"C'mon Dean," Colby whined.
"Are you deaf? I said no."
"But you'll be so adorable."
"Exactly! How come you two get to be badass and I've gotta be cute?"
"A couple of reasons," Colby answered. "One is that you're short."
"And you've got those big eyes," Robbo added.
"But mostly," Colby concluded, "it's because you are cute."
They were both looking at him with slightly crazy smiles. They thought he was cute, there would be no persuading them otherwise.
"This is such bullshit."
"That sounded like a yes. Colby?"
"Definitely sounded like a yes to me."
"Fuck you both."
"Couldn't she have a normal party?" Dean complained. "Like a bonfire at the beach or something?"
"What? And miss this incredible opportunity?" Colby grinned as he finished fixing Dean's wig in place.
"I bet I'm gonna be itchy all night," Dean grumbled.
"Just keep it on long enough for some photos, then you can ditch it."
"How's this?" Robbo said, showing off his costume for them.
He was decked out in forest green and leather. He looked awesome, it was so unfair.
"Look at him!" Dean exclaimed, completely outraged. "He looks hot as fuck and I'm wearing cut-off pants and a vest!"
"You're just a different kind of sexy," Colby cooed, popping a kiss on his nose.
"Piss off," Dean squirmed, pushing Colby away. All Colby did was laugh. So did Robbo. Pricks.
Dean hadn't even seen the stupid movie. Or movies. Or whatever. Colby was a fan, and had tried to make him one too, but he'd only got up to the bit where the two old guys fight and that had been enough for him. It was fucking queer, like not in a gay way, but it was too hard to follow, all that fantasy bullshit.
Colby had raved on about it taking a few goes through to pick it all up, but Dean couldn't imagine sitting through that crap more than once.
Colby was supposed to be an elf or something. Dean thought elves were supposed to be small, but apparently in this story they were pretty tall, and super hot. Trust Colby to think that was the perfect part for him. Though Dean did have to admit he liked the long hair, it reminded him of when they were younger and Colby's hair really had been midway down his back. He missed that.
It was only a short walk to the beach house where Jasmine lived with Irene, which was good. He would probably die if anyone besides the other idiots going to the party saw him done up like this. Seriously, how old was Jasmine anyway? Who had a dress-up party after they turned twelve? Not that he'd ever had a birthday party of his own to compare it to, but still.
"I swear if you've stitched me up and anyone laughs at me, you'll be sorry," he scowled at Colby as they approached the front door.
"Relax babe, you're gonna be a smash. You've nailed the look."
"Is that supposed to be a compliment?"
"It is," Robbo assured him, giving him a schmoopy smile. Well he did trust Robbo more than Colby not to drop him in it.
"Fine," he accepted.
"Now put a smile on that dial," Colby instructed, "this is Jasmine's night."
Dean forced his lips into the appropriate shape.
"Almost," Colby said, leaning in and pressing his mouth to Dean's. He tried to resist, but damn he loved this evil bastard, and a real smile curled his lips.
"That's better," Colby grinned, then he raised his hand and knocked on the door.
It was Jasmine herself who opened the door.
"Hey you guys," she beamed. "You look fantastic!"
She didn't look too bad herself. She was wearing a long, white dress, with big sleeve things and a pretty ring of flowers in her hair.
"Éowyn-inspired, right?" Colby said, leaning in and giving her a kiss on the cheek.
"Yeah. And I see you've gone with sexy elf."
"Happy birthday Jasmine," Robbo greeted.
"A dashing ranger from the north," she appreciated.
"What can I say? I like Aragorn's style."
"Don't we all?" Jasmine sighed.
"Happy birthday," Dean offered. "Your dress is really, um, pretty." He hoped it was supposed to be.
"Thank you," she smiled, giving them a curtsy. "And you look adorable. You make the perfect hobbit."
"Thanks," he accepted, deliberately not looking at Colby who was probably trying not to piss himself laughing.
They stepped inside where a few other guests were milling around, chatting and munching on nibblies. Apart from the dumb movie theme, parties like this weren't really his scene. But Jasmine was a good mate of Colby's so he'd just have to suck it up and deal for one night.
At least everyone else was dressed up like dorks too.
Ziggy and Brodie were repping the elf thing like Colby. Zig actually looked pretty cool in the mauve velvet, more girly, but he wasn't stupid enough to tell her that.
Leah was done up as an elf too, but with pants. Like that ranga elf chick in the new movies. She was running around taking care of all the tucker, so a more practical costume made sense.
It took him a second look to recognise Willow, she'd painted her face grey and was wearing a scary-looking black hood thing.
"Hey Will," he said, gravitating towards his best mate. "You got dragged into this too, huh?"
"Oh my God, Dean. I would not have missed this for the world." He could see the laughter sparkling in her eyes, he was gonna kill Colby. "Come here," she said, lifting her phone and snapping a selfie of them. He wondered if that counted as getting a photo and meant he could take this annoying wig off yet?
