Wash had mixed feelings about Halloween.
The atmosphere of the holiday was something he could get behind, everything from the silliest of marshmallow peep ghosts to the horror of the most distressing films. He loved working the haunted house for kids shows and adult shows alike. He loved the costumes and trick-or-treating when he was still young enough to do so; he loved how eager the kids were and the freedom that came with pretending to be someone else for a while.
People, Wash knew, could be wonderful and generous and fun and kind.
He hated that people felt the need to be cruel and scare people who didn’t want to be scared or destroyed property or made it so shelters couldn’t adopt out black or white cats in October. Wash couldn’t stand people who used Halloween to bully small children or mocked people for their costumes of choice.
People, he also knew, could be complete assholes.
It wasn’t Halloween’s fault that people were dicks, Wash knew that, but Halloween was the trigger for the holiday clusterfuck of assholery that started in October and didn’t end until the third of January.
This was the first year he’d participated in a haunted house where he wasn’t an actor, and while he really enjoyed the scares, he enjoyed walking through as a creeper (to move the groups along) or as a hero (for when the shithead parents brought their kids through even when the kids were clearly too freaked to function) just as much. He’d volunteered to play security guard after last year’s chainsaw/gun pull fiasco that left a chunk of the actors rattled enough that they didn’t want to go, and he’d needed something to do to keep from thinking about the last Halloween he’d spent with his shitty ex-boyfriend.
It ended up being a perfect distraction.
During the two weeks of setup beforehand, Wash got to know everyone involved with the production that he didn’t know before (with only two people he wasn’t sure would work out and so far he was definitely right about Felix). The haunt itself was a hoot on top of it. He went through pretty regularly to take care of his actors, made sure that everyone behaved themselves, and generally had a good time. He’d had almost no problems, the worst being a group of college guys who were just sober enough to go through the house, but they needed someone with them to make sure they didn’t touch anything or accidentally hurt anyone.
He’d also managed to give himself the worst case of butterflies he’d ever had in his entire life toward two completely unattainable people he didn’t even properly know the names of.
Wash was painfully aware of how pathetic his feelings were. Tucker had teased him mercilessly after the couple and their adorable sons left the haunt for the second time, for not at least trying to get their numbers. ‘Even gay dads can enjoy threesomes!’, Tucker shouted across the parking lot as Wash ducked into his car to spend the night alone eating an entire bag of fun sized candy and watching Hocus Pocus on repeat, as one does when they are lonely and single near Halloween.
And yes, Wash was well aware that married people could enjoy a threesome every now and again, but that wasn’t what he was looking for. Not really. Not that he couldn’t enjoy a threesome with the hot dads, but he kind of wanted something that was actually meaningful. Something worth getting up in the morning for.
Wash groaned as he rolled himself out of bed. The haunt was a good time, especially the kids show, but it was also exhausting. Every muscle from his waist down grumbled unhappily as he pulled himself into a seated position. Walking on concrete floors without really effective footwear was not an intelligent decision, and one that his body would remind him about for days after.
It didn’t help that he hadn’t slept well. He’d spent the night tossing and turning, thinking all sorts of thoughts about strong hands holding his and mouths with gentle smiles, and it was killing him how much he wanted someone to just hold onto. He missed having someone in his life to come home to, someone to share the dark and the cold, someone to prove that he wasn’t floating alone in the universe.
Like a sign from the heavens, Wash’s phone chimed.
-Bitch, were you at the haunted house last night?-
He had a text message from South.
Wash yawned and shuffled out to the kitchen. His coffee pot was on a timer, thank god, and he had the instant gratification of piping hot caffeine in his cat head mug.
-Then it WAS you. My brother’s all squirmy on the couch, thinking about Captain America.-
Wash had never gotten to meet South’s brother, but he got the impression that the man was obnoxious and overbearing.
South sent him a picture.
-Snagged it from his hubby’s insta. You look good.-
There, in full smiling glory, were the hot dads, their boys, and Wash in uniform.
South grinned at York’s instagram, currently flooded with pictures of his kids in costume at the local haunted house.
“Look at those two, they’re fucking adorable!”
She waved North off and tossed her feet onto his lap.
“God, Delta’s super cute. I was worried about the Wonder Woman costume and kids being shitty, but it looks like he had a wicked good time!”
