Actions

Work Header

this is sappy (but it's true)

Chapter Text

There’s a new dish towel hanging from Nico’s stove. Levi only notices because it’s the third night that week he’s cooked in there with Nico, and there was a different towel yesterday. The new one is dark blue, with a goldenrod stitching, and it says In this kitchen we laugh. A small heart in the same color is stitched under it.

“You spent your day off going shopping for novelty linens?” Levi teases, using it to wipe his hands after he’s washed them, then going over the the vegetables waiting for him on the cutting board.  

Nico looks up from where he’s placing the lemon-and-thyme chicken breasts Levi started marinating that morning into a casserole dish. Shrugs, smiles with no shame.

“I saw it while I was out and it made me think of you. I thought you’d like it.”

Levi’s heart thumps hard against his ribs, breath leaving him for a moment. He forces himself to roll his eyes. “You bought me a dish towel for your kitchen.”

“I bought you a dish towel for my kitchen,” Nico agrees, smile getting bigger, softer. Levi’s eyes widen as they meet his, his hand setting down the knife he’s only just picked up. “So, you like it?”

A month. They’ve been doing this a month. Exactly a month, Levi realizes, biting his bottom lip for a moment.

“You’re so…” Nico’s smile somehow softens even, and Levi huffs, returning the look with a fond grin of his own, “cheesy.”

Nico laughs, reaching for Levi, grabbing him by his hips and pulling him at the same moment that has Levi winding his arms around Nico’s neck and pushing up for a kiss.

Still laughing, just a little.

Chapter Text

Nico takes a deep breath, adjusts the collar of his leather jacket, resists the urge to touch his hair. It’d only get messed up, and he spent a lot of time on it that morning. Another deep breath, he raises his hand to rap his knuckles on the door.

It opens before they can connect. “Nico!”

Levi is beaming at him. No glasses, which is becoming the norm. Nico allows his eyes to wander, from Levi’s hair, shiny, combed neatly--that will last about three seconds--to tidied stubble, down to Levi’s pale green button up, tan jacket, skinny jeans. His brain short-circuits for a second there because Levi’s ass is already pretty spectacular in scrubs, so seeing it in skinny jeans is undoubtedly going to make Nico’s plans to keep his hands to himself pretty close to impossible.

Speak, he reminds himself when he’s met Levi’s eyes again. He gives Levi a smile. “You look really good.”

Levi flushes, grinning back in a small, pleased way. “Hey yourself,” he says lightly, taps Nico’s chest as he steps out of the house, closing the door behind him. “You look nice too.”

Even though they’re going to his car, Nico finds himself trailing after Levi as he strides towards it with the confidence of someone who knows where they’re supposed to be going. Nico was right, his ass is distractingly amazing in those jeans. He unlocks the car with the press of a button and Levi slides right into the passenger’s seat before Nico’s even reached it.

Normally, when they’re doing this, it’s after a shift, heading back to Nico’s place for a night of a lot less sleep than either of them really need. It’s eleven in the morning, now, and Nico’s place isn’t on the itinerary.

They sit in silence, once Nico is in the car, buckled, key dangling in the ignition. Nico wants to say something, but he isn’t sure what. Levi’s fingers are flying, tugging at the seam of his jeans, twisting together. Finally he blurts, “So, where are we going?”

“Uh, brunch.” Nico starts the car. Levi fidgets again, fingers drumming on his knees. He leans forward, switches on the radio, changes station a few times before settling on some nineties soft rock song.

Nico turns the volume down a little, but otherwise does nothing. The tension in his shoulders is starting to creep up the base of his skull.

“Um, why couldn’t I spend the night?”

Nico’s half-been expecting this since he gently told Levi he was planning on going home alone when they’d had lunch together yesterday. His fingers tighten on the steering wheel.

“If you spent the night,” Nico says slowly, “we would have had sex, last night and probably this morning. We might not even have left the apartment.”

“I don’t see the problem,” Levi quips, shooting Nico a smile that is more dorky than coy, but still tugs at Nico’s dick.

