"I've been busy."

He saw the mug of tea Paul made him. The thoughtful, sweet gesture pissed him off.

Will knocked it to the ground, enjoying the loud thud it made when it broke.

"Well, I've been dying to tell you," Brian replied. "When I got off shift this morning, Sonny was waiting for me."

Will made a humming sound but paid much closer attention.

"He made up some excuse about why he was there," Brian continued. "And when I went to leave, he kissed me."

Will threw his head back on the edge of the hot tub and grimaced.

"Really?" Will asked, eyes closed and fists clenched.

Great, something bigger than a screaming match in a bathroom or a birthday present. Now, Will would have to tell Paul.

Wonderful. Fantastic. Perfect fucking timing

"He said a whole bunch of stuff about missing me and not wanting to lose what we had. When I told him, we didn't have anything anymore he got really upset. Then he said Adrienne saw me with you the other day when I brought you home. He asked me to stay away from you, I tried to walk away and then he kissed me."

"Of course he did," Will snorted.

"I told him that wasn't gonna happen," Brian said, surprising Will.

"No?"

"Sonny can learn to share," Brian responded with a snort. "Besides, you're mine, now. You know?"

"I know," Will smiled.

He did. Brian was annoying and smug and had stupid ideas but he was Will's friend. Maybe even one day his best friend.

The next time Will wound up in jail, arrested for some ridiculous mishap, he would probably call someone like Paul to bail him out. Whereas Brian would definitely be the person sharing a cell with him.

"Enough mushy bullshit," Brian said. "I don't know what's gonna happen with Sonny. Telling him I wasn't gonna stop hanging out with you pissed him off pretty good. And he didn't understand that there's nothing romantic between us. But, he said he wasn't giving up."

"You sound like you like that," Will remarked.

"I do," Brian confirmed. "I've done all the chasing in our relationship. He's never had to hold my attention or come after me. It's kinda nice being on the other side."

"He's still with Paul," Will pointed out.

"Maybe yes, maybe no," Brian shrugged. "They never last, Will. And I didn't even have to pretend to date you to get his attention. So, you were right."

"Get used to saying that," Will quipped. "But, I think you're going to be in for a rude awakening."

"Why do you say that?"

"Paul's not giving him up."

"Never stopped Sonny before and shouldn't you be happier about this? I thought you wanted to be with Paul?"

"Yeah, I thought so too," Will said, sniffling and rubbing his nose. "What's the point? I've got twelve days left on my sentence in Salem. I'm not wasting them on someone who doesn't want me."


"What's with the underwear?" Brady asked when Paul walked into the cabin.

"Don't wanna talk about it," Paul said, rushing toward the stairs.

Brady gave it three seconds before he followed after him.

He made it in time to stop the bedroom door from slamming shut.

"Brady, get out," Paul ordered, searching through his bag.

"It's my room too, little brother," Brady shrugged and sat on his bed.

Each room was large enough for two double beds plus some furniture. No one bothered unpacking since they were only staying the night.

"What happened?" Brady asked, averting his eyes while Paul put on a dry pair of underwear.

"Nothing," Paul dismissed. "Leave it alone."

"Ah," Brady nodded. "So, it's Will."

"What?" Paul looked up at Brady in alarm. "I didn't say that."

"You didn't have to," Brady said. "Who else could it be? It doesn't take a genius to figure out."

"Yeah, you would know," Paul mumbled to himself.

"I heard that," Brady threw a pillow at Paul, who simply ducked out of the way. "We've been getting closer, you and me. You can talk to me about this, about Will."

"There's nothing to talk about," Paul insisted, avoiding looking Brady in the eyes.

"I've seen the two of you together," Brady said. "I know there's something going on."

"Why does everyone think that?" Paul threw his hands in the air, starting to pace. "Why can't we just be friends?"

"You could," Brady replied. "But friends don't look at each other the way you and Will do."

"How do I look at him?" Paul asked, voice carrying. "Between you and Sonny and even Will, what do you think I'm doing? I've never wanted anyone but Sonny since I've been here, not really. Just because I like spending time with Will doesn't mean I'm going to abandon Sonny."

"The way he does you?" Brady interrupted.

"No, Sonny doesn't –"

"He does, repeatedly. Hell, he's probably going to do it again soon."

"No, he isn't. Sonny and I are different this time. We're stronger and we're in a good place and -"

"And you don't live with him. I do. Apparently, he forgets you're my brother or Will's my nephew or that I don't care about his life. All he's done since Will got here is bitch about him. He hates Will, Paul. He hates everything about him from the way he looks to the people he's related to.

"And not just because of you, either. He cannot stand the fact that Will and Brian are friends."

Paul snorted, crossing his arms.

"That," Brady pointed at Paul. "What is that? Is that for Sonny because he's jealous Brian has a new friend? Or are you jealous Will's around Brian?"

"I – it's – it doesn't matter," Paul shook his head.

He didn't know how to reply.

"Will told us he didn't want to date Brian," Brady informed Paul, gauging his reaction. "Said Brian's his friend and they like playing around but that's it. And I believe him."

"Yeah, sure, because everyone makes out with their friends every chance they get."

"Because Will wouldn't lie, not about that. He's pretty damn blunt in case you hadn't noticed."

"It doesn't matter," Paul insisted, going back to pacing. "I'm in love with Sonny. Sonny's in love with me. Will isn't anything, okay. He's nothing."

"Really?" Brady asked with an unimpressed expression. "So, if Will was interested in Brian, you wouldn't care at all?"

"If it would keep Sonny and Brian apart, I'd put Will and Brian together myself," Paul declared.

His voice only wobbled the tiniest bit.

"You're not attracted to him at all? Not even the slightest bit tempted?"

Paul pressed his lips together for several moments, ignoring the painful knot in his chest.

"Will is hot but that's it. I'm not going to throw away my relationship for a pretty face and a nice ass."

"Hey," Brady threw another pillow at Paul. "You better watch what you say. Austin's not the only one that's protective of him."

Paul threw the pillow back before running his hands through his hair.

"Just give me some space," Paul requested. "Please."

"Gladly," Brady said, getting off the bed and heading for the door. "While you're alone maybe you can find my brother for me."

Brady held his hand up in an approximation of Paul's height.

"He's about this tall. Nice guy. Loves green tea and Tokyo Fab. Spent the morning comforting a terrified Will because he's ridiculously head over heels for him. Oh, and if you find him, tell him to stop being an asshole."

Brady slammed the door closed on his way out.

Then, he walked right into Will.

Will, leaning against the wall right outside Brady and Paul's room.

Will, who heard every single thing Paul just yelled.

"Oh, crap," Brady said.

"I was gonna tell him something," Will waved his phone in the air, as a towel slipped from around his bare shoulders.

"He didn't mean all that crap," Brady said. "I mean, he's not himself right now."

"I know," Will nodded. "I pissed him off earlier. And he didn't say anything him or Sonny hadn't already said to my face."

"But, I mean, you know that's not true, right?" Brady asked.

He was not good at this comforting thing. He already blew it with Paul. He didn't need to make Will worse too.

Will shrugged.

Then his eyes started watering and his face crumpled.

"Oh, oh god," Brady said, glancing over his shoulder toward his room then back down the hall toward the stairs.

Thankfully, Austin arrived within seconds.

"Will?"

"You're like a bloodhound," Brady commented. "Did you sniff out that he was crying?"

Austin ignored him and pulled Will into a hug.

"What happened?"

Will shook his head against Austin's chest.

"Did Paul-?" Austin said through clenched teeth, squeezing Will a little too tight.

"No," Will sniffed, pulling back enough to look at Austin's face. "It's not him."

Brady reevaluated how good of a liar Will was. Even he almost believed that.

"Then what?"

"I don't feel good," Will said, sniffling and wiping his nose. "I don't feel good and I wanna go home."

"Well, I could borrow someone's car and we can make it to Salem in about -,"

"No," Will shook his head, burying his face in Austin's chest. "I wanna go home."

"Oh," Austin grimaced, patting Will's back. "Kiddo, you know there aren't many flights out right now. And you don't want to miss the wedding, not after you worked so hard to surprise Marlena. But, if you want, I can take you back to Salem. I just have to kill Paul first because I know this is somehow his fault."

"Please," Will sniffled, looking up at Austin with the saddest most pathetic expression Brady had ever seen. "Just take me back."

Austin deliberated for a few seconds, looking between Will and the door to Paul's room before sighing.

"Fine," Austin said. "I'll get our stuff. You change. Brady, can we-?"

"Oh, yeah, sure take my car," Brady offered. "No problem."

Austin stomped off into the room he shared with Will, leaving Will and Brady behind.

"Huh," Will said, wiping his face and wrapping his towel further around his shoulders. "I can still get him to do whatever I want."


 

Chapter Text

August 20, 2018

Paul woke up late the next morning. He had a hard time falling asleep.

He thought about everything he told Will, ran it through his mind over and over. Remembered the way Will flinched when Paul's words sunk in. How blank Will's face looked when he ordered Paul to leave.

Remembered the look on Brady's face when Paul said Will was nothing more than a pretty face and a nice ass.

Paul was an idiot.

Will wasn't just those things. Good looking, yes, and Paul was more than fascinated with his butt but that wasn't all there was to Will.

Will came back to Salem so his grandma could have the wedding of her dreams. He sang like he didn't care at all who listened. He made Paul laugh harder than he ever remembered laughing before. He encouraged Paul to reconnect with his baseball roots simply because Will thought he missed it.

Will helped him with a difficult case just to make Paul's life easier. He saved Sonny from humiliation at his first important board presentation. He drank too much coffee and rubbed his snotty nose on his hand. He was scared of heights because he still thought every time he looked down a tiger was going to eat him alive.

Will talked with his mouth full and kissed way too many guys when he was drunk and had horrible taste in friends but he cared. He did.

No one in Paul's life had the guts to question his relationship with Sonny. No one asked the things Will did, not prying the way Paul interpreted it last night, no.

Will wanted to make sure Paul was with Sonny for the right reasons. Wanted to make sure Paul wasn't clinging to the past, too blinded by it to see the future.

He wasn't any of the things Paul accused. He wasn't any of the things Sonny called him during his and Paul's many fights.

Will was bright smiles and guileless remarks and he scared the hell out of Paul.

Because Will was who Paul thought about before he went to bed every night. He was the first thing he thought of when he woke each morning. The scent of coffee reminded him of Will, now. The thought of champagne made him chuckle. And he couldn't listen to a single Tokyo Fab song without hearing Will singing along in his head.

Paul wanted to kiss Will more than he ever wanted to do anything else in his life and he couldn't.

He wouldn't.

Will deserved better, deserved more.

And Paul didn't know how to give it to him.

He didn't know what that meant for him and Sonny either.


The car ride home was awkward, to say the least. When Paul came out of the room in the morning, Will and Austin were gone.

No one told him when they left.

He ended up driving with Eric and Brady which wasn't bad. But it wasn't the easy, laughing flow of a car ride with Will.

It also didn't help that Will was, in fact, all Brady and Eric wanted to talk about.

Thankfully, the ride was only a little over an hour long.

"So," Brady said, from his spot in the passenger seat. "Is my brother back or is the asshole wearing his face still here?"

"I deserve that," Paul said, pulling out onto the interstate.

"You do," Eric confirmed.

Brady ratted Paul out to Eric the minute Will and Austin left the night before.

"I don't think that way about Will," Paul said in a calm, steady voice.

"No kidding," Brady snorted. "You would have kicked someone's ass if they said that about him."

"I'm thinking about kicking my own," Paul admitted.

"What even was that?" Brady asked. "I've never heard you say anything close to that before."

"I don't know," Paul mumbled.

"I'm pretty sure you do," Eric disagreed, leaning between the two front seats. "You're lashing out because you figured out what everyone else already sees."

"Which is what?"

"That you'd rather be with Will but you don't know how to end things with Sonny," Eric replied. "Which, is ridiculous because who better to tell you then Brady and me. We've all been down this road."

"I didn't say I'd rather one over the other," Paul shook his head.

"Okay, you want one and not the other," Brady suggested. "It still stands."

"I didn't say that either."

"What are you saying?" Eric asked with an eye roll.

"I don't know, that's what I'm saying," Paul answered. "I'm stuck."

"Think about it this way," Brady said, using his hands to talk. "On one hand, you have Sonny. A guy you've known for years. Whose strung you along for years and is still sniffing around another guy. And, on the other hand, you have Will. A guy you just met but your family loves. Who's upfront and honest about his feelings. Who, by the way, overheard our conversation last night."

"Is that why he left?" Paul turned to stare at Brady. "What did he hear? All of it?"

"He didn't say," Brady shrugged. "He only said it wasn't anything you or Sonny hadn't told him to his face before."

"But I didn't mean any of those things, not really."

"Well, maybe you shouldn't have said them," Brady rolled his eyes. "Either way, it's pretty telling, don't you think?"

"What is?"

"Will overheard you say something cruel and you freaked out. Meanwhile, when that Buzzfeed stuff came out, you were fed up with Sonny's reaction. Weren't you?"

"A little, yeah," Paul replied, eyes on the road. "I mean, it was an accident and I even released a press statement but it wasn't enough for Sonny."

"Is anything enough for him?" Eric asked, sitting back in his seat.

"I understood Sonny's reasoning. And I understand why he doesn't want me around Will, obviously. But you left something out when you were describing Will."

"What?" Brady wondered.

"He's leaving at the end of the month," Paul explained. "What's the point of me going through all this agonizing if he isn't staying?"

"Do you really feel that way?" Eric asked.

"Do you think he wouldn't stay if he got you out of the deal?" Brady added.

"He doesn't want to live in Salem. He has a life in Zurich. A guy he barely knows isn't going to change that."

"It wouldn't hurt and even if he still wanted to go, you could work long distance," Brady said.

"Unless you think you'll just do to Will what Sonny does to you," Eric interjected. "Because, in that case, you should stay with Sonny."

"Of course I wouldn't do that," Paul looked over his shoulder at Eric with a glare.

"Well, if you can't decide if you want to leave Sonny or not, I think you would."

"That's because I don't want to hurt Sonny."

"But, you'll hurt Will. Seems like you know who you want. One's expendable and the other isn't."

"That isn't what I said," Paul said, losing his cool.

"It's what you meant," Eric shrugged.

"Alright," Brady interrupted them. "Let's think of it this way. Didn't you tell me you hated Sonny's friends?"

"Only some of them. I mean, I get along with a few. Actually, the ones Will likes. Except for Brian, I hate him."

"And that's another matter entirely," Eric sighed. "Brian."

"Brian," Brady shook his head. "If Will's friends with Brian, what are you gonna do?"

"Nothing," Paul rolled his eyes. "Well, talk about him, I guess. But, I wouldn't tell Will who he could or couldn't be friends with."

"This is sounding familiar," Brady remarked.

"And we're getting nowhere," Eric sighed.

"It's not an easy decision," Paul said, exasperated.

Brady rolled his eyes.

"Which one do you want, Sonny or Will?"

"I can't just yell out an answer."

"Sure, you can. Sonny or Will?"

"Brady, stop it."

"Sonny or Will?"

"Stop it."

"Sonny or Will?"

"Stop it!"

"Sonny or Will?"

"Stop it!"

"I'll do this the rest of the trip. But I already know the answer."

"Stop. It."

"It's Will, isn't it?"

"Why are you still talking?"

"It's Will. I know it's Will. You want Will."

"Stop talking."

"Do you want Will? That's who you want, isn't it? Isn't it? Do you want Will? Huh? Huh? Huh?"

"Yes!"

Silence surrounded the car, even the radio seemed to fade away.

"Yes, I want Will. I want Will and I don't know what the hell I'm supposed to do."

"See, wasn't so hard, was it?"

Paul, breathing heavily, didn't say anything else for the rest of the car ride. Too busy internally panicking as his entire life and hopes for his future rearranged themselves.


Will wore his most comfortable pair of sweatpants and one of Austin's old t-shirts. He sat on Marlena's couch clutching the dumb Giants pillow pet between his chest and knees.

"Sweetheart, why can't you tell me what's wrong?" Marlena asked, sitting next to Will.

"It's stupid," Will replied. "I'm stupid."

"No, you're not. You know that isn't true. What happened on the trip? I wasn't expecting you until later today but you showed up late last night. Are you still feeling sick?"

"No, no I can breathe out of my nose again. I just – I don't want to make things awkward for you again."

"What are you talking about? You haven't done anything."

Will gave Marlena a harsh look, pushing up his glasses further on his nose.

"Every time I'm around you and Grandpa, you get all weird. And I got enough of that when I was a kid to last me a lifetime."

"Oh, sweetheart, no," Marlena put her hand on one of Will's knees and squeezed. "It's not about you. Well, not in the way you're thinking. I've just gotten so frustrated with John lately especially his view on you and Paul."

Will snorted and bowed his head.

"So, something happened with Paul?" Marlena asked, moving in closer.

"I'm an idiot," Will whispered, hiding his face in the pillow pet. "I let everyone get to me. They all kept saying how I should be with Paul and how obvious it was he liked me. But he doesn't, not the way I want him to. Why did I listen to everyone, Grandma?"

Marlena wrapped her arm around him, frowning.

"What happened?"

"We got in a fight," Will confessed. "He said a lot of things I didn't want to hear. Things I didn't want to be true but are."

Marlena rubbed up and down Will's arm, squeezing him close.

"I'm sure it'll work out. You two can talk to each other. Perhaps it was a misunderstanding."

"Those were just the things he said to me himself. I got some news and I went to tell him and I overheard him with Brady. Apparently what he does want me for is sex and I'm not even worth that."

"That doesn't sound like Paul," Marlena commented with a frown. "And I don't need to tell you that's garbage, do I? Because I know we've had way too many conversations about your self-esteem for it to take a hit from that, right?"

"My self-esteem is intact," Will confirmed. "Just feeling a little crushed at the moment."

"What news were you going to tell Paul anyway?"

Will pressed his lips together, laying the side of his face on the pillow pet.

"Sonny kissed Brian yesterday."

Marlena inhaled sharply, tensing.

"Yeah," Will let out a sardonic laugh. "And if I tell Paul now, he'll either not believe me or he'll think I'm using it to break them up."

Will groaned, sighing.

"I don't want Paul to get hurt and I don't want Brian to get hurt and this whole situation is stupid. Even if I did get together with Paul, I'm leaving soon. I can't stay here. Even if I did, I would want to be friends with Brian and Paul would hate it. I wouldn't want to be with someone when he hated my best friend. I also have self-respect. There's no way in hell I want to get caught in the same demented cycle Paul has with Sonny. Where I would get together with Paul only for him to dump me for Sonny in a few weeks. Wash, rinse, repeat."

"You know that isn't Paul's idea," Marlena said. "He doesn't want to be in that type of situation. He doesn't deserve it and he wouldn't put someone else through the same type of pain."

"I don't really intend to find out," Will stated, voice cold and off-putting. He cleared his throat and stood up, shaking Marlena's arm off. "Thanks for listening, Grandma. I'm sorry you have to put up with this."

"I'm not putting up with anything," Marlena told Will. "I love you. I just want you to be happy."

"I want you to be happy too," Will said. "Which is why I'm backing off, for good. You and Grandpa don't need to fight anymore and you don't need to worry about me and Paul. It's all going to go back to normal. Promise."

Will kissed Marlena on the cheek and walked off to his room.

Marlena sighed, leaning back against the couch cushions.

"I somehow doubt that."


John walked into the penthouse a few hours later. He smiled when he saw Marlena sitting on the sofa reading a book.

"There's my girl," John said with a wide grin and a teasing smile. "I missed you."

Marlena accepted a kiss but didn't smile back.

"What?" John asked, sitting down next to her and frowning. "I just walked in the door. What could I have done, now?"

Marlena simply shook her head. How to explain everything between Paul and Will when it already put enough strain on them before their big day?

"Is it about Will? Because everyone told Brady he was way out of line with the cliff gliding thing," John said. "Is he feeling better yet? Austin drove off like a bat out of hell last night and I didn't get a chance to talk to them about it."

"That isn't why Will left. Although, you can tell me about what Brady did later," Marlena said. "It's about Will and Paul."

"Not this again," John groaned, looking away from Marlena. "I told you, Paul's always wanted Sonny. He finally has him. We need to leave this alone."

"Haven't you ever looked at the way Will and Paul interact?" Marlena asked. "Do they look like mere friends to you?"

"Well, no," John admitted reluctantly. "But, I made a promise to myself. I wouldn't stick my nose in Paul's business like I've done with the rest of our kids."

"You don't even like Sonny," Marlena pointed out. "You hate the way he treats Paul. Why can't you just tell him that?"

"Paul is happy," John argued. "I know how much he's wanted a real relationship with Sonny. How much he's wanted to start over again, for real this time. And if I start running my mouth about it, he might start pulling away."

"He needs to know," Marlena insisted, grabbing John's hand. "Telling your son he deserves better is not a terrible thing. It's the only thing to do in this situation. Because Paul does deserve better than Sonny's given him. You owe it to Paul to tell him how you feel. I know your relationship is still new but this is important. Paul looks to you for guidance and hearing your opinion might push him towards better things."

"You mean push him toward Will."

"Maybe it would. Maybe it wouldn't."

"I don't know," John shook his head. "I don't want to lose him over this."

"John," Marlena took a deep breath and let it out. "You know how Sonny took Brian a birthday present and you told Will not to say anything?"

"Yes," John winced.

"Sonny kissed Brian yesterday."

"What?"

"I don't know the details. I didn't ask. But Paul needs to know and I think you need to be the one to tell him."

"What? Why?"

"Because if Will told him, Paul might not believe him. He could assume Will was lying or using it as a way to break them up. But, Paul trusts you more than anyone. He needs to hear it from you and he needs to know why you told Will to keep what he saw a secret."

"Doc," John shook his head.

"No," Marlena said in a gentle but firm voice. "We're a part of this whole thing, now. We have to set things right."

"What do I even tell him? I don't know what happened between Sonny and Brian."

"Well, when Will gets back, you can ask him."

"Where'd Will go? I thought he was sick."

"He's feeling better today. I think he went to talk to Brian anyway. He'll get the details and when he comes back, you're asking about it. You'll apologize for asking him to hide the truth from Paul. And you'll apologize to me for being insensitive."

"Why do I have to do so much apologizing?"

"Because I told you so," Marlena smiled and patted his cheek. "Before our wedding rehearsal tomorrow, you better talk to Will and Paul, understand?"

"Yes, dear," John sighed.


"Well, you sound better," Brian said, removing a stethoscope from his ear. "And you look hot again, thank god. Illness does not suit you."

"Thanks a lot, asshole," Will sighed but smiled at Brian's amusement.

"Now, why are you really here?" Brian asked.

The two were sitting at the peninsula in Brian's kitchen. Two cups of coffee in front of them, Will tapping his fingers on the counter top.

"To talk, I guess," Will said, looking anywhere but Brian's face. "Although it's pretty weird to talk to you about it, now that I think about it."

"Oh, great, we're talking about Paul now," Brian rolled his eyes. "Okay, lay it on me, I can handle it."

"Do you two seriously hate each other just because of Sonny?" Will asked with a shake of his head.

"Don't you hate Sonny because of Paul?" Brian countered with a sharp smile.

"No," Will said heaving a large breath. "I tried to get along with Sonny, at first. He wasn't having it. From the very first moment we met, he's been nothing but unpleasant even when I helped him with work."

"Okay," Brian acknowledged. "I'm sure he was an ass. But were you any better?"

"Huh?" Will asked the rim of his coffee mug at his lips.

Brian steepled his fingers together giving Will an annoyingly smug grin.

"I love you, Will. I do. But-"

Will made a sound in the back of his throat.

"Shut up, I'm being serious. Now, I lost my train of thought."

"You were professing your undying love for me."

"And this is why we kiss so often, you're easier to deal with when you're not talking," Brian said before clearing his throat. "As I was saying, you're awesome. But you're also a confident, headstrong, stubborn little slut with a giant mouth that you love to flap all over town."

Will's lips twitched. He didn't know if he wanted to smile or frown.

"I knew you for like half an hour before you gave me a hickey."

"You weren't complaining."

"That's the point, dumb-dumb," Brian rolled his eyes but smiled. "If that's how you were with me, someone who you are obviously in denial about being in love with-"

"Ha!"

"What were you like when you met Paul? I've only seen the two of you together once, at the Brady Pub the other day. You know, the time where he brought your glasses and you called him your hero and he had hearts shooting out of his eyes."

"What is your point?"

"The point is, you are not an innocent little flower in this," Brian said. "You know what you're doing. You knew Sonny and Paul when you kissed me the first time."

"You kissed me."

"You kissed me back. You knew that was going to cause all sorts of drama and you did it anyway. So, I highly doubt you weren't purposely starting shit."

Will crossed one arm around his chest while he took a sip of his coffee. He glanced between Brian and the kitchen a few times before sighing.

"Okay, fine. The hickey was to piss off Sonny. But, you're the one that kissed me so it's your fault."

"Uh-huh, sure. Now, what else did my little innocent snowflake not do?"

"Technically, I didn't do anything."

"Yeah, and you keep your clothes on when you drink tequila. What was it?"

"The first time I met Sonny, I may or may not have implied Sonny and Paul looked more like relatives than boyfriends."

Brian snorted.

"And the second time I saw Sonny was when Paul and I were getting coffee. I really didn't do anything that time. But the third time, also not my fault."

"I bet it was."

"No."

Brian gave Will a look.

"Okay, fine, it was my idea but Paul didn't have to do it."

"Do what?"

"I got a sunburn on my back. Paul put on some aloe vera gel for me which Sonny walked in on."

"So, you don't understand why Sonny doesn't like you when he caught his boyfriend rubbing things on your naked skin?"

"Well, when you put it like that it sounds stupid."

"It is stupid, stupid," Brian shook his head. "You don't get to judge me for not liking Paul."

"But Paul's amazing, ignoring last night," Will responded. "Sonny's the worst."

"I take it back. You must still be sick. You're delusional."

"I get why Sonny would be torn between you and Paul. Paul is perfection personified and you're, well, not the worst person I've ever kissed."

"Oh for the love of-"

"But what does Sonny bring to the table? I don't get it. And what do you have against Paul? He never did anything to you. I, at least, have a valid reason for finding Sonny intolerable with his condescension and annoyingness."

"Never did anything to me?" Brian scoffed. "He kissed my boyfriend when he first came to Salem."

"What did you do yesterday, again?" Will asked, tapping his chin.

"Shut up," Brian said. "Sonny kissed me. And I've never had a reason to like Paul. I can admit he has his good qualities but doesn't mean I want him around. Which is really gonna suck if you start dating him."

"That's not gonna happen," Will replied.

"Why not?"

"Maybe 'cause he implied I was a giant slut yesterday."

"What? He can't call you that. Now, I'm gonna have to kick his ass."

"You called me a slut not five minutes ago."

"When I say it, it comes from the heart."

"How do you use your heart to say that?"

"You just do. Look, I can call you all sorts of means things. But, you can bet your pretty little ass, I'm not gonna let anyone else."

"And what makes you think Sonny's gonna be okay with that if you get back together?"

"Because things would be different this time around."

"Oh, god, where have I heard that before? Oh, wait. Every conversation I have with Paul. Newsflash, it's all still the same and nothing is different."

"You're what's different, stupid," Brian pointed out. "And because you pointed out a few harsh truths to me, I know what to do better this time around."

"Like what?"

"Sonny's used to being in charge and getting everything he wants. Despite what he says, he's a spoiled rich little mama's boy who's never wanted for anything. That's how our relationship has always been and it's probably the same with Paul. I know I let Sonny get away with too much. I'd put my foot down on some things, but, eventually, everything would go right back to whatever Sonny wanted. That's not going to happen anymore.

"If Sonny and I happen again, it's going to be on equal footing with no unresolved feelings about anyone else. And, if he can't give me that, then he's in for a rude awakening. I do deserve better and I'm not settling for anything less."

"Good," Will stated. "Now, explain to me Sonny's appeal because I'm not getting it still."

Brian rolled his eyes and picked up his phone.

"Before we get into another discussion, I'm ordering food. I can't deal with your nonsense on an empty stomach."


Paul sat on his sofa, elbows on his knees, twirling his phone round and round. He'd been home for hours, thinking.

He knew what he wanted to do. Now, he just had to find the courage to do it.

Sonny would be over in a few minutes. Paul tried to practice what he wanted to say but the words wouldn't come.

Considering how many times Sonny had done this to him, he should know exactly what to say.

He didn't.

Paul stood up when he heard a knock on his door. He ran his sweaty palms down the side of his pants and let out a shaky breath.

"Hey," Paul greeted when he opened the door and saw Sonny.

Despite it being almost eight o'clock at night, Sonny was still in a suit. Paul couldn't even remember the last time he saw Sonny in anything else.

Couldn't remember the last time he and Sonny talked, really talked, about anything without it ending in an argument.

Paul couldn't remember a lot of things about their relationship and he didn't want to, not anymore.

Sonny barreled past Paul, clutching his phone, with a familiar pinched look on his face.

"What the hell is this?" Sonny asked.

Paul took a step back when Sonny held the phone right in front of his face.

"What is what?" Paul took the phone and held it a normal distance away from his face.

Sonny had the Buzzfeed app open to yet another article featuring Paul and Will. This time, the pictures came from Eric and Brady's Instagram pages. As far as Paul could tell, there wasn't anything incriminating about the pictures. They were mostly group photos or action shots of the group that went zip lining. Some photos from the yacht showed Will and Paul sitting near each other.

Then Paul saw the last photo in the post. The one Eric took before everyone parted ways to zip line. The one where Paul glared at the camera while holding Will tight.

Brady and Eric used #bachelorparty in each photo.

The whole post speculated on whose bachelor party it was and why Paul and Will were there and what their relationship truly was.

Paul couldn't deal with this, not now, not again.

"Well?" Sonny asked, arms crossed.

"It's nothing," Paul tossed the phone back to Sonny. "Pictures from my dad's bachelor party. We went on a trip to southern Illinois for the day. I told you who was going."

"Oh, and I suppose Will threw himself at you for fun?" Sonny wondered in a sarcastic, unpleasant tone.

"He was scared. I was comforting him," Paul shook his head. "Look, I didn't ask you over to talk about-,"

"Scared of what? Bears in the woods? Did he see a bug and needed your big, strong arms to save him? Almost everyone in that picture is related to him but he was clinging to you."

"It doesn't matter, Sonny," Paul said, trying to keep his cool. "How many times do I have to tell you, nothing's ever happened between me and Will? Okay, nothing! And it doesn't matter. I'm done talking to you about this. I've been done. I'm not in charge of what Buzzfeed does or the sudden interest in my life."

"It matters to me."

"Why? What does it matter? Who cares what a bunch of strangers think?"

"Because you're mine."

"No, Sonny, I'm not. That's why I asked you to come over. We need to talk, about us."

Sonny took a step back, several emotions flickering across his face before settling into a forced calm.

"You know what," Sonny said after clearing his throat. "You're right. We've both had some struggles lately, but, it's okay. We're okay."

"No, Sonny," Paul tried to say. "I don't think we should be-,"

"I've been making this difficult but I'll work on that," Sonny promised with a small smile. "Things will get back on track for us, for good this time."

"You're not listening to me," Paul closed his eyes, concentrating. "You and I aren't-,"

"I know, we aren't in a good place, but we will be, soon," Sonny interrupted. "I'll work on my overreactions. It'll be great."

Sonny squeezed Paul's bicep and leaned forward to peck his cheek.

"Now, I actually have to run. I'm working on a project for work. They liked my first presentation so much I'm working on something else now. But, don't worry, I'll still make it tomorrow for the wedding rehearsal."

"Sonny-," Paul tried but it was too late.

"See you tomorrow," Sonny said over his shoulder, ignoring any of Paul's attempts to stop him.

The door closed behind Sonny with an ominous click.

"Shit," Paul sighed, dropping onto the sofa, burying his face in his hands. "Shit."

Chapter Text

August 21, 2018

"Will, where have you been?" Sami hissed at him when he walked into Marlena and John's penthouse.

"I stayed the night with a friend," Will said, tossing his spare key aside. "I sent Grandma a text last night so she wouldn't worry."

"What friend? Nevermind, we need your help," Sami said in a frantic tone. "Get upstairs and get ready. We have to get to the wedding site in an hour and a half. And we still have to set up for the party."

"Didn't you already do all this? The night I got here? How many parties does anyone need?" Will asked.

Sami wasn't listening. She joined Belle as they flittered around the room, handling last minute things Will wanted no part of.

He trudged off to his room to shower, shave, and change. With any luck, he would miss most of the drama that was sure to unravel with his mom and her sister trying to help at the same time.