“We were there, South, nothing was going to happen.”
“You say that, but one shitty comment from one shitty person is all it’ll take, even if you’re there to be all reassuring and fatherly.”
A crash and some giggling from the back sent them both looking up. They could hear Delta calmly directing Theta to clean up the Lego mess he’d made. Theta was less than enamored with the idea, if the muffled sounds could be trusted, but eventually a slightly frustrated ‘Oh KAY!’ from Theta and the sound of Legos being dumped in a bin started.
Then the boys started laughing, so they were pretty sure everything was ok.
South smiled and pushed North with her foot.
“D’s a tough kid and you’ve raised him to take no shit. I love it.”
“I’m glad I have your approval.”
“You know what I didn’t approve though? Your new boy toy.”
“Captain America here. The one being all cuddly and snoodly with you, York, and the boys? Since when do you know Wash well enough to put your hands on him like you’re flirting?”
North felt his face heat up.
“Ah, that is…I…we…”
“Bro, save me the details. If it’s a one night stand, I’ll ignore it, won’t say a word.”
“We haven’t really gotten that far, yet.”
South sat up and shoved her face directly into North’s.
“Are you both flirting with him, or is it just you?”
“Why do you assume that it’s me flirting and not York?”
“You’re the one with your hand on his back in the pics.”
She flopped back over and started scrolling through pictures again.
“We liked him, and…well, we’re considering going back and giving him our contact info.”
The boys rushed into the room and jumped on top of South.
“God, North, you’re so ridiculous. Don’t bother with cornering him while he’s volunteering, I’ll get you your date.”
South started typing wildly on her phone, popping her gum in a non-stop rhythm of cracks and squeezing her nephews. North managed to rescue her from Theta’s bouncing, since he was the more excitable of the two boys.
-What are you doing today?-
That could mean anything in South language from ‘come over and make me pasta while I play video games’ to ‘come bail me out of jail for punching a man’s teeth in after he hit on my girlfriend’. It probably wasn’t the second one, since she was texting instead of calling,
He spooned cereal into his mouth and tapped a response.
-Sitting. Eating. Halloween movies and too much candy before the haunt. Why? What are you doing?-
-Setting you up on a date with my brother and his husband, they won’t stop gushing about you, and I’d be a terrible friend if I didn’t think about your happiness. You like kids, and they’re dumb but sweet. If you complain enough, York’ll even rub your feet.-
Wash could feel his face heat as he poured himself a bowl of cereal.
He’d thought that Blond Hot Dad looked familiar, but now that he was clear headed, it made complete sense that he was related to South. They had the same smile.
This is a bad idea.
-This is a bad idea, South.-
-It’s a GREAT idea, shut up. They think you’re cute, just accept that you’re going on a date.-
-South, I am not going on a date with a married couple.-
-What if they bring the boys? You like kids.-
“He’s free today.”
North threw the giggling Theta over his shoulder.
“Captain America. Wash is free today. I’m asking him out for you, thank me later.”
Delta bounced on South stomach and Theta let out a delighted squeal directly into North’s ear. York came around the corner, drying his hands on a dish towel.
“Did someone say we’re getting a date with Wash? How did you arrange that?”
South popped her gum.
“He’s friends with Kai’s brother and his friends, which means he’s my friend by association. Take the kids with you and make it a lunch and park date, he’s a sucker for kids and it’ll turn down the pressure. Boys, you wanna have lunch with Wash?”
Theta and Delta cheered, and any hope of redirecting or taking over this conversation was lost.
Wash looked down at his phone as he slipped into the restaurant, incredibly nervous about all this hoop rah. Here he was, potentially ruining the joy of his favorite restaurant by inviting strangers and running the risk of being stood up or having a terrible time.
A message pinged from South, and when he opened it there was a picture of North and York bundling their boys into a familiar car.
Off to Main Street to meet their man! Declared the message.
He couldn’t help but grin. South knew him too well.
Matthews dropped off a glass of water at the table and grinned when Wash showed him the picture. He pulled out kid’s seats for the two shorter members of the party, joking that Wash’s dates were adorable, but a little short.