Raffy was here too, and Murray. Officially they were 'just friends', but the matching costumes kinda gave the game away. Their relationship was a need to know thing, kinda like him and Colby. Their problem was the age difference, (but Raffy had recently turned sixteen so it wasn't as big of a problem as it had been). For him and Colby it was because Colby's boss would pitch a fit if he found out Senior Constable Thorne was dating a River Boy, even though the River Boys weren't a thing anymore. The pair of them were hanging out by the food, Raffy stuffing her face as usual. He liked her though, she was a cool chick. And Murray was alright for a cop. He'd been a loyal friend to Colby through all the suspension and hearing stuff, and as far as Dean was concerned, that counted for a lot.
Irene was wearing a long, green robe and a pointed witch's hat. Of course Dean had no idea who or what she was supposed to be, but it surprised him when Colby was just as confused.
"Who are you?"
"Professor McGonagall. I got a bit mixed up."
"Well," Colby said, blinking once before putting one of those charming smiles on his face. "You're rocking it."
"Why thanks, darl," she gushed.
Dean turned around and nearly ran smack bang into some ugly monster looking thing. The costume was next level and he had no idea who was beneath it.
"Doesn't Mase look amazing!" Jasmine said, throwing an arm around the guy's shoulders. "It took him all day to do his make-up."
"Uh, yeah. Amazing," Dean agreed, getting out of there as quickly as he could. Something about it all just gave him the creeps.
Mason's sister Tori had gone the opposite. She already had kickass hair to pull off the medieval look, but her dress was a cheapy one that looked like something a chick in a play by that Shakespeare dude would wear. Personally, he took his hat off to her, if it had been up to him, Colby, Robbo and himself would not have spent the ridiculous amount of money they had on these costumes for one bloody night.
Alf though, he'd been really smart about it. He was wearing the usual flanno, he'd just changed it up by going with a flash black one. The only other alteration he'd made was a gold ring on his right pointer finger. He actually looked pretty dope.
It was all completely ridiculous. But in the end though, he supposed the whole point was that the smile never left Jasmine's face.
Irene had loads of pictures of all the people who had lived with her over the years. One picture caught his eye.
"Who is that?" Dean asked.
"Oh that's Nate," she said. "He was a doctor at Northern Districts. He went to work for the Flying Doctors."
"He's hot," Dean appreciated.
"Super hot," Colby agreed.
"He was rather easy on the eye," Irene giggled. "Had a damn sexy accent too."
"Hey, it's Heath," Dean noticed. "How do you know him?"
The picture was of Heath with a blonde chick and a couple of kids. Irene smiled fondly at it.
"Buggalugs there married Bianca. Oh that's right, you blokes are from Mangrove River too. You know his daughter, Darcy?"
"Tegan's kid? I assumed she was Brax's."
"Apparently not. And the little fella is Harley. He had a tough start, but they're all doing okay now."
"Imagine that, Colbs. Heath Braxton with a missus and a couple of kids."
"Good on him," Colby smiled, discreetly giving Dean's hand a squeeze. Dean knew what he meant, after the shit start they'd all had, they were finally managing to get their lives on track. It was nice.
"You know where Brax ended up?" Colby asked. Dean had only spoken to Brax once recently, and that was a call out of the blue to ask him to help a mate out. That mate was Ash, and the problem was Robbo. Life was funny sometimes. As for Brax's new life, Dean didn't really know anymore than Colby.
"Up north somewhere. With Ricky."
"Yeah, that's right," Irene confirmed. Ricky'd always had a bit of a thing for Brax, it didn't surprise Dean that they'd ended up together eventually.
"And baby Casey," Irene added. Dean had heard about Casey Braxton getting killed. They hadn't really known Casey because he was younger, but his death was still hard for Dean to wrap his head around, knowing how hard Brax had worked to keep him out of the life. Naming his son after his brother only cemented how much Casey had meant to him.
The conversation ended when Leah called for everyone's attention.
They did the candles and singing routine. Leah had decorated the cake to look like that big, fiery eyeball thingy that popped up at random times in the movie. Jasmine made a wish. Standing between Colby and Robbo, thinking about what he'd wish for if it was his own birthday, Dean decided he wouldn't really need to wish for anything. He already had everything he wanted.
This was more like it. To quote Alf and Irene 'all the young 'uns' had relocated to the beach, where they sat gathered around a small fire. Dean had ditched that god-awful wig and the vest, leaving him in a baggy shirt and the dumb pants. One good thing about those hobbit dudes was that they went barefoot.
He sat next to Colby, and on his left was Raffy. She had been warned by her sister not to drink but Dean handed her a beer anyway, despite the two and a half cops present.
"One won't hurt," he told her.
"Dean..." Colby warned.
"What? She's sixteen, two years older than I was. Anyway, better for her to try a little where we can supervise, then to get shit-faced with a bunch of irresponsible teenagers."
"Actually," she said. "I've already been drunk. Some girls from school tricked me last year."
Oh, that was not cool. Dean obviously wasn't the only one who thought so.