"Will," John called from his office door.

Will's guest room was right across the hall from it.

"I have to get ready or someone is going to kill me," Will said. "Can it wait?"

"Not really, no," John replied. He pushed his office door further open. "Marlena said I had to do this or else. I'm not too keen on finding out what the or else is."

"Fine," Will said, going to sit in front of John's desk.

"Right, well," John sat down across from Will, hands locked together on top of the desk. "We haven't spent much time together lately. Alone time, that is. And, well, I know things are going on with you and Paul and I haven't been too suppo-,"

Will held up a hand and cut him off.

"Let me save you the trouble. I know Paul doesn't want the same things I do. I want Paul. He wants Sonny. I'm leaving soon. He's staying. He's your son. I'm the kid you visit from time to time. You don't need to give me this speech again. I'm staying away."

"What? No," John shook his head. "That's not what I was going to say at all. And you shut your trap with your just some kid crap. You are not, not to me."

"Then what did you want to talk about?" Will asked, shifting in his seat with a small frown.

"I'm not completely blind," John said. "I've seen the way you and Paul are together. It was wrong of me to tell you to keep what you saw between Sonny and Brian a secret. And, I heard there's more to that story and I'm asking for the details. It's important for Paul to know before he gets hurt."

"Oh," Will blinked a few times, running his tongue over his gums while he thought. "Sorry. I thought you were going to yell at me again."

"I didn't yell at you," John argued. "I strongly expressed my view. That I've been told by Marlena several times is the wrong view."

"Right," Will smiled briefly. "Well, details. I will preface this by saying I'm glad you want to tell Paul yourself. It'll sound better coming from you. Also, he told me he wants you to have a more traditional relationship. I think he feels like he's missing out on the whole protective parent thing."

"Really?" John asked. "Damn, your grandma was right again."

"Haven't you learned by now she's always right?" Will teased. "Anyway, all the drama started with Sonny bringing Brian a present on his birthday. I didn't see the aftermath or anything. I put Sonny in his place and left. Then I saw Sonny meeting Brian in the bathroom at the pub. But they were yelling at each other. I know. I eavesdropped."

John nodded in approval.

"Then Brian told me Sonny came to meet him after work when Paul left on the bachelor trip. Sonny kissed Brian and said a whole bunch of crap about wanting Brian again."

John clenched his jaw and fists.

"He's a real piece of work."

"No kidding," Will remarked. "I wanted to tell Paul but we're not exactly in a good place at the moment."

"What happened?" John asked. "On our trip, everything was fine."

"Got in an argument, I guess," Will shrugged, crossing his arms. "He didn't appreciate some of the questions I asked about Sonny. He got defensive. I got defensive. I overheard him talking with Brady about me and we haven't talked since then."

"I'll talk to him about it," John promised with a half-smile. "Now, we both better get ready. If either one of us is late…"

John trailed off and shook his head.

"I don't even want to think about it."


Paul didn't have to go far to get to the wedding rehearsal. Everything was taking place on the ground level of the building he lived in.

A large hall and patio overlooked the lake. It was a beautiful spot and the location for John and Marlena's wedding and rehearsal.

The hall was divided into two spaces. On one half was seating for the ceremony. The other half was prepared for the reception with several tables and a dance floor. Today, after they went over everything, they would dine on the patio.

If they made it through everything.

Allie was currently crying in a corner while Johnny whined about being hungry. Sami lashed out at anyone who tried to help her in comforting them. All while Claire argued she was too old to be a flower girl and wouldn't get off her phone. John and Marlena were standing with their heads bent together but the conversation didn't look friendly. Every now and again, Paul would see one of them gesture towards him.

Oh, and Will wouldn't even look in Paul's direction. All while Paul couldn't look anywhere else regardless of Brady and Eric's less than subtle attempts to shove Paul toward Will.

"If we're going to go over everything we really must get started," the event coordinator said.

Everyone ignored her.

"For the love of…" Will trailed off, shoving himself out of the chair he sat in. He pulled a packet of gum out of his pocket and handed several pieces to Johnny. "Now, shut it."

Then he picked up Allie and hung her upside down, tickling and shaking until she giggled. He flipped her right side up and walked her and Johnny over to their spot near the back of the hall.

Next, he grabbed Claire's phone and shoved it into Belle's purse.

"You're not an infant," Will told her when she started to complain. "Trust me, you don't deserve to be this whiny."

He crossed his arms and looked at everyone staring at him.

"Why do I have to do everything? Are we doing this or what?"

Everyone moved into their positions, Marlena giving him a sly wink as she walked passed him.

Sami and Brady walked down the aisle first as they were Marlena's maid of honor and John's best man. Next, came Eric and Belle.

Paul held out his arm for Will to link with his when the event coordinator requested. Will's glare scared the poor woman into backing off.

Instead, Will and Paul walked side by side without Will so much as looking at Paul.

Johnny, the smallest of the three, stood in the middle with an arm linked with a now smiling Allie and an embarrassed Claire.

Last, Marlena and John walked together down the aisle. Their children and grandchildren waiting for them at the end.

Despite the tense nature of their conversation beforehand, Marlena and John were all smiles now.

They went through the motions of a real wedding. The minister explaining what would happen and when.

Everyone laughed when Sami joked they'd been to so many weddings before they didn't need a refresher. Even Will cracked a smile and briefly made eye contact with Paul before he looked away.

Paul heard very little of what was said. He spent almost the whole time looking at Will and trying not to fidget.

He didn't realize how real everything was until now. He and Will were members of the same family. Even if they hadn't experienced the past month together, they'd always have this.

It'd barely been a day since Will and Paul talked but Paul missed him so much. He found himself writing messages to Will on WhatsApp before he remembered. Oh, yeah. Will wasn't talking to him.

It wasn't even Will's face or body he missed the most, although that was a big part of it. He missed Will's laugh and the way his eyes nearly bulged out of his head when he reacted to things. He missed the way he always smelled like coffee and fabric softener.

Paul even missed the way Will pushed and prodded and made Paul think about things he never wanted to think about before.

And Will was here, feet away from him, and Paul still missed him.

He had to fix things. He would fix things.

Tonight


An hour after the rehearsal ended, everyone moved to the outdoor patio. There were fairy lights strung across the ceiling and soft music playing while everyone enjoyed cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. EJ, Madison, Shawn, and Nicole joined them as well as Carrie and Austin.

Sonny, thankfully, sent Paul a text saying he would be late.

Paul, holding a pink cocktail he had no interest in drinking, tried to look nonchalant as he watched Will interact with Allie and Johnny. He was pretty sure he wasn't fooling anybody.

He didn't pull his eyes away until he saw his father and Marlena quietly arguing again right next to him.

"Now?" John asked. "But, I wanted to…"

At Marlena's sharp glance, John cleared his throat and nodded.

"Now, it is."

Paul, bemused, raised his eyebrows expectantly when John walked over to him.

"Son," John greeted. "Word of advice: don't ever argue with the person you're marrying so close to the wedding."

"I don't think I'll have to worry about that," Paul said with a small smile.

"You never know," John said, looking at Paul out of the corner of his eye. "As ridiculous as things get sometimes, I'd do anything to make Marlena happy."

"If I know anything," Paul responded, pointing his full glass at John, "it's that."

John nodded, looking back over at Marlena. She was standing in a circle with Sami, Carrie, and Belle. John couldn't help smiling at the sight.

"Getting to this point with Marlena again, it means everything. We've been through so much pain and confusion. Deep down, though, I've always known she's the one for me. Even when we've been with other people, I knew."

Paul turned his full attention to John. He'd seen his dad and Marlena interact. He could see their connection but he'd never heard his dad talk about it this way before.

"Other women in my life were important," John acknowledged. "I felt for them, even loved them. But none held a candle to Marlena. None of them are as beautiful and strong. Ruthless when necessary but still so kind and caring. None blended as seamlessly with my family, made it our family. None of them challenged me to become a better man, a better father, and grandfather.

"All the women I've loved before were important and hold a special place in my heart. But I knew when it was time to let go.

"Now, son, I've never told you how to live your life. I've held my tongue on your choice of partner. I'd never insult or belittle your feelings for Sonny even though sometimes I really want to. But, a wise woman told me recently that you've never smiled as large or laughed as deep with anyone but Will."

John squeezed Paul's shoulder with a smile.

"Whatever you do, I'll always support you. But, I know you'll make me proud."

Paul let his father walk away without saying anything. But he dreamed about a moment like this for the longest time.

He and John were so careful with each other, afraid to say or do the wrong thing and ruin the basis of their relationship. Paul witnessed John telling Brady and even Eric how big of an idiot they were when they made mistakes. Saw John warn them and slap the back of their head and argue and fight.

John never did any of those things with Paul. He always smiled and nodded, encouraged Paul to do whatever made him happy. It was maddening.

This was progress. He didn't flat out tell Paul what to do but Paul knew.

Throwing back the pink cocktail in one gulp, Paul slammed it down before heading over to Will.

John wanted Paul with Will.

Paul wanted that too.


Will stayed close to his brother and sister. He walked with them along the edge of a small stream that connected to Salem Lake and the river. Will almost found the scenery romantic if not for the very high possibility of a dead body floating by at any minute.

But, he promised to keep away from Paul and not cause any wedding disruptions. The only way to do that would be to stay away from his meddling family and Paul.

Paul, however, did not get that message.

"Hey," Paul said, hands stuffed in his nicely fitting dress pants. "Is it okay if I borrow Will for a few minutes?"

"I guess," Johnny said, throwing a rock in the stream.

"I think they're bringing out dinner now, anyway," Paul said, pointing over his shoulder.

"Yes," Allie cheered as she and Johnny raced back to their seats.

Will watched them go before turning back to face the water.

"Hi," Paul said, slowly stepping closer to Will.

Will didn't say anything back but Paul saw his fingers twitch.

He didn't tell Paul to leave either.

Paul stood as close to Will as he could without touching him.

"Everything I told you the other night and anything you overheard wasn't true," Paul said, looking right at Will's flickering eyes.

"I know what I heard," Will said, trying his hardest not to look at Paul.

"I said them but I didn't mean them. I don't mean them. I've never ever thought any of those things about you. I'm sorry, Will, so sorry."

Will scoffed, clicking his tongue.

"I know you don't believe me right now but I have to-" Paul glanced over his shoulder when he heard all the chattering behind them stop.

Everyone except Johnny and Allie was staring at them.

When they noticed Paul looking, they all quickly turned aside, pretending nothing ever happened.

"We're never getting any privacy here," Paul realized. He looked all around and above them before his eyes settled on something in the distance.

"Do you trust me?" Paul asked, tilting Will's chin to look at him.

Will shivered a bit at the unexpected touch. He'd done well not to look at Paul for an extended period and he was right to. He was unfairly handsome in simple dress pants and shirt. Will didn't want to imagine what he'd look like in a suit tomorrow.

But, he made the mistake of looking at Paul's bright, sparkling eyes. Now, Will couldn't look away.

He nodded.

"Okay," Paul licked his lips and smiled. "Come with me?"

Will nodded again, swallowing.

He let Paul grab his hand and pull him away from their family and inside.

Paul didn't let go even when they went inside the elevator. He didn't let go when he pushed a button with the letters RT on them. He didn't let go when he had to pull out his keys, sliding a small key card into a panel.

He didn't let go of Will's hand, not even when they stepped onto a rooftop terrace.

Will glanced around the large area. Flowers and trees outlined a sitting area with outdoor furniture and a fire pit. It also blocked some of the views off the side of the building.

They were awfully high up.

"Hey, it's okay," Paul promised when Will tightened his grip on his hand. "I won't let anything happen to you. See, it's alright."

Paul eased Will toward the middle of the terrace and a large wooden bench.

"See," Paul helped Will sit down and felt his shoulders trembling. "We're in the middle. No chance of falling and you can't see over the sides."

"Why are we up here?" Will whispered, having a hard time concentrating on anything other than how far he'd fall if he were to go over.

"It's the only place we could be alone," Paul admitted. "You need a special card to get access up here. And my dad and Brady have a spare key to my place so we couldn't go there. And I didn't want an audience for this."

"For what?" Will asked, looking across Paul's face.

Paul scooted closer to Will and grabbed both of his still trembling hands. He opened his mouth to say something before closing it again with a nervous chuckle.

"God, this is – I don't even know how to say this," Paul closed his eyes tight.

Maybe if he wasn't looking at Will's face he could concentrate.

It didn't help, not really. Because he could picture Will so clearly in his mind. His blue eyes and his pink lips and that adorable little scrunch to his nose when he was confused.

Paul opened his eyes and everything was worse.

Will was in front of him, here. He followed Paul up to the top of the highest building in Salem even though he was clearly terrified. Even when they were arguing, all because Paul asked him to.

"I -," Paul tried to say only for Will to cut him off.

"Do you hear that?" Will asked, head turned to the side.

Paul did hear it.

Music, drifting up from the patio.

If I Fell by the Beatles

Paul laughed. Even if he did prefer the Tokyo Fab version, he couldn't think of a more perfect song for this moment.

"Hey," Paul stood up with a smile on his face. He held his hand out to Will. "Dance with me?"

"What?" Will asked, letting Paul pull him up.

"Come here," Paul requested, putting a hand on Will's lower back and pulling him close. He used his other hand to put Will's hands around his neck, swaying gently to the music.

Will couldn't look away from Paul's face, just let Paul set the pace.

"I don't think we're supposed to do this," Will said after a few seconds. "You know, this is kind of what you yelled at me about."

"It's okay," Paul said with a small smile. "It's what I wanted to tell you."

"What?"

Paul held Will even tighter, hooking his chin over Will's right shoulder.

Paul never found the right words to say. So, he decided to let John Lennon and Paul McCartney do it for him.

With both hands spread along Will's back, Paul sang along to the faint music they barely heard but both knew all the words.

"If I give my heart to you, I must be sure from the very start that you would love me more than her. If I trust in you oh please, don't run and hide. If I love you too, oh please, don't hurt my pride like her. 'Cause I couldn't stand the pain and I would be sad if our new love was in vain.

"So I hope you see that I would love to love you. And that she will cry when she learns we are two. 'Cause I couldn't stand the pain and I would be sad if our new love was in vain.

"So I hope you see that I would love to love you. And that she will cry when she learns we are two. If I fell in love with you."

Paul refused to let Will go even when the song ended and something new began to play.

"What – uh – what does that mean?" Will asked, arms wrapped tight around Paul's neck. "You can't do things like this if you don't mean it."

"I mean it," Paul answered. "I have for a long time. Maybe from the moment we met, I don't know. Or when we were at the lake or the first time you smiled at me or when you made me laugh. I don't know when. God, maybe all of them. Every moment. But I mean them more than I've ever meant anything I've ever said."

Paul pulled away from Will just enough to look into his eyes. He cupped Will's cheek, brushing below Will's orbital bone.

"I'm going to break up with Sonny because I want to be with you. I don't care if it's for a day or ten or the next twenty years. I want you, in any way you'll have me."

Will let out a loud breath of air, eyes watering, stunned beyond all belief. His face couldn't decide if he should smile or laugh or cry or do all three at the same time.

Instead, he wrapped his arms back around Paul and pulled him as tight as he could possibly go.

"Oh my god," Will said in a breathless whisper. "I don't even – how did – what?"

"I don't think I've ever heard you speechless before," Paul said with a wet chuckle.

"Don't get used to it," Will replied, blinking over and over because this couldn't be real life.

It couldn't.

This morning, around one, he was bemoaning his existence and eating all of Brian's ice cream. Certain he was never going to talk to Paul again. Now, now, Will had all of this and it seemed too good to be true.

Way too good.

Will pulled away from Paul despite Paul trying to pull him back in close.

"What do you mean, you're going to break up with Sonny?" Will asked, one hand on Paul's chest to keep him away.

"I tried to do it last night," Paul admitted. "He wouldn't let me talk and left. But I'm going to. As soon as I see him. I'll break up with him and we can be together. Right?"

Paul got a desperate, almost crazed look in his eyes and held Will's face between both palms.

"We're going to be together, aren't we?"

"Would you break up with Sonny anyway?" Will asked, pressing his lips tightly together.

"Yes," Paul answered. "Yes, I heard everything you tried to tell me in the hot tub. I didn't at the time but when I thought about it, later on, I understood. And that's why I got so mad because you were right. You were right and I didn't know how to deal with it."

Paul pressed closer to Will, holding Will's face as gently as he could.

"I held onto Sonny for so long because I was living in the past. I wanted to play out the future I denied myself. But, you're right. I don't love who Sonny is now. I've been holding onto the memory of someone I loved in that hotel room years ago. So, yes, I'd break up with Sonny even if I couldn't have you."

"Are you saying that so you won't feel guilty sleeping with me?"

"What?" Paul blinked several times, stunned. "No, of course, not. I wouldn't do that to you. That's not what this is."

"How am I supposed to know that?" Will asked with a little pout to his lips Paul found adorable. "A few days ago I was just a pretty face and a nice ass and Sonny was the love of your life. Now, I'm supposed to think you changed your mind on everything just like that."

"I – I didn't mean those things," Paul insisted, readjusting his grip on Will's face. "You mean so much to me, Will. You deserve so much more than I've given you, than I've got to offer. I'm not brave like you. I was all set for my life to turn out a certain way. I was pathetic like you've been saying. But I promise every little word, every smile, every laugh you've given me has been amazing and precious and I've been holding them close to my heart. I'm not going to treat you the way I've been treated or the way I'm treating Sonny, now. I'll never do that to you. And I don't think those things about you, I don't. I want you to stay exactly the way you are. That's the Will I fell for and I'd never want you to change, ever. I don't think that way. I promise."

"So, you don't think I'm pretty with a nice ass?" Will asked, trying so hard not to smile.

Paul's mouth hung open, struggling to respond. He finally blinked, shaking his head at Will and grinning.

"So?"

"So, what?" Will asked, not making this easy on Paul at all.

"Do you want to be with me?" Paul asked, eyes wide and hopeful.

"Are you gonna dismiss my concerns again?"

"No, of course not."

"Are you gonna say those types of things about me again?"

"Will, no, never."

"Are you using me as a way to get back at Sonny?"

"No, definitely not."

"Are you gonna tell me how much you want me and then run right back to Sonny?"

"No, God, no."

"Okay, then."

"Okay?" Paul repeated, searching Will's face. "Okay?"

"Okay, if you break up with Sonny," Will answered, trying to play it coy. "We can be together."

"Yes!" Paul said a little too loudly before he closed his eyes, reeling it back in. "Yes, good, great, yes, okay. Um – yeah, as soon as I see him. Then we'll be together."

"But, just so you know," Will gave Paul a serenely sweet smile, rubbing his hands over Paul's chest and shoulders, "if you treat me that way again I'll make your life miserable."

"Deal," Paul grinned, sliding his hand to the back of Will's neck.

"Yeah," Will chuckled, nose scrunching.

"Yeah," Paul repeated, taking a big breath and angling his head, leaning toward Will.

Will's eyes fluttered shut, licking his lips in anticipation.

When their lips were inches apart, Paul's phone let out an obnoxious sound, causing them both to jump and bump foreheads.

"Ow," Will said with a laugh, rubbing his head.

Paul touched his forehead too with a small frown. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and let out a laugh.

"It's Sonny," Paul said, glancing up at Will with a grin. "He just got here and wants to meet in my condo. Okay, this is perfect. I can tell him and we can get back to where we just were."

"Right," Will let out a shaky laugh.

"Okay, yeah, let's go," Paul gestured with his head toward the elevator. "We can tell him and everything will be out in the open."

"Are you sure you want me there?" Will asked, stopping himself from following Paul. "He already hates me enough."

"I just thought you'd want to see," Paul suggested. "But, you're right. That might throw him over the edge. So, you can go back downstairs and I'll join you right after."

"And deal with everyone and their questions alone?" Will scoffed. "I don't think so."

"Oh, right," Paul sighed. "They were spying on us, weren't they? Well, hey, you can stay here, in the middle where you're safe. And I'll deal with Sonny and be right back."

"You promise?" Will asked with wide eyes. "You're not gonna leave me up here, are you?"

"I'd never do that to you," Paul promised.

He pressed his lips to Will's cheek and pulled back with a smile.

"Wish me luck," Paul said with a nervous chuckle. "I'll be right back, promise."

"Good luck," Will said with a shaky wave.

He wrapped his hands around his waist and sat back down. It was high up, here, wasn't it?


Paul's right leg jittered all the way down the elevator to his floor.

This was it. He was really doing this.

Paul let out a deep breath when the elevator doors opened and he walked the few feet to his door. Sonny was already waiting.

"Hey," Paul greeted barely giving Sonny a glance before unlocking his door. "I have something I need to tell you."

"Me too," Sonny agreed, stepping inside.

"Okay," Paul turned to face Sonny, completely focused. He wasn't sure what he was going to say yet but, like with Will, the words would come to him. "Sonny, I-,"

"Wait," Sonny held up one hand, grabbing Paul's forearm. "Wait, I need to say this."

"Sonny, I don't-,"

"I thought long and hard about everything. Not just the past few weeks but the past few years. Ever since you came to Salem. I thought about the way I've treated you and how often our relationship crumbles. And I know it's my fault."

Paul couldn't help the surprise he felt.

Sonny never said those words, ever.

"It's my fault because I haven't treated you the way you deserve. I see that, now. It was unfair of me to treat you like an afterthought and to pit you against Brian. And I can't tell you how sorry I am for that."

Sonny's hand slid up Paul's arm and shoulder, twining around his neck.

"I'm sorry because I love you. I've always loved you. In our private, secret moments in San Francisco and here, in Salem. I've always loved you, Paul. I'm always going to love you. It doesn't matter who came before you or who came after you, it's always been you. It's always going to be you."

Sonny let out a nervous laugh, licking his lips and holding Paul's gaze.

"I know I haven't given you any reasons to believe me but I love you. And there's only one way I can think of to get you to trust me. It's what I've wanted from the beginning with you, what I'm always going to want."

Sonny pulled something out of his pant pocket and showed it to Paul.

Paul felt his heart stop as he looked from Sonny to the ring in his hand.

"Paul, will you marry me?"


Will sighed, long and loud, arms wrapped around his knees. It was getting dark and windy out here. Clouds gathered overhead and Will really didn't want to be up here anymore.

He kept glancing at the time on his phone every few seconds.

How long did it take to break up with someone? The longest it ever took Will was ten minutes. Well, no, the longest was about a week and a half. It would have been less but the sex was really good.

Will doubted that was the case with Paul and Sonny.

Still, though, Paul had been gone a really long time.

He said he'd be back, though. He promised.

Paul wouldn't leave him up here.

He wouldn't.

Will checked his phone again.

Paul had been gone almost an hour, now.

Will knew.

Paul wasn't coming back.

Chapter Text

August 21, 2018

It took Will several long, terrifying moments to psych himself up to move. There were maybe twenty steps to the elevator from Will's spot but with the wind roaring and the sky rapidly darkening it felt like more.

It was windy and Will was so high up. One big gust and he would fly over the edge of the rooftop terrace into an empty abyss. It was dark and high up and Will was pretty sure the howling of the wind sounded too much like a tiger's roar for his liking and he was going to fall and a tiger was going to rip him into bloody shreds and he couldn't move.

Will couldn't move and he let out a high-pitched scream when the wind knocked over a potted palm.

The scream and the wind were enough to scare Will into action. He closed his eyes and ran for the elevator, stabbing his finger into the down arrow over and over until the elevator dinged.

He didn't care how pathetic it made him, he let out a cry of relief when the doors closed and the elevator moved.

Will hated heights and now, he could say he hated heights at the beginning of a storm as well.

And right now, he hated Paul a little bit too.

He promised he wouldn't leave Will there for long. He promised to come back.

He promised a lot of things.

Heart pounding against his chest, Will pushed the button for Paul's floor. He didn't know what he was going to find. Didn't know what he'd do when he heard whatever excuse Paul had for leaving Will out there, alone, in the dark, in the one place Paul knew he hated most.

Will walked down the hallway to Paul's door with a growing sense of dread.

He almost didn't want to knock.

Didn't know what he'd find or what he'd do.

But, Will Horton was nothing if not confrontational.

He knocked and waited.

Sonny answered the door, barefoot, with his shirt untucked and wide open.

Will looked past Sonny and saw a scattering of clothes on the floor.

The condo reeked of champagne.

"Where – uh – where's Paul?" Will asked, clearing his throat mid-sentence.

He didn't like the glint in Sonny's eyes or the smirk on his lips.

"In the shower," Sonny announced, leaning against Paul's doorjamb. "Did you need something?"

Will wasn't going to give Sonny the satisfaction of a reaction.

It took several long, painful moments but he collected himself. Pulled all his emotions in one at a time, like reeling in a fish with a rod. He could react later when he was alone. Right here, right now, Will wasn't going to do anything.

"John's looking for him," Will told Sonny with a blank face.

"He'll be down when I'm done with him," Sonny said with a grin.

"I'm sure he will," Will mumbled, turning on his heel, back for the elevator.

Don't react. Don't react. Don't react. Don't react.

"Tell everyone at the rehearsal I said hi," Sonny yelled toward Will's back. "Paul and I have some – uh – unfinished business to take care of, first."

Don't react. Don't react. Don't react. But, seriously, Paul wants that over me?

Will walked slow and steady out of the elevators when they opened on the ground floor. He wandered back to everyone with his party face on.

John was the closest person he could find. Will pulled him aside.

"You okay?" John asked when he looked at Will's face. "You're white as a ghost. You're not sick again, are you? And where's Paul?"

"In his condo with Sonny," Will said, a painfully polite smile stuck on his face. "I just wanted to let you know I'm not feeling too good."

"Alright," John touched Will's forehead with the back of his hand. "Do you need someone to go with you? Want me to call you a car?"

"No, thank you," Will said, eyes glazed over. "I'll be alright. You enjoy your party. You deserve it."

"If you're sure," John said, giving Will a strange look.

"I'm sure," Will promised. "I'm ready to go home now."


Sonny closed Paul's door with a satisfyingly loud snap. Not a moment too soon, either.

Paul walked out of his bedroom, buttoning up a new shirt, and shaking his wet hair. He paused when he saw Sonny.

"What the hell are you still doing here?"

"We're not done talking," Sonny said.

"Oh, we're done," Paul countered. "We're beyond done."

"No," Sonny denied, closing up his own shirt.

"Get out, Sonny," Paul gestured toward his kitchen. "I already have to clean up your mess. I don't need to clean up anything else."

"And I told you that was an accident," Sonny insisted. "Why are you doing this?"

"Do you even remember what happened like ten minutes ago? Or have you already blocked that from your memory too?"


Earlier

"Paul, will you marry me?"

Paul looked at the ring in the palm of Sonny's hand. It was shiny, glistening almost, round and symbolic of an eternity, an eternity with Sonny.

He couldn't breathe.

Those were the words Paul wanted to hear for so long. The words he always wanted Sonny to ask him again. He thought about it obsessively after Sonny left him in San Francisco. How he'd change his answer if Sonny ever asked again.

Now was his chance to finally right a wrong he made so many years ago.

Sonny's words were beautiful and everything Paul ever wanted.

But, that was before.

Now, the thought of marrying Sonny seemed unfathomable.

How could he marry Sonny when he had someone like Will?

"Sonny," Paul reached out toward Sonny's outstretched palm.

"Yes?" Sonny asked, beaming.

Paul pushed Sonny's hand closed.

"No."

"No?" Sonny repeated, blinking at Paul with a blank face. "What do you mean no?"

"No, I won't marry you."

Paul let out a slow gasp after he said it.

This was everything he wanted for so long. He dealt with years of Brian and tears and crippling pain to get to this moment.

He didn't even want it. His world didn't fall apart at his answer, not this time.

Paul couldn't help the small smile that lit up his face.

For the first time, in a long time, he felt like himself around Sonny.

"I can't marry you, Sonny," Paul said in a strong, clear voice. "I can't be with you at all anymore."

"What are you talking about?" Sonny asked, starting to panic. "Paul?"

"That's why I wanted to see you. It's what I wanted to tell you last night but you wouldn't give me a chance. I'm breaking up with you."

"What?" Sonny asked.

His face looked so perplexed Paul couldn't help but laugh even though it was entirely inappropriate.

"I don't want to be with you," Paul clarified. "In fact, I don't think I have for a long time."

Sonny's face went through a rush of emotions. Paul saw them flicker by.

Confusion, pain, hurt, embarrassment, resentment, anger.

So much anger

"What are you talking about?" Sonny demanded fist clenched so tightly around the ring it dug into his palm.

"I'm talking about the two of us breaking up, for good this time," Paul said. "I can't be with you, Sonny. I don't want to be with you."

"No?" Sonny questioned, understanding settling into his face. Quickly followed by the ugliest expression Paul had ever seen on him. "Let me guess, huh, we can't be together because you want to fuck Will."

"No," Paul answered, jaw clenching. "That's not why we're breaking up."

"Right," Sonny snorted. "Sure. No, I bet you haven't been whispering in his ear all the sweet nothings you want to do to him."

"I'm not breaking up with you to have sex with Will," Paul stated, crossing his arms. "It's not about that."

"But, it's about Will," Sonny said with a sneer.

"No," Paul sighed. "It's about me. It's about me wanting more out of life than what we have, than what we've given each other."

"And what exactly can he give you that I can't?"

"Right now? Respect."

"What?"

"Will listens to the words that come out of my mouth. I don't know what the hell you're doing right now. Not to mention, you haven't respected any part of me or our relationship since I got to Salem."

"That isn't true."

"Yeah, it is," Paul looked Sonny over with a shake of his head. "I've been too stupid to see it."

Sonny ran one of his hands through his hair, forcing it out of its meticulously styled hold. Eyes wild and desperate, breath coming in sharp little pants.

"Why are you doing this?" Sonny asked. Voice a mixture of fury and pain, wet and choked off and Paul hated it.

He never wanted to hurt Sonny.

This was necessary, though.

"We shouldn't be together," Paul said, trying to keep his tone gentle.

"Why not?" Sonny asked, eyes watering and face turning a bright red. "You've never done this before. You never even gave me any warning. Why are you doing this to me? I thought you loved me. You're always going to love me. You're Paul Narita. You're for me, only me."

Paul took a step back, frowning.

"Don't do that. Don't try to paint some romantic fairy tale picture of us. That's not who we are."

"Yes, it is," Sonny insisted. "You found me in Salem, after everything and we have a new chance."

"I wasn't looking for you. I wanted somewhere to recover from my surgery in peace. Yes, you happened to be here but so was Brian. Before that, when I was playing ball, our fairytale romance was us messing around in hotel rooms because I didn't want anyone to know about you. It's hardly the makings of a Disney movie."

"I – I – I know I was confused for a long time but I picked you, Paul. I did and now, you're what? Punishing me for my feelings for Brian."

"I'm not doing any of this for you," Paul said before taking a deep breath. "Actually, for the first time in a long time, I'm doing something for me."

"Really?" Sonny asked, nodding his head several times, face contorting through emotions. "You're leaving me for some stupid, dumb sl-,"

"Don't," Paul interrupted in a low growl.

Sonny paused, glaring at Paul, face settling into a smirk.

"Isn't Will leaving at the end of the month? Going to an entirely different continent? And you'll be here, alone. Again."

"It doesn't matter," Paul said, shaking his head and shrugging. "I'm going to enjoy whatever time I do have with him. And even if Will wanted nothing to do with me, we'd still be having this conversation. I already told you. This breakup is for me. It's what I want. Because I cannot be with you anymore, Sonny."

"None of this would have ever happened if it wasn't for him," Sonny said through clenched teeth, wiping underneath his eyes.

"Oh, no, we'd be having an entirely different version of this," Paul said with a sardonic grin. "Because this is all we do, Sonny. Every time we're together it comes to this. Only this time, I'm doing the dumping, not you. If Will wasn't around maybe we'd last a few more weeks but I doubt it. Sooner or later, you'd end up running back to Brian. Well, fine, be my guest."

"I was not-,"

"No, I insist," Paul made a wide, sweeping gesture to his front door. "Go and with my blessing too."

Sonny stayed where he was, nostrils flaring and eyes blinking rapidly.

"You love me," Sonny said, lips quivering. "I know you do."

"Yeah, Sonny," Paul said with a sigh. "I did. I probably still do. A part of me always will. But not like I did before, not like I should.

"When I think about loving you, I think about a young, handsome explorer I knew in a hotel room. That's the Sonny I love. When it was you and me and nobody else. When we were a secret. That was perfect. That was us. But, out here in the real world, we don't work."