Pho of the New Republic was a little hole in the wall tucked into an older shopping plaza, with green curtains in the windows and a neon open sign flashing. It didn’t look like much, a tiny sign painted in the window was the only outside indicator that the place was even a restaurant. It was Wash’s favorite place in town, partially for the anonymity and partially because he knew and liked all the employees.
The place was only a little busy, the hour after the lunch rush tended to be fairly mild, so Wash got to talk to his anxious young friend for a few minutes while he waited.
Wash saw York push the door open as North herded the two boys inside from behind. They looked good, the four of them, a perfectly picturesque family going out to eat on a cold day. Delta and Theta slipped from between their fathers and dashed forward and slammed themselves into Wash for a hug. He leaned over while still sitting and gave them a quick squeeze.
North and York wandered over with matching smiles on their faces. Matthews laid out menus and stepped away to give them a few moments to get themselves together.
York and North both grinned back.
“Hi there, hope you weren’t waiting long.”
“Not at all, your sister let me know you were on the way.”
They sat down and got the boys settled, and Wash’s heart started to race. He didn’t have anything to talk about. He couldn’t think of a single thing to say.
Then Matthews came back out. He put the water on the table, and had even made sure that Delta and Theta had kids cups with lids and different colored straws so they could be told apart.
“Matthews, this is North, York, Delta, and Theta. Everyone, this is Matthews.”
“It’s always a pleasure to meet friends of Agent Washington’s. Welcome to Pho of the New Republic! Can I get you all started with anything?”
They ordered drinks, all non-alcoholic in deference to the date and the children, and Wash insisted on lumpia and spring rolls to start. Something easy to eat, that wouldn’t be too distracting. He…may have thought too hard about this date.
Was it showing? He hoped to god it wasn’t showing.
“Ok, I have to ask, we’ve now heard at least three people refer to you as ‘agent’. What’s up with that?”
“It’s…a long story. You met Caboose at the spookhouse, he was the one in space marine armor. When we met he decided that I was a secret agent for some top-secret government program, which is better than Kai’s suspicion that I’m a cop. I don’t bother fighting it, and it caught on with all of our mutual friends and acquaintances. It’s kind of a running gag now.”
They ordered, chow mein, pho, and curry for the adults, and orange chicken for the boys. They all stole bites off of each other’s plates and bowls and the adults flirted their way through dessert. It was a nice date, light and easy and fun, helped along by the exuberant children.
The boys were adorable, both vying for Wash’s attention, and they did so in the best of ways. Instead of getting frustrated at each other for interrupting, they made it a point to interject over their fathers, leaving both men scrambling to get back on track after Theta cheerily announced that his favorite color was purple and Delta decided to tell them the history of purple fabric, ending the lesson with—
“And my favorite color is green.”
Wash couldn’t stop smiling.
They cleared the plates and paid the bill, all the while Bitters, Jensen, Palomo, Matthews, and Andersmith kept poking their heads out and sneaking up to the table ‘to check in on them’, before running back to the kitchen to giggle with one another. Wash found himself tucked into North’s side while they paid and York adjusted Theta’s jacket.
North let out a contented sigh and draped his arm across Wash’s shoulders.
“Well, now you don’t have a choice but to go out with us again. It would be too awkward to invade your favorite restaurant on a regular basis without you, and I think I might be in love with this place.”
“Yeah, it’s something else. When it’s hot out, the chow mein’s my favorite, but the weather is finally cool enough that curry just sounded amazing.”
They crossed the busy street to the park just down the way and let the boys loose. They wanted to play with Wash at first, demanding he run around, climb the monkey bars, and push them both on the swings. Eventually, other kids came along and the two ran off to play with them long enough for Wash to collapse on a bench with York and North.
“They are really energetic. I don’t know how you keep up.”
York grinned and dropped his head on Wash’s shoulder.
“It helps that I get to play stay at home dad thanks to the eye. Disability doesn’t pay much, but I get to raise our kids right, and when they’re both in school, I’ll start working part time again and work my way up.”
“Oh, already planning to leave me without my house husband at home to do the laundry, huh? How cruel.”
They all shared a good laugh and Wash thought about what that must be like. To have a partnership, a home to come home to at the end of the day when his legs screamed from being on his feet, and to be able to share the kind of intimacy these two had.
It was a nice dream, if unrealistic.