“I wanted to do something other than have sex.” Nico tries to sound as casual as possible, but his heart is pounding in his ears, so loud he can’t even hear what song is playing. “I want...more than sex.”

Levi is quiet for so long that when he makes a noise, Nico jumps a little. It’s a soft breath, no words, and then there is a gentle press of fingertips on Nico’s knee.

Nico drops his hand to cover Levi’s, darting a glance at him. Apparently, that’s the cue Levi’s been waiting for.

“Normally I spend my days off in my pajamas, eating too much junk food and yelling at my text books. It’s good that we’re going out.”

It’s just so Levi--oversharing, but honest and unashamed--that Nico huffs out a laugh. “I think you’ll like what I’ve got planned.”

The tension is fading now, Nico’s shoulders relaxing. Levi flips his palm over, wiggles their fingers together and gives his hand a squeeze.

Chapter Text

“Hey.”

Levi glances up from Natasha’s chart, eyes brightening as Nico leans against the wall next to him, shoulders back, ankles crossed. Hands shoved in the pockets of his lab coat.

“Hey.” After their brief conversation the night before, Levi had been busy with his patient, and Nico’s lunch break had ended before they could talk more. Levi’s shift is almost over, though, so he’s not surprised Nico found him again. “I was just thinking I’m going to use your poorly hidden spare key to break into your apartment in,” he checks the clock on the wall, “an hour.”

The look Nico gives him makes Levi wish he could drag him off somewhere. He clutches his chart to his chest, fingers tapping the edges, so that he doesn’t do just that. He does take move closer, though, just as Nico pushes off the wall to saunter forward a few steps. They end up standing in each other’s space, so close Levi has to tip his head back to meet Nico’s eyes. He’s got that little smile that makes Levi’s stomach flip on his face.

“It’d be nice to come home to you.”

Levi still isn’t used to someone saying things like that to him. His brain shorts, and his mouth says, “You know I’m a sure thing, right?”

“That doesn’t mean I have to take you for granted. In fact,” Nico glances around, leans in a little so that he can whisper his next words against the shell of Levi’s ear, making him shiver, “I came down here to ask how you’d like to go to a New Year’s Eve party at the Chief’s?” When Nico pulls back his grin is wider, a little smug. “Navy blue scrubs only, you’d be the only intern.”

It’s the kind of offer that makes Levi’s mouth drop open for a second. Not just because Nico inviting him, of all people, to that kind of party, where there are people there Nico wants and kind of needs to impress, makes his heart stutter, but because, well.

Those are people Levi wants and kind of needs to impress too. A night like that would be just as important for Levi, especially so close to his exams, and Nico knows it.

So he really hates that he has to say “I can’t” and watch Nico’s face fall. “I’m supposed to be here that night, watching Natasha and the other patients.”

“Of course,” Nico says on a sigh, nodding his understanding. Which is the benefit of dating a fellow. They’ve both canceled more dates than actually gone on them, and they both understand why.

It’s frustrating, but the time with Nico is always worth the wait. Always.

“I’m sorry. I really wish I could. You should send me pictures.”

“Well, I don’t want to go without you.”

Levi’s heart does that stupid flip again, because Nico says stuff like that so casually, like it’s not a big deal that he’s giving Levi everything he’s ever wanted with such simple words.

“That’s ridiculous. It’s a great opportunity. Doctor Lincoln will be there, you can schmooze with the Chief…it’ll be fun.”

Nico shrugs. “Maybe I’ll just hang out here with you.”

“Nico,” Levi laughs. “You do not need to give up your night off, on New Year’s Eve, to hang out in the ICU of the hospital where you work with me.”

“I want to spend my New Year’s Eve with my boyfriend,” Nico says firmly, if quietly. He glances around, making sure nobody is there. “I want to kiss you at midnight,” he declares, bold when he realizes they’re alone. The nurse is on her break, and Garrett is too wrapped up in Natasha to notice them at all.