"We could," Sonny argued. "If we try."

"We have, Sonny. That's what you're not getting. We have had so many chances and they never work. I always thought it was because of Brian. And a part of it is, but not all of it. It's you and me. We're the problem. If we were meant to be together, if we loved each other the way someone should, there wouldn't be any doubts. You wouldn't run back to Brian every chance you got if you loved me the way I deserve. And I wouldn't have fallen for Will if I loved you the way you deserve."

"Fallen for Will?" Sonny repeated with a dangerous look on his face.

"That's what you're choosing to focus on?" Paul asked with a roll of his eyes.

"You don't know him, Paul," Sonny said, pursing his lips.

"Yeah, I do," Paul argued. "Despite what you think, Will and I connected on more than just lust or whatever it is you think. We're friends. I know him, Sonny."

"He wants Brian," Sonny said with a sneer.

"No, he doesn't," Paul said clenching his fists.

"How many times can you kiss someone without it turning into something more?" Sonny asked. "Well, I guess you and Will would know."

"I haven't kissed Will," Paul stated. "Unlike you, I don't go around cheating on my partners."

Sonny glared at Paul.

"It doesn't matter. They're gonna sleep together eventually if they haven't already."

"No, Sonny, they're not. You wanna know why? Because they're friends. Maybe I didn't want to listen to Will about it before but I believe him now. And even if they did sleep together, who cares? They're single. They can do what they want. I don't even know why we're talking about this. Wait, let me guess, you're pissed that Brian showed attention to someone else."

Sonny didn't say anything.

"God," Paul shook his head. "Why are you even with me if you can't stand the thought of your ex-boyfriend wanting someone else? Hell, this is what you do every time. You don't want him or me to want anyone but you."

"This has nothing to do with that," Sonny argued.

"No, you're right. It has to do with Will. Because one of us liking Will is terrible enough but both of us? Well, that's just impossible. Oh, and Will told me all about how you keep warning him away from both of us. So, even now, you're begging me to stay with you but you wanna keep Brian ready and able at your side. Nice, Sonny, real nice."

"I proposed to you because I want to be with you," Sonny insisted.

"And I said no because I don't want to be with you," Paul countered. "I'm sorry if that hurts you and I know it's not fair. But I'm not going to treat you or Will the way you treat me and Brian. I'm not playing any games or making idle threats. You and I are over, for good.

"Now, I'd like for you to leave."

Paul turned his back on Sonny, going into his kitchen.

The entire conversation with Sonny reaffirmed everything Paul believed.

He and Sonny were not good for each other, not anymore.

Paul rummaged in the back of a cupboard for a bottle of champagne. A story about the drink, about a young Will and the French Riviera, was one of the first things that bonded them.

Paul wanted to make some memories of their own now.

He grabbed the bottle, ready to put it on ice, go get poor Will down from the rooftop. Paul couldn't believe Will even went up there let alone agreed to stay alone. Then Will and Paul could get started on their new life together. No matter how long or short it may be.

"God," Paul jumped when he turned around and saw Sonny standing in front of him. "What are you doing? I asked you to leave."

"We're not through here," Sonny instead.

"Yeah, we are," Paul reiterated. "I broke up with you. That's all you need to know."

"Paul, I-," Sonny cut himself off when he saw the bottle of champagne in Paul's hand. The expensive bottle of champagne one of Paul's old baseball friends sent right after Paul came out.

Paul wouldn't open it no matter how often Sonny pressed.

Sonny stared at Paul in disbelief.

"You've gotta be kidding me," Sonny muttered. "Why are you doing this to me?"

"How many times do I have to tell you, none of this is for you? For once in my life since coming to Salem I am not thinking of you. I'm thinking of me and what I want is for you to leave and my new life with Will to begin."

Sonny reached out, trying to grab Paul's forearm only Paul turned, heading for the refrigerator.

Sonny grabbed the bottle instead. The momentum caused it to topple, falling to the ceramic tile floor where it shattered into tiny little pieces, champagne bubbling up and over everything, including Paul and Sonny.

"What the hell?" Paul asked, shaking droplets of champagne off his hands.

It was everywhere. The floor, the cabinets, seeping into his shoes, and all over his clothes.

"I'm sorry," Sonny said, backing away from the puddles, pulling at his wet shirt. "It was an accident."

"God," Paul clenched his fists, face scrunched together tight before glaring at Sonny. "Just get out, Sonny. Get out."

"I," Sonny looked down at his sopping wet shirt and pants.

"You know what, fine," Paul stomped through the bubbly mess, leaving a trail of shoe prints all over his condo.

He went into his bedroom and pulled open a drawer with a few of Sonny's items in it. He grabbed them all, marched back into the front room, and tossed them all at Sonny's feet.

"Change and get out. I don't want to see you for a long, long time."

Sonny didn't get the chance to say anything else.

Paul already turned on his heel and slammed his bedroom door closed. A few moments later, Sonny heard the water turn on.

Sonny didn't know what to do besides change his clothes. He took off his shoes and socks, putting on a slightly wrinkled pair of dress slacks and a button up shirt. Right after putting his arms in the sleeves of the shirt, a hesitant knock came at the door.

Why shouldn't Sonny answer it?


"How many times do I have to tell you to leave?" Paul asked.

He looked at the mess in his kitchen and sighed. He'd deal with it later. He'd already left Will for too long and he'd have to do some serious groveling to make up for it.

"Whatever," Paul shook his head. "I don't have time to deal with this. I need to-,"

"Find Will?" Sonny asked with a smug smile.

Paul, reached for the knob of his front door, turned to stare at Sonny.

He knew that look. He'd seen it so many times when Sonny mentioned getting one up on Brady at work.

"What did you do?"

"Nothing," Sonny shrugged, bending over to pick up the clothes scattered about the room. "I didn't have to do anything. He came to those conclusions all by himself. Don't think he's quite as bright as you and Brian say he is."

"What did you do?" Paul repeated, something akin to panic swelling inside his chest.

"He asked where you were," Sonny replied. He picked up a pair of boxers that landed near his shoes. "I told him the truth – the shower."

It took Paul a fraction of a second to realize what conclusion Will came to, what conclusion Sonny encouraged.

"Oh, God," Paul, completely ignoring Sonny, ran out into the hall, slamming the door behind him.

He didn't bother with the elevator, instead, running up the stairwell to the rooftop.

It was empty and for good reason.

The terrace was a mess. Cushions on the couches flew off, plants overturned and dirt lay everywhere. Paul walked into the beginning of a storm.

The sky was dark and the scent of rain filled the air.

"Shit," Paul skidded to a stop, turning on his heels, and slamming the door to the stairwell open again.

He ran down the stairs two at a time, jumping to the last landing, and flying out the door. He burst into the large hall used during the rehearsal. Everyone mingled in there as the patio was no longer safe due to the incoming storm.

"Dude," Brady said when Paul practically ran him over.

Paul stopped to catch his breath, eyes searching for Will.

He couldn't find him.

"Do me a favor?" Paul asked his brother. "Go up to my room and make sure Sonny's gone?"

"Sure," Brady answered. "You okay?"

"Where's Will?"

"I saw him a few minutes ago but I think he left. He was talking to Dad."

"Thanks," Paul said, rushing through several people, rudely bumping into people without a care. "Dad!"

"Paul," John let Paul grab him by the arm and drag him away from his conversation with Austin. "What's wrong?"

"Where's Will?" Paul asked. "Dad, have you seen him?"

"What about Will?" Austin asked in a suspicious tone.

Paul didn't have time for this.

"Where did he go? Dad, please?"

"Did you take my advice?" John questioned. "Because Will didn't look too good when he left and he said something about Sonny."

"He left? When?" Austin demanded. "Why didn't you tell me?"

John blatantly rolled his eyes.

"He said he didn't feel good and he was ready to go home."

Paul's eyes nearly jumped out of his head.

"He went back to your place? Okay, I can fix this. I can still fix this."

"He said he was going to your place, John? Or he was going home?" Austin asked, crossing his arms and glaring at Paul.

"What difference does it make?" John wondered.

"A hell of a lot of one," Austin replied. "He told me almost the same thing the other night when we left the cabin. He didn't mean home to Salem. He meant he wanted to go to his home, in Zurich."

Paul's face paled.

"So, what the hell did you do?" Austin demanded, stepping closer to Paul, crowding into his space.

Paul couldn't handle this right now.

He had to find Will.

Instead of answering, Paul turned on his heel once again, running as fast as he could to the parking garage.


Will walked out of Paul's building, one arm wrapped around his waist. He flinched when another loud howl of wind echoed around him. He could feel his contacts drying out with each step he took.

He should request a car, get on a bus, something. Instead, he walked, aimless and lost and feeling stupider than he'd ever felt.

Why did he ever think coming to Salem would end in anything other than complete and utter disaster?

Sure, he didn't shoot anyone and there weren't any wild animals on the loose. This disaster wasn't lethal or illegal but it was just as painful.

And Will knew better.

How many times did he see this growing up? How many times did he get his hopes up over his mom and dad getting together? His mom and Austin? His dad and Carrie?

Marriages, engagements, dating, it didn't matter. Relationships don't last in Salem, especially when it involves someone new interjecting themselves into a stupid couple with their stupid drama and their stupid refusal to move on.

Will should have expected this.

He did expect this.

He accepted this after his argument with Paul the other night. He was ready to push aside everything he felt, everything he wanted. He was going to make it through tonight and tomorrow. Give his grandparents the wedding they deserved.

He was ready to grin and bear it.

Then stupid Paul and his stupid singing and his stupid, empty promises.

Will should have known.

He did know.

He set himself up for failure anyway.

Again

When he felt his phone buzzing in his pocket, Will planned on ignoring it. He wasn't talking to any of his family and he certainly wasn't talking to Paul, not for a long time.

Maybe not ever.

It wasn't his family or Paul.

Will answered with a loud, pathetic groan.

"Normally when someone's groaning at me, I'd expect a little bit more of a sexual tone," Brian said. "What's with you?"

"Do you ever get the feeling the world is against you?" Will asked, glancing around at his surroundings.

He managed to find the same path Paul took him on when they walked from the lake to Paul's condo all those weeks ago. A small dirt path nestled between tree groves and a stream.

"Not really, no."

"I hate you," Will sighed, closing his eyes.

"No, you don't."

"No," Will reluctantly agreed. "I don't."

"Just wanted to check if you survived tonight," Brian revealed. "Sounds like you didn't."

"Nope," Will answered. "No, it was an utter shit show."

"Do you wanna talk about it?" Brian offered around a yawn. "I only had half a shift today. You can come back over and cry on my shoulder again."

"No thanks," Will replied. "If I go to your place now, I'll have sex with you and I'm not really in the mood."

"Uh…" Brian trailed off. "I think I missed a jump in your logic there."

"God, Brian, get a clue. I'm feeling rejected, again. In about an hour, my self-esteem will take a dip and I'll need someone to lift me back up while also spiting Sonny and Paul. You'll be powerless to my charms and we'll finally sleep together like you've always wanted. Then I'll have to give a rejection speech and tell you how we're only friends and we can't be together. You'll make a joke. We'll say it was meaningless but we'll both know you're secretly in love with me. Things will get awkward. I'll go back to Zurich and have to ghost you because I can't handle the pressure."

"I don't even know what to say to that."

"You're kind of my best friend, sadly, so I'd rather skip that whole ordeal."

"Uh-huh, right, whatever you say. You're full of shit but as long as you're sure," Brian said. He waited a few seconds before asking, "wait, are you outside?"

"I'm walking," Will said. "And I'm sure. I'm fine alone."

"You better be walking somewhere safe," Brian warned. "Don't think I won't come drag your nice, but dumb, ass out of this weather."

Will rolled his eyes.

"Gee, thanks."

"Seriously, though, are you alright?"

Will let out a long sigh, staring off down the path. He could see the copse of trees near his favorite part of the lake only a short distance away.

"I'll be fine. I need to go somewhere I can breathe, though."


"Will?" Paul yelled, throwing open the door to Marlena and John's penthouse, using his spare key. "Will?"

Paul searched through every room, every closet, in each and every spot he could find.

Will wasn't here.

"No, no, no, no," Paul hurried back into Will's room.

All his luggage was still there.

"Okay, okay," Paul paced back and forth before grabbing his phone and dialing Will's number.

It went straight to voicemail.

Will turned his phone off.

Paul checked to see if there were any flights going out to Switzerland soon. Thankfully, due to the storm, most flights in and out of O'Hare International were delayed or canceled.

Will had to be in Salem somewhere. The penthouse was too obvious. He'd know Paul would look for him there first.

Will had to be somewhere Paul wouldn't think to look.

Or with someone Paul wouldn't want to be around.

"Son of a bitch," Paul said, shoving his phone in his pocket and running back down the hallway.

Chapter Text

August 21, 2018

Paul hammered the door in front of him with his fist. Over and over and over until he heard a voice yelling at him from the other side.

He didn't care. He kept pounding.

Paul had never been to Brian's apartment before but he knew where it was. He was also fairly certain Brian would be the key to finding Will which pissed him off to no end.

"What?" Brian asked, swinging his door open. He rolled his eyes when he saw Paul, crossing his arms and flashing Paul a familiar infuriating smirk. "Can I help you?"

"I need to see Will," Paul declared, crossing his arms as well. "Now."

"That's nice," Brian said with a one-shoulder shrug. "What do you expect me to do about it?"

Paul clenched his fists, trying to keep his temper under control.

"I know you know where he is. Is he here?"

Brian looked over his shoulder before turning back to face Paul.

"What's it to you?"

"Because I have to talk to him," Paul said through clenched teeth. "This is important and I need to speak with him before it's too late."

"Too late for what?"

"Do you know where he is or not?" Paul asked. His face softened a bit, letting out a deep sigh. "I need to find him, please."

Brian looked over Paul's face, lips pressed together and eyes narrowed.

He must have found whatever he was looking for. He let out a puff of air and opened his door wide, gesturing Paul inside.

Will wasn't there but Sonny was.

Paul wasn't even surprised. Proposal or not, Sonny was never going to change.

"Will's not here," Brian said, "obviously."

Sonny stiffened at Will's name but didn't say anything nor did he look at Paul.

"Do you know where he is?" Paul asked.

"What did you do?" Brian countered, leaning on the arm of his couch.

"I didn't do anything," Paul insisted. He waved a hand at Sonny and said, "he made Will think something happened that didn't."

Brian turned to look at Sonny and clenched his jaw.

"You told me you broke up with Paul, finally."

Paul scoffed while Sonny struggled to say something.

"If by broke up with me he meant threw a fit when I rejected his proposal, yeah, he broke up with me."

Brian blinked several times before saying, "come again?"

"Do you know where Will is?" Paul asked loudly once again. "You and Sonny can deal with whatever the hell the two of you are later. I have to find Will."

Brian took a few moments to respond, shooting Sonny a glare before answering.

"He called earlier. He mentioned going on a walk and finding somewhere to breathe. He wouldn't say where but he sounded pretty upset."

Paul heard what Brian said but the words didn't make much sense to him.

Where would Will go to breathe?

Then Paul remembered flashes of skin and a sunburn and gentle waves lapping at his toes. Laying on a smooth, wet rock in the middle of a private oasis. Will inches away from him all bright eyes and a knowing smile.

"Oh, God," Paul whispered.

The perfect place for Will to breathe was also the stupidest place to go right before a storm hit. And no matter how intelligent Will was, Paul knew he was reckless and stubborn and hurting.

Paul wouldn't put it past Will to literally hide away in a cave in the middle of a storm, danger be damned.

"What?" Brian asked, alarmed. "Where is he?"

Paul didn't answer. He ran out the door without giving Brian or Sonny a second look.

They could deal with whatever drama they created for themselves alone. They were no longer his problem.


Paul struggled down the dirt path he discovered as a shortcut from his condo to the lake. It was the same path he used with Will when they took their impromptu dip in the water at the beginning of the month.

The wind was blowing harder than before, whipping across Paul's skin and rustling his hair and clothes. It just began to sprinkle.

Paul should have come this way first. It was close to his place and Will would have walked right by it if he left out the main entrance.

Paul should have known. And he should have known to never leave Will on the roof by himself. He should have brought Will with him to break up with Sonny. None of this would have happened. Will would be safe right now. They'd be together and Paul wouldn't be worried out of his mind.

Paul didn't want to imagine the condition that cave could be in right now. If it rained any harder the lake could overflow, filling the cave with dangerous levels of water. If there was a mudslide or if a bolt of lightning hit a tree, it could fall and block the entrance.

Will could be trapped and alone and scared and it would be Paul's fault.

Paul was so focused on his fear and determination he almost walked right by the spot Will marveled at on their walk to Paul's condo. The spot where Will, reckless and fearless, wanted to look down into the cave from the hole in the top. The spot where Paul yelled at Will for climbing in his underwear of all things.

Paul would have walked by it if he hadn't noticed the figure sitting on a boulder. Someone with arms wrapped around his knees, face tilted toward the sky as rainwater slid down his face.

Will

Paul scrambled through the sharp rocks and thick tree trunks to get to the boulder and Will. It was directly above the cave Will discovered and a few feet back from a short drop into the lake. A drop not tall enough to worry Will, apparently.

"Will!" Paul yelled over the wind and the growing swell of rain.

Will either didn't hear him or chose to ignore him.

"Will," Paul stopped right in front of Will, hands hovering over him.

"Go away," Will requested, keeping his eyes closed.

"It's not safe out here," Paul said, grabbing Will's left wrist. "If you don't want to see me, fine. But, please, come inside."

"I like it here," Will argued, eyes clenched tight. "And I don't want to be around you. I promised to make your life miserable and I haven't decided how best to do it yet."

"Please," Paul tugged on Will's hand. "You could fall into the lake or something. You know how dangerous those rocks were down there."

Will huffed, pulling his arm away and tucking it close to his chest.

"You didn't care where I was an hour ago."

"I did," Paul insisted, wiping rain away from his eyes. "I wasn't going to leave you there."

"But you did," Will snapped, opening his eyes and blinking several times.

Paul winced when he saw how red Will's eyes were. He didn't know if it was from the wind and his contacts or from tears. He almost didn't want to know.

"You left me up there, for Sonny," Will said, voice breaking over Sonny's name.

"I didn't," Paul shook his head. "You don't understand. I was coming back."

"What? After you took a shower?" Will pulled his knees closer to his chest, putting more distance between himself and Paul. "I saw the clothes everywhere. I saw Sonny. I get the picture, okay. I guess I should feel lucky you bothered to shower at all."

"Will, no, that isn't what happened."

"I get it, okay," Will scrubbed the palm of his hands into his eyes. "I'm a big boy. If you don't want me, you don't want me. I can handle that. But, I need you to say it."

"Will-,"

"No, just tell me you don't want me and I'll understand. Tell me everything on the roof was a mistake. A stupid, cruel mistake and I'll leave you alone. But you have to tell me. You have to tell me or I'm going to keep thinking I have a chance when I don't. Because why are you here if you don't care? Why did you hold me and tell me we were going to be together if you didn't mean it? Why did you-?"

Paul had enough. He couldn't listen to Will anymore, not like this. Not when he refused to listen and was talking nonsense.

Paul did the only thing he could do to get Will to stop.

He slid his hands to the back of Will's neck and pulled him into a kiss.

The boulder was wide and smooth but not very tall. Paul towered over Will in this position, digging his fingers into Will's hair, waiting for Will to react in any way.

Will froze, cut off mid-sentence. He wasn't ready for the kiss, wasn't prepared. His lips were cold and clammy and his knees pressed between himself and Paul at an awkward angle.

It was perfect.

Paul sighed into the kiss when he felt Will's lips pushing back. Will grabbed the front of Paul's shirt and pulled him closer. His legs falling to either side of Paul's body, clinging and kissing and kissing and kissing.

Rain fell around them in a steady rhythm. Soaking their hair and their clothes, sticking to their skin in the humid August air.

Paul pulled away from Will to breathe, foreheads touching, noses brushing. He pressed tiny kisses to Will's skin, between his nose and upper lip, across his cheeks and beneath his eyes.

Whispering words and apologies and promises.

"Nothing happened with Sonny. I broke up with him and he didn't take it well. I'd never leave you up there on purpose. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I promise, Will. Nothing happened."

Will's lips trembled, eyes sliding shut when Paul kissed both eyebrows, one at a time.

"Why did you need a shower then?"

"I wanted to surprise you with a bottle of champagne but it broke. Sonny made me drop it and it made a mess and all I wanted was to get back to you. I gave Sonny all his clothes he kept at my place back and I jumped in the shower. I thought he left, I swear. I broke up with him. I did. I don't want to be with Sonny. I want to be with you. I want to be with you, Will. I want to be with you. I want-,"

Will shut him up with a kiss of his own.

Paul sighed into the kiss, following when Will laid back across the boulder, hovering over him.

Will didn't know why he believed Paul but he did. It was the stupidest explanation in the world.

But probably true.

Sonny didn't technically tell Will anything about what Will saw when he knocked on Paul's door. He let Will jump to conclusions, encouraged him to, in fact.

Which meant, Paul was telling the truth. He didn't abandon Will for Sonny. He broke up with Sonny.

Paul broke up with Sonny so he could be with Will.

Will opened his mouth, flicking his tongue across Paul's lips, rubbing his hips against Paul's.

Paul moaned into Will's lips, grabbing a hold of Will's gyrating hips.

He had to put a stop to this before he could no longer resist.

They were on top of a rock, a few feet away from a seldom used, but still public path in the middle of a storm. This was neither the time nor the place.

"We have to stop," Paul said although he kissed Will once, twice, three more times before pulling away. "Not here."

"Yes, here," Will insisted, pulling at the buttons on Paul's shirt. "No one is going to see."

"I'm not having sex with you on a rock," Paul said around a laugh. He kissed Will one more time, short and sweet. "I can't do to you everything I want out here."

Will moaned, head rolling back, face skyward.

It made a very pretty picture. Flushed cheeks, neck exposed, rain spilling over him.

Paul really needed them to move before he couldn't resist any longer.

"Come on," Paul slid his arm under Will's waist and heaved him up. Showing off his strength just a little. "I'll tackle your exhibitionism at a later date."

"Promise?" Will asked with a teasing grin, landing on his feet.

"When you look at me like that, yes," Paul said, licking his lips.

Will held in a smile, enjoying the view.

Paul's clothes clung to him, showing off his well-formed muscles. His hair tousled in just the right way. Eyes bright and warm and full of so much emotion it made Will's head spin.

"Did you run out here to find me?" Will asked, tilting his head to the side and looking Paul up and down.

"I even went to Brian, of all people, for help," Paul admitted, snaking his hands around Will's hips.

Will lifted his brows and tried not to laugh.

"What?" Paul asked.

"Nothing," Will said soft and gentle. "Now, you really are my Disney prince."

"I don't know what that means," Paul admitted with a bemused smile.

"Don't worry about it," Will said, leaning in for another kiss.

Paul nipped Will's lower lip, lost once again when a clap of thunder erupted, causing them both to jump apart.

"No more distracting me," Paul panted. "We really have to go."

"I'm distracting?" Will asked with a mixture of a scoff and a laugh.

"Yeah," Paul said with a wide smile. "You're also dramatic as hell."

"I am a perfectly normal amount of dramatic," Will insisted, crinkling his nose at Paul.

"Nope," Paul shook his head, smile fond. "But I wouldn't change you, unnecessary drama and all."

Will leaned in for another kiss when the sky brightened by lightning and thunder rippled through the air a few scant seconds after.

"See?" Paul said. "Distracting. We're gonna get struck by lightning because of you. Let's go."

Paul and Will carefully climbed over rocks and around trees, slipping and sliding in the mud. But they made it back to the pathway with little more than dirty shoes and palms.

Despite Paul's insistence they get indoors, he didn't push Will away anytime he stopped to pull Paul into a kiss, which was every few steps.

Now that Will could kiss Paul whenever he wanted, he wasn't wasting a single moment.

It took much longer than Paul wanted to get back to his condo. They were both soaked to the bone and Will had started to shiver but didn't complain.

They didn't bother to see if their family was still partying on the main floor. They wandered into the elevator, hands in the back of each other's pockets, lips connected and leaving a trail of water behind them.

Paul almost couldn't open the door to his condo. Will wrapped his arms around Paul from behind, hips pressed up against Paul's backside, nibbling on Paul's ear.

Paul fell into his condo, pulling a laughing Will with him before slamming Will into the door.

The two stared at each other. Will's wild, carefree grin caused Paul to smile too.

"Hi," Paul whispered, brushing a strand of wet hair off Will's forehead.

"Hi," Will replied, holding onto the bottom of Paul's shirt.

"We're really here," Paul said, letting out a slow, breathless laugh.

"Mmm hmm," Will nodded before his whole body shivered.

"Hey," Paul frowned, touching Will's forehead. "You okay?"

"Stress," Will said with a slight smile. "And I'm all wet and cold. What are you gonna do about it?"

Paul didn't answer. He untucked Will's shirt from his pants, holding eye contact. He pulled Will by the shirt toward his living room, stopping in front of the fireplace.

With a flip of a switch, Paul turned his electric fireplace on while holding tight to Will's wet shirt.

Will needed no encouragement at all to pull the thing over his head. He laughed when his head got stuck and Paul had to help him get it off.

Paul kissed Will when he was free of his shirt, cupping the side of Will's jaw with one hand, the other working on undoing Will's belt. He kissed from Will's lips, down past his chin, and along his throat. Tongue sweeping across a sharp collarbone and between Will's pecs.

Paul knelt in front of Will, pulling his belt open while his tongue swept over the ridges of Will's abdominal muscles. He smiled against Will's sensitive skin when he felt Will hardening.

Will inhaled sharply when Paul yanked on his pants, struggling to get the wet fabric down Will's hips. Soon, Will stepped out of his pants, left in nothing but a pair of tight boxer-briefs with a prominent bulge.

Paul looked up at Will from his knees, fingers dipping just inside Will's underwear. He got an undeniable thrill at seeing the look on Will's face. That after weeks of Will's coy smiles and batted lashes, Paul had all his attention with just a few brushes of his lips and tongue.

Paul pulled Will's underwear down, his tongue following, leaving a trail along Will's cold skin. From the top of Will's hip down his left thigh all the way to his knee. He lifted one of Will's legs, nuzzling along the sensitive flesh behind the back of his knee before doing the same to the other until Will was naked in front of Paul.

Naked and hard and trembling either from the cold or from Paul's touches and gaze.

Paul wanted to absolutely wreck him.

"Come here," Paul said, hands sliding from the back of Will's knees, up his thighs until he had two handfuls of Will's ass.

Will's eyes closed, knees shaking as Paul pulled him closer. He was trying so hard not to toss Paul to the floor and take control. If it was anyone but Paul he already would have done it.

Will trusted Paul, wanted to see what he had to give.

Paul sucked a deep, bruising kiss into the v lines around Will's waist. Hands massaging and squeezing Will's butt. It was just the right amount of muscle and squish.

Will gasped when Paul bit his skin, leaving a wet trail to the base of his cock, nose brushing through coarse hair.

Paul grinned to himself when Will's muscles jerked, hips moving and Paul hadn't even gotten started yet.

Still holding tight to Will's ass, Paul kissed from the base of Will's cock to the tip. Left wet, lingering kisses over every inch of Will until he sucked the tip into his mouth, swirling his tongue and getting a taste of Will's precome.

"Paul," Will moaned before leaning forward, resting his hands on Paul's strong shoulders, fingernails bunching the wet fabric.

Paul hummed around Will, chuckling when Will groaned even louder. He picked up a rhythm. Head bobbing up and down, twisting this way and that while his hands squeezed Will's ass, keeping Will from moving.

"Paul," Will sighed, trying to thrust into his mouth or back into his hands and unable to do either.

Paul pulled back a bit, teasing Will's tip. He let go of Will's ass. He snuck one hand back to the front, sticking his thumb into his mouth and soaking it.

His other hand knocked Will's legs farther apart before pulling aside one of Will's cheeks. Paul brushed his thumb along the back of Will's balls, rubbing into his perineum before circling Will's hole.

Will clutched Paul even harder, letting out short, sharp pants, eyes squeezed shut tight. When Paul slid his thumb inside him, Will's moaning got louder and louder, echoing off the walls and the wooden floors.

"Paul," Will cried, squeezing Paul's shirt so tight he nearly ripped it right off him. "Oh, god, Paul. Keep – keep doing that. Oh, god."

Paul obliged, working up the perfect rhythm of push and pull with his mouth and thumb.

He pulled back when Will warned him, using his fist to work Will through his orgasm. Watched Will spill over his fingers, dripping onto his pants, and loving every second of it.

The moment Paul let go of Will's cock, after squeezing everything he could from him, and gently eased his thumb out, Will collapsed in his arms.

Paul caught Will with a loud, "oof," falling onto his butt.

They were a tangle of limbs until Paul pulled Will across his legs, running his hands up and down Will's trembling thighs.

"Fuck," Will panted against Paul's mouth.

Paul, with a smug look on his face, nipped Will's lips.

"Warmed up, now?"

Will laughed, chest heaving and entire body flushed pink. His fingers worked on the buttons of Paul's shirt, giving up halfway and ripping the thing right off him, buttons flying every which direction.

"I liked that shirt," Paul teased.

"I like it better off," Will responded, shoving it over Paul's shoulders, hands pawing and rubbing every bit of skin he could.

Paul leaned back on his elbows, content to watch Will's expression as he touched him. To watch the blatant awe and lust on Will's face as he mapped Paul's chest and rubbed his naked body all over where Paul wanted him most.

Will bit his lower lip, watching Paul through his lashes as he rubbed against the hard length trapped in Paul's trousers.

Paul grunted, bucking his hips and holding onto Will's waist in a tight grip that made Will throw his head back and laugh.

"I'm pretty sure I'm sitting in a drying pile of my own come," Will remarked with a lewd grin, rubbing along the area of Paul's thighs and knees.

"Hell yes you are," Paul said with a proud grin.

Will shook his head but smiled, easing off Paul's lap and getting Paul naked as fast as he could.

"Hmm," Will said, licking his lips and admiring the sight of Paul naked and stretched out before him.

"Will," Paul whispered, "touch me."

"Oh, don't you worry, baby," Will teased. "I'll take care of you."

Will kneeled before Paul, sliding his fingers up Paul's muscular thighs, nails dragging across his skin and hair. He wrapped both hands around the base of Paul's cock, each hand twisting in a different direction.

"How could I not?" Will said in a low, thick voice. "After you sucked me off so good? Fuck, I can still feel your lips around me. Can still feel your thumb, teasing me when you know all I've wanted since the moment I laid eyes on you was to ride your big, fat cock."

"Jesus," Paul whispered, rolling his hips into Will's perfectly tight grip.

"Isn't that what you want too?" Will smiled, bending over Paul and letting a droplet of spit fall from his mouth to Paul's tip, spreading the moisture around. "Or do you want to bend me over, take me on my knees?"

"God, Will," Paul licked his lips, heat from the fireplace and Will's words making him sweat.

"On my back, maybe?" Will asked, mouth oh so close to Paul's cock but not touching. "Legs wrapped around your waist? Or thrown over your shoulder? Or I can take you, over and over until you can't feel anything but me?"

Will laughed when Paul groaned, thighs twitching.

"You're so fucking sexy," Will praised, breath ghosting over Paul, teasing. "I've thought about this so damn much. Thought about all the things I want to do you. All the things I want you to do to me."

"Wh – what?" Paul asked, voice shaky.

"Everything," Will said, pressing a tiny kiss just under the head of Paul's cock. "I want you to fuck me against that big window over there. Want anyone passing by to look up and see us."

Paul's head fell to the side, looking at the large sliding glass door. He wanted it. He wanted to shove Will against it, pound into him so hard the glass would rattle.

"I want to go on another road trip," Will added, tongue swirling between his twisting hands. "Want to suck you off while you're driving, head in your lap."

"Fuck," Paul groaned. "Yes."

"Want all the mushy stuff too. Wanna hold your hand in public. Kiss your cheek. Tell everyone your mine. Show you off."

Paul shouldn't find that sexy but he did.

"Wanna walk down the aisle with you tomorrow at the wedding with a limp. Wanna dance with you in front of our family and none of them would even know you fucked me so hard I could feel it every time I moved."

"Will," Paul warned, heart hammering into his ribs, sweat dripping down his neck.

"Wanna make you come as hard as you made me," Will admitted. "Wanna suck down everything you've got to give."

Will wrapped his lips around Paul, hands twisting and turning as Paul's hips jumped off the floor, crying out his release.

Will sucked and licked everything he could find. Would have kept suckling on Paul's softening flesh if Paul didn't push him away with a half-laugh half-huff.