“What are you two looking for?”
He hadn’t meant to be so blunt.
North and York shared a look, one that spoke volumes if only Wash could understand the language. He found himself thinking about how much he really wanted to be able to understand it.
“Well, to be perfectly honest,” North reached over and squeezed Wash’s wrist gently, “We like you. We’re hoping you feel the same. We’d like to get to know you better in a romantic sense, and see where it goes from there.”
York snuggled into Wash’s side.
“We’re in strong financial shape and we have a system and we’re not just bored with out sex lives or something like that. We like you, and I’m kind of hoping you like us enough to consider dating two old fogies who already have kids. South tells me that’s a huge turn off to ‘sexy, young gays’ like yourself.”
Wash laughed, and North reached over and gave Wash a squeeze.
“But there’s no pressure. If you’d rather just be friends, we’ll be ok with that, and the boys will be ecstatic. Friends get to come over on Saturday morning for pancakes and cartoons, which is kind of the best thing ever right now.”
Warm fuzzies started to swirl in Wash’s stomach.
“Saturday morning cartoons are still a thing?”
“Not as much as they used to be, now that streaming is widely available, but we make an effort to make it special.”
“There’s no pressure. If you’re not comfortable dating a married couple, and I know that’s a problem for some people, that’s ok. We understand. You don’t have to decide right away, and we’ll respect whatever decision you make.”
“We just like you.”
Wash felt the butterflies fluttering in his stomach start to have a full on dance party.
“I think I like you both, too. This isn’t weird? I mean, we’ve literally met twice and both times it was with your kids. What if we don’t like each other when they’re not around?”
“Well, we’ll just have to hang out until we get along. I see no problems with this plan.”
“Uh oh, looks like Theta’s getting himself worked up.”
North stood and whistled loudly, sending the two boys careening toward them. Theta crashed into North’s legs and let out a loud whining noise.
“I know, Buddy. Nap time. You need to be well rested for trick or treating tonight.”
Wash felt extremely disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to participate in taking Theta and Delta around for trick or treating. The boys were so adorable he could hardly stand it, and he wanted to spend all his time with the four.
Theta demanded Wash carry him to the car and Delta pouted about it until Wash moved Theta to one arm and hefted Delta up with the other. The two boys ended up heavy enough that his arms were aching by the time they got back to their cars, but it was worth it.
York strapped both boys into the back seat while North gently grabbed one of Wash’s hands and pulled him in close, like he was afraid Wash was about to bolt now that he wasn’t weighted down with seventy pounds of child.
“Would you be willing to see us again?”
What could he say?
Wash nodded, eager and joyed.
“I would love to. I’m working the haunt tonight and Halloween is all hands-on deck, but…after that?”
York beamed and bounced himself out of the backseat.
“Sure. Why don’t you swing by once the place locks up for the night? The boys will be in bed, but we can get some food into you.”
Wash’s heart leapt into his throat. He hadn’t meant to make them take care of him right after their first date!
“Oh, no, you don’t need to do that. It’s going to be super late, we don’t close until eleven and we will be tearing down until midnight. I’m sure you have work in the morning and stuff.”
“Well, I don’t have work in the morning, normally we take the first off and do movie marathons until November. We may have to get up early, but that’s just because the sprogs will be hungry and we like to keep them to a schedule. Usually the day after Halloween is just a big cuddle pile at our house. Send us a message when you lock up and we’ll feed you. How do you feel about pizza? Normally we’d do something a little more special, but it’s tradition in our family.”
“You really don’t have to.”
North gave Wash’s still captured hand a gentle squeeze.
“We actually used to work for a haunt back in the day. Halloween was the worst for breaks, but the day before is a close second. You’ll be hungry. Let us take care of you.”
“If it makes you feel better, South and her girlfriend will be there, too.”
“Well, if that’s the case, count me in.”
Wash drove to the haunted house, floating on cloud nine. He didn’t care that half the people who saw him were laughing. Agent David ‘Someone Get This Guy A Social Life’ Washington had a date.
On Halloween night.
With two incredibly handsome men and their adorable sons.
Tucker tossed Wash’s Captain America shield at him, smirking all the while.
“Come on, Wash, get changed. We’ve got some drunk college kids to scare.”