He lifts a hand to cup Levi’s face, kisses him just long enough that Levi’s eyes flutter close and his lips start to part. Then Nico pulls back. “We’ll talk about it more at home,” he says, then turns and leaves.

Leaves Levi standing there, heart racing, knees like pudding, wondering how much longer he can keep himself from saying he loves him.

Chapter Text

Levi knows it took him a little bit longer than ideal to get to the on call room after Nico’s text. Being told, “Let me finish this post-op–I’m almost done,” still feels a little harsh, though. Pouting isn’t doing any good, either; Nico is pointedly not looking in Levi’s direction.

Well, if he’s learned anything during his relationship with Nico, it’s how to play dirty when he wants attention.

Resting his hands on Nico’s shoulders, Levi leans down to press his lips to the soft spot just below Nico’s earlobe. Nico pauses, throat bobbing, and then his hand is moving again. Levi nuzzles Nico’s throat, dragging his stubble over smooth skin. Smirks when his boyfriend shudders.

It’d taken awhile to accept the effect he had on Nico, but now Levi finds the knowledge heady, powerful.

Levi keeps his kisses light and teasing as his mouth slides down Nico’s throat, arms wrapping around Nico to pluck that pesky post-op out of his now still hands. Nico’s chest is moving quickly.

Straightening, Levi steps back to set it down, then plops himself into Nico’s lap, tangling his fingers into thick black hair. Nico huffs, smiles.

“Want something?”

“Yeah,” Levi leans in to finally claim a proper kiss. “You.”

Chapter Text

They were supposed to have gotten off of their respective shifts within half an hour of each other. Working at a hospital, unfortunately, meant that often supposed to became didn’t. With Doctor Lincoln in a surgery with the Chief, the young woman who came in with a dislocated shoulder fifteen minutes before the end of Nico’s shift was his problem.

Normally a dislocated shoulder wouldn’t take more than an hour, but the x-rays came back showing a fracture in her rotator cuff caused by the dislocation, which complicated the process. Situations like that one were the reason Levi kept Nico’s spare key with him, though. When Nico finally opened his apartment door, three hours later than planned, Levi was passed out on his couch, wrapped up in the quilted throw he’d dragged over there a month into their relationship. Nico smiled, small, reflecting the warmth softening the edges of his chest. Moving close to silently, Nico shut the door behind him, toed out of his shoes, shrugged off his jacket. Padded over to the couch and carefully removed Levi’s glasses, set them on the coffee table.

At least he’d remembered to take his contacts out first. The switch was an adjustment.

Levi stirred when Nico picked up the remote, turned off the television.

“Nico?”

“Yeah, babe?” Speaking hushed, for some reason. Not wanting to ruin the softness of the moment, maybe. Nico settled on the arm of the couch. Sitting up a little, Levi yawned.

“Time'sit?”

“After midnight.”

Levi sat up a little more, enough that Nico could slide off the arm of the couch and into the space where Levi’s head had been. Leaning against Nico’s chest, Levi tilted his face up for a kiss.

He tasted like barbecue sauce, a hint of spice, heat. Nico cupped his jaw in one palm, coaxing Levi’s mouth open by sliding his tongue along his bottom lip. Levi made a small, needy noise that went straight to Nico’s dick, and with a flurry of limbs climbed into his lap.

“Mm,” Levi hummed when he broke the kiss, just as Nico’s lungs were starting to feel tight. He stayed close, their noses bumping, lips brushing when Levi sighed, sending electricity skittering down Nico’s spine. “Hi. Sorry I fell asleep.” The words, whispered between them, were an incantation, casting a bubble of intimacy around them.

Levi’s eyes were still closed. Up close, it meant Nico could count every lash, and Levi wouldn’t get flustered from the attention.

“Awake or asleep,” Nico murmured back, arms tightening around Levi, “I like coming home to you.”

Nudging forward, Nico pressed their mouths together again to show Levi just how much.

Chapter Text

Levi has seen Nico in a suit many times during their relationship. Nico in a suit causes shortness of breath, increased heart rate, sweaty palms and weak knees. As far as side effects go, totally worth it to get to be the one taking Nico out of his suit.