Will snuggled into Paul's side, head on his chest. The warmth from the fire soothing him, making him drowsy and content despite his own erection.

"We should have done that a long time ago," Paul said, licking his lips and holding Will tight.

"That's what I've been saying," Will smiled, kissing Paul's pec. "We could have had this from the very beginning."

"Oh, yeah?" Paul asked, closing his eyes and sighing. "From what, the moment we met?"

"I would have jumped in you in a coat closet," Will said with a laugh. "I would have gone anywhere you asked."

"Why do I find that romantic?" Paul rolled his eyes.

"I've corrupted you," Will teased, moving to rest his chin on Paul's chest and stare at him.

"What?" Paul asked, hand rubbing up and down Will's back, brushing over the top of his butt.

"Just looking," Will replied with a soft smile. "You're beautiful."

"I – uh –," Paul laughed soft and bashful.

"You weren't so shy when you sucked me off," Will mused, leaning up to kiss Paul's chin. "Amazing."

"Shut up," Paul snorted.

"No," Will said with a chuckle. "It's kind of a thing I do."

"Drive everyone crazy? Yeah, no. I got that."

Will let out a sharp laugh, jaw dropped in shock.

"Besides," Paul moved further down so he and Will were nose to nose. "If anyone's beautiful it's you."

Paul kissed Will's crinkled nose, delighted by the very fact he could do that now.

"You've seen me with a nose full of snot and swollen eyes," Will pointed out. "True beauty right there."

"I distinctly remember thinking I've never seen anyone more beautiful when I fed you soup and tucked you into bed."

Will smiled, chin tucking into his chest, suddenly shy.

He was used to a different breed of compliments from men. Praise for various body parts and the things his body could do. Not a single guy from Will's past would ever say or think anything close to what Paul does.

Paul tipped Will's face up, meeting him in a soft kiss.

"Paul?" Will asked, forehead pressed into Paul's.

"Hmm?" Paul answered, hand drifting further down Will's ass.

"Take me to your room," Will requested in a deep, gentle voice.

"Okay," Paul whispered.

They helped each other up, wincing at the various aches and pains they got from the hard floor.

Paul turned off the fireplace before taking both of Will's hands and leading him to his room. Lips entwined, hearts racing.

From that moment on, whenever Will or Paul smelled champagne, they no longer thought of Will's time in the French Riviera. They thought of each other in the soft glow of a fireplace, naked and sated, perfectly content and in love.

Chapter Text

August 21, 2018

Will's first impression of Paul's bedroom was a slight disappointment. Not due to the décor (minimalist) or the company (Will would start the petition to proclaim naked Paul Narita the 8th wonder of the world tomorrow) but because a few scant seconds after stepping inside, Will sneezed.

"Ugh," Will groaned, shaking his head.

"Bless you," Paul replied with a fond smile. "You're gonna be sick all the time, aren't you?"

"No," Will replied despite the goosebumps creeping up his naked skin.

Paul laughed, grabbing Will's hands and pulling him towards the foot of his bed.

Paul's room was spacious with a large bed covered in a soft, fluffy white comforter. There were small nightstands on either side of the bed each with a lamp. A large black and white photograph of a cherry blossom tree over the headboard. Most importantly, there was a glass double-sided fireplace opposite the bed.

"Come here," Paul said.

He pulled the comforter and sheets off the bed as well as the pillows. He bunched them together on the floor in front of the fireplace, creating a soft cocoon for them to rest.

Paul, back against the edge of the bed, pulled Will against his chest and wrapped them in the comforter.

"Isn't body heat good for warming someone up?" Paul asked.

"I can think of something else too," Will said, head in the crook of Paul's neck.

He pressed a series of kisses on Paul's skin, tongue brushing the sensitive flesh.

"I bet you can," Paul replied, rolling his neck to the side to give Will more room to work.

Will wanted to sink his teeth into Paul, wanted to mark him for everyone to see. But, his grandma would kill him if her wedding pictures were spoiled by hickeys.

Will teased Paul instead. Leaning against his chest, tongue and lips barely suckling, just enough to make Paul pant.

"Will," Paul moaned.

He grabbed the back of Will's neck, pulling him away from his neck to connect their lips. Will sighed into the kiss, wrapping his arms around Paul's neck.

Paul let his hands drift from Will's neck down to the base of his spine.

Will was still shivering.

"How are you still cold?" Paul asked between kisses.

"You should see me in winter," Will said after he pulled away. "If it's below 80 degrees I'm in a sweater. So, I'm always in a sweater."

"You're ridiculous," Paul said before kissing Will on the tip of his chilly nose. "Explains why you wear long-sleeves in the middle of summer, though."

Will closed his eyes, snuggling into Paul's hold.

"I'm gonna be a sweaty mess under this blanket and with a fire," Paul rested his chin on the top of Will's head.

"That's exactly how I want you," Will teased.

"Oh, yeah? You just want me for my body, don't you?"

"Mmm, it's pretty high up on my list of your favorite traits."

"Is it?"

"Along with some other things."

"Other things?"

"Yep," Will let his hands wander Paul's chest. "I like your face and your thighs and what's between them."

"Still talking about my body," Paul pointed out with a wide smile.

"Hush," Will ordered. "I like the way you laugh. How you sound and the way your eyes light up. But especially real laughs. When you can't control yourself and you start to shake and cry. That's one of my favorites."

"I only ever laugh like that with you," Paul admitted.

Will laid his head on Paul's chest and sighed.

Paul splayed his hand on Will's back, thumb going up and down the bumps of his spine. He couldn't remember the last time he was this comfortable while completely naked with someone. Where Paul felt the sexual tension in the air but was in no rush to do anything other than hold Will's bare skin against his. Couldn't remember the last time things fell into place without any awkward mishaps of who wants to touch what and when and whose arms go where.

With Will, it was natural. They fell into place so easily.

Well, now, they did.

It took much longer to get to this moment than Paul ever thought possible.

"Hey," Paul said, getting Will's attention.

"Hmm?"

"When we first met, did you think this is where we'd wind up?"

Will answered before Paul even finished the question.

"Yes."

Paul laughed, holding Will tighter against him.

"Be serious."

Will adjusted so he could face Paul head on.

"I am completely serious. When I first saw you, my first thought was something like, 'sweet, baby Jesus'. It wasn't until we started hanging out that I realized I wanted you for more than your fantastic cock, though."

"You didn't even know what it looked like then," Paul rolled his eyes but grinned.

"I have an uncanny ability to predict those things," Will revealed. "I've never been wrong. You know how some people can accurately guess someone's weight? I can guess the size of someone's di-,"

"I get the picture," Paul cut Will off and shook his head at Will's cackling. "My first thought when I saw you was, 'oh, no. He's hot.'"

"Scared of me even then," Will mused.

"Pretty much," Paul admitted. "You were all sorts of gorgeous and confident and blatantly interested in me. Then we liked the same music and you made me laugh so much. You're terrifying, actually."

"Is that a good thing or a bad thing?" Will asked, the smug expression on his face sliding away.

"I wasn't sure at first," Paul said, booping Will's still chilly nose. "But, you're definitely a good terrifying. I had tunnel vision for so long. All I ever saw was Sonny. All I ever wanted to see was him. Then you came rolling into my life with your beautiful everything and opened up my eyes. Made me realize I wanted more out of life than living in the past.

"I think that's why I resisted for so long. I thought I had my whole life planned out. After losing baseball, I had nothing. Then, all of a sudden, I had a family and a place to belong. I thought the only thing that would make it better would be Sonny. The two things felt linked in my head, you know? I could have baseball or I could have Sonny. Baseball wasn't an option. So, I had to have Sonny. I had it all planned out even if Sonny always found a way to set my plans back whenever he'd run to Brian. But, it was something familiar, a usual pattern. You, though, you were so out of the ordinary for me, for Sonny, probably even Brian. You scared the hell out of me."

Will stared at Paul, pensive look on his face.

"Having you meant giving up everything I knew about my life. For so long all I've been is John's son, the private investigator, who sits around and waits for Sonny. But, with you, I could be anything. You made me feel like I could be anything. And that's scary. Going off script, stepping out of my comfort zone, and being with you is beyond scary. Maybe even the scariest thing I've ever done.

"But," Paul cupped Will's jaw with one hand, thumb rubbing over his cheekbone. "Worth it. So, worth it. I would gladly give up everything I've ever known just for tonight, if that's all I ever get."

Will couldn't say anything in response. He let out several shaky breaths and smiled. Not a leer or a smirk, nothing mischievous or impish behind it, a real smile. Nothing but teeth and gums and crinkled eyes and red cheeks and Paul had never seen anything better in his life.

Will threw his arms around Paul's neck, cheeks pressed together. He sniffled a few times, blinking away tears. Tears he would swear up and down were from feeling under the weather and not because no one had ever told him anything so beautiful and sweet before.

"Keep telling me things like that and there will definitely be more than one night," Will said around a wet laugh.

"There's my baby," Paul teased, infinitely pleased with himself. "I was worried something happened to you."

"Shut up," Will laughed. "I was waxing poetic about your dick and here you are with your pretty words ruining my mood."

"Well, I meant everything I said," Paul responded, pulling away from Will and kissing the side of his mouth. "Actually, there's something I should add to that confession. Something that happened tonight in between the roof and finding you."

"What?"

"I gave you the shortened version about my talk with Sonny," Paul admitted. "But, the whole thing is when I went to break up with him, before I got the chance, he proposed. To me, that is, he asked me to marry him."

Will blinked a few times before shaking his head.

"Wow, I can't believe him."

"I said no! Obviously, I said no. I mean, I'd been waiting for that opportunity since I rejected his first proposal and I finally got a second chance and I couldn't do it. I couldn't even think about it because I'd rather have you. You know I'd rather have you."

"No, it's not that," Will said before he let Paul's words soak in. "But, holy crap I'm gonna feel so smug later. I just meant, I was going to tell you and John was going to tell you but then we argued and I didn't get the chance and obviously, John didn't either or else you would have known and so-,"

Paul cut Will off with a kiss. Pressing his lips to Will's several times, smiling into the kiss.

"You're rambling."

Will's eyes were still closed and he needed a moment to focus.

It delighted Paul to see.

Will cleared his throat and shook his head.

"I just meant – well – I'm not sure if you know but you remember the night at the cabin?"

"Vividly, yes."

"After we fought, I went to talk to you and overheard you and Brady and-,"

"And you know I didn't mean any of those things. I was scared, Will. I didn't know how to handle everything."

"No, I know, it's not that. I had to tell you something – well – a few somethings and I didn't get the chance. Then John said he was going to tell you and I don't think he did."

"Tell me what?"

Will grabbed one of Paul's hands and played with his fingers, stroking his knuckles and looking at the smattering of hair. All to distract himself from what he had to say.

Paul might have broken up with Sonny but he still had feelings for him. Feelings that weren't going to go away overnight, not after years of so much history.

"Remember on our drive to the house of horrors?"

"The canopy zipline place?" Paul asked with a smile. "Yes."

"And I got a call from Brian and told him I'd call him later?"

"Yeah."

"He called after you left the hot tub. He had something to tell me and I knew I'd have to tell you. Plus, there was something else I had to tell you too."

"Okay, now, you're freaking me out. What is it? Is this about you and Brian? Because if it is, I'm better off not knowing. You were both single. If it was just sex, fine. I don't want to know."

"I've never had sex with Brian. My history with him is just a few drunken kisses and the body shots. I mean, I've cuddled with him before. And, let's be real, if you had left me for Sonny I would have done all sorts of dirty things with Brian just to spite you and Sonny. But I don't exactly want to sleep with him."

"You don't?"

"No, it'd be weird. Like having sex with Brady or something. Sure, it's not illegal and physically I could do it but it's still gross and wrong."

"Thank you for bringing up sex with my brother while we're naked."

"Exactly," Will patted the top of Paul's hand. "Oh, Brian did ask to date me but that was just to piss off Sonny."

Before Paul could comment, Will grabbed him by the neck with both hands and said, "I'm getting off topic. I wanted to tell you two things that night. First, the day you brought me my glasses at the pub and Brian was there and it was all weird between everyone. That's because Sonny was there before you and met Brian in the bathroom. Just to yell at him about the body shot thing the night before. I know. I eavesdropped. But, the second thing I wanted to tell you was, the morning we left for the bachelor party trip, Sonny kissed Brian."

Paul didn't say anything or react at all. So, Will rambled.

"Brian said he got off his shift in the morning and Sonny met him and started talking about how he wanted to get back together and kissed him. And I have no idea how Sonny could do that to you. We've already established I think you're like the perfect package. But, it really makes no sense when you factor in that a few days later he's asking you to marry him when he told Brian he wanted him back."

"Right," Paul said, wrapping his arms around Will's waist. "I guess I'm not too surprised."

"You're not?"

Paul gave Will a sad smile.

"That's how things work for Sonny. He doesn't know what he wants or who he wants. This is more proof that my decision was the right one. If I had said yes, who knows what would have happened? And, it's not too surprising since I went to Brian's place to find you. I didn't find you but I found Sonny."

"Ouch," Will mumbled with a wince. "That must have been hard to see. And poor Brian, I hope he wasn't crushed. I've been trying to get him to see he deserves better than Sonny too."

"Oh?" Paul asked, raising one brow.

"Not in the same way," Will rolled his eyes. "You both do deserve better than a guy who leads you on all the time. But, when I'd tell you that, I meant more along the lines of me."

"You, huh?" Paul sat up a bit, the blanket falling off Will's shoulders, showing some skin.

"I mean, unless you don't want me," Will turned his head to the side and lifted one shoulder, attempting to play coy.

Paul yanked Will against him, causing Will to let out a loud laugh.

"I didn't run all over town like a crazy person to let you go, now," Paul declared. "You're stuck with me."

"Stuck, huh?" Will said, head pillowed on Paul's chest. He bit one of Paul's nipples and laughed at the surprised grunt Paul let out.

Will would have done some more teasing, would have used his mouth and his teeth and his tongue but, he let out a wide yawn against Paul's skin.

"Tired, baby?" Paul asked, running his fingers through Will's hair.

"Hmm," Will answered, snuggling further into Paul's chest and arms. "But I want all the sex."

Paul snorted and said in a soothing voice, "we've got no rush. We'll have all the sex you want. I promise."

"We better," Will mumbled, sighing when Paul pulled the fluffy comforter around him. "Big plans. All the plans."

"Uh-huh," Paul closed his eyes, arms around Will. "Wait, don't fall asleep in your contacts."

Will grumbled something incomprehensible but didn't get up, just burrowed into Paul's side and refused to let go.

Despite the too hot heat from the fireplace and the blanket and Will plastered against him, Paul slept deeper and harder than he had in years.


August 22, 2018

They woke late the next day, nearing noon. Raindrops steadily beat against the expansive windows in Paul's bedroom. Sometime in the night, Will and Paul shifted in their sleep. When they woke, they were on their side, Paul's large arms wrapped around Will tight.

For a few moments, they didn't know what woke them. Between the rain, the warmth from the fireplace, and their bodies pressed together, everything seemed ideal.

Then Paul heard it, a loud pounding on his front door.

"What's going on?" Will asked around a wide yawn.

"I'll deal with it," Paul said, pressing a few kisses to the back of Will's shoulders. "Stay here."

Paul reluctantly got off the makeshift nest he created for him and Will the night before. He opened a drawer and pulled on the first pair of boxers he found. By the time he made it to his living room, the door burst open.

"Dad?" Paul asked, watching as John unlocked the door with a spare key. "What's-?"

"It's a disaster, son," John said with a strangled panic. "Will's missing. Marlena called the whole wedding off until we can find him. He never came home and his phone's off and no one knows where he is. It's been raining all night. I've got half of Salem looking for him right now and the wedding's supposed to start in less than an hour. It's been raining so hard and I don't know where else to look for him. We don't know if he's hurt or lost or ran away or what. But, we have to find him, son. I need your help."

"Uh-," Paul trailed off, looking over his shoulder toward his bedroom. "Actually, Dad-,"

"I should have forced him into a car last night," John said, pacing backward and forward. "I should have known better. Marlena, Carrie, and Sami are going out of their mind with worry. Austin is seconds away from doing a house to house search. And you, you wouldn't answer your phone last night either. We needed your help and where were you?"

"I don't think you need to worry about finding Will," Paul said.

John wasn't listening. He grew distracted by the pile of clothes in front of the fireplace and the stench of champagne in the air.

"Son, what-?"

"Hi, Grandpa," Will said, coming from Paul's bedroom wearing a pair of Paul's boxers and rubbing his eyes.

John gaped at Will and Paul for a few seconds before shaking his head, focusing.

"You've got to be kidding me. We have been looking everywhere for you and you've been with Paul the whole time? Really?"

"To be fair, it wasn't the whole time," Will said with a shrug and an innocent smile. "I was a little bit lost. Paul found me and brought me here last night."

"I thought you were dead in a ditch somewhere," John lectured, crossing his arms. "Neither of you answered your phone. You let everyone worry about you. How could this happen?"

When Will and Paul opened their mouths to say something, John cut them off.

"You know what, I don't care. I don't want to know. I'm calling Marlena. The wedding is back on and if the two of you aren't ready in less than an hour I am kicking both your asses. Will, put your clothes on, we're going back to the penthouse."

Will tried to say something again but snapped his mouth closed when John yelled.

"No arguing!"

With barely more than a quick peck on the lips goodbye, John grabbed Will by the scruff of his neck and yanked him away. He made time to go back and smack Paul across the back of the head, preaching about irresponsible behavior and how they nearly gave John a heart attack.


With barely a few minutes to spare, Will and John arrived back at Paul's building for the wedding. Will dealt with several hugs and half-hearted threats from everyone who looked for him. He was fairly certain Austin cracked a few of his ribs with the force of his hug.

But, there were worse things than his entire family searching for him in a panic. His family might be too large and too confusing and full of stubborn, headstrong, opinionated individuals that stuck their noses where they didn't belong, but they loved Will.

Despite looking all over for him, Will couldn't find Paul. He wanted to see him in his suit more than anything. But, the overworked wedding coordinator shoved Will toward a small area where Marlena and all the females were working on last minute touch-ups. Why Will had to stay with the girls instead of hanging out with the men, he didn't know.

"Wow," Will whistled when he walked into what turned out to be an elaborate powder room. "I don't think I've ever seen you all look so beautiful."

"You're just saying that so we'll stop being mad at you," Sami said with a smile as she pinned a boutonniere to his lapel.

"Maybe," Will hedged. "But I do mean it. You're all beautiful and I love you."

"Aw," Sami kissed Will on the cheek before slapping him in the back of the head. "Don't you ever do something like that again. And where the hell were you anyway?"

Marlena saved Will from answering.

"Sami, leave him alone," Marlena ordered. "Now, let me see my handsome boy."

Marlena grabbed Will's face with both hands and grinned.

"I still can't believe you're all grown up," Marlena sighed, blinking away tears. "It seems like just a few years ago I was holding you in my arms for the first time. Now, my family's all together for the first time in years to help me celebrate this moment."

"Grandma," Will wiped away a stray tear from her face. "You're gonna ruin your makeup."

Marlena laughed and fanned her eyes with her hands.

"I can't help it. I've waited so long for this day to arrive and you're here and you're safe and you're so handsome and grown. I love you."

"I love you too," Will kissed her cheek with a wide smile. "Now, come on, no more tears. You don't want Grandpa to see you looking like a raccoon. All he needs to focus on is how absolutely gorgeous you look."

Will wiped at her eyes with a tissue, stepping in close.

Under his breath, for Marlena's ears only, he said, "did you really not guess where I was last night?"

At Marlena's quizzical expression, Will looked up toward the ceiling with a small smile.

"I should have known," Marlena whispered with a swat to Will's stomach.

They didn't get a chance to speak on it more. The wedding coordinator stuck her head in the door and told them it was time.

The coordinator ushered everyone into their spot in line. Sami with Brady, Eric with Belle, Will with Paul, Allie and Claire on either side of Johnny, and a radiant Marlena with a beaming John.

The bridesmaids wore dark gray dresses while the groomsmen wore dark gray suits. Marlena and John stood out from the rest. John in a heather gray suit and Marlena in a beaded champagne colored dress.

"Hi," Will whispered to Paul as they got into their place in line.

Paul nudged Will's shoulders with his own, "hi."

"You look amazing," Will said, completely ignoring whatever instructions the coordinator was reminding them all of.

It was true. Paul was all kinds of handsome in his perfectly tailored charcoal gray suit. It drew attention to his wide shoulders and the length of his legs. All crisp edges and clean lines with his hair combed just so.

If Will wasn't so far gone on him before, he would be now.

"Not as amazing as you," Paul replied, looking Will up and down.

Will gelled his hair up and away from his forehead, showing off his clean-shaven face and bright eyes. Paul particularly enjoyed the way Will's suit tapered toward his waist.

"Do you feel okay?" Paul asked, brushing his fingers over Will's forehead. "Not sick after yesterday?"

"No, not sick," Will said, biting his lip. "All that body heat really helped."

This time, when the coordinator told Will to hold onto Paul's arm, he did with no objections. They walked down the aisle, arm in arm, walking past friends and family. Both Will and Paul had a hard time looking away from each other the whole time they walked. They had an even harder time separating, standing on opposite sides of the aisle throughout the small ceremony.

In fact, Will missed most of the wedding because he was too busy admiring Paul. It wasn't until the minister asked for the rings did Will pay attention to what was happening.

"I, John, take you, Marlena, to be my wife and friend. We shall bear together whatever sorrow or adversity life may place upon us and share together whatever joy and fulfillment life may hold in store. I commit myself to you; a commitment made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope, and eternally made anew."

Paul glanced across the aisle to catch Will's eyes and wink.

"I, Marlena, take you, John, to be my husband and friend. We shall bear together whatever sorrow or adversity life may place upon us and share together whatever joy and fulfillment life may hold in store. I commit myself to you; a commitment made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope, and eternally made anew."

Will turned away from their enthusiastic kiss with his hand over his eyes. He relished every moment of their joy and could think of no other couple who could ever deserve it more.

But, that didn't mean he wanted to see his grandparents kissing.

After much celebrating and cheering, John proudly walked his wife back down the aisle.


Will didn't think a photographer could take so many pictures of them but they did. Toward the end, his face hurt from smiling. There were pictures of the wedding party, the family, the extended family, Marlena and her girls. John and all his boys. John and Marlena with each individual member of the wedding party. Even pictures of just the groomsmen and the bridesmaids. Will complained rather loudly when he was included in both photographs.

(complained even louder when Belle revealed there was a stripper at Marlena's bachelorette party and Will missed it. "I had to stand on the bridesmaids' side. Be in the bridesmaids' pictures and get ready with them but I didn't get to see the stripper? What in the actual fu-?" "William!")

Will and Paul stood near each other between takes. Head bent together, hands entwined when they didn't think anyone was looking.

In fact, no one caught on to the change in Will and Paul's relationship until well into the reception. No one noticed anything through the pictures or during cocktail hour. Despite Will and Paul never leaving the other's side. No one noticed anything when they sat down to eat, even though Will stole bites of Paul's fish when he wasn't looking. No one even commented on Sonny's absence or the fact that Adrienne Kiriakis wouldn't stop glaring at Will.

It wasn't until well past John and Marlena's first dance as a married couple that anyone clued in.

John finished twirling Marlena around to Frank Sinatra's The Way You Look Tonight. The two continued dancing as other couples joined them on the dance floor. First, Sami and EJ, then Eric and Nicole and Carrie and Austin. Soon nearly every couple in Salem were dancing.

"Well, looks like Will's the odd one out," Brady said as he stood up, hand in hand with Madison. "He's the only one without a partner since Paul brought Sonny – hey – where is Sonny?"

Paul and Will shared a small smile. Both discarding their suit jackets.

"Don't worry about Will, Brady," Paul said, pushing his chair away and grabbing Will's hand. "His boyfriend's got this covered."

"Boyfriend?" Brady asked while Madison cupped her hands around her mouth and cheered.

Even dancing together didn't give many people a clue as to their change in relationship status. Not until a slow song came over the speakers and Paul pulled Will close.

When Etta James' At Last came over the speaker, Will wrapped his arms around Paul's neck, stepping so close there wasn't any space between them. Paul kept one had on Will's waist and the other spread low on his back, fingertips tucked into the back of Will's pants.

At first, no one noticed a change. The majority of their family had spent weeks watching them tiptoe around the other, flirting and playing. Seeing them intimately dance wasn't a change.

Seeing Will tilt his head to the side, connecting their lips together without missing a beat in their dance was new.

Paul sinking into the kiss, grip tightening on Will's hip, fingertips digging into Will's pants was new as well.

No one said anything for a long time. They simply watched the two kiss, lost in each other, bodies swaying forward and back, carefree and young and beautiful.

It wasn't until Austin, fist raised, said, "I'll kill him," did anyone react.

Carrie hushed her husband and directed his gaze away from the two. Everyone else smiled at the sight while Nicole said loud and clear, "it's about damn time."

John twirled Marlena in a circle, pulling her back against him.

"I guess you were right about the two of them," John told her, holding her close.

"Like usual," Marlena teased, turning to stare at Will and Paul in their own little world.

They didn't even notice all the catcalls and exclamations they were drawing.

"There's something romantic about it all, don't you think?" Marlena asked, staring up at John, perfectly content and happy.

"What?"

"Your son and my grandson falling in love while we're planning our wedding," Marlena explained. "Someone so special to you, someone so special to me coming together."

"When you put it that way," John said, arms wrapped around her waist. "It is beautiful. Now, I think we better show them how it's done."

John dipped Marlena without warning causing her to let out a delighted peal of laughter.

All while Will and Paul kissed and kissed, at last.

Chapter Text

August 22, 2018

John and Marlena's wedding lasted long into the night. Between dancing and toasts and cake, it felt like it would never end.

As the party winded down, Marlena and John's closest family huddled around them, exhausted.

Sami and EJ sat on their right, with Allie and Johnny sleeping in their arms. Eric and Nicole sat next to them, Nicole's bare feet in Eric's lap. Belle sat with her chair right next to Shawn's, Claire asleep across both their laps. Madison sat on Brady's lap, resting her head on his shoulder. Marlena and John were a mirror image.

Meanwhile, Will and Paul sat with their thighs pressed together, hands entwined. Will lost his tie somewhere in the room and Paul kicked off his shoes a long time ago.

The whole family sat around, drinking the last of the open wine bottles and relaxing. Up until that point, none of them brought up Will and Paul. They'd cheered and catcalled while they danced and kissed. Laughed when Carried had to physically restrain Austin from yanking the two apart.

Will and Paul were too wrapped up in the other to even notice anyone else around them.

John, just a little bit tipsy, held his wine glass up in the air.

"To the woman of my dreams," John said, eyes on Marlena's beautiful face.

"To our wonderful family," Marlena added.

"And for Paul finally pulling his head out of his ass," Brady stated causing everyone else to laugh.

"Finally," Eric said with a loud sigh.

"I didn't think we could wait any longer," Nicole agreed.

"I was about a day away from staging another intervention," Sami revealed.

"Really?" EJ asked. "I was getting ready to lock them in a room together."

"See, this is why we work so well together," Sami said before giving him a kiss.

"Wait? What?" Paul asked, looking at everyone one at a time. "What are you people talking about?"

"Paul, sweetheart," Marlena said with a small smile. "Everyone's been waiting for you to break up with Sonny and get with Will."

"Literally all of us," Brady confirmed. "Except maybe Dad."

"I've been informed it's what I wanted," John glanced at Marlena. At her narrowed-eyed expression, John amended, "and, of course, it is what I want. Will and Paul are two of my favorite people. I know they'll make each other happy."

"Wait, so all of you have been conspiring to get us together?" Paul asked. He turned to look at Will. "Did you know about this?"

"Unfortunately," Will answered. "I wanted them to stop but they listen to no one."

"But, how?" Paul wondered. "And why?"

"Because you're family, you idiot," Sami rolled her eyes. "And that's what you do in this family. You push and you prod until everyone does what you want."

"All of you wanted us together?" Paul asked again.

"Yes," Brady stated. "We all hated your boyfriend, wanted you with Will and did our best to make it happen. I thought for sure you ruined it all after all the hard work for the bachelor trip. But, I guess you worked things out on your own."

"What?" Paul frowned. "You mean, you planned that stupid trip just to get me and Will alone?"

"Hey," Will said, eyes flickering about as he thought it over. "You terrified me for no reason, you asshole."

Will bent over and tossed one of Paul's shoes at Brady.

"Ow," Brady complained. "I was helping, you little shit. And this is the thanks I get?"

"I'm traumatized," Will huffed and crossed his arms.

Paul wrapped an arm around Will and rubbed his bicep up and down.

"Yeah, real traumatized," Sami shook her head at the two of them.

"I can't believe you did that," Paul said. "You really freaked Will out."

"We weren't gonna make him zip line," Eric soothed. "We just wanted to get you two alone."

"And you didn't even make it to what else we planned," Brady said. "It was some good stuff, too."

"Oh, god, what was it?" Will asked.

"It was great," Brady explained with a proud nod. "I was gonna distract Austin while the two of you hung out in a room alone together and accidentally lock you in and lose the key."

"Wow," Paul said with a straight face. "That really would have been something."

"But the two of you ruined it," Brady said with a scoff.

"You were at odds yesterday," Marlena pointed out, holding onto John's neck as she sat on his lap sideways. "What happened?"

Will and Paul shared a smile before Will said, "talked things over and we're seeing where things go."

"I broke up with Sonny and found Will and here we are," Paul said. He lifted Will's left hand and gave it a kiss.

He rolled his eyes when everyone cooed and snickered.

"What's going to happen when Will goes back to Zurich?" Belle asked with a peculiar look on her face. "Or if you two break up?"

No one said anything for a few seconds while Will and Paul fidgeted in their seats.

"We hadn't really talked about it that much," Will admitted, scratching the back of his neck and giving everyone a sheepish smile.

"But thank you, captain buzzkill," Sami said, glaring at Belle.

"I'm just saying," Belle shrugged. "It's not like they can just dump each other and never see one another again. Hello," Belle gestured to everyone at their group. "We're all family here."

Paul cleared his throat, squeezing Will's hand tight.

"I already told Will, I don't care if we're together a day or for the rest of our lives, he's worth it."

Will bit his lower lip, head downturned and cheeks rosy.

Marlena sighed, happy and content.

"See," John told her, giving her waist a squeeze. "I knew bringing Will here would be the best present you could ever ask for and look. We're finally married. Our family is happier than ever and Paul and Will are in love."

Paul almost laughed at the wide-eyed face Will made at the words. A mixture of surprise and something Paul couldn't quite put his finger on.

Even if they hadn't said the words to each other yet, Paul knew they felt them.

Or, at least, Paul did.

"Congratulations, again," Will said, squeezing Marlena tight.

"Thank you, sweetheart," Marlena patted his face. "I'm so grateful you were here for this."

"And miss my grandparents finally get married after all these years of waiting?" Will asked with a wide smile. "As if."

Will took a step back for Marlena to pull Paul into an equally tight and warm hug.

John threw an arm around Will's neck, "thanks kiddo."

He reached out with his other arm and yanked Paul in close too.

"I'm so glad you two worked things out," John said, kissing them both on the top of the head. "I love you."

"Yes," Marlena agreed, taking John's arm when he offered it to her. "I just knew the two of you would be beautiful together."

Paul shook his head, linking his fingers with Will's.

"So, you were trying to get me and Will together too?"

"Well," Marlena lifted her brows and gave Paul a familiar mischievous smile. "I've enjoyed getting to know you these past few years, Paul. I've hated seeing you suffer with Sonny. You deserve someone wonderful and Will is the most wonderful person I know. Plus, I saw the two of you after you just met. Neither of you were subtle."

"I told you she's the best," Will patted Paul's chest.

"I already knew that. I just can't believe everyone wanted to put us together. That everyone cared enough to notice I deserved something better than what I had. And you are," Paul looked directly at Will. "You are something better."

Marlena and John grinned when Will broke into giggles, face bright red.

"Yeah," John said with a shake of his head, watching Paul touch Will's face, both so happy and carefree. "You were right all along. They do belong together."

"Will wasn't just a gift for me after all," Marlena pressed a sweet kiss to John's lips. "Now, let's get out of here, husband."

"Will," John said while still looking at Marlena. "Don't bother coming to the penthouse for a while. We're gonna be preoccupied."

"Gross," Will said with a small frown before deliberating and moving his head side to side, "but same."


 

Paul unlocked the door to his condo and crinkled his nose. He never did get around to cleaning up his kitchen. It still reeked of champagne.