"I'll take that," Murray said, plucking the bottle from her hand. She pouted but didn't argue.
"I tried," Dean said, giving her a consolatory pat on the shoulder.
On Colby's other side was Robbo. He was much different in a group situation. A lot quieter, but then that's probably why he was such a good cop, he was good at keeping his mouth shut and making observations. Hopefully, he was making some right now. To Robbo's right sat Jasmine, and that was going to get awkward at a rapid fucking rate. She obviously had the hots for him, and technically he was single. Murray and Raffy were the only ones, besides the three of them, who knew he was taken.
Dean nudged Colby and nodded his head towards her.
"Shit," Colby said under his breath.
"Yep," Dean agreed.
They all knew Jasmine had a bit of a crush on Robbo, but she was tipsy now, and looking like she was gonna act on it.
"Hey Aragorn," Colby whispered, leaning into Robbo. "What are you gonna do about Éowyn?"
"Huh?" Robbo frowned, then he saw Jasmine flutter her eyelashes. "Oh..."
Dean didn't exactly get the reference, but Robbo did. He wasn't obsessed like Colby, but he'd seen all the movies.
"I dunno. I don't wanna upset her on her birthday."
"Hey, what are you three whispering about?" Jasmine wondered, leaning into their conversation.
They all went silent. What could they say?
"Arwen!" Robbo blurted out.
"What?" she frowned.
"He means he's seeing someone," Raffy interjected.
"Is that true?" Jasmine asked, pulling back a little, searching his face.
"Uh, yeah," Robbo admitted because the cat was out of the bag now.
"Anyone I know?"
They were a team, they couldn't leave him to deal with this alone. Dean gave Colby a nudge and a nod.
"Me," Colby said, slipping his hand into Robbo's and giving it a squeeze. Robbo looked over at him and they shared a smile.
"You and Dean broke up?" Willow said with surprise.
"No," Dean answered, "we're still together."
"I don't get it," Jasmine said.
"For real?" Willow gaped, grasping the situation quicker than Jasmine.
"You mean..." Jasmine tailed off.
"They've got this adorable little ménage à trois thing going on," Raffy grinned. Really? How many more times was Dean going to be called adorable tonight?
"When did this happen?" Willow asked, intrigued now.
That was an interesting question. For Dean it had been when he'd seen what lengths Robbo would go to for them, and that he was willing to risk it all to protect them. He remained silent, interested to see what Colby or Robbo would say.
"When Ebony was around," Colby answered. "I did some stupid things and Robbo saved me. From myself mostly."
They were smiling at each other again.
"I just thought you were hot," Robbo joked.
"And you know how much that means to me," Colby returned, leaning in and pressing a kiss to Robbo's lips. It made Dean feel all warm inside. God, he loved them both so much.
"Get a room," Murray said, chucking a handful of beer caps at them.
"That's why you were so determined that day..." Jasmine realised.
"Yeah. When we heard Ebony was there, I knew in that moment I couldn't lose him."
"And where does Dean fit in?" she asked.
"Do we really wanna know?" Willow questioned.
"Yes!" Jasmine and Raffy countered.
"He's the filling in the sandwich," Colby grinned.
"Gross you guys," Willow laughed.
"Well I think I've heard more than enough," Murray said, attempting to stand up. Raffy grabbed his hand and pulled him back down.
"Wait," Jasmine frowned at Robbo. "So, you're gay? Cause I totally read that wrong."
"No," he shrugged. "I just love who I love."
Silence followed as everyone took a second to process that. It was such a simple yet powerful statement, said with utter surety.
"I know I should be upset right now," Jasmine offered, "but I'm actually kind of turned on."
The idea popped into Dean and Colby's heads at the exact same moment. They exchanged a look.
"Well it is your birthday..." Dean pointed out.
"Yeah," Colby agreed. "You could have anything you want..."
"Oh I like the sound of that," she grinned.
"Come on then," Robbo said, standing and helping her up. Dean and Colby got up too.
"Will, you coming?" Dean checked.
"Na," she laughed. "I'm good thanks."
"We'll see you guys later," Colby grinned.
"Later man," Murray said.
"Have fun," Raffy chimed, waving them off.
The four of them headed off to the flat and the best part about the whole thing for Dean was that he could finally get rid of these stupid clothes.
"I'm gonna head off," Willow announced. "See ya's."
"Goodnight," Raffy told her. Then it was just the two of them. She snuggled in tighter and Murray put his arm around her.
"Well," he said. "That took a turn."
"Maybe we shoulda joined them..." Raffy teased.
"Um, yeah, na. It's awkward enough working with Colby, knowing he's got two boyfriends."
"They're sweet together though..."
"I don't wanna think about it."
Neither did Raffy really, there was only one man for her. She just had one more comment to make before they moved onto more important things.
"How cute was Dean in that hobbit outfit though. Right?"
Her boyfriend might not have been into guys, but some things were universal.
"Yeah," he admitted. "I guess there's no arguing with that."