Nico in a tux, though, that’s…that’s something else. It’s devastating–something inside Levi is quaking.

Or maybe it’s why Nico is in the tux, the glint of the ring on his finger when the light catches it, that has Levi’s stomach swooping.

As soon as the door to Rabbi Blum’s study closes, Levi has Nico pressed against it, is on his tiptoes to bite at Nico’s bottom lip.

“You look so good,” he whines against his mouth, fingers gripping the lapels of his tuxedo coat, scrambling upwards to curl around the back of Nico’s neck, slide up into his hair. Nails scratching over his scalp; he nearly knocks off Nico’s kippah, sends a silent prayer for forgiveness.

With the way Nico’s chest presses against Levi’s with every quick, sharp breath, so close he can feel the rumble of laughter that bubbles against his lips seconds later, he thinks it’s understandable.

Nico’s hands, big, warm, slide down his back to cup Levi’s ass. Lift, even as he staggers away from the door. Levi’s legs wrap around his waist with practiced ease, but Nico takes all of one step before he pauses, breaking their kiss.

“Should, uh, we be doing this in here?”

Levi cups Nico’s face tenderly between his palms, smiling fondly down at him. It turns into a smirk.

“Door locks,” he murmurs, an old hole between them, “and we’ve got about twenty minutes before we have to go out there and face two hundred Jewish or Korean relatives, and all of our co-workers.

Nico has him pressed up against a wall before Levi is finished, surging forward for another desperate kiss. “Good point,” he says, or Levi thinks that’s what he’s trying to say, but he refuses to stop sucking on Levi’s tongue, which is making his hips twitch.

He pushes at Nico’s shoulders until his husband–husband!–stumbles backwards, still clutching at Levi. He knocks into a lamp, nearly sends it crashing. Somehow, Levi catches it.

“Careful.” Breaking Rabbi Blum’s lamp in the throes of passion is probably less forgivable.

Nico grunts in response; seconds later, he’s turning them and pressing Levi down onto the desk. His mouth starts down Levi’s throat, pauses.

“Twenty minutes?” He checks, breathing the words against the crook of his jaw. Levi squirms under him impatiently.

“Yes, so hurry up.

They’re a little late, getting to the reception. No one mentions it.

At least not until after their first dance.

Chapter Text

Nico works hard at pretty much everything he decides to do. It’s something Levi actually adores about him, his utter dedication to the things he’s serious about. One of those things is Levi, so Levi will never complain about Nico’s dedication.

Well. Almost never. Because another one of the things Nico takes seriously is keeping himself in shape. By which, of course, Levi means so fit that Homer would have made Nico the cause of the war with Troy if he’d seen him. Which Levi appreciates. Levi really, really appreciates Nico’s dedication to staying so…Adonian. Levi gets to touch those muscles pretty much whenever he wants, of course he appreciates them.

Levi even appreciates watching Nico be dedicated. He gets all sweaty, and the way Nico moves never fails to make Levi feel hot all over.

What Levi does not appreciate is being abandoned before seven in the morning on their very rare shared day off for Nico’s dedication to anything other than him.

With his hands wrapped around a mug of coffee, Levi watches his boyfriend finish up his seventy-fifth push-up and roll over onto his back. He grins up at where Levi is sitting on the yellow, floral eyesore Nico calls a couch. Levi raises one eyebrow.

“We could be in bed.”

“I’m gonna take a shower after this.” Nico waggles his eyebrows. Levi rolls his eyes, takes a sip of coffee. The shower sounds promising, but Levi’s not going to admit it. “You hold my feet, I’ll get done quicker.” Nico wiggles his toes. “I’m wearing socks.”

Levi rolls his eyes again. Still, he sets his cup down, gets on the floor with his knees on Nico’s feet, elbows on his knees.

Nico gets ready with his hands behind his head, the pauses. “You gonna pout at me the whole time?”

“I’m feeling very put upon.”

Nico chuckles, shaking his head. Sits up. That’s one, at least. “Poor baby.”