"We should really take care of that," Will said as he followed behind Paul.

"I'll take care of it," Paul closed the door after Will and pushed him against it. "You go to my room and wait for me."

Paul kissed away whatever response Will had for him.

Will made it to Paul's room, fingertips pressed to his tingly lips.

Kissing Paul would never get old.

It wasn't until Will nearly tripped over the mess of blankets the two slept on the night before did he realize what was about to happen.

Paul was going to come in here and they were going to have sex, most likely penetrative sex.

Will was about as far from being a virgin as one could get. He'd done things that would give Austin an aneurysm and make his mother blush.

When it came to sex, Will was confident in his body and his skills. He hadn't been nervous about sex since he was a skinny, awkward looking 16 year-old-boy who cried the first time he let someone stick their dick up his ass. Will knew what he was doing, now. He knew how to make things feel good for him and his partner. He didn't get nervous.

But the thought of Paul and him together caused butterflies to erupt in his stomach. Will knew Paul wanted him just as badly as Will wanted Paul. He knew that. He knew everything would be wonderful and sexy just like the night before.

Still, Will couldn't help but fidget and squirm, uncertain if he should disrobe and clean off in the shower. And what if Paul didn't want to have sex that night? What if he wanted another handjob or blowjob? Did Paul even like anal? Would he want to be on top? Would Will? Would they switch?

So many questions and Will didn't know how to answer them, not without Paul. And he was the very reason why Will was so anxious. Because Paul might think Will was scary but it was nothing compared to how Paul made Will feel.

Will liked causal. He liked kissing boys whenever he felt like it and flirting with men for the fun of it. He left when things got too serious, meant too much. And Paul made Will feel everything.

Paul made Will want to give him everything.

Normally, if a man sent Will to his room, Will knew exactly what to do. He'd strip down, clean off real quick, and position himself in the most enticing manner possible.

But that was with other men and Paul wasn't just a man. He was the only man and he meant more to Will than anyone else did.

Will needed this to mean more, be more. Because as confident as Will was, as sure as he was about Paul's feelings and attraction to him, Will had to make sure Paul never regretted his decision to leave Sonny.

"What are you doing?" Paul asked, walking into his bedroom.

Will whipped around, standing in the middle of the room with a panicked expression on his face.

"I honestly don't know," Will answered, giving Paul a weak smile.

"Why?" Paul moved closer, taking hold of both Will's hands.

Will shrugged, fixating at a point over Paul's shoulder, far, far away from Paul's eyes.

"Nervous, I guess."

"You?" Paul grinned, sliding his hands over to the bottom of Will's shirt. "Nervous?"

"It happens," Will mumbled.

"You? The same guy that convinced me to swim in my underwear in public? The same guy that tells me all the time to my face how you think I'm perfect? The same guy that's told me about taking nudes, having threesomes, and makes out with strangers? He's nervous?"

"Is that so hard to believe?" Will asked, still refusing to look at Paul.

"A little, yeah," Paul said. He let go of Will's shirt to nudge Will's chin up and toward him. "What's going on?"

"I don't know," Will closed his eyes and shook his head. "Nothing, it's nothing."

"Doesn't sound like it," Paul pointed out. "I know you've always been a little – uh – wild. I like that about you. I find it ridiculously attractive. So, I don't know where this is coming from. Even last night, the things you said about us, I thought you were looking forward to this."

"I am," Will said, finally looking at Paul.

At his dumb, perfect face and the perfect amount of concern in his pretty, beautiful eyes.

"If you're having second thoughts-,"

"I'm not," Will tilted his head up toward the ceiling and sighed. He wrapped his arms around Paul's neck, playing with the tips of his hair. "Everything everyone said tonight kinda got to me."

"What do you mean?"

"About me being so much better for you and how wonderful we're going to be and I don't know. I don't know. I just," Will closed his eyes again. This would be so much easier without looking at Paul. "What if I'm not?"

"Not what?" Paul turned his hand to the side, holding Will's jaw.

"Better or wonderful or perfect for you," Will said, glancing at Paul's eyes. "Because what you see is what you get with me. I'm pretty much an open book. And I don't want this to be like other times I've done this. I don't want this, us, to be just about sex. Even though I want you so bad, I don't want to wake up tomorrow or the next day or any other day and find out that's all it was. I might have before but not anymore. I don't want every moment I'm with you to be a competition between me and your memories. You just broke up with him and normally I don't care about that type of thing. But it's you and you're different and I'm scared that all you're gonna want me for is sex and once you get it my appeal is going to disappear and you'll regret leaving Sonny at all and-,"

Paul cut Will off with a kiss.

He held Will's face ever so gently in his hands, thumbs brushed along his cheekbone. Shoulders pressed together while Paul poured everything he could into it.

"That's not going to happen," Paul said once he pulled away. "I've wanted you, physically, from the moment I met you. But every moment after, made me want you for so much more."

Will took a few deep breaths before nodding.

"Okay."

"No, not okay," Paul said with a small chuckle. "This is my fault. I've listened to you go on and on about your feelings for me and I've hardly said anything."

"You don't have to say-,"

Paul kissed Will again, soft and sweet.

"I go on and on about you in my mind," Paul held Will's gaze, smile on his face. "About how beautiful you are. When you're laughing and your face lights up and your cheeks get all red, it's hard to focus around you. I know most of everything I've told you about my feelings came along with Sonny attached to them and that's not fair to you. And I do compare you to Sonny but in a way that's not fair to him. Because I took one look at you when we met and I forgot Sonny was even there. The way you touch me and kiss me and tease me, it makes everyone that came before you pale in comparison. Because you are everything and you know it. Beautiful and smart and funny and so, so sexy even when you're sick or crying or even now when you're nervous."

Paul brushed his thumb along Will's lower lip.

"You're the most beautiful thing I've ever seen and I'm never going to leave you for anyone."

Will let out a shaky laugh and licked his lips.

"And my butt's cute," he added sounding a bit more like himself.

Paul threw his head back and laughed. Letting one hand slip and slide down Will's back to grab a hold of said butt.

"Yeah, I've been pretty obsessed with it since Marlena mentioned it the night we met."

"You should be," Will teased despite the flush on his cheeks.

"Then you had to go talking about letting somebody else take pictures of it," Paul shook his head.

"We can recreate that moment if you want?" Will offered.

"I'll remember that. Your ass is also the reason I got in the water with you that day at the lake," Paul revealed. "I didn't know what to do and then it got wet when you walked in the water and I was gone."

"You shouldn't have said that," Will admitted, smile turning a bit more confident than before. "Now, I know how to get whatever I want out of you."

Paul squeezed Will's butt and raised his brows.

"If it involves this, I don't think I'll complain much."

"No?" Will asked.

He grabbed Paul by the tie and pulled him closer. Right before their lips were about to touch, Will flicked his tongue out, brushing Paul's mouth.

Paul groaned, grip on Will's butt even tighter.

Will opened his mouth and sucked on Paul's lower lip. One hand slid into Paul's hair while the other held tight to his tie.

Paul, reluctantly, let go of Will's ass to unbutton Will's shirt.

Will gasped into Paul's mouth when Paul yanked his shirt open, large, warm hands spreading over Will's exposed skin. They continued kissing even when Paul tweaked both of Will's nipples.

"Oh," Will moaned when Paul kissed across his cheek to his ear, nipping the lobe.

Paul pressed tiny, wet kisses along Will's neck, shoving his shirt over his shoulders until they got caught on Will's wrists.

While Will struggled with his own shirt, Paul turned Will around. He kissed across Will's shoulders, biting here and there. He kissed down Will's spine, tongue tracing over dark freckles and holding tight to Will's hips.

After throwing his shirt off, Will quickly unbuckled his belt and opened his pants. He tried not to wriggle when Paul grabbed hold of his waistband and pulled it and his underwear down, exposing his butt.

The appreciative groan Paul emitted filled Will with vindication.

"Fuck," Paul praised while face to face with Will's naked butt.

He let his hands run up and down and all over Will's flesh. All while his lips and tongue traveled over every inch he could.

Will couldn't hold himself up any longer. He leaned forward, leaning his elbows on the bed, nearly bent in two.

The new position exposed more of Will to Paul. He ripped Will's pants down the rest of his legs, waited for Will to kick the fabric off, and knocked Will's legs further apart.

"I've wanted to do this for so damn long," Paul murmured before licking a single stripe from the seam of Will's balls up to his tight little hole.

Will's fingers dug into the sheets while he cried out.

Paul used both hands to pull Will's cheeks apart, licking up and down Will's crack, spreading as much saliva as he could.

Will was all tensed shoulders and arched back, tiny little gasps echoing out in a pant.

Paul took his time. Teasing at Will's opening one moment and biting at the curve of his butt another. He relished each and every broken sound Will let out.

"You like that, baby?" Paul asked before prodding the tip of his tongue at Will's hole. "Hmm?"

"Yes," Will groaned, working his hips back, chasing Paul's tongue.

"Good," Paul said, pressing a few lingering kisses to Will's entrance before slowly working his tongue inside.

Will clung to the sheets, rubbing against the edge of the bed and babbling nonsense.

"Paul, Paul, baby, yes, Paul, Paul, oh god, Paul, baby, mmm, please, yes, god, yes."

Paul chuckled before sucking on the index finger of his left hand. After twisting his tongue as far into Will as he could, Paul pulled back and slipped his finger inside.

"This what you want?" Paul mumbled into the back of Will's right thigh, tonguing the muscle and skin. "Want me to stretch you open for me?"

"Uh-huh," Will nodded. "Want you so bad, always have."

"I want you too," Paul promised, slowly working Will open.

When it was time for two fingers, Paul shushed Will when he complained about Paul pulling away.

"Need lube for this part, baby," Paul said, pressing a few wet kisses to Will's hole. "Be right back."

"Paul," Will whined, rubbing into the sheets.

"Talk to me, baby," Paul requested when he stood up and moved to his nightstand. He rummaged around for a few moments, trying to find the lube.

He hadn't exactly needed it in a while.

"Tell me about your first time," Paul said, distracting Will.

Will let out a few muffled curses before talking.

"It was awful and hurt. I spent the whole time crying and promised I'd never let anyone stick anything up me again."

"Oh?" Paul asked with a small laugh. "What changed?"

He finally found an unopened bottle in the back of his drawer. It was shoved between a lost sock and a packet of condoms.

"Met someone that knew what they were doing," Will admitted. He held himself up and looked over his shoulder to stare at Paul when he kneeled down behind him again. "That time I cried for entirely different reasons."

"I bet you did," Paul grinned as he drizzled lube down Will's crack and over his fingers. "It felt good?"

"Mmm hmm," Will groaned when Paul pushed two fingers inside him. "He fucked me stupid. But – oh, god – no one's tongue has ever felt this good."

"That a hint?" Paul asked before nipping the curve of Will's ass.

"Yes," Will said flat out, pushing back onto Paul's fingers.

Paul smiled and adjusted Will's hips so he could flicker his tongue out between his fingers.

He worked Will up to three fingers, scissoring them this way and that, tongue teasing. Then Paul stood up after a few reluctant kisses along the curve of Will's butt.

Will scrambled to roll over, cock leaking and sticking straight up. Without a single touch to himself, Will slid to his knees and pulled and yanked and clawed Paul's belt and pants open.

Paul unbuttoned his shirt and pulled off his tie while Will got his pants off. Once Paul was naked, Will ran his hands up and down Paul's calves and up to his thighs. His hole clenched when he caught sight of Paul's hard cock.

Will clung to the back of Paul's thighs and nosed at his scrotum. Then he wrapped his tongue around one ball, sucking it into his mouth. He amused himself passing between both balls while Paul fisted his cock, rubbing it over Will's face until Will pinched the back of his leg.

"Sorry," Paul said with a small chuckle. "Couldn't resist."

Will popped Paul's balls out of his mouth with a wet splotch.

"You can rub your dick on whatever part of me you want later. Right now, I have plans for it."

"Oh?" Paul asked, holding the base of his cock and pointing it downward.

Will nodded, wrapping his lips around Paul's tip and sucking up whatever liquid was pearling at the end.

Paul let out a strange mix of a laugh and a moan. He pointed toward Will's knees, barely getting out what he needed to say.

"C- oh – uh – condom."

Will, eyes on Paul's face and lips wrapped around him, felt around the floor until he found the condom. He tore the wrapper open and unfurled the condom, pulling off Paul long enough to roll it over him.

Paul bent over, grabbing Will by the elbows and yanking him up off the ground. He cherished the surprised shriek of delight Will let out.

Paul pushed his fingers through Will's gelled up hair. Miraculously, it was still in place, swept away from his forehead.

The two stared at each other for a few moments, anxious and excited and aching.

"Come here," Paul said moments before kissing Will.

It started sweet and reassuring before turning dirty. Paul sucked Will's tongue into his mouth, rubbing their cocks into the others hip.

Will grabbed Paul's neck, pulling him back a few steps until they tumbled onto the bed. Will curled his left leg around Paul's hips, gyrating into him. All while Paul's hand wandered down to Will's butt, massaging and groping.

Will gasped into Paul's mouth when he felt a fingertip slip inside him.

"Just checking," Paul said, nipping Will's lips.

Will shoved Paul away, holding his gaze. Then he shoved Paul onto his back and reached for the bottle of lube they left on the floor. Will straddled Paul's thighs and grabbed Paul's cock with one hand. The other pouring lube all over him.

Will, holding Paul's gaze, both hands twisting in opposite directions, spread the lube.

Paul rubbed his hands up and down Will's sides and thighs, drifting back toward Will's ass.

With a deep breath and a sultry smile, Will leaned forward, balancing on his knees. He angled Paul's cock toward his entrance and pushed down.

Paul's head flopped back on the mattress as he gripped Will's hips so hard his nails left indentations.

"Fuck," Paul praised once Will bottomed out, ass brushing Paul's thighs.

Will sat still for a few moments, sitting up high, head thrown back and eyes closed.

After adjusting, Will rocked his hips forward and back. Slowly at first before working up a steady rhythm. Thighs burning and stretched just right around Paul.

Paul was happy to watch Will work himself on his cock. Loved watching Will's abdominal muscles clench with each undulation of his hips. Loved the way Will felt around him, tight and hot and oh so perfect. Loved the look on Will's face, so sexy and flushed and utterly at home on Paul's cock.

But, Paul couldn't stay still for long.

He planted his feet on the mattress, wrapping his arms around Will's waist and sitting up so Will fell into his lap.

"Yes," Will panted, grabbing Paul's thick shoulders, using them for leverage. He groaned when Paul's hips rose up to meet him thrust for thrust.

"Like that?" Paul asked, yelling out a cry when Will's nails dug into his back.

"So good," Will praised, eyes wild and face breaking out in sweat. "Love it, love your cock."

"Wanted it for so long, huh, baby?"

"So fucking long," Will nodded, rolling his hips. "Just wanted your dick and look what you did to me instead. Pining and falling and oh, fuck. Do that again."

"What?" Paul asked with a wide grin. "Do this?"

Paul circled his hips, grinding up into Will.

"Harder," Will requested, cock flopping between his stomach and Paul's. "Harder, baby."

The sound of their skin slapping together echoed around the bedroom. Their pants and gasps, groans and moans filling the space.

Paul kissed Will, nothing more than tongues and teeth before pushing Will off of him and onto his stomach. He pulled Will up onto his hands and knees, placing a loud slap onto his ass.

"Aw, fuck," Will shivered, sighing when Paul pushed back inside him. "Do that again."

"Do you want it harder or do you want me to spank you?" Paul asked with a wide grin, thrusting hard and deep into Will.

"Both," Will ordered, canting his hips forward and back in time with Paul's thrusts. "Harder and fuck, fuck, fuck."

Paul bit over Will's shoulders, digging his teeth into his skin. All while he jackrabbited into Will, hand giving Will an occasional swat to the ass. His other hand, snuck around to Will's front, finding his cock.

Will squeezed the sheets below him, fists clenched, while he pushed back onto Paul's cock and forward into Paul's fist.

"Paul," Will moaned. "Stop touching me."

"Why?" Paul asked, finished sucking a dark mark into the back of Will's shoulders.

"Don't wanna finish yet," Will admitted, voice high pitched and wrecked.

"You're not falling asleep until I've fucked you at least three times," Paul whispered, sucking Will's earlobe. "I'm gonna get you off so many times, baby."

Will let out several loud, hoarse cries when Paul jerked him faster.

"That's it, baby," Paul praised. "Wanna hear you. God, feel you clenching so tight around me. Fuck."

Will cried out his release, painting Paul's fist and the sheet with his come.

Paul nearly lost it himself, between the feel of Will spasming around him and the sounds Will made. He kept his pace even, steady, and hard.

Will panted, taking a moment to catch his breath and recover. Then he pushed himself up, back to Paul's front.

"Holy fuck," Will laughed, hitching his hips up and down. He leaned his head back against Paul, kissing the side of his mouth. "I knew you'd fuck the hell outta me."

"Oh, yeah?" Paul asked, sticking his tongue out and lapping at Will's lips.

"Thought about it so many times," Will said, keening when Paul dug his fingers into his hips. "How good you'd feel inside me, how good you'd taste."

Paul moaned, grinding harder and deeper into Will, eyes fluttering shut.

"Should have kissed you in that cave. Pulled you into the shower with me afterward," Will said, working in time with Paul's thrusts. "Should have sucked you down, drooled all over your cock on our way to the game. Should have shut you up in the hot tub and fucked right then and there with everyone around us."

"Fuck, fuck," Paul gasped, clamping his teeth into the meat of Will's shoulder.

Paul shuddered and gasped, rolling into Will over and over and over until he finally stopped. He wrapped his arms around Will, leaning all of his body weight onto him.

Will closed his eyes, enjoying their naked skin pressed together. He pulled one of Paul's hands up to his mouth and kissed his palm over and over again.

After a few moments, Paul pulled back, kissing Will's neck and shoulders again.

"And you were worried that wasn't going to make our lives even better?"

"Shut up," Will laughed while breathing heavily and working his hips back into Paul.

"God," Paul sighed, eyes closed. He groaned when Will gyrated against him. "It's been like a minute, are you kidding me?"

"What part of me made you think I wasn't going to turn into your cockslut?" Will asked, only half joking.

"Are you trying to kill me?" Paul asked, gently easing out of Will. He pulled Will down onto the bed despite the sheets being a tangled mess now.

"I know you're probably used to boring, scheduled missionary sex," Will ran his hands over Paul's bicep and shoulders. "But I've got needs, baby."

"If someone should have been worried about sex it's me. How am I supposed to keep you satisfied now?" Paul asked with a smile on his face. Fingers slipping back inside Will.

"I've got, what, nine days left?" Will asked, pretending he didn't see Paul's smile slip. "We're gonna be fucking for at least 60 percent of that time."

Paul took a deep breath before smiling once again. He kissed Will once, twice then pulled away.

"Only 60 percent?" Paul asked, turning Will onto his front and kissing back down his spine. "Well, whatever my baby wants, my baby is gonna get."

Chapter Text

August 23, 2018

Will and Paul woke closer to afternoon than morning. The sun was high in the sky, sunshine after so many days of overcast skies and rain. They fell asleep wrapped in each other's arms. Paul's strong hands pressed tight to Will's chest. Sated, exhausted, sweaty, and sticky.

Will's eyes fluttered open to Paul pressing kiss after kiss to the sensitive spot behind his ear. Paul's nose buried in Will's hair.

"Mmm," Will said, snuggling further into Paul's hold. "Morning."

"Morning," Paul echoed, grinning against Will's hair. "How do you feel?"

"Perfect," Will answered with a deep sigh. "And sore."

"Yeah," Paul said, shifting with a wine. "Haven't used some of these muscles in a long time."

They settled into a gentle silence, enjoying the other's warmth. Then, Will cleared his throat.

"I want a shower, some coffee, a thousand pancakes, and for you to sit on my face."

Paul snorted, kissing the back of Will's head.

"I'mma fuck your thighs too at some point."

"Just my thighs?" Paul asked with a huge smile.

"Thighs, face, ass, whatever I can get of you."

"Anything you want, baby," Paul promised, squeezing Will tight.

"I like the sound of that," Will said, wiggling and slowly detaching his sticky skin from Paul's. "But what about you? What do you want?"

"You," Paul answered, burrowing his face into Will's neck. "Naked and open and bent over the nearest surface."

"Oooh, you have the best ideas," Will cooed.

"Shower?" Paul suggested.

"Let's hope this one goes better than last night's attempt."

"You're the one that wouldn't let go of my dick," Paul laughed. He sat up and frowned at the flakey white stuff stuck all over his groin and all over Will's butt.

"Can you blame me?" Will asked, sitting up and reaching his arms over his head to stretch.

They both eased off the bed, wincing at the raw pain in their stiff, overused muscles.

"Ah, ah, ah," Will hissed, hobbling from foot to foot. "Ooof, holy smokes."

Paul, proud and smug at the sight of Will, helped him into his spacious master bath. He started the shower and grabbed two new towels.

"Sweet baby Jesus," Will said, looking at himself in a mirror. "The hell did you do to me?"

Between the bite marks and finger-shaped bruises, Will was a mottled Jackson Pollock. Not that Paul was any better. The claw marks up and down his back and sides left him looking like he lost a fight with a wild animal.

"These ones are my favorite," Paul said, slipping his right hand to the curve of Will's butt and squeezing over a few dark marks.

"Hey," Will said before Paul could move into the water.

"Hmm?" Paul turned to face Will.

"I haven't done this yet," Will said, grabbing Paul's jaw and yanking him into a kiss.

"Hi," Will said after with a shy smile.

"Hi," Paul echoed, kissing Will once more, grabbing his hand and pulling Will under the water.

They took longer in the shower than they normally would. Washing each other's hair and body. Teasing and twisting and nipping as they went.

Paul, down on his knees, ran a washcloth over Will's ticklish thighs over and over until Will almost kneed him in the face.

"Stop iiiiiit," Will complained with a laugh.

"Fine," Paul teased, flicking Will's thighs with his index finger and thumb. "But, since I'm down here…"

Paul put his hands on Will's butt, cleaning him over with the cloth. Then he said, "I'm gonna take a look, alright?"

He pushed Will further toward the shower wall and spread his legs farther apart.

"What are you doing?"

"Making sure you're alright," Paul answered. "I was pretty rough that last time."

"Okay," Will said, skeptical.

He'd never had a partner care about that before.

Paul spread Will's cheeks open, withholding a moan. Will was a bit swollen and red and still open. But, no tearing or damage

"Looks good," Paul said, sneaking a quick nip to Will's butt. "Probably should let you rest some, though."

"That's a terrible idea," Will said, closing his eyes and standing under the shower's spray. "But, then you can be all mine. I'll approve it."

"There's your silver lining," Paul tapped Will's butt and stood up, turning Will around and shoving him into the wall.


After kissing over and over in the shower, Will and Paul curled up on the couch in their boxers. Will borrowed a pair of Paul's that were too wide in the waist and thighs and kept slipping down. Paul enjoyed the sight in more than one way.

He finished up ordering them brunch and several cups of coffee for Will.

Will, putting the TV on ESPN, at a low volume, sat cross-legged on the couch facing Paul.

Paul, looking up from his phone, lifted his brows and smiled at Will.

"What?"

Will shrugged with one shoulder.

"Just thinking."

"About?"

"You. Me. Us."

"That's a good topic."

"The best," Will responded. "I'm just kinda surprised this all happened. You know, after everything."

Paul nodded, tossing his phone aside and turning to fully face Will.

"I know we didn't really meet at the best time. I was – uh – with Sonny. I knew things between me and him were tense and unsteady. Then you were this ridiculously hot, inappropriate ray of sunshine."

"I meant how we argued on that stupid bachelor trip but I'll take hot."

"Oh," Paul flushed and let out a chuckle. "Well, you know, I didn't mean what I said that night. Well, I did but not in a bad way.

"I tried to cling to Sonny, to what was familiar and maybe I was hoping all you wanted from me was sex."

"Why?"

"Sex is easy. Feelings, though, are complicated. Somehow you are the easiest and most complicated person I've ever been with."

"I'm assuming there was a compliment in there somewhere."

"Yes, I meant being with you – it's not awkward or uncomfortable. There's no learning curve. It's like I've known you forever. But, we met when I was knee-deep in crap with Sonny. And you made it impossible to be with anyone else. You didn't even have to try."

"Oh, I tried."

Paul, smile crooked and sweet, kissed Will soft and brief.

"And that's why I freaked a bit. I tried to pretend I was happy when all I ever thought about was you. But, what I can't believe is everyone wanting us together."

"Well, they love you and they love me. I wanted you and, clearly, you wanted me. I mean, obviously, Paul."

"Obviously," Paul repeated with an indulgent smile. "I can't believe you knew about it, though."

"I knew and objected. It's one of the reasons I don't get along with Salem. Too many people interfering and plotting and ignoring what I wanted."

Paul, bewildered, "You really have issues with Salem."

"Yeah, I do. Less than a month here and I've obliterated your relationship. I made Grandma and John argue. Almost my entire family was conspiring to hook us up. I mean, it's better than when I left and I tried to ki-," Will cut himself off, snapping his mouth shut, teeth clinking together.

"When you tried what?"

"Nothing," Will said right away. "It's nothing."

"You never did tell me why you left Salem. I know something happened but not what. You don't have to tell me, of course. But, I am curious."

"It's bad," Will said, spine curving in on itself, shoulders hunched.

"I doubt it. I mean, you already told me about Monaco. What's worse than public nudity?"

"Oh, you'd be surprised. It's pretty much the worse thing I've ever done. I'm not like that anymore. I'm well-adjusted now. Well, kinda. I mean, I did take one look at you and metaphorically called dibs. So, probably not too adjusted after all. But, I am much better than before."

"Stop that," Paul said with a frown. "There's nothing wrong with you. I'm not going to judge you or whatever you think I'm going to do."

"Yeah, you will. Anyone would. Hell, I judge the hell out of myself."

"Hey," Paul brushed his thumb over Will's jawline. "You don't have to tell me, baby. It's fine."

"No," Will sighed. "I can."

Will liked Paul, trusted him even if the jerk left him on a rooftop for an hour, alone. But, Paul made Will feel things he never had before. Warm, bubbly, intense, wonderful, perfect feelings. There wouldn't be any point trying to stay together once Will left if Paul didn't accept all of Will, especially the ugly parts.

"I was young, not even a teenager, yet. Young and angry and stupid and I hated EJ more than anything."

"EJ?"

"I always wanted my parents together or with Austin or Carrie. All I ever wanted was a normal family, to be like every other kid I knew. Not have parents that change partners more than they change underwear. Not a family always in and out of jail or ruining someone else's life and I had it for a while. Mom and Dad were happy. They were going to have another baby, babies, as it were. Or, so we thought. We learned Johnny was EJ's and how that happened and everything fell apart. Mom was going to marry EJ. I was angry and hanging out with a rough crowd and drinking things I shouldn't. Well – I tried to kill him – EJ – with a gun. I shot him. In the back."

Paul stared at Will for a long time, a blank look on his face.

Will waited, awkward, smooshed look on his face.

"Hey?" Will waved his hand in front of Paul's face. "Say something."

"Well, that's definitely not what I expected," Paul said after a few moments.

"Do I ever do what you expect?"

"Good point," Paul said before reaching out and pulling Will against him.

"So…" Will tailed off. "You're not gonna ask me anything?"

"No," Paul shrugged, left arm draped across Will's shoulder. "You explained things to me. I might not get all of it but I can understand. Plus, I saw you and EJ interact at the wedding. It looked like you figured things out. Even the night we first met, at the party, he hugged you pretty tight. I know you spend time with him now and everything. Didn't I see you driving his car?"

"Yeah."

"No point hashing things out, now, is there? I know you. You wouldn't hurt anyone like that anymore."

"Oh," Will frowned for a moment, brows furrowed. "Okay."

Paul let out a small chuckle and kissed Will on the lips.

"Out of curiosity, what did you think I was going to say?"

"Ah, well," Paul bit his lower lip and winced. "To be honest, knowing you like I do, I thought you were going to say something like you professed your undying love to EJ or slept with him or something."

"When I was 13, Paul? Really?"

"I wasn't thinking about your age," Paul said in defense. "Most of the stories I hear from you are sexual anyway."

"No, I did not have sex with EJ when I was a child," Will rolled his eyes.

"What about as an adult?" Paul asked, cracking himself up.

Will shoved Paul off him, trying not to show how amused he was.

"You're laughing but I would if I could," Will teased. "So many uncomfortable vacations as a teenager. Trying to figure out if I wanted to smash his face in or smash my face into his. Trips to the woods, unfulfilled Brokeback fantasies."

Paul couldn't contain his laughter, literally rolling around on the couch.

"I used to be a lot shorter too," Will added, enjoying Paul's mirth. "Couldn't even fit my chin over his shoulder. God, hugging that man used to be so confusing."

"Stop it," Paul begged, laughing and laughing.

"I went through a whole phase during my gap year where I slept with a lot of tall British men. You know, to get it out of my system."

"I'm never going to look EJ in the eyes again without imagining this conversation," Paul complained.

"What part?" Will asked. "Me shooting him or me wanting to bone him in a tent?"

"Now it's both, thanks a lot," Paul laughed.

"You're welcome," Will said with a wide smile.

This conversation went vastly different than he assumed it would.

Instead of Paul running away screaming, Will managed to get him to laugh about it all. For years, Will agonized over telling anyone the truth about why he left. He thought no one would ever understand. But, Paul did.

Paul understood. Paul understood Will and Will had no intention of letting him go.

Will adjusted on the couch, swinging his body around to straddle Paul's thighs and sit on his lap.

"For the record, though, I'm pretty sure I've had more fantasies about you in the past month than I've ever had about EJ."

"Oh?" Paul asked, hands gliding up and over the back of Will's thighs and ass.

"And I'm gonna make sure every single one of them comes true," Will declared, capturing Paul's mouth in a warm, wet kiss.

Paul groaned into it, bucking his hips up into Will's, hands slipping into the back of Will's boxers.

Will gasped open-mouthed into Paul's mouth, rocking forward and back.

They would have continued if not for the doorbell.

"Food," Paul said, pulling away from Will. He laughed when Will grabbed his neck, kissing him over and over.

"Will," Paul said between kisses. "I gotta get the food, baby."

Will wasn't letting go. So, Paul stood up and half walked half dragged Will to the door.

Will kept his arms wrapped tight to Paul, clinging without a care in the world.

Paul barely made it to the door but enjoyed the feel of Will so close and tight.

Their Uber Eats driver gave them a strange look but didn't say anything to them. Will held their bag of food as Paul stumbled back to the couch, tossing Will down on it.

"Happy?" Paul asked, smiling down at Will.

"Mmm hmm," Will nodded, reaching out to grab Paul's neck again, pulling him into another kiss. "Alright, food first more kissing later."


After brunch, Will and Paul napped on the couch between lazy kisses. Paul woke first, slinking off to the bathroom. When he came back, he found Will wide awake, stretched out on the couch with his hand in the front of his boxers.

"What are you doing?" Paul asked, watching Will with hooded eyes and a leer.

"Thinking about you," Will answered, squeezing himself.

He threw his head back, rolling his hips up into his hand and gasping.

"What about me?" Paul wondered, sitting next to Will and helping to ease down Will's boxers.

"Everything about you," Will said, kicking his boxers to the other side of the room. "How much I want to lick you all over and fuck you open."

"Hmm," Paul said, grabbing the base of Will's cock with one hand. "Good thing I brought these with me, then, huh?"

Paul tossed a condom and a bottle of lube on the couch. He leaned forward and kissed Will, jerking Will off, slow and steady.

"That okay?" Will asked, licking across Paul's lips.

"More than okay," Paul said. "It's not exactly my go-to position but I enjoy it all the same."

"Good," Will pushed Paul away a bit, slipping down to his knees on the floor. "Now, I believe I requested you sitting on my face earlier."

Will sat on the floor, head resting on the edge of the couch.

Paul slipped out of his boxers and kneeled on the couch, straddling Will's face.

Will's fingers dug into Paul's bare thighs, brushing his nose down Paul's crack.

Paul grasped the back of the couch, eyes shutting tight at the first swipe of Will's tongue. He groaned loud and deep, grinding back onto Will's face.

"Fuck," Paul grunted. "Been so long since I've felt this."

Will ran his tongue up and down and all over Paul's sensitive flesh. Nudging his opening with the tip of his tongue and laughing when he felt Paul jump.

He massaged Paul's thighs all the way up to his ass while he used as much saliva as he could to wet Paul. Groaning when spit slid down his chin and neck.