“Nico…” Levi whines it, just a little. “It’s our day off.”

His next sit up, Nico pushes up further, a little grunt leaving him. His lips meet Levi’s for the briefest of touches before falling back again.

Levi tries to follow and nearly tips over on top of Nico. Righting himself, he sighs.

Nico does it again. This time, Levi doesn’t try to follow the kiss when he breaks it.

The third time, Nico’s kiss lingers. One hand curls around Levi’s jaw. “Stop pouting.”

“No.” When Nico pulls away, Levi pouts harder.

Instead of coming up for another sit up, Nico lies on his back, arms folded behind his head. Beams up at Levi, eyes warm and soft and fond. Levi’s heart stutters.

“Alright,” Nico chuckles, spreads his arms out. “Come here.”

Levi tackles him.

Chapter Text

It’s too much, sometimes. The emotions that well up in Levi when they’re like this, when he and Nico are stripped down to their underwear, legs tangled, arms wrapped around each other–it’s all too much. Levi’s heart feels like it’s expanding, chest warm, soft, as Nico rolls him over, kissing his temple, his cheek. The tender lobe of his ear, before taking it between his teeth, sucking. Levi’s whole body shudders: scalp, spine, knees and toes.

“You’re so gorgeous,” Nico murmurs, voice low, deep in that way it gets just for Levi, warm against Levi’s ear. He has to close his eyes. It’s too much, it–

“Hey.”

Levi blinks his eyes open, staring hastily up at Nico, whose smile is tinged with worry. “You okay?”

Untangling his arms from around Nico’s neck, Levi slides his hands up his throat, cradling his jaw. Brushes his thumb over Nico’s kiss-swollen bottom lip, breathes out. Nico’s hair is soft, falling into eyes that have gone dark, intense. Just for Levi.

“Baby?” Nico whispers. Levi rubs his thumb over his bottom lip again, a little more firmly.

“I love you,” he mumbles, words popping out before he can stop them, eyes meeting Nico’s even though it makes his stomach flip, his fingers shake. Pressing his thumb to the corner of Nico’s mouth, he leans up, kisses him. Soft. “I love you.”

Nico’s face does something complicated and quick, lips parting and brows furrowing. “I love you too.”

Levi smiles, small. Shaky. Arms wrapping around Nico once more, Levi pulls him back down.

Chapter Text

Levi is on him as soon as the door to the storage closet is closed. It’s the closest room to where Natasha has been for the last few months that can offer them privacy, although the overwhelming smell of chemical cleaners makes it less than idea for sneaking in make outs. Levi seems determined, though, desperate in the scrape of his teeth over Nico’s bottom lip, the way his fingers dig into the meat of Nico’s shoulders.

He’s shaking. Nico breaks the kiss. Absolutely does not give in and duck his head again when Levi whines and tries to chase his mouth. Uses his hands on Levi’s hips to gently push him back.

“Hey.” He says it softly, searching Levi’s eyes. Or trying to; Levi won’t meet his gaze, even when Nico lowers himself to make it easier. “Levi.”

He takes a shuddering, painful-sounding breath. Shakes his head, his fingers tightening in Nico’s scrub shirt.

Nico slides his hands around to spread them over Levi’s back, pulling him in closer, tight. “Levi,” he murmurs again, pressing the word to his ear. Levi presses his forehead to Nico’s sternum, holding alarmingly still.

“She’s dying,” he finally whispers. “Natasha–Nico, I don’t think she’s going to get better. I don’t think we can save her.”

Ah. Nico swallows, throat thick. “No.” It’s something everyone else has already figured out, even if none of them are saying it.

Levi is saying it, because Levi is feeling it, still new. That raw, cracked open, helpless feeling. Wondering what the point was even going into medicine if everyone can’t be saved.

Nico remembers it, because it never really goes away. It just gets easier to cope.

“It’s so unfair,” Levi continues, voice hitching. “They found each other, even though they both… They finally found each other and their lives should have…” Levi takes another breath, deeper, only slightly wobbly.