Paul, mouth open, leaned his forehead on the back of the couch. He used one hand to twist his cock, pumping his hips up into his fist.

"Baby," Paul praised when Will traced over his hole with his index finger.

Will pulled away for a moment, breathing heavily and squeezing himself for a brief moment. He didn't normally get off on eating someone out. He preferred to get than to receive. But, there was something about doing it with Paul. Just the very idea of it got Will hot and bothered. To actually have Paul – sexy, sexy Paul with his thick thighs and his perfect cock and talented tongue – sitting on his face, it was beyond hotter than Will imagined.

Taking a moment, Will flopped his hand on the couch and felt around for the lube. When he found it, he wasted no time spilling a generous size over his fingers.

"Yes," Paul sighed when Will gently pushed a finger inside him.

Will took his time. Paul was so tight and hot around him. Will wanted to take care of Paul, make him feel every bit as good as Paul made him feel.

Will's fingers were long and thick and if he curled one of them just so, he could brush up against the spot inside Paul that made him squirm.

"Fuck," Paul yelped, hitching his hips back onto Will's fingers. "Oh, god."

Will grinned, teasing Paul for a few moments before focusing on opening him up. Biting the curve of Paul's ass the way Paul seemed to enjoy the night before.

Once Will felt certain Paul was stretched enough, he tapped Paul's thighs and stood up. With a shaky hand, he unraveled a condom over himself and drizzled plenty of lube.

Will grabbed Paul by the hips with one hand, holding the base of his cock with the other.

"Okay, baby?" Will asked, rubbing the tip of his cock against Paul's hole.

"Mmm hmm," Paul nodded, controlling his breathing.

When Paul exhaled, Will pushed inside him. Inch by inch, giving Paul plenty of time to adjust until he bottomed out. His groin resting against Paul's ass, one arm wrapped tight around Paul's waist. Forehead resting on the base of Paul's neck, thighs twitching with the strength it took to hold himself still.

Paul leaned into Will's hold, wincing a bit at the feel of Will inside him. It had been a long, long time since he'd done this.

In fact, penetrative sex of any kind wasn't a regular occurrence for Paul. Not that he and Sonny were celibate but, for the most part, they stuck to oral sex or hand jobs. It was perfectly fine with Paul, satisfying, in fact.

But, god, did he miss this. He wanted to fuck Will and be fucked by Will over and over and over.

"Paul?" Will asked, thumb brushing against Paul's right nipple.

"S'okay," Paul said, pushing his hips back, encouraging Will. "Come on, baby. Wanna feel you."

Will snapped his hips, working up into a steady rhythm. After his own, disastrous first time bottoming, Will ensured he gave his partner a good time. Besides, he'd bottomed enough to know what felt good and what didn't. He planned to give Paul everything he had.

Paul worked his hips back on Will's cock, grunting and groaning. He turned his head to the side, trying to find Will's lips.

Will slid one hand up from Paul's chest to his neck, holding Paul's head in place while they kissed. Hips slapping together, Paul's hard cock bouncing.

"Fuck," Paul whispered into Will's mouth, kissing Will with an open mouth. "Fuck, fuck, fuck."

Will's other hand slipped down to grab Paul's cock, twisting and pulling.

Paul moaned helplessly, crying out when Will's hips hit him just right. He pulled away from Will's mouth, hitting his forehead on the back of the couch. Back curving and body twitching as he yelled out his relief.

Will jerked Paul through it all, hips slamming into Paul as he tightened around him.

"Fuck," Paul panted, pushing Will off him. He took a few moments before tossing Will onto his back on the couch.

He ripped Will's condom off, throwing it onto the coffee table behind him. He grabbed Will's cock, swallowing it down.

Will yelped, hands holding tight to Paul's hair.

It took an embarrassingly short time for Will to come after that. Paul pulled off when Will warned him, watching as Will spilled over his fist. He wiped up the pearly white mess, holding it up to Will with a quirked brow.

He groaned when Will sucked Paul's fingers into his mouth, licking everything off.

"Fuck," Paul said, falling on top of Will, crushing him into the sofa. "That was amazing."

Will grabbed Paul's neck, pulling him into another wet, deep kiss.

"Good?" Will asked, holding Paul's face close and smiling wide.

"Are you kidding?" Paul scoffed but gave Will a sappy grin. "That was perfect. You're perfect."

"Yeah, I kinda am," Will teased, kissing Paul again.

Paul laid his head on Will's chest, kissing whatever skin was near him. Will ran his fingers through Paul's hair, closing his eyes.

The two held one another close, teasing and whispering to each other until they were ready to move. Paul found his phone wedged between couch cushions. While holding it, he got an idea.

"Baby?" Paul asked, wincing a bit as he wiggled his hips.

"Hmm?" Will answered.

"Come here," Paul wrapped his arm around Will, pulling him in close.

He opened Instagram, holding his phone out in front of them. Paul kissed Will full on the lips, their eyes closed shut, faces blissful and flushed. Bare shoulders exposed as well as a few marks on both their skin.

Will watched as Paul posted the picture adding an excess of hashtags and tagging Will.

-Evening with my baby #finally #beautiful #my heart #doyoubelieveinloveatfirstsight


Afterward, Paul made them dinner. Will stayed close to his side after putting on some music.

Will distracted him with his singing, dorky dance moves, and his inability to stop kissing Paul.

Paul wouldn't have it any other way. He couldn't imagine life without Will grabbing his neck and pulling him all too willingly into a kiss. Couldn't imagine how he'd get around without Will's carefree singing and his infectious laugh.

He didn't know what he'd do once Will left in eight days. Because Paul couldn't imagine his life without Will.

Chapter Text

August 24, 2018

The next morning, Will and Paul headed to John and Marlena's penthouse. Will needed his work things and Paul needed to grab a few case files from John.

"Hey," Paul said as they walked into the elevator at the penthouse and started going up. "I was thinking you should get more than just your work bag."

"Oh?" Will asked, linking both hands with Paul's.

"Yeah," Paul pulled Will in close. "I'm thinking I'm not going to go a single night without you. So, you might as well get all your luggage and move in with me."

"Good," Will grinned. "I was gonna do it anyway."

Paul laughed, kissing Will short and sweet before the elevator doors opened.

As they went into the penthouse, Paul and John worked in the office while Marlena helped Will pack his things.

"These cases are our first priority," John explained, tossing some files on his desk. "I was thinking I'd take a few and I'd give you a few."

"Sure," Paul said, grabbing two at random. "Are you sure you don't want to take more time off? Enjoy your newlywed status until you go on your honeymoon? I could take them all."

"These should be simple," John assured Paul. "But, speaking of honeymoon's, how are you and Will?"

"Perfect," Paul answered without having to think about it. "Absolutely perfect."

"Good," John nodded. "I'm glad to hear that. You deserve it."

"I like to think so," Paul agreed.

"And no regrets?" John wondered. "No, lingering doubts or residual feelings for – well – Sonny?"

"No, no," Paul said. He waited a few beats, thinking how to word his answer. "Sonny's always going to be special to me. I loved him for years but no. I haven't been happy with Sonny for a long time. With Will, I'm beyond happy. I don't even think there's a word to describe how ridiculously happy I am with him."

"Good," John said. "I had to ask, though. I know how much you wanted things to work out with Sonny. But, I don't think I've ever seen you looking like this in the time I've known you."

"Like what?"

"Relaxed, glowing almost. You haven't stopped smiling since you got here."

"I'd tell you why that is but I don't think you wanna know."

John made a face and held up his hands.

"Let's not go there. I'm happy for you and Will but I do not want to hear any details, ever."

"That goes ditto for me."


"So," Marlena said, sitting on the edge of Will's bed. She folded whatever clothes Will pulled out of the drawers and tossed on the bed. "How have you been?"

"Unbelievable," Will told her with a wide grin. "Even better than I ever imagined. Grandma, he makes me feel so amazing, not even just sex stuff, either. Every moment we spend together is perfect, I swear."

"Sweetheart, that makes me so happy," Marlena admitted. "You worried me for a while there the few days leading up to the wedding. But, my happy, confident, grandson is back."

"And, let me tell you, I've been with a lot of guys and done a lot of things. But Paul is without a doubt the very best I've ever had."

"Uh-huh," Marlena gave Will a dry look. "As much as I don't want to know that, don't you think that might have something to do with your feelings for him?"

"Well, yeah, maybe," Will said, putting all the clothes Marlena folded in his suitcase and bags.

"You know what else?" Marlena asked with a knowing smile. "It's time for you to consider staying in Salem."

"Stay?"

"Sweetheart, how are you ever going to leave Paul behind?"

Will bowed his head, looking away from Marlena.

"You might not be ready to admit it but you're in love with him. I know you are and leaving back to Zurich is going to kill you."

"Staying in Salem might kill me."

"Now, you're being dramatic," Marlena sighed. "Yes, there are several horrible things about Salem. And your experiences here the last time were awful. But, you're different now. You're stronger, smarter. You have a better support system. And you are ridiculously in love with Paul Narita and I am positive he loves you too."

"I can't just leave my entire world behind, upend everything for a guy."

"Yes, you can. You can and I think you will. Your family is here. You've already made friends. I might not like Brian too much but I saw how much he cared about you when he brought you home when you were sick. That's after what? A few weeks of knowing each other? You'd get to see Johnny and Allie all the time. I'd get to see you whenever I wanted. I know you could work anywhere in the world. That's not even mentioning Paul.

"So, yes, you can drop everything for the person you love."

"I never said I loved him," Will told her.

"Oh, sweetheart," Marlena patted Will on the face. "Get real."

Will snorted.

"I saw the Instagram post Paul made yesterday. The one with the two of you kissing. Do you believe in love at first sight, huh?"

"That's an inside joke from a Tokyo Fab song we sang together."

"Uh-huh," Marlena said. "I was also there when you two first met. Love at first sight isn't too far from what happened. Just consider it. Are you really gonna be able to go days, weeks, maybe even months without seeing Paul?"

Will didn't want to think about it. He didn't want to think about it at all.


Will and Paul ended up back at Paul's condo. They sat across from each other working on their laptops at the dining room table. Paul offered to share his desk but Will wasn't too keen on looking out at the lake from up above at the moment.

Every few minutes, either Will or Paul would brush their foot against the others. Locking their ankles or running a toe up a shin bone. They'd smile at the other, unabashed and carefree whenever they'd catch the other looking.

Will didn't want to admit it but his grandma was right. He had no idea how he'd handle being away from Paul for longer than a few days. At this point, even hours without Paul seemed impossible.

Salem seemed impossible to live in too.

Before Will had a chance to think about it, his phone vibrated across the table. Will glanced between the phone and Paul before answering it.

"Hey," Will said.

"Hey," Brian echoed. "Are you busy today? Or is Paul excavating your ass?"

"He did this morning," Will replied. "Why? What's up?"

"Wanted to see if we could meet up," Brian admitted, amused.

"Uh – let me check. Hold, please," Will nudged Paul with his foot. "Paul?"

"Hmm?" Paul looked up at Will with a smile.

Will's heart melted a little bit.

"Is it cool if I hang out with Brian for a bit?" Will asked with his winningest smile.

Paul rolled his eyes but nodded.

"Yeah, sure. You don't have to ask me for permission, though."

"Oh, trust me, I don't answer to anyone. I was being polite."

"Sure you were," Paul scratched the side of his neck.

Will spoke with Brian for a few more moments before he hung up.

"We're meeting at the Spot in about an hour," Will told Paul. "And you're sure you don't mind?"

Paul pushed his chair away from the table and patted his lap.

"Come here."

Will made his way around the table and planted himself on Paul's legs, arm around his neck.

"Brian's not my favorite person," Paul said looking right at Will. "But, I believe you when you say you're friends. And he did help me find you that night in the rain."

"Plus, all the times I said Sonny was crazy to leave you for him probably helps, huh?"

"It does, actually."

Will kissed Paul, lingering.

It took several long minutes for him to stand up and get ready.


"I never realized how much of a dump this place is," Will said as he sat across from Brian at the Spot.

It was still early, closer to dinner than clubbing. The two were in a booth in the back of the club. The same table they always seemed to get.

"Lights go out at night," Brian pointed out. "Hides all the ugly imperfections. So, tell me what I've missed."

"What do you mean?" Will asked, toying with a straw in a glass of water.

"The last time I heard from you, you were having an existential crisis. Not to mention, I had to deal with Paul and you know I hate that."

"Oh, right," Will's nose scrunched together. "Well, thank you for helping him, by the way. He found me and explained some things."

"Like him dumping Sonny after Sonny proposed to him?"

"Yeah, like that," Will laughed before he realized who he was talking to. "Oh, sorry."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Get to the good stuff before I decide I can't stomach this."

"Long story short, Paul and I are together. What about you? I heard Sonny was with you when Paul showed up at your place."

"Yeah," Brian sat up straighter in his seat. "I was excited for about half an hour until Paul showed up and I found out Sonny wasn't there because he chose me over Paul. He was there because Paul didn't want him anymore. So, no. I'm not with Sonny. I'm not gonna be with Sonny for a long, long time, if ever."

"Good," Will replied. "I was gonna judge the hell out of you if you were together."

"Like you don't already?"

"Guilty, but, you brought it on yourself. You and Paul are both pathetic for putting up with Sonny. I'm glad you gained a little self-respect."

"Oh, shut up," Brian dismissed.

"I'm just saying, you're stupidly good looking. You're a doctor. You could get with anyone. I do not understand why you settled for less than what you deserve. I mean, yeah, you're an ass most of the time but your face more than makes up for it."

"Is this supposed to be a pep talk?"

"Quiet, douche canoe, I'm talking here."

Brian looked at Will, lips pursed.

"I'm just saying, there's a whole world of gays here. You could have any of them. I've kissed you plenty of times so I know you've got skills in that department. So, what's the deal?"

"I don't know," Brian said. "When I met Sonny, things were good. We were young and in the same place in life. Going to the same school, studying and working. That was great. That was fantastic. But, Sonny was always pushing for more. He always wanted more commitment, more time. We were in our early twenties and he was so focused on getting married and I don't even know why. There was no way I would want that so soon. Then there was Paul and my work at the hospital and there wasn't any time to meet anyone new and I didn't want to start anything. Sonny wasn't the easiest option but he was what I was used to. And I love him, loved him, whatever."

"So, what's going to happen with you and him then?"

"Beats me," Brian shrugged. "I mean, I don't wanna let him go but shit has to change. Sonny's gonna have to work for it."

"Good," Will nodded. "I have mean things to say but I'll keep them to myself."

"You have a filter?"

"When I feel like it."

"That sounds more likely," Brian acknowledged. "And I'm glad you're happy even if it's with Paul."

Their conversation fizzled off when they noticed one of the club's employees taping a sign to a nearby wall.

COWBOY NIGHT

"Oh my god," Will said, jaw dropping. "We have to stay, Brian. We have to."

"You even dressed the part," Brian nodded toward Will's long-sleeve blue plaid shirt.

"It's destiny," Will insisted. "This is gonna be amazing."


Two hours later, the lights were down and the music was up. Instead of typical club music with pounding bass and nearly indecipherable lyrics, the Spot played country music.

The rest of Brian's friends joined Will and Brian at some point. While leaning against Brian, Will nearly yelled into his phone when he answered it.

"Paul," Will gushed into the phone. "I missed you!"

"Are you drunk?" Paul asked with a smile.

"No," Will said, "not yet. Oh my god, baby, you should come here. It's cowboy night, Paul. Cowboy!"

"Sounds like you're having a good enough time without me."

"No," Will whined. "Everything's better with you. I promise. I wanna dance and make out with you."

"We danced at the wedding."

"Not that kind of dancing. Please, Paul, please, please. I wanna show you off."

"Fine," Paul agreed with a laugh. "I'll see you soon."


Paul arrived at the Spot twenty minutes later. He wore blue jeans and a white shirt, about as cowboy as he would ever get. It didn't take him long to find Will.

He stared at his boyfriend with a sort of sick fascination.

Will, sitting on top of the bar, wore a cowboy hat and his shirt unbuttoned. He laughed at something a strange man said in front of him, almost falling off the bar if not for Brian reaching out to catch him.

Paul rushed over, pushing through a small crowd and ignoring any appreciative looks he received. His heart skipped a beat when Will saw him.

Will's face lit up at the sight of Paul, smiling all teeth and gums. He wiggled his fingers, beckoning Paul toward him, completely disregarding the guy trying to chat him up.

When he was within reach, Will grabbed Paul by the neck, yanking him into a deep kiss. With the height difference from Will sitting on the bar, he towered over Paul, almost bending in half to reach his mouth. It didn't stop Will from kissing Paul, open-mouthed and wet, oblivious to the catcalls and approving murmurs around them.

Paul kissed Will just as enthusiastically. He wasn't a big fan of tequila before but he didn't mind chasing the taste out of Will's mouth.

"Hi," Will greeted, face unnaturally close to Paul's.

"Hi," Paul repeated with a laugh. He yanked on the sides of Will's open shirt. "Having fun?"

"Mmm hmm," Will nodded his head, eyes big, fingers interlocked behind Paul's neck. "I get lots of free drinks when I'm half naked."

"Can't imagine why," Paul teased.

Will admired Paul for a few moments before remembering.

"Oh, wait, I made a friend," Will turned to face the man chatting him up before Paul arrived. Will ran his index finger over the shell of Paul's ear, smiling at the man. "His name is – uh – I forget but he bought me and Brian some drinks. Isn't he so sweet?"

Paul glanced at the guy with a smug smile on his face. One of his arms slid up the back of Will's shirt, stroking his skin.

The guy slunk off into the crowd not too long after that.

"Smooth," Brian yelled over the noise of the crowd.

Brian and Paul made eye contact for a brief moment, nodded, and looked away.

"Do you want me to get him back? He was pretty hot. You should date him. I'll be right back," Will said, about to jump off the bar when Paul and Brian both grabbed an arm to stop him.

"I can get my own dates, thanks," Brian replied.

"But, like, you're super awesome and need someone equally awesome. It is my mission to find you a real man."

"Yeah, I'm gonna find one without you," Brian patted Will on the knee. "Because I'm a hundred percent certain you'll make a big giant mess of it."

"Oh," Will blinked a few times with a petulant pout before shrugging and wrapping an arm around Paul. "Okay. At least, take your shirt off, you'd get more drinks. I don't know why I have to do all the hard work in this friendship."

"Or you could just buy them?" Paul pointed out.

Brian laughed and smacked Paul on the arm, harder than necessary.

"Yeah, your boy doesn't buy himself drinks."

"It's a policy I have," Will confirmed. "But, speaking of drinks, you need one."

"I think I'll live," Paul said. "Something tells me I'll need to be sober to keep you from making an idiot of yourself."

"Baby," Will cooed, rubbing their noses together. "You know I have no shame."

Paul smiled, nuzzling into Will.

"You two make me sick," Brian complained. "I need shots."

Almost on cue, three shot-glasses full of tequila were placed in front of them by the bartender. He gestured to a group of guys on the other side of the bar.

Brian and Paul looked at the men but quickly turned away. Will, meanwhile, grinned at them, making a large production of throwing his drink back, arching his back and letting his shirt fall open around him.

"You know, you have a boyfriend now, right?" Paul asked Will with a narrowed, yet amused look.

"Duh," Will ran his hands through Paul's hair, making a mess of it. "No need to be rude, though."

He turned to take Paul's shot and huffed when Brian beat him to it.

"Snooze you lose, slut bucket," Brian said. He hopped off his bar stool. "Move it back to our table."

"What the hell did he just call you?" Paul asked, helping Will jump off the bar top.

"It's a thing we do," Will insisted, leaning on Paul, stumbling through the crowd. "Don't worry about it."

Brian sat on the end of one side of the u-shaped booth. Neil, Tyler, Matteo, Kareem, and Dustin were sitting down, sweat-soaked from a trip to the dance floor.

Paul groaned when he saw them all. Will just had to meet Sonny's friends.

This wouldn't be awkward at all.

Will shoved Paul onto the end spot, opposite Brian. He sat on Paul's lap, wide smile on his face, either oblivious to the tense atmosphere or completely uncaring.

"So," Paul cleared his throat and touched the rim of the cowboy hat Will wore. "Where'd this come from?"

The whole table laughed causing Paul to lift both eyebrows.

"The first guy that bought me a drink," Will explained, eyes sparkling. "I'm pretty sure he's older than my dad, like all three of them. He said I'd look better in his hat than him and yep, accurate."

"Feeding your broken Brokeback fantasies?" Paul whispered in Will's ear, both hands spread across Will's naked skin.

Will laughed, leaning his head against Paul's.

"So," Neil said, loud enough to be heard over the music. He waved his hand at Will and Paul. "When did this happen?"

"A couple days ago," Paul said. "I broke up with Sonny and -"

"And jumped on the nearest blond surface?" Dustin asked with a sneer.

Half the table told him to shut up all at once. Will, though, didn't care about the comment at all. Making Dustin uncomfortable brought a certain joy to Will's life.

"Pretty much," Will answered, planting a kiss on Paul's cheek. "Paul's the greatest, most wonderful human being in the world and I'm not letting him or his super awesome dick go."

Paul gave Will a sappy smile in return. There was something about Will's blunt, graphic honesty that made him want to burst in happiness.

"Dance time?" Will asked.

"Whatever you want, baby," Paul let Will pull him out of his seat and onto the dance floor.

The club was busy but it wasn't packed. Most people were on the outskirts of the dance floor, mingling and flirting. Only a handful of people were dancing which meant Will and Paul could move without having to worry about anyone around them.

They danced for hours at John and Marlena's wedding but that was a different kind of dancing. Their hands in chaste positions, gentle swaying or grooving to overplayed wedding hits with their family close at hand. Not like this, not even close.

Will slid his hands up and down Paul's shoulders before locking around his neck, bumping and grinding to a country song he'd never heard before. He held eye contact for a few seconds before giving Paul a challenging, expectant look.

Paul responded by sliding his hands into Will's back pockets, capturing Will's lips in a wet, open-mouthed kiss. Their hips angled just right, never missing a beat.

"Well," Neil said to the table as they all watched Will and Paul grind and kiss, whispering to each other while laughing. "They're definitely hotter than Paul and Sonny. No offense, dude," he said toward Brian.

"I've got eyes," Brian admitted, chewing on his thumbnail. "Paul's hot, objectively speaking. And I'd bone the hell outta Will if he wasn't Will."

"They are pretty cute," Kareem acknowledged. "In a dirty kind of way. A dirty, dirty, dirty way."

Even Dustin made a noise of agreement, shifting in his seat and finding it hard to look away.

"Why am I not surprised you can move like this?" Paul asked, lips brushing Will's ear before he started kissing up and down Will's neck.

"I – oh that feels good – used to be awful actually. Stiff white Midwestern boy hips. I got in a lot of practice."

"Oh, yeah?" Paul asked, nosing Will's shirt collar aside, nibbling the junction where Will's neck and shoulder met.

"Spent some of my gap year in Spain," Will said, eyes fluttering shut, hips bucking. "My dancing improved and so did my sex life."

"Thank God for that," Paul said, squeezing Will's ass and pulling him in closer.

Will let his head fall back, moaning. His jeans were getting uncomfortably tight and the idea of so many people watching them, watching him and Paul touching and grinding, turned Will on even more.

"Paul," Will said, pushing him away from his neck. "I want you."

Paul smiled, rolling his hips against Will's.

"I can feel that, baby. What do you want to do about that?"

Will locked his arms around Paul's neck, playing along.

"Ideally? I'd drop to my knees and swallow you down right here, right now with everyone watching us."

Will felt Paul shiver, knocking their foreheads together before saying, "but I'll settle for handjobs in the bathroom."

Paul wasted no time, he practically dragged Will down a hallway to the bathroom, kissing and biting each other's lips. Paul's hands wandering Will's butt, completely oblivious to the loud whoop their table let out as they stumbled past.


Fifteen minutes later, Will and Paul reappeared and plopped themselves in the booth. Their cheeks were flushed, lips red and swollen, Paul wearing Will's hat.

No one said anything to them for a long time. They simply stared at Will and Paul with varying smiles, amused.

"And here I thought all this time you were super boring," Matteo told Paul, trying to keep a straight face. "My apologies."

"Turns out you were repressing some very interesting behavior," Kareem added before laughing.

Will, sitting close to Paul, ran his hand up and down Paul's chest.

"I bring out the best in him," Will said, kissing Paul's bright red cheek, hoping to alleviate some of Paul's embarrassment.

Brian, who disappeared when Will and Paul went in the bathroom, came back with an entire tray full of shots.

"Freebies," he explained, pointing to a group of older men on the opposite side of the club. "Appreciation for your dry humping on the dance floor."

"Oooh," Will smiled up at Paul before taking two for himself and passing the rest out.

He knocked back both shots one right after the other. Then, he took off Paul's hat and used it to wave at the men in thanks. He was a little too enthusiastic, though, and it slipped from his hand and flew off into the club.

"My hat," Will complained with an exaggerated frown as everyone laughed.

"It wasn't your hat," Paul said around a wide smile.

"But I wanted to wear it while I rode your cock," Will whispered into Paul's ear.

Paul froze for a moment before turning around.

"Where'd that hat go?"


Will sat in between Paul and Brian at the booth after another dance session. Paul, unfortunately, never found Will's hat. To cheer themselves up, they danced, Paul laughing at how much attention they garnered. Making sure Will drank plenty of water once Will started composing poetry about their sex life.

After getting water from the bar, they sat back down, Brian joining them. It should have been awkward but wasn't. Brian had a few drinks in his system and Paul was too besotted with tipsy Will to even care.

Plus, Will kept them entertained.

Will smashed Paul and Brian closer to him, holding out his phone to take several pictures of them together.

"This one's my favorite," Will declared, showing Paul and Brian a few minutes later.

Despite taking dozens of pictures, the best was one taken toward the beginning. Brian and Paul both wore matching exasperated expressions while Will laughed with his head thrown back. Their faces all close together, perfectly capturing their relationship.

"So," Will threw one arm around Paul and the other around Brian. "Now that we're all together, I have many questions. Like why do I get the feeling your sex lives were penciled in on a planner?"

Paul didn't say anything but Will saw Brian quirk an eyebrow.

"Oh my god," Will burst into loud, obnoxious laughter, almost slipping right out of the booth. "I was joking. When was it? Every Tuesday at 8? Right after NCIS?"

Brian pushed Will off of him when Will fell onto his lap.

It wasn't until Will snorted like an actual pig a few times that he calmed down.

"Wow," Will giggled. "No wonder Paul's fucked me like a dozen times in three days. So neglected."

"I didn't hear you complaining," Paul said, face red.

"Have you seen you? Have you met me? In what world would I reject you?" Will asked, wiping away tears of laughter. "But, now Brian has to get a man. Like a super hot man with a dick the size of my face and abs for miles that can rock his world as much as you rock mine."

"Why are you so obnoxious?" Brian asked, shaking his head in amusement.

"A natural gift," Will replied, leaning his head on Paul's shoulder, shoulders still shaking from his giggles.

"What? Like your big, slutty mouth?" Brian wondered.

Paul, face contorting in anger, didn't get the chance to respond before Will did.

"Yeah, you should have enjoyed my mouth when you had the chance, dickwaffle," Will grinned at Brian. "Your window of opportunity to have my mouth all over you slammed shut a few days ago."

Paul glanced between Will and Brian with a strange look and proclaimed, "you two are weirdos."

"What?" Will asked, lifting his head to look at Paul.

"Your insults or however the two of you talk to each other."

"We're not insulting each other, we're describing."

Paul laughed, tangling his hand with Will's.

In all the years he'd lived in Salem, he'd never actually hung out around Brian. They'd been in the same vicinity and a few times Paul went to group functions with Sonny and his friends. But, Paul and Brian had never exactly talked. Not that they were talking much here either but Paul did see more to Brian than he had before.

Brian was still obnoxious and an asshole and despite what Will said Paul didn't appreciate the way Brian spoke to Will. But, Brian wasn't that bad.

Maybe

"My buzz is wearing off," Will said before he shoved Brian right out of the end seat of their booth. "We need more drinks."

Will stood up, ripping his shirt right off his arms. He tossed it at Paul's face.

"Alright, that should get us some free drinks. Be right back. Brian, move it."

Will bent over and gave Paul a long, wet kiss.

Paul watched Will walk away with a smile on his face and a shake of his head.

"You've got it bad," Neil said as he and Tyler slid into Will and Brian's empty seats.

"It's almost nauseatingly sick," Tyler agreed.

Paul shrugged, not sure what he should reveal to Sonny's friends. Then again, Neil and Tyler were the ones Paul always liked best. They never made him feel like an outsider the way Dustin did and never ignored his presence like Kareem or Matteo.

"Didn't your dad get married a few days?" Neil asked.

"Yeah, how did that go?" Tyler wondered.

Paul chatted with Neil and Tyler for the next few minutes, conversation flowing smoothly despite the loud music. A commotion near the bar caught all their attention.

"What's the likelihood that's not Will?" Paul asked, scrubbing a hand over his face.

"Let's think about that," Tyler said, tapping his chin. "Considering the other two times we've been here with him, the odds are probably less than zero."

As all three started to get up, Will and Brian waltzed over. Will holding two shot glasses and Brian shaking out his left fist.

"Brian punched someone," Will declared with an inappropriately giddy grin. He put the shots on the table and crawled over it to get to Paul. "The important thing is I got the drinks first."

Will wedged himself between the edge of the table and Paul's chest to straddle his thighs, arms locked around his neck.

Brian slumped on the other side of the booth, throwing back one of the shots.

"Yeah, that's the important thing, you idiot."

"What happened?" Paul asked, enjoying the feel of Will's weight on his lap. Hands automatically slipping into Will's back pockets.

"Turned out the drinks were not free," Will said with a shrug.

Paul looked around Will to glance at Brian.

"Your skanky boyfriend flirted with someone who wanted a little something, something for the drinks he bought. Will said no. The guy got mad, said things he shouldn't. I hit him. End of story."

"He called me a slut," Will confirmed with a nod and a proud smile.

"You punched someone for calling Will a slut?" Paul asked with narrowed eyes. "You've called him worse at least five times since I've been here."

"I'm allowed to say it," Brian said, looking at Paul like he was stupid.

"Yeah, don't try to understand them, Paul," Neil advised, gesturing between Will and Brian.

"It's a lost cause," Tyler agreed. "They're freaks of nature."

"You should have offered yourself instead of hit him," Will said. "How am I gonna find you a man if you chase them all away?"

"Oooh," Tyler sat up straighter. "Are we getting a man for Brian?"

"About time," Neil commented.

"I hope it's the guy at the hospital," Tyler said. "The one Brian keeps spending his lunch breaks with."

"What is this?" Will asked, glaring at Brian accusingly. "You've been holding out on me."

Brian shrugged, checking over his fist.

"He's a nurse," Tyler supplied, grinning at the look Brian shot him. "He's got the world's biggest crush on Brian."

"You should have just told me about him," Will told Brian in a sing-song voice. "Now, I have to go to the hospital and check him out myself."

"You really, really don't."

"Your fault," Will laughed. "I'm gonna give him a shovel talk."

"See," Neil said to Paul, having to nearly shout over Will's cackles and Brian's complaints. "Freaks of nature."


After last call, everyone stood outside in a circle. Will plastered himself to Paul's side while Paul slipped one hand into Will's back pocket.

"You gonna get his name tattooed to your ass soon or what?" Brian asked, nodding toward Paul's hand.

The same hand that didn't stray far from Will's butt all night.

"Hmm," Will said, contemplating.

"Jesus, I was joking," Brian muttered, shaking his head.

"I know that," Will rolled his eyes.

He leaned his head on Paul's shoulder, eyes drifting over the friends he made while in Salem. He hadn't known any of them long but, for the most part, they welcomed him with open arms. Kareem saw a stranger sitting at the bar all alone those few weeks ago and invited him to join his friends. Despite a few Sonny-shaped hiccups, they were all here after a fun-filled night of dancing, drinking, and laughing.

Will had a boyfriend here. He had friends here.

He didn't want to lose any of them.

Will sniffled a few times, eyes watering.

"What's wrong?" Paul asked, nudging Will away from him when he heard the sniffles. "You okay?"

"Yeah," Will answered, at the weepy stage of being drunk. He looked at everyone through teary eyes. "I just love all you guys, even you, Dustin, you dumb bitch."

"Thanks?" Dustin asked with a blank face.

"I love you all and I don't wanna leave you."

"Aw," Tyler patted Will's back. "No one said you had to leave."

"But I do," Will wiped at his eyes. "I have to go home on the first."