Nico watches the top of his head, waits.

“What’s the point of finding that person if there’s no guarantee that you get to keep them?”

Nico lets out a slow exhale of his own. Shakes his head slightly. “Life’s uncertain. All we can do is be grateful for what we have in the moment.”

“So that it can be ripped away later, when it hurts more?”

Another exhale. Nico moves a hand to cup Levi’s jaw, tilt it up. Forcing him to meet Nico’s eyes.

“At least they found each other. Some people don’t even get that.”

“You mean like Nisha.” Levi starts to pull away, and Nico tightens the arm around his waist. “Who never got to be in love. Maybe that was better.”

“Levi…” It’s not. Nico knows it’s not, because he can’t imagine dying without ever having felt the way he feels for Levi, as anything other than a tragedy. Even if it doesn’t last.

“I don’t–I feel too much for you.”

“Levi.”

“I just found you and I never thought I would, and what if… Something happens? Something awful?”

“I can’t promise you that it won’t. But I’m not going anywhere unless it does. That I can promise.”

Levi stares up at him. Eases his grip on Nico’s shirt, slides his hands up. Fingertips brushing over the nape of Nico’s neck before they bury themselves in his hair.

“I promise too,” he whispers, studying Nico’s face. Then his fingers are scratching over his scalp, tightening. Pulling Nico down, rough, for another kiss, biting into his mouth.

Nico hauls him closer, and hopes that whatever their future has in store for them, it never leaves Levi as crushed as he is now.

Chapter Text

“I need your help.”

Taryn slams her locker shut and leans against it, raising one eyebrow at Levi where he’s straddling the bench.

“With what?”

Levi opens his mouth, closes it again. Wrinkles his forehead, sighs. His shoulders slump a little. “I have a date tonight.”

“With Doctor Kim.”

Again, Levi looks conflicted. Still, after a few seconds, he nods. “With Doctor Kim.”

“Is it actually a date this time?”

Flushing slightly, Levi clears his throat. Straightens again, narrowing his eyes at Taryn just a little behind his glasses. “That was a misunderstanding.”

“So last time was a date too.” Taryn grins. Pleased, maybe a bit teasing. “Told you so.”

Levi glares at her.

“So what’s the problem? You and Kim have been banging all over the hospital for the past couple of weeks.”

“You know?”

Taryn snorts. “Levi.”

“Fine!” Levi throws his hands up. “Fine! That’s the–” He starts to explain loudly, just as the door to the locker room opens and another intern walks in, heads to her locker to change. Continues quieter, leaning in towards Taryn to whisper. Well, as much as Levi can whisper. “That’s the problem. We’ve been having sex. At the hospital. And once in his car when he drove me home. This is a date. Like, go out. Sit down. Have a meal together and talk.”

Taryn shoves off her locker, sits down next to Levi and turns to face him a little better, quirking her brows and smiling a little. “And the problem?”

“The problem is the talking. What if I ruin things and he changes his mind?”

“Are you telling me that despite all the sex you have been having, he’s never heard you talk?”

“No, he has.” Levi is twisting his fingers together. When he stops, it’s to pick at the seam at the bottom of his scrub top.

“So?”

“So I told him that kissing him was like holding the sun sword!” Levi’s outburst makes Taryn lean back a little.

“Okay, I really feel like there are a lot of details I’m missing, here. I’m a little hurt.” Levi doesn’t smile. Taryn pushes on. “What did he do when you confessed in the nerdiest way possible?”

“He kissed me. And not just to shut me up.”

“And now he wants to take you on a date. Levi,” Taryn shakes her head slightly. “Doctor Kim likes you.”

“But why, though?” Levi whines. “I don’t–I’ve never understood the why.”

“Do you like him?”

“So much,” Levi blurts out.

“Then does it matter why he likes you too? He sees something in you he thinks is special.”

Levi considers this. “So you’re saying I should just… Accept it. And be myself.”

Taryn smacks his forehead lightly. “Yeah, dumbass. That’s what I’m saying. Levi Schmitt is a pretty cool dude, when he isn’t letting his own doubts trip him up.”