Paul tensed, holding Will tighter against him.

Brian noticed. With a quirk of his brow, he said, "or you could stay here, in Salem. Family, friends, boyfriend, sounds like you've got a whole life set up."

Will sniffled once, twice, before saying, "I could?"

"Doesn't your stepdad work for a major corporation where they could use statistical analysis on the regular?" Brian reminded Will. "Just saying, dumb-dumb."

Brian caught Paul's eyes, understanding flowing between them. Brian gave him a nod before turning away.


Paul led Will into his condo, arm wrapped around Will's bare waist.

"I can't believe you lost your shirt," Paul told Will with a laugh.

"You lost my shirt," Will argued. "I gave it to you to hold."

"You threw it at me," Paul amended.

"Either way, it was ugly so who cares?"

Paul let out a bark of laughter, running the flat of his palm up Will's back.

"Did you mean it, earlier, when we left the club? You don't wanna leave?" Paul asked, almost afraid of Will's answer.

Will played with the edge of Paul's shirt, face flushed from alcohol and still a bit stumbly.

"I don't want to leave but I don't know how to stay."

"Right," Paul nodded giving Will a painfully forced smile.

"There is something I want to do, though, if I go."

"Hmm?" Paul asked, doing anything he could to not think about that option.

Will pulled his phone out, needing two tries to put in his passcode since his fingers were slipping and sliding.

He opened up the camera, setting it to record.

"Hold," he handed the phone to Paul before sinking to his knees, pulling at Paul's belt.

Paul inhaled sharply but dutifully pointed the phone at Will, needing this every bit as much as Will did.


45 minutes later, naked and sweaty and holding tight to one another in bed, Paul played back the video.

It was shaky at times causing the focus to go in and out. But, it was perfect. Will's hooded eyes, looking up at the camera through his lashes, mouth sloppy and wet wrapped around Paul's dick. Will's enthusiastic bobbing. The sound captured each of Paul or Will's moans. Heard the encouragements Paul groaned, the small string of saliva between Will's mouth and the tip of Paul's cock when he momentarily pulled off.

Paul's favorite part was the end. Will capturing a mouthful of Paul's semen before pulling off, jerking him slow and steady as the rest painted Will's face and across his eyelashes and brows. Will showing off the come pooling in his mouth before swallowing it. Letting Paul sweep up the white mess on his face, licking Paul's fingers clean.

The video came to an end when Will pressed a kiss to the tip of Paul's softened cock, tucking him back into his boxers and smiling up at the camera with sparkling eyes and reddened lips, beautiful and perfect.

Paul had never been more in love.

Chapter Text

August 25, 2018

"I thought I told you to stay in bed," Paul told Will with a huff.

The two woke up rather late again. After reviewing the video of Will sucking Paul off, they went another round. Rubbing against each other, watching the video over and over until they were a sticky mess. They fell asleep damp from a quick shower, the sun already rising.

Paul gave Will some aspirin once they woke and they shared lazy, wet kisses until the sound of Will's stomach grumbling interrupted them.

Paul kissed Will's forehead and told him to stay in bed while he made them breakfast. Will, though, was never too good at following directions.

"I missed you," Will told Paul, walking into the kitchen in the buff. When Paul wasn't looking, he put something on the edge of the island. He wrapped his arms around Paul from behind, pressing his groin to Paul's boxer-clad butt.

Paul squeezed Will's hand, before saying, "you need to put on something if you're in here. I don't want you getting hurt when I start frying some bacon."

"That explains why you're all covered up," Will said, tugging on the edge of Paul's white t-shirt. He kissed the back of Paul's neck before wandering around the kitchen.

Will opened a door to Paul's walk-in pantry and grabbed an apron hanging up behind the door. It covered up all the important parts but left Will's thighs and ass exposed.

Paul groaned when he saw Will in the apron.

"That's even more distracting than you completely naked," Paul complained.

"What?" Will asked with a demure expression. "You wanted me covered. I'm covered."

Paul looked Will over once more from head to toe before flipping a switch and turning the stove off.

Will had barely enough time to smile smugly before Paul shoved him into the kitchen island. Paul held Will's jaw with one hand, kissing with their mouths open.

Will sucked Paul's tongue into his mouth, rubbing their lower bodies together.

"Fuck," Paul whispered before dropping to his knees. He lifted up Will's apron and swallowed Will's cock.

Will's hands slid across the countertop, knees buckling. Paul teased him for a few minutes, tongue swirling.

He stood up before Will got too excited. Turning Will around and shoving his upper body toward the counter top, ass up.

Paul pushed down his boxers but left his shirt on. He opened a cabinet and grabbed a small container of coconut oil. He put a large dollop on his left hand and immediately slipped two oil-coated fingers into Will. Paul only did a rudimentary job. Just enough to brush against Will's prostate and get him nice and wet.

"Damn," Paul said, slapping his cock against Will's butt cheeks. "I gotta get a condom."

Will reached across the island to grab what he left on the edge when he arrived.

"Here," Will tossed a foil packet over his shoulder.

"Did you plan this?" Paul laughed, tossing the wrapper behind him and unrolling the condom over himself. He slathered some oil up and down his dick.

"Obviously," Will said before gasping when Paul pushed inside him.

"You're my dirty little boy, aren't you?" Paul asked, thrusting inside, one hand on Will's hip and the other holding the side of Will's head to the counter.

Will simply groaned. Paul fucked into him harder and rougher than he had before.

Will loved it.

Paul kept his eyes on Will's ass. The string to the apron tied just above his ass, outlining the dip in his spine and the rounded curve of his butt. Paul was mesmerized by the sight of his cock disappearing inside Will. How Will gripped him just right. How he worked his hips back, butt jiggling just so.

"God," Paul praised, slamming into Will even harder. "Feel so good."

Will grunted, grinding into Paul, spreading his legs farther apart. Leaking cock trapped between his stomach and a cabinet drawer.

Paul noticed.

The kitchen counters were too tall but the small rarely used kitchen table off to the side was the right height.

Paul pulled gently pulled out of Will. He grabbed Will by the hips, locking their lips as he walked them toward the table.

"Ooof," Will let out when Paul tossed him on top of the table. With a grin, Will scooted backward, spreading his legs and planting his feet on the edge of the table.

Will grabbed Paul by the neck with one hand, pulling him into a kiss. With the other hand, he stroked Paul's cock, pushing him back inside.

Will hitched both his legs around Paul's waist and nipped his lower lip.

Paul kissed Will one last time before shoving him onto his back. He lifted both of Will's legs over his shoulders and fucked into him, skin slapping together, Paul's balls hitting Will's ass.

"Fuck," Will groaned, gliding his nails over his own chest and sides. One hand slipped under the apron, tweaking a nipple.

He looked obscene with his cock jutting out against the fabric of the apron.

Paul hissed, turning his head to the side and nipping at Will's calves and knee.

"Paul," Will moaned, slamming back into him as hard as he could. "Please, baby, please."

"I got you," Paul promised, adjusting his angle, slamming into Will just right.

Will smashed his head down onto the table, crying out as loud as he could.

Paul knew by the hitch in Will's breathing, the tremble of his thighs that he was close. So, he grabbed Will's cock and twisted, using the apron as leverage.

It only took a few more moments for Will to come, soaking the apron and clenching tight around Paul.

He looked so good with his mouth open, head tilted back, crying out for Paul over and over. Looked so good, felt so good.

Paul slammed into Will a few more times before yelling out. Fucking Will through both their orgasms until he had to stop.

"Fucking hell," Paul said, leaning his forehead against Will's leg. "All I'm gonna think about every time I look at this table is you, like this."

"Good," Will panted out, relaxed and smug. "There's not a space in this building that we're not gonna fuck over."

He eased his legs down, wincing at a pulling in the back of his thighs. He wiggled to the end of the table with Paul still inside him.

Paul tugged the top of Will's apron; letting Will pull him into another kiss.

"Breakfast, now?" Will asked, straightening out Paul's sleep shirt.

"Breakfast," Paul nodded, easing out of Will. He grabbed Will's hips and half-stumbled, half-carried Will back to the island.

He couldn't resist the surprised squeal Will let out every time Paul picked him up.


After breakfast, the two worked for a while side-by-side. Near the afternoon, Will complained of caffeine deprivation. So, they got dressed and walked to their favorite coffee shop.

Sitting at their usual table, Will inhaled his coffee with whip cream while Paul leisurely sipped his green tea.

Will, typing on his phone, said, "do you mind if I give your number to Tyler? He asked for it."

"No, that's fine," Paul answered, pausing the game he was playing. "Why does he want it?"

"Ask you to hang out, I think," Will said with a teasing smile. "He thinks you're cool. Maybe he'll be your best friend."

"I doubt that," Paul replied.

"No, but seriously, you need some more friends. Tyler and Neil are in this workout-gym club thing. You should go with them."

"You'd be fine with that?"

"Why wouldn't I?" Will asked, giving Paul a weird look. "You need to spend time with people that aren't related to you or you aren't fucking."

"Do you have to put it like that?"

"Fine, make sweet, sweet love. Either way, you need a life, baby. Unless you think I'll freak out because you hang out with other men who happen to like men. Which is ridiculous because I hang out with them. And no offense to Neil or Tyler but there's no way either of them would ever come between us."

"No?" Paul asked with a sweet smile on his face.

"Obviously not, I mean," Will gestured to himself before laughing. He moved his seat closer to Paul's and put his hand on Paul's knee. "Seriously, though, you and me? Nothing and no one is going to come between us."

"Even if there's a couple of oceans between us?" Paul grabbed Will's hand from his leg and lifted it up to his mouth for a kiss.

Will pressed his lips together, swallowing with a loud gulp.

"Yeah, even then," Will said with a strange smile.

Paul hated watching the way Will deflated at the mention of his impending departure. It was a sore subject for both of them. Something they hadn't talked about much at all really.

One of those ignore it until it goes away topics.

Will cleared his throat, sitting up straighter with a smile. He stood up, sitting on Paul's lap and wrapping an arm around his neck.

"But, if you want to roleplay a little jealousy, I can get down with that. Threaten Tyler a little, play the possessive boyfriend. Make sure he knows your mine."

"I think he knows," Paul said, holding onto Will's hips. "Everyone kinda knows after that impromptu poem you wrote last night. I'm pretty sure you named it an Ode to Paul's Dick."

Will cackled, nearly slipping off Paul's lap with the force of his laughter.

"Was it any good?"

"Well, it was more like a limerick but I stopped you after the phrase, 'don't know if I should ride it or swallow it, my favorite dick.'"

"Drunk Will needs to work on his skills," Will said, knocking his forehead into Paul's. "But it's true, you know. I'd write sonnets about every part of your body."

Paul kissed Will, soft but deep. Neither cared at all they were in a public place, that someone could react badly to them, that they'd make trouble.

They didn't care about anything but each other.

When they pulled apart, Will kept a steady hold on Paul's jaw, bumping their noses together. Paul, on reflex, ran his hand up and over Will's upper thigh and butt.

They would have continued on, lost in each other, if they didn't hear a scoff in front of them.

Will and Paul stopped when they caught sight of Sonny.

"Sonny," Paul said, staying perfectly still, completely relaxed with Will on top of him. "Hi."

"Hi," Sonny repeated, holding a to-go cup so tight the lid popped off.

As silence surrounded them, Will said, "oh, right, my turn. Hi."

Will was never one for awkward pauses in conversations or fake humility.

"So," Will asked, holding tight to Paul and grinning bright and carefree at Sonny, "how is the single life treating you?"

Sonny, face pinched, took a long time to answer.

"How do you know I'm single?"

"Brian told us," Paul said. A part of him knew rubbing his relationship with Will in Sonny's face wasn't fair but he wasn't going to change who he was to make Sonny happy. He'd done that enough in their relationship.

Paul and Will were happy and tactile. They weren't going to change that for anyone.

"Since when do you talk to Brian?" Sonny asked with genuine perplexity.

"Since last night," Paul answered with a shrug. "He's friends with Will, after all. We all hung out at the Spot."

"It was cowboy night," Will added, using a southern accent. He changed back to his regular voice to say, "what you don't stalk my Instagram? Oh, wait, I blocked you. You can see all the pictures I posted if you ask nicely. There's this really awesome one of me between Paul and Brian and-"

"What did Brian say about our relationship?" Sonny demanded, cutting Will off and glaring at him.

"That he didn't know if he wanted to be with you ever again," Will said with a smile. "There was also talk of a hot nurse. Brian's awesome. He deserves nothing but the best."

"What? And you think you can give it to him?" Sonny rolled his eyes.

"Gross, no," Will shivered in disgust. "I'd only bone Brian if he was anyone but Brian, like if he had a twin or a personality transplant."

Paul tapped Will on the thigh, causing Will to add, "and even then, never."

"Nice save," Paul commented before telling Sonny. "Brian and Will are friends. I don't see why you have a problem with that. You're friends with plenty of gay men and no one's ever questioned it."

"Except when it was Brian," Sonny pointed out.

"That was different," Paul said, shaking his head. "You being friends with Brian is like me being friends with Will. Everyone could see that was crap."

"Aw," Will cooed, pressing his cheek to Paul's and giving him a squeeze.

"Do you have to do that in front of me?" Sonny asked, narrowing his eyes.

"Yes," Will said bluntly, looking right in Sonny's eyes.

"I understand why I'm not with Brian, right now," Sonny said in a tense voice. "A lot has happened and we need time to adjust. What the hell are you two doing together now? I just broke up with Paul."

"I broke up with you," Paul reminded him.

Sonny ignored him.

"Do you really think the two of you are going to last if you jump into something? Then again, judging by the looks of it, your relationship is only sex, so, go right ahead and fizzle out."

"That's not what this is," Paul said with furrowed brows. "Not that it's any of your business."

"Yeah, sure," Sonny dismissed. "I know you better than anyone and this isn't you."

"Then I guess you don't know him that well then," Will said with a shrug. "Because the Paul I know is nothing but physical and affectionate. And it might surprise you to know but you can have a sexual connection and feelings at the same time. The fact that you don't know that tells me a lot more about you than I ever wanted to know."

When Sonny opened his mouth to reply, Paul beat him to it.

"Will and I are perfectly happy the way we are. I'm sorry if that upsets you but I'm not sorry for how I feel. Maybe it's too soon for me to jump into a relationship but it doesn't feel that way. Being with Will feels right, it always has. But you don't get to tell us what is or isn't right for us. Just like I'm not going to tell you to get your head out of your ass and treat Brian like a human being. Because that would be rude and uncalled for."

Will's jaw dropped and he hid his face in Paul's neck to contain his laughter.

Sonny took a deep breath and let it out.

"Fine. Whatever you want."

He turned to leave before sighing and looking up at the ceiling. With a great amount of strength, he faced them again.

"Despite everything that happened, I am glad you're happy. I might hate who it's with,"

Will laughed.

"But you deserve to be happy. I'm sorry for the way things turned out, for how I treated you. I couldn't let go of the past and I couldn't move forward in the future. So, I'm sorry for what I did, how I made you feel."

"Thank you," Paul said with a nod. "I'm sorry for not saying something about how my feelings changed sooner."

"I'm not sorry for anything," Will declared with a shrug. He scrunched his nose at Paul and smiled.

"Why isn't that surprising?" Sonny asked before walking away.

"That was unexpected," Will said once Sonny left.

"Yeah," Paul nodded, holding Will tight, resting his chin on Will's shoulder. "I am sorry I hurt him but I'm also not sorry about how things turned out."

"You were in love with him for years," Will said, fingers stroking through Paul's hair. "I'd understand if you're still confused about how you feel."

"I appreciate that but I'm not confused. I've loved Sonny for what feels like forever. A part of me loves him still. I'm not in love with him, though. I don't think I have been in a long time."

"Well, either way," Will responded with a soft smile. "I get it. You don't have to hide your feelings to reassure me."

"I'm not," Paul promised. "If there's anything I've learned getting closer to you, it's honesty. And I am honestly completely all in with you. No regrets, no what-ifs. No unresolved feelings. I am all yours."

"That's right you are," Will said, kissing the side of his mouth. "And despite my can't be tamed attitude, you're all I want."

Will's phone buzzed across the table top. He read through a text before sighing.

"You want to come with me to dinner at my mom's? She said and I quote, 'everyone will be there.'"

"Your everyone is my everyone," Paul answered. "It could be fun."

"There's as much chance of that happening as Sonny proclaiming his undying love for me."

"Oh, so no chance at all?" Paul laughed, patting Will on the butt. "Now, get up. I can't feel my legs."


Everyone, it turned out, was everyone in Will and Paul's extended family. Marlena, John, Brady, Madison, Eric, Nicole, Lucas, Cheryl, Carrie, Austin, Belle, Shawn, and Claire as well as Sami, EJ, Johnny, and Allie.

EJ and Sami hosted a casual dinner. Or as casual a dinner as one can have in a mansion. They ate outdoors under a large gazebo. Afterward, Will chased his brother and sister around the backyard while Paul chit-chatted.

Sami refilled Paul's wine glass and sat beside him in Will's vacant chair.

"Thanks," Paul said, smiling when Will jogged past, letting Allie jump on top of him and pretending her strength knocked him to the ground.

"How's dating my son been?" Sami asked, looking at Paul with a half-smile.

Everyone else at the table stopped their conversations to stare at the two of them.

"Amazing," Paul answered with a nod of his head.

"Good," Sami scooted closer and patted his knee. "You're a good man. You'll treat Will right. Or else."

Paul felt three sets of eyes burning a hole in the side of his head, Austin, Lucas, and EJ.

"I can imagine," Paul said, letting out a small laugh at the absurdity of it all.

"Will's going to treat you right too, of course," Sami added, "that's a given. Now, have you convinced him to stay in Salem yet?"

"Uh – no, not exactly."

"Have you talked to him about it at all?" Sami pressed, sitting on the edge of her seat.

"We've glossed over it for the most part. Although, last night, after we left a club he said he didn't want to leave. Sober, he hasn't said anything."

"Why haven't you brought it up?"

"I don't know," Paul answered, shifting in his seat. "Scared about what he'll say, I guess."

"Sweetheart," Marlena said with a small smile. "He's so ridiculously head over heels for you. He's been that way from the beginning. If you asked, I know he'd stay."

"Will hates Salem," Paul said with a helpless shrug. "I don't want to guilt him into staying somewhere he doesn't want to live."

"Correction," EJ interrupted, "he used to hate Salem. Things are different for him now."

"No kidding," Paul mumbled under his breath, looking at EJ out of the corner of his eye.

"It's true," Lucas said. "As much as I hate agreeing with EJ, Will's in a good place in his life. He's got a better support system. Nothing bad is going to happen this time around."

"Now, how can you possibly make a claim like that?" Austin asked with a scoff. "I know Will better than all of you, except maybe Marlena. He does not want to be in Salem full-time."

"You can't make that claim either," Carrie rolled her eyes at her husband. "Yes, it took a long time to convince Will to visit Salem again. He's been terrified for a long time of this place and he obviously learned it's not as bad as it was before. But, he also has a life in Zurich. It's been his home for over a decade."

"See, exactly my point," Austin said.

"I'm not finished," Carrie told him. "There's one pretty big thing lacking in Zurich, though."

Carrie gestured to Paul.

"I've seen the type of men Will's dated before. Even the ones he doesn't think I know about. I've never seen him act this way before."

Paul took a large gulp of red wine and smiled over the rim of his glass.

"Yes, you have," Austin insisted. "He gets the same sappy look on his face when he gets coffee in the morning. It's nothing new."

"You're only arguing because you want Will to live with you," Sami said with a huff.

"That's not my only reason," Austin replied with a huff of his own.

"Your other reason is you can't stand the thought of Will dating anyone," Carrie said. She looked at Paul and added, "he doesn't think anyone's good enough for Will, don't take offense."

"None taken," Paul said with a half-smile. "I don't think anyone's good enough either."

Lucas and EJ nodded approvingly at the same time before noticing the other's actions and glaring.

"As a relatively neutral party," Shawn said, "I think you and Will are pretty adorable. If there's a chance you two can stay together, you should take it."

"Yeah, what's the worst that could happen?" Belle gave Paul a supportive smile.

"I did not work my ass off to get you together for you to let him go to the other side of the world," Brady pointed at Paul before hitting his fist against the palm of his other hand.

"Hush, you didn't even do anything," Madison told him.

"I did all the planning," Eric said under his breath.

"The point we're all trying to make," Nicole added. "Is you and Will deserve to be happy and together. I might not know you that well, Paul, but even I can see how insanely happy you are with Will."

Paul looked at everyone's face. They all wore encouraging smiles in some shape or another. Paul settled on his father, the only one who hadn't said anything.

John took a deep breath, arm wrapped around Marlena's shoulders.

"Ask him to stay, son. You'll regret it every day if you don't."

For so long, Paul only had his mother and grandfather. He loves them more than anything but he'd always secretly dreamed of having a big family. He yearned for brothers and sisters growing up. Someone to go to when he needed advice over something he couldn't tell his mother about. To have someone tell him when he needed to get over himself or make a hard decision.

Now, Paul had it. One large overcrowded family full of opinionated busy-bodies and they all supported him, encouraged him. Most importantly of all, his father wanted this for Paul.

Paul grinned.

"Okay, when I take him home, I'll ask."


"Man, you would not believe all the places I found grass," Will said as he walked out of the master bath in a cloud of steam. He rubbed a towel through his hair but the rest of him was completely naked.

Paul didn't know why but Will's confidence in his body, in his nudity, was one of his favorite things about him.

For about the first time since they got together, a whole three days ago, they showered separately. Paul needed a few minutes alone to process his thoughts.

Knowing he had their family's support, that his Dad, Marlena, Sami, and two out of three of Will's father figures wanted him to do this, gave Paul a boost in confidence. At the same time, he didn't know what he'd do if Will told him no.

He sat on the edge of his bed, squeezing the fabric of his sleep pants over his knees tightly.

Will tossed his towel back toward the bathroom and walked over to Paul. He kneeled behind him, running his hands over Paul's shoulders, kneading the tense muscles.

"You okay?" Will asked.

"Uh – yeah," Paul closed his eyes, leaning into Will's touch. "Just wanted to talk about something."

"What?"

"That thing we've avoided talking about, you leaving."

"Oh."

Will's hands stopped for a moment before he resumed rubbing Paul's shoulders, moving up to his neck.

"I don't want to pressure you," Paul said. "I know how you feel about Salem and the problems you had. But, I don't think I could stand it if you left."

Will pressed his lips together, blinking several times. It took him a long time to answer.

"I promised myself after I left Salem the last time I'd never come back. I promised myself a lot of things that I've broken."

"Like what?"

"All sorts of things," Will responded, keeping his voice even and light despite feeling anything but. "That I'd never be like my parents. That I'd never hurt and manipulate others for my own gain. That I'd never ruin someone else's relationship."

"You haven't done any of those things."

"I have, though. I took one look at you and decided we were gonna be together no matter what. I'd tell everyone I didn't want to manipulate you or break up you and Sonny but then I'd do the exact opposite. And it's not like Salem is the only place I've done that. Let's face it, I am pretty slutty and I'm fine with that. I like myself the way I am but I feel different in Salem."

"Different how?"

"I don't know," Will answered, pressing his forehead to the back of Paul's neck, muffling his response. "It exasperates everything I already feel. I feel like I've got a hundred eyes watching and judging my every move. All the old insecurities I worked through, it's like they're just waiting in the back of my mind to take over again. And it's not you. You're wonderful and perfect and even when we were friends I thought the same thing. It's not you, not at all. But I promised myself I wasn't going to become that person who changes their entire life for someone else. That's how I grew up. It's what I saw over and over again. My parents leaving one partner for another, upending everything and everyone, me most of all. And I know it's stupid and I'm not a little kid anymore. I know that. But…"

Will trailed off, biting his lip.

"But, what?" Paul asked in a soft voice.

"It's scary," Will replied with a whisper. "We've been together a few days. I've known you less than a month. Am I supposed to quit my job, sell my place, pack up an entire life, and leave everything I know behind? What happens if I do and in a month or two you decide it's too much, too fast? That I'm too much? Because I've never had a long-term relationship, an actual serious one, that's lasted more than six months. Okay, I'm flaky and I run away before I start feeling anything close to what you make me feel. And no one's ever stayed, Paul. No one's ever tried to stay and I couldn't stand it if you were like anyone else. I couldn't and it's scary and-"

Paul turned around, grasping Will's jaw and cutting him off with a kiss. Will sighed into it, wrapping his arms around Paul's neck.

"I get it," Paul told Will. "It's a big commitment after such a short amount of time. I get it. I do."

"It's not a no," Will said with wide-eyes. "I didn't say no. I just – I have to think about it. Okay?"

"Okay," Paul nodded giving Will a sad smile. "It's a lot to decide."

"I've still got time," Will said, hands sliding into Paul's hair. "I've got time."

Will kissed Paul again, nothing short of desperate. Paul responded in kind, holding Will tight. They didn't say much after that, simply devouring the other.

When Will pushed inside of Paul, Paul's legs hitched around his hips, their lips never left each other's. Arms stretched out on the bed, hands linked together. Lips and tongues entwined, clinging to the other long after they finished.

If Paul held Will a little bit tighter when they fell asleep, Will didn't say anything. Just like Paul didn't say anything when Will snuggled in closer, breathing in Paul's scent.

For the first night since they got together, neither drifted off into a deep sleep. They clung to one another for hours, relishing the feel, committing it to memory in case they couldn't enjoy it for much longer.


Au gust 28, 2018

Will woke first the next morning. He didn't sleep well despite the comfort of Paul's arms. He dozed more than anything, never quite sleeping.

He couldn't, not after everything.

Will wanted to stay with Paul more than anything but Salem was terrifying. Will had spent over a decade fearing Salem and everything it represented.

He didn't know how to get over that, not yet.

But he was going to try.

Will slipped out of Paul's hold, dressing as quickly and quietly as he could. He slipped into one of Paul's zip-up jackets because he liked the way it smelled. He grabbed his phone and a spare key Paul gave him the other day.

He needed to clear his head.


Paul woke a few hours later, right hand reaching out to grab Will and pull him closer. All he felt was the mattress.

Paul popped his eyes open, sitting up with a frown.

Will was never up before him.

"Will?" Paul yelled out, a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. "Will?"

No response.

Paul tossed the blankets off his legs, stumbling out of bed. He searched each room for Will but it was no use.

Will wasn't here.

Paul sat on the edge of his couch, head sinking into his hands.

There were several reasons Will could have left. He might have gone to get them breakfast or wanted coffee. He could be running or walking or meeting someone.

Paul couldn't think about those logical reasons, though. All he could think about was Will leaving him. He'd do anything to prevent that. He would do anything to prevent that.

Paul wasn't letting Will go now that he finally had him.

Paul wasn't letting Will go ever.

Decision made, Paul hurried back to his room, throwing on the first outfit he could find.

He had something he needed to do, something he had to do.


Will shoved his hands in the pockets of Paul's jacket, hood pulled up over his head. It made him feel enveloped in Paul's scent. He definitely wouldn't get this if he lived in Zurich and Paul lived in Salem. He wouldn't get to steal Paul's jackets or sleep in the same bed. He wouldn't get to kiss him whenever he wanted. He'd go days, weeks, months without Paul's touch be it chaste or sexual.

Considering Will walked with a slight limp at the moment, he could not imagine going more than a day without some form of contact with Paul.

Salem, though, Will couldn't imagine that either.

Without thinking about where he was headed, Will somehow ended up in front of DiMera Enterprises headquarters. It had grown since Will saw it last. Updated and expanded, rivaling Paul's condo in height.

Will didn't even know what the company did, not really.

It was just his luck he'd walk by the building as EJ was going into work.

"William," EJ greeted, eyebrows furrowed and forehead scrunched together. "What are you doing here?"

"Walking," Will shrugged, hands buried deep in his pockets.

"Well, since you're here," EJ pulled something out of his briefcase. "I do need your help with something."

Will caught sight of a graph and a few diagrams and a series of numbers.

"Ooh," Will reached out for the stack of paper before EJ pulled it out of his reach.

"Unfortunately," EJ smiled when he held the stack over Will's head, "only DiMera Enterprises employees can look. So, sorry. I'll have to find someone else to analyze these numbers, solve this little equation for me."

Will narrowed his eyes, giving one feeble jump to reach it before giving up.

"Of course, if I were to hire you as a consultant," EJ gave Will a shrewd look. "You'd get to look at all the numbers you please. But, that would require a contract and I'd have to justify the kind of money I'd pay you to the board. Doesn't really seem worth it when you're leaving in – what is it – six days? Shame."

Will chewed his lower lip, staring at EJ for a long moment.

Salem was scary, yes. But it also had his family, his new friends, the kindest man he'd ever met, and, apparently, a job.

"EJ?" Will asked, clearing his throat.

"Yes?" EJ lifted both brows, looking at Will expectantly.

"Give me the papers," Will ordered in a clear, confident voice.

"I'll have legal draw up a contract," EJ said, handing the large stack to Will. "By the way, you are astoundingly predictable."

Will flipped through the paperwork before frowning. The front page had numbers and graphs that were nothing more than a jumble of nonsensical numbers. The other pages were blank.

"Are you kidding me, right now?" Will asked with a huff.

"As I said, predictable," EJ snatched the papers back. "But, you did save me a trip to Paul's condo so thank you for that. Now, scurry on back and tell him the good news. The poor man nearly worked himself into a fit yesterday thinking about you leaving."

"Fine," Will replied. "And I'm not predictable."

"You are many things, William, predictable amongst them. The moment I saw you in Salem again, I knew precisely what would occur."

"You did not," Will crossed his arms.

"Please," EJ gave Will a knowing look. "Paul is exactly your type of man. Older, dark-haired, successful, rich, and when you met, taken. If he had an accent I'm sure it would have taken you even less time to get together."

Will looked over EJ's stupid face with a frown.

"I hate you," Will proclaimed when he realized what EJ was getting at.

"Once upon a time, yes. But, now I think you'd much rather we spend long nights in a tent."

Will backed away while shaking his head.

"Your fault. You're the one who took a hormonal baby gay into the woods. I blame you."

"I was a little-preoccupied thinking you'd try to kill me," EJ laughed. "It didn't occur you might want the opposite."

"I'm starting to lean more toward killing again."

"No, you aren't. Now, hurry back home and tell your love the good news."

"I'm going," Will said, turning to walk away. Over his shoulder, he yelled, "I still hate you."

He heard an amused, "no, you don't," echo back.


Will opened the door to Paul's condo to a giant mess.

"Did I miss something?" Will asked himself, eyeing the strange array of packing boxes and Styrofoam packing peanuts all over the place.

Will followed a trail of the peanuts to the master bedroom.

"Paul?"

"Oh, hey, you're back," Paul said. He stopped emptying a dresser drawer and walked over to Will. "Where were you? I was worried."

"On a walk," Will answered before pointing to a large box nearby. "What is all this?"

Paul let out a breathless laugh, looking down at the floor for a moment. He let out a deep breath before grabbing both of Will's hands.

"I can't ask you to stay in Salem when there's a chance you'll regret it. But, I can't let you go either. So, I'm going with you, instead."

"What?" Will asked, wide-eyed.

"I'm never going to live without you again," Paul told Will with a shaky smile. "I don't care where we live as long as we're together. I love you. I'm in love with you."

Will inhaled sharply, face frozen for several moments. Long enough for Paul to frown, stuttering out a response.

"I know it's too soon to say that but it's true. I've never felt this way before, been this happy with anyone else. And I don't care what it takes, we're going to-"

Will cut Paul off with a kiss, slow and gentle. He slipped his hands out of Paul's to cup his jaw.

When they parted, Paul kept his eyes closed, tongue swiping over his lips.

"Paul, is there any universe where I'm not in love with you?" Will asked, pressing their lips together again. "I went for a walk, originally, but I came back with something new."

"What?" Paul asked, finding it hard to focus on anything at the moment.

"A new job," Will answered, giving Paul a wide grin.

"A job?" Paul let out a loud laugh. "A job, here? In Salem?"

"Yeah," Will nodded. "I don't know what's going to happen staying here but I want to try. I can't leave you either."

"You're sure?" Paul asked. "This is what you want?"

"You're what I want," Will confirmed. "Here, Zurich, St. Louis, hell, I'd even go back to that terrifying zip line place if it meant I got to stay with you. I love you."

Paul wrapped his arms around Will, yanking him into a bone-crushing hug. Will tucked his chin over Paul's shoulder, holding on just as tight.

"Were you seriously going to pack everything up just like that?" Will asked, looking at the mess Paul made of his room.

"Yeah, I was," Paul answered with a carefree laugh. "You're worth it. At least now I can go through some things and make space for your stuff."

"My stuff?" Will asked, grinning and shutting his eyes tight.

"I've grown accustomed to sleeping with you in my arms. What's the point in getting your own place when we're going to be together every night?"

"Every night, every morning, any time the moment strikes," Will teased, nose pressed into the side of Paul's neck.

Paul's hands slid down to grab Will's butt, squeezing. He walked them toward the bed, kissing every part of Will he could reach.

Soon they were naked and pressed together, whispering, shouting, yelling how much they loved each other over and over and over.

Chapter Text

 

 

August 31, 2018

"Hey," Will greeted, looking up from his laptop, adjusting his glasses. His legs were stretched out over the couch, relaxed in his favorite pair of sweats – Paul's. "Where'd you run off to?"

"Hey," Paul said, closing the front door behind him with his hip. "I went to pick up something for later."

Paul balanced an insulated reusable bag in one hand and an Amazon box in another.

"What about you?" Paul asked, placing his things down on the coffee table and kneeling on the couch next to Will.

Will didn't get a chance to answer. Paul kissed him, pushing him into the back of the couch cushions.

Will made a small noise in the back of his throat, smiling against Paul's lips.

"Hi," Paul said again once he pulled away.

"Hi," Will echoed, fixing his glasses.

"What are you doing?"

"Looking over some last minute stuff for work. Well, the old work, that is. I technically have a week and a half left there and they're being dicks about it."

"What do you mean?"

"Sending me extra things to do that aren't part of my job description. It's whatever. I could do it in my sleep. It's still annoying, though."

"I bet," Paul said, sitting down when Will moved his legs out of the way.

He loved watching Will work. His eyes would brighten. His mouth a little slack-jawed as he concentrated. It was even better when Will wore his glasses.

Paul didn't even know that was a thing for him until Will. He didn't know a lot of things about himself until he met Will.

"Do you need to work all day? Or can I steal you away for a while?" Paul asked, smiling when Will wiggled his toes under his thighs.

"You gonna run away with me?" Will wondered, looking at Paul over the top rim of his glasses.

"Maybe," Paul responded, running his left hand up and down Will's calves. "Are these my sweats?"

"I like yours better," Will responded. "And yes, I would love for you to steal me away."

"You won't get in trouble if you don't get this stuff done?"

"No," Will scoffed, shutting his laptop and sitting up straight. "What are they gonna do, fire me?"

"It would be redundant, yeah," Paul patted Will's leg. "Alright, go put on your contacts and I'll get what we need."

"What does that mean?" Will asked, raising both eyebrows.

"It's a surprise," Paul said, leaning in for a kiss. "Now, come on. I've got plans."

"Alright, alright," Will jumped over the back of the couch and jogged over to their room. Before he reached it, he turned back around and hurried to the couch. He bent over the back of it, grabbed Paul's face and kissed him upside down.


Paul and Will walked hand-in-hand down the small pathway from the condo to the lake. The same path they encountered Adrienne in nothing but their underwear. The same path Paul navigated in the middle of a storm because he fell in love with the most dramatic man in the world.

"Not much of a surprise if I know where we're going," Will told Paul, squeezing his hand.

After Will put in his contacts, Paul came into the bathroom and tossed a pair of swim trunks at him and told him not to ask any questions.

Will dressed, put on a black tank top, and followed Paul out the door. Will's left hand in Paul's right, the large reusable bag in Paul's left.

The two had fallen into an easy routine since getting together. Whoever woke first tended to make breakfast. Will, for all his grumbling, was a decent cook. It was something Carrie insisted he learn before she let him move out on his own.

After eating, depending on what they needed to do that day, they'd both get dressed and leave the house. Paul usually to meet his father and Will to visit with this relative or that relative. A few times, Paul met up with Tyler and Neil to work out or for lunch. Sometimes Will would wreak havoc in the hospital; chatting with Aunt Kayla, making friends with Brian's hot nurse, bothering Brian. Other times, Will and Paul would work at the dining room table, playing footsie and smiling shyly. If there were no plans, they'd wind up back in bed. Not even just for sex, although that's usually where it led, but to be near one another, content to lay entwined and talk for hours.

It helped to center Will when Salem felt like too much. When he'd walk down the street, bombarded with family members or friends of the family or someone who was once wronged by someone Will knew. Or, one memorable time, when Will bumped into Adrienne Kiriakis where she floundered to keep her mouth closed as she was with Kayla at the time.

Those moments, those times made it harder for Will to accept his decision to stay in Salem. But, Paul's arms around him, Paul's gentle kisses on the back of his head, reminded Will of all the good things.

When Will and Paul walked past the area where their first kiss was, they both paused.

"I have no idea how you managed to climb to that boulder in the rain without hurting yourself," Paul admitted. "I don't even know how I did it."

"I wanted to go somewhere to think, to breathe. I wasn't going to go in our cave in the middle of a storm, though. I'm not suicidal."

"It's a pretty good spot for a first kiss," Paul said, pulling Will close to him. "In the rain, emotions up. In a place that's important to us."

"Yes," Will nodded, eyes glowing. "You in your underwear is a sight I'll never forget."

"You see me naked every day," Paul laughed.

"And it never gets old, funny how that works, huh?"

"Come on," Paul tugged Will along. "We're almost to the water, stop distracting me."

"I'm a distraction?" Will scoffed, blatantly looking at the way Paul's swim trunks slipped down his hips, hanging precariously low. So low, you could see the beginning of black tufts of hair near his groin.

Will's trunks fit his hips well, a little too well, in Paul's opinion. They hugged the tempting curve of Will's ass, tightening around it with each step he took.

After much teasing, Paul took Will right to the same tree they put their clothes under when they first went to the lake at the beginning of the month. He rummaged through the bag he brought and spread out a blanket over the sand.

Paul leaned his back against the tree trunk. One leg stretched out straight, the other bent toward his chest. Will settled between Paul's legs, his back to Paul's chest.

The long tree limbs provided plenty of shade. Shielding them from the sun high in the afternoon sky.

"This is nice," Will said, leaning his head back, resting it on Paul's shoulder.

There was a slight breeze whistling in the air. The faint glimmer of far-off laughter and splashing. This side of the lake was almost deserted. The nearest people seemed so far away it was like they were all alone here.

"It's about to get better," Paul said, reaching into his bag. He pulled out a carefully wrapped to-go container. "I got you something special."

Will sat up, oohing when Paul showed off a row of carefully arranged sashimi, onigiri, and vegetables.

"It's as fresh as I could get it," Paul said, handing Will a set of chopsticks.

The two ate while staying close. Teasingly feeding the other, Paul laughing when Will insisted he couldn't eat his onigiri because it was shaped to look like a panda and was too cute to eat.

"One of these days," Paul told Will, pointing a chopstick at him. "I'll take you to Japan with me. We'll eat our way through all my favorite cities."

"I like this idea," Will said, eyeing Paul up and down. Something that still caused Paul's cheeks to redden despite all the physical things they'd done together. "You can show me the sights."

"Why do I get the feeling you're not talking about tourist attractions?" Paul asked, face flushed.

"I was thinking more along the lines of a private hot spring of our own," Will replied. "You in a Yukata, staying in a Ryokan."

"You've given this a lot of thought," Paul blinked a few times.

"My Paul fantasies are thoroughly researched."

Paul swallowed heavily, pushing aside their plates. They'd already eaten everything anyway.

"Are they?"

Will crawled over Paul, pushing him down into the blanket, elbow on either side of his head. Their bodies touching from chest to toe.

"I already know the first place I'm going to fuck you when we get to Zurich," Will revealed, leaning down and licking across Paul's open mouth with just the tip of his tongue.

Paul gripped Will's hip with his left hand, the right sliding under his tank top, feeling the warm, soft skin of his lower back.

Will still planned on going back to Zurich on the first, tomorrow. Driving back to Chicago and taking the nine-hour flight to Switzerland to pack his things, say goodbye, and get his affairs in order. He wasn't going alone either. Paul was going with him.

"Or where you'll fuck me," Will added with a lift of one muscled shoulder, playing at demure. "I'm not sold on the positioning just yet."

Will flashed Paul a small, sexy smile before kissing just shy of Paul's lips. He licked down Paul's chin and Adam's apple, stopping at the hollow of his throat.

Paul's eyes slid shut, right hand sliding down Will's back to his butt. His damn swim shorts were too tight for Paul to do anything more than stick his fingertips inside, sliding his middle finger between Will's cheeks.

Will groaned, pressing his groin into Paul's hip, rocking them together.

"Wait, wait," Paul said, sitting up and dislodging Will. "I have a plan and you-"

Will kissed him, wet and deep, holding Paul's neck at the perfect angle.

"Mmm," Paul moaned before pulling away. "Stop that. God, you're distracting. Come here."

Paul helped Will stand up and the two yanked off their shirts. Both sidetracked by all the skin on display. To prevent any further distractions, Paul simply sprayed them both with spray-on sunscreen, much to Will's disappointment.

"Trust me, baby," Paul said, bent over to put their trash in their bag. "You'll like this."

He let out a loud bark of laughter when Will smacked him on the butt.

Just like that, the two were running and giggling toward the water's edge. Splashing and laughing, Paul chasing after Will until they were chin deep in water.

"Hi," Will said, wrapping his arms around Paul's neck, water dripping down his face and neck.

Paul kissed him, tasting lake water and remnants of their lunch. Neither cared.

"Come on," Paul said once they parted, panting.

He swam toward their cave, Will right behind him.

"Do you remember the last time we were in here?" Paul asked as they swam inside.

They both rested in front of the rock island in almost the exact spot where Paul pinned Will. Where they nearly kissed.

"Yes," Will whispered, blinking water from his eyes.

Paul pushed Will's hair out of his face, cupping his cheek.

"I wanted to kiss you so bad that day," Paul admitted in a low, deep voice.

"That day," Will nodded, eyes hooded, "every day, all the time."

"Knowing I couldn't kiss you, made me want to do it even more."

Will and Paul stared at each other for a moment before kissing. Paul slammed Will into the side of the island, hard. Will's head banged off the rock, stinging yet somehow made Paul's kisses that much better.

"God," Will moaned, clawing at Paul's neck and shoulders. His head throbbed and his cock was already half-hard.

Paul's lips against his, his body touching with the warm water around them, amplified everything Will felt. Because he couldn't get enough. Each time Paul tried to pull away, Will yanked Paul by the hair back to his mouth.

Paul grunted into Will's mouth, melting into Will's desperate, wanton kisses. He trailed his hands under the water, pulling at the Velcro holding Will's trunks shut. He ignored Will's cock in favor of yanking Will's shorts off.

Paul pulled away from Will long enough to grab Will's trunks and toss them on top of the rock. His hands spread across Will's upper thighs and his ass, grabbing every bit of skin he could find. All while he rocked his hips into Will's, desperate for some friction.

"Naked," Will whispered after sucking Paul's lower lip into his mouth. "Naked, Paul. Need you, god, need you so bad."

Will gave a hard yank to Paul's already dangerously low shorts, so low it showed a nest of dark curls and the base of his dick. Will didn't even wait for Paul to be naked despite his own demands. He wrapped both hands around Paul's thick cock and stroked him, up and down, twisting both wrists in opposite directions.

Paul pressed his head to Will's shoulder, shuddering. It took all his strength to push Will's hands away. To grab Will by the shoulders and slam him back into the rock, watching the way Will seemed to relish the hint of pain.

Paul scrambled to grab his shorts. What made them so heavy and dip so low was a hidden pocket on the inside. A pocket Paul filled before they even left the house.

He tossed his shorts on top of the island next to Will's and brandished what he brought: a condom and a small travel-sized packet of waterproof lube.

Will groaned when he saw them, pressing his head back into the hard rock.

"Just when I thought I couldn't love you more."

Paul laughed, licking his lips.

"I'm not sure of the semantics for this to work," he admitted with a sheepish grin.

Will quirked a brow before climbing on top of the island, beckoning for Paul with one finger. Paul followed, pushing Will down into the cold rock, half hovering over him.

Will bent one leg at the knee, foot planted on the stone. Paul drizzled half the packet of lube on his fingertips. He traced around Will's hole with his middle finger while his tongue did the same thing to Will's lips.

The sound Will made when Paul pushed inside echoed off the walls, reverberating back to them. It spurred Paul on, making him open Will quicker than he normally would. Quicker, harder, so desperate to be inside Will he might not even last that long. Not with the way Will cried out, weak needy little noises while he writhed all over Paul's fingers.

"Paul," Will moaned, sliding his hands all over Paul's chest, mewling in the back of his throat. "Want you so bad."

"Is this what we should have done the first time we were here?" Paul asked as he ripped open the condom packet with his teeth. "Open you up on my fingers while you cry like a needy little whore?"

Will let out another such cry, shaking with want while he waited for Paul to unravel the condom over his dripping dick. As soon as he did, Will grabbed Paul by the shoulder and flipped him on his back, straddling his hips. He used the remainder of the lube, slicking Paul up.

Paul grinned, hands gliding up and down Will's sides as Will sat on him in one try. He'd never tire of this feeling. The first tight squeeze inside Will. The choked off little cry Will made, the sight of his thighs trembling and his lower stomach hitching. All the small little moments while Will adjusted, flushed all the way down to his navel.

Then Will's eyes would open, dilated and determined. Working himself forward and back, gyrating on Paul's dick like it was the greatest treat he'd ever been given. Mumbling nonsense about how Paul feels inside, stretching him just right. How deep Paul felt inside him, swearing he could feel him in the back of his throat.

Will was so beautiful while riding Paul's cock. Wild and carefree, head thrown back and mouth slack, using every muscle in his body to keep up a steady rhythm. Gliding forward and back, up and down, swiveling his hips in time with a beat only Will could hear.

Paul couldn't stop touching him when he was like this. His chest, ribs, sides, ass, cock, but mostly Will's face. Paul couldn't help thumbing over Will's red-bitten lips, slipping inside to touch that flash of pink tongue. Bucking his hips up into Will's heat and fucking his thumb into Will's mouth at the same steady rhythm. In and out, catching on Will's sharp little incisors, rubbing along his gums and the side of his mouth.

Paul thought Will was gorgeous the moment he met him. Before they even met, before they spoke, before Will even turned around to look at him when Paul spent almost an hour with his eyes shamefully glued to Will's ass. Paul knew Will was beautiful with his wide eyes and his sharp smile and how he couldn't flirt without his cheeks turning bright red. Will was all confidence and wild abandon. He was the man that stripped down to his underwear in front of Paul and the entire world. The man that stood up to Sonny, Adrienne, Dustin, anyone and everyone who judged him. The man who decked himself out in Giants merchandise without a single care for how ridiculous he looked. The man who kissed whatever guy he wanted, who flirted for drinks, and told Paul over and over how amazing he was when they were trying to be just friends.

Will was difficult and dramatic and Paul had never loved anyone the way he loved Will. So suddenly, so deeply, so completely.

But watching Will naked, taking exactly what he needed from Paul, moans loud and wild, shameless and free. That was Will at his most honest, his truest self. Beautiful and demanding, riding Paul for all he was worth.

Paul shoved himself into a sitting position, arms wrapped around Will. He kissed him, pouring his everything into it. All his love and desire, all his guilt over ever hurting Will or denying what was between them. He poured every single bit of himself into their kiss. Then, when they separated, desperate for air, Paul flipped Will onto his back.

As beautiful as Will was taking what he wanted, Paul loved the way Will looked when he fucked him hard and deep too.

Paul pressed his hands down beside Will's head, grasping for purchase. Will's hips tilted, knees spread wide, holding onto the back of his own thighs.

Will cried over and over as Paul slammed into him. His cock slid against Paul's stomach, so good but not enough. Paul adjusted one of his knees and, like the last time they were on the rock at an important moment, he slipped, taking Will with him.

The two splashed into the water, surprised and, in Will's case, stinging from Paul's sudden departure.

They looked at each other, wet and hard and couldn't stop laughing.

Paul grabbed Will by the hips, pulling him close while they laughed and laughed.

"We haven't gotten that down yet, have we?" Paul asked, giving himself a few strokes before tapping Will's bottom.

"Guess not," Will replied, eyes fluttering shut when Paul pushed inside. "Fuck, that's good."

"Yeah?" Paul asked, pushing Will into the edge of the island. He kept one arm around Will's hips, the other held tight to a flat section on the top of the rock.

The top portion of the island was smooth; the sides were rough and bumpy. Will cried when his back scraped along the rocks. Stinging in a way Will never knew he would enjoy.

Paul pushed up into Will while Will rocked down. Will held tight to Paul's shoulders, digging in his nails, squeezing his thighs around Paul's hips.

They held each other's eyes, water splashing around them, a symphony of moans echoing around the cave. Paul came first, jaw clenched, squeezing the space below Will's ass tighter and slamming into him harsher than before.

Will didn't last much longer after. He wrapped his right arm around Paul's neck, chin over Paul's shoulder. With his left hand, Will rapidly jerked himself. Crying and biting while Paul thrust into him over and over until he grew too sensitive.

Will, stomach trembling, watched with a strange fascination as he saw the pearly white rivets of his come float by in the water.

Paul held Will tight for a few moments longer, easing out of Will. The two climbed back onto the island, flopping down on their backs.

"Fuck," Will sighed, arm thrown over his eyes. "That was incredible."

"Told you I had a surprise," Paul replied, rolling onto his side to face Will.

"My favorite Japanese food, exhibitionism, and my baby, what's not to love?" Will grinned, facing Paul.

"Love, huh?" Paul smiled, tracing Will's jawline.

"Yes," Will grabbed Paul's hand and kissed his fingertips. "I love you, especially the sexy parts."

Paul kissed Will, short and sweet.

"There's only one problem now," he said with a grimace.

"What?" Will asked, brows furrowed.

"What the hell am I supposed to do with this condom?"


After dressing and getting their things from under the tree (Paul holding his tied off condom until he could throw it in their used food containers. He refused to be the person that let their used condom float around a public lake) they walked home.

Paul was afraid after they exited the cave that everyone at the lake would know what they did. They were loud, Will in particular, and Paul was certain everyone would take one look at them and know what happened. He also had a pretty spectacular hickey on the top of his shoulder and nail indentations on his back. But neither of those compared to the scrapes on Will's back.

Paul fretted the whole way home over them.

"Why didn't you tell me I was hurting you?" Paul asked, eyes flickering to Will's back every few steps. Despite Will's tank top covering most of the damage, Paul felt like he could see every deep red line up and down Will's back.

"They don't hurt," Will said, elbowing Paul in the side before linking their arms. "I told you. I liked it. I'm positive I've left worse marks on you."

"Some of them look like the skin broke, though."

"Paul," Will stopped him, stepping in front of Paul and grabbing his neck. "Trust me when I tell you, I liked it. I liked feeling a tiny bit of pain with every thrust. I like the way my shirt's rubbing against them, now. Tomorrow when we're sitting on an airplane for hours I'm going to like the way the seats scrapes against them. Okay?"

"Oh," Paul blinked a few times before letting out a shaky laugh. "Right, that kind of liking."

"I like it when you slap my ass so I'm not too surprised I like this either," Will said before kissing the tip of Paul's nose. "So, stop worrying about it."

"I think I'm gonna be thinking about nothing but that for a long time," Paul admitted, sharing a quick smile with Will.

"You can think about it all you want," Will dusted his fingers over Paul's shoulders, twining his hand in the hair at the back of Paul's head. "Think about it, plan for it, and explore it later tonight."

Paul leaned in for a kiss only for someone to interrupt them with a scoff.

Will bulged his eyes out at Paul, making him smile before turning around.

"Adrienne," Will said with a strained smile, arm wrapped around Paul's waist. "Wow, here you are, on a semi-private pathway to a condo you don't live at. Again."

Adrienne adjusted her purse over her shoulder, sniffing.

"I like this route. I find it relaxing, not that it's any of your business. Or I did find it relaxing until I started seeing the two of you all over each other, again."

"Not that it's any of your business but we're just standing here," Will countered with a shrug.

Adrienne pursed her lips, looking at Will like he was a fly she wanted to flick away.

"We're taking a walk just like you," Paul told Adrienne, putting his arm around Will's hips. Letting his hand slip down to the curve of Will's lower back. He held Adrienne's eyes, chin up.

Adrienne never seemed to like him much. Despite Paul's best effort, no matter how polite he acted or how well he treated Sonny, Adrienne held him at arm's length. He didn't know if it was because he hurt Sonny the first time they broke up in San Francisco. If it was because he went from a famous sports star to a humble private investigator. If it was because he wasn't white enough or wasn't smart enough or wasn't good enough.

Adrienne Kiriakis contributed to Paul's confidence and sense of worth dwindling. She added to his need to make things work with Sonny long past their expiration date. Paul had to prove to himself and to Adrienne, he was right for Sonny, no matter what.

Then Paul met Will. Will with their easy friendship and his open smiles. Will whose family was Paul's family, who openly plotted to get Paul and Will together. Will who bolstered Paul's confidence with each smile and touch and whose infamous mother told Paul to his face that she knew Paul would treat her son right.

Adrienne wasn't the reason Paul and Sonny didn't work. Her disapproval contributed, though. Put a strain on an already fragile relationship. A part of Paul would always resent her for that. Another part, a stronger part of Paul wanted to thank her.

Adrienne could see Paul and Sonny shouldn't be together. Now, Paul could see it too.

Paul was starting a new life with Will by his side and a completely new outlook on life. He wasn't going to apologize for it or change the way he felt about it.

Paul was happy and in love and he didn't care what Adrienne Kiriakis had to say about it.

"In fact," Paul said, looking at Will with a small smile, "we've got places to go."

"Fine," Adrienne replied before snidely adding, "you should know, Sonny is getting close to someone new too. His new assistant at work, Leo."

"And Brian's going on a date with a nurse," Will said with an eye roll.

"Despite what you might think, I want Sonny to move on. I want him to be as happy as I am with Will. So, good, I hope things work out for Sonny. Now, we've got things to do. Goodbye, Adrienne."

Paul nodded at Adrienne before leading Will away. After they turned around a small bend, Will told Paul, "you're even more attractive when you stand up for yourself. Like, wow, I didn't think it was possible but, yep, even more attracted to you now."

"It's a day of surprises for you."


After getting home, Will worked for a bit while Paul made sure everything was ready for their flight in the morning. While he was packing, Will walked into their bedroom and flopped on the bed. The Amazon box Paul brought with him in the morning was next to his suitcase.

"What's in here?" Will asked, picking up the substantial box and shaking it.

Paul snatched it away from Will and said, "nope, you don't get to know yet."

"What? Why not?" Will complained, reaching for the box.

"Because," Paul answered, pulling the box out of Will's reach. "If I show it to you now, you'll get us distracted."

"Okay, now I have to know what it is."

"No," Paul backed away, box under his arm. "I have to finish packing and you know my mom is gonna Facetime me soon. You agreed to talk to her too. And that's never gonna happen if I open this box."

"You are making it impossible to let this go."

"I will show you later," Paul promised. "Now, come on, help me finish packing."

Will looked at Paul with narrowed eyes and his mouth smooshed together.

"Fine. This better be one hell of a surprise."


"I just wanted to say it was nice to meet you, again. Did I say that already?" Will turned away from the laptop and Tori Narita's face to look at Paul.

"About five times," Paul replied, infinitely amused Will was so nervous over meeting his mother. Going so far as to put on a collared shirt and gel his hair into place.

"Oh – uh – well, I am glad to meet you and I just wanted to tell you how amazing your son is and how much I love him and did I mention all of this already?"

"Several times," Tori said with a large smile. "But, I appreciate it. I am rather proud of my son, after all."

"I'm pretty proud of him too," Will said with a sheepish expression "He's kind of the best thing that's ever happened to me."

Tori looked at Will for a few moments, charmed by his admiration for her son. But, her eyes drifted toward Paul and the look in his eyes while he watched Will. The smile on his face, the way he carried his shoulders, and his expression of utter contentment.

Paul grabbed Will's hand and kissed the top of it. Tori saw Will sigh, tension melting right out of him at the touch.

"I'm usually better at this," Will looked back at the laptop screen and Tori. "I'm just nervous meeting you since you're so important to Paul and I want you to like me."

"That's honest of you," Tori said, a little taken aback.

"Will's an honest person. Sometimes a little too honest," Paul informed her with a small laugh.

"Gee, thanks," Will said giving Paul a look that made Tori laugh. "Alright, I'm gonna let you two have some time alone. I will talk to you later, I'm sure."

"Yes, you will," Tori told Will. "Have a safe flight tomorrow."

"Thanks," Will smiled. He kissed Paul's cheek, waved at the screen, and walked away.

Tori watched as Paul nearly gave himself whiplash to watch him walk away.

"I guess you weren't kidding when you told me you were happier now," Tori said once Paul faced her again.

"No, not kidding at all," Paul explained. "I'm really happy, now. With myself and with Will and life in general."

"It's about damn time," Tori said, leaning back in her seat. "If I had to hear about Sonny one more time I was going to scream."

"…what?"

"Did you honestly think anyone supported your farce of a relationship?" Tori asked. "Between your father and Marlena and I, it's a miracle we didn't explode in our distaste."

"…what?"

"But, you look so wonderful now, Paul-san. Will is so handsome and charming. You haven't stopped smiling once. Now, tell me about this trip you're going on."

Paul took a moment to recover before explaining in detail everything he and Will had planned for their time in Zurich.


"So," Paul walked into their bedroom, tossing his phone on the bed and crawling over to lay next to Will.

"So?" Will muted the TV and lifted his left arm up so Paul could snuggle against him.

"So, my mom really likes you," Paul said with a proud grin.

"Wait, really?" Will's eyes almost popped out of his head.

"Yeah," Paul put both hands on Will's stomach and leaned his chin on them to look up at him. "She thinks you're cute and charming and wants to meet you in person soon."

"Really?" Will repeated, feeling his face warm up.

"Uh-huh," Paul nodded, grinning up at Will. "She's going to talk to my grandfather and see when they both can visit us."

"Oh, wow," Will let out a nervous laugh.

"What?" Paul wondered. He so enjoyed watching this bashful, shy version of Will. He loved Will's confidence but this version of Will was precious and rare.

"I don't know. I've never really had to do the whole meet the parents' thing. I mean, the guys I dated in high school, yeah. But, you know, adult Will not so much. John doesn't count."

"He has known you longer than he's known me."

"Exactly," Will said. "So, this is all new to me and I'm out of my element here. I'm kind of an acquired taste, I've learned. People either love me or hate me, especially in Salem. Plus, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut and I ramble a lot when I'm nervous and what if I offend them? I know my grandma and your mom still have issues sometimes and what if I make everything worse. Oh my god, did we even tell your mom about our family situation?"

"I figured that was something to tell her in person with a family tree at the ready and a lot of sake."

"What are they going to think that I think of your dad as my grandfather? It's creepy, right? That's creepy. But, I mean, I've never even met my real grandfather, my dad's father. So, it's not bad and we're not related but what if-"

Paul leaned up and kissed Will.

"Baby, relax," Paul said while cupping Will's face. "They'll understand everything. My mom won't hold a grudge against you because of your family. She's going to love you because I love you."

"Right, sorry," Will nodded, letting out a soft puff of air. "I'm ridiculous."

"Trust me," Paul gave Will a teasing smile, booping his nose. "I know."

"Hey," Will huffed, "you don't need to agree with me."

"You're adorable. Getting all prettied up and rambling."

"Don't get used to it," Will grumbled but gave Paul a begrudging smile.

"Well," Paul stood up and said, "I think you've earned your last surprise for the day."

"Oooh, gimme, gimme, gimme."

"You gotta wait a few moments, alright. Be right back."

Paul picked up the box and moved into the bathroom. Leaving Will to contemplate all the possibilities. The box was pretty heavy. It could be almost anything.

Will was rooting for a sex toy.

"Close your eyes," Paul yelled through the closed bathroom door.

"Why?"

"Just do it."

"Fine," Will covered his eyes with his hands and closed them tight.

Paul walked into the room, moving to the foot of the bed.

"I bought this before you decided to stay, just so you know. It was gonna be my last ditch effort to entice you to stay. Okay, open your eyes."

Will did, blinking a few times to clear his eyes.

"Sweet mother of god."

Paul wore a pair of loose gray trousers that ended mid-calf with a large black waistband. His legs were covered in white stockings and flat black shoes. He didn't have a shirt on, exposing his wide shoulders, flat stomach, and the divots of his abdominals. He also pulled his hair back with a red ribbon.

"Oh my god."

Paul gave Will a nervous look and cleared his throat.

"I'm not singing. So, don't ask me."

"I don't need you to sing," Will scrambled off the bed, hands mapping over every bit of skin he could. "Oh my god, you're fucking perfect and I really, really, really need you to like bang the hell out of me right now. While I look at you. And you keep the outfit on. Oh man, yeah, this was a foolproof plan. Whenever you want me to do something just put this on and I will do anything."

It was true. Paul by himself was gorgeous. Paul dressed as Will's first crush, Chinese army captain, bisexual icon, Li Shang was something else entirely.

Paul scratched the back of his head before flexing his bicep.

Will groaned, hands gliding up and down, settling on Paul's hips, pulling him toward the bed.

"We're gonna have a whole roleplay thing later but right now, all I wanna do is put my mouth all over you."

"Good," Paul said, smile turning into something cockier than usual. "I bought you an outfit too, Mr. John Smith."

"You're trying to kill me," Will half-complained, half-moaned.

He shoved Paul onto the bed, following after him, immediately straddling his thighs, eyeing him hungrily.

Paul smiled up at Will through narrowed eyes and upturned lips. Will hadn't even touched Paul much yet and he was already hard. Will's eyes on him, the complete and utter adoration got Paul so hot. Knowing a simple change in clothes turned Will into such a mess, made Paul feel powerful. The fact that Will was already writhing on top of him, hips rocking, and rubbing the palm of his hand into his groin helped too.

"You already hard for me, baby?" Paul asked, holding tight to Will's waist, encouraging him to move back and forth.

"Uh-huh," Will nodded, unbuttoning his jeans, unzipping, and pulling his dick out. Tip red and dripping, stroking himself while looking right at Paul.

"Shit," Paul rucked up Will's shirt, wanting to see every bit of Will he could. "It really gets you that hot?"

"You're so fucking sexy, Paul. So, good to me. So perfect and god, I wanna, I need to-" Will cut himself off. He slipped to the floor, yanked Paul's pants down enough to rest underneath his balls, and swallowed him down in one gulp.

Will jerked himself off, frantic and rough while he bobbed up and down Paul. Drooling all over him and making desperate little whimpers, eyes open, looking up at Paul.

Paul ran his hands through Will's hair, guiding him up and holding him down. Holding Will's gaze and crooning encouragements.

Will didn't last long, getting himself off fast and easy, making a mess all over his fist, some dripping onto his jeans.

"Fuck," Paul moaned, thrusting up and holding Will's head down at the same time. Coming hard and hot into Will's throat, forcing his head down until he finished

Will pulled off with a wet cough, chest heaving.

"You okay?" Paul asked, beckoning Will toward him.

Will's throat ached a bit and the roots of his hair were tender but he felt amazing.

"Are you kidding me?" Will asked in a deep, scratchy voice. "That was so damn hot. I haven't gotten off that fast in like a decade."

Paul groaned when Will stood up on shaky knees and he saw the smear of semen all over Will's groin.

"You made such a mess," Paul said, pulling Will toward him, fingers running through the wet mess.

"Couldn't help it," Will said with an unabashed grin, face red, panting and covered in his own come. "I told you, you're too damn hot for your own good."

Paul kissed Will, deep and dirty, all tongue and teeth. When they pulled apart, he knocked his forehead into Will's.

"I'm gonna turn you into a wet, sloppy mess and you're gonna feel me every single second we're on that airplane tomorrow."

Will batted his eyes up at Paul, pulling him closer.

"I am so in love with you."

"Love you too, baby."

"Now, fuck my brains out, please."

Paul tossed Will onto the bed, hovering over him. He was going to take his time, until Will was a trembling, shaking ball of want. Dig his fingers into those scrapes all over Will's back.

Thirty days ago, when they met for the first time, Paul didn't expect anything to happen. Struck dumb at the sight of Will, at his easy smile and the dangerous curve of his spine, Paul didn't expect his entire life to rearrange itself. He didn't realize how much was missing until Will came along.

Will was everything Paul didn't know he needed and he'd never been happier. The smile on Will's face when Paul leaned over him, hovering above his lips, told Paul Will felt the same way.

Happy and in love with the man meant for them, hours away from traveling to the other side of the world, ready for their lives to truly begin.

THE END