She stands, groaning softly at the way her knees creak. “And now I’m going home. I just worked eighteen hours, I want to sleep.”

“Drive safely. Text when you get home so that I know you made it.”

“Okay, Dad,” Taryn chuckles, shakes her head. Fond. With her hand on the door, she pauses. Looks back at Levi. “I want details tomorrow. All of them.” She pauses. “Don’t wear blue.”

“I look good in blue!”

“Your scrubs are blue. This isn’t a hospital hook up, it’s a date out in the real world. Don’t wear blue.”

Levi considers this, nods. “No blue.”

“Crisis averted?”

A little smile. “Yeah. Thanks.”

Taryn nods, and leaves the room. Her bed is calling her name.

Chapter Text

“We’re going to be late.” Levi drummed his fingers against the dashboard of Nico’s car, sighing for the third time in as many minutes. Minutes in which the traffic they were stuck in hadn’t budged an inch. No, a centimeter. A centimeter sounded more dramatic.

Nico smiled a little, taking his eyes off of the road long enough to glance at Levi. “We’re only going to be late because we took too long in the shower.”

“Taking a shower together was your idea.”

“Maybe I just wanted to wash your hair.” Nico’s smile got a bigger, broader, his voice lilting playfully.

Levi’s response was a disbelieving snort. “You did not.”

“No, I didn’t.” Nico chuckled, turning to face the road again. His hands squeezed the steering wheel, fingers flexing. “Hey, call the hospital and let them know we’re on the way?”

Nodding, Levi pulled his phone out of his pocket, dialing the familiar number and holding it up to his ear. Nico reached for the radio, Levi stopping him with a hand on his wrist, using his shoulder to hold the ringing cell to his ear.

“Oh. Don’t put the news on. I want to finish my podcast from earlier.”

“You can finish your podcast later. The news is right now.”

“And also from eight to ten tonight.”

“Yeah, and by then all this morning’s stories will be old news.” Nico glanced at Levi again, eyebrows up, frowning slightly. Levi rolled his eyes, hanging up when the call just kept ringing. He called Bailey next, chewing on his bottom lip as he dialed.  

“If I don’t finish this episode of Welcome to Nightvale, Dahlia and I will have nothing to talk about in the locker room.” No answer. Levi hung up, decided to try Taryn and just ask her to let someone know.

Nico sighed. “Talk to Qadri about the news. Did you get through to anyone?”

“Not yet. Nico, just–is that a siren?” Levi slowly lowered his phone, eyes widening as he looked at Nico, who nodded, expression going serious.

“It definitely is.”

“Turn on the news.”

“Ha!”

“This doesn’t mean you’ve won,” Levi declared, narrowing his eyes slightly.  

“Doesn’t it?” On the radio, the newscaster was talking about a five car pileup about a mile ahead of them. Levi was unbuckling before they got to the part about a car with children in it being run off the road. One kid was still missing. Nico killed the engine, pulled the keys. Grabbed his messenger bag from the back. Levi twisted around to grab his backpack, reply muffled.

“No, it does not.”

“Okay, babe. We can argue about why I won and what my prize is later. Let’s go help save some lives.” Nico got out of the car, Levi scrambling after him and rounding the front of his car to take his boyfriend’s hand.

Gave it a squeeze. “Be safe?”

Nico looked down at him. Reached up with his free hand to cup his face, lean down and press a quick, soft kiss to his mouth. “You too.”

Another squeeze, and then they both let go and took off running towards the accident.

Chapter Text

The sinking sun has dropped the temperature low enough that most of the earlier crowd abandoned the beach. Only a few people seem determined to stick it out. The really crazy ones are the ones just showing up. Levi is in a thick sweater and thicker socks–which are now full of sand–with a jacket over that, and is still shivering the second he gets out of the car; Nico seems unaffected, doesn’t bother with even a second layer over his thin, long-sleeved shirt.

“It’s like the sky is bruising,” Levi murmurs as they walk down the small slope towards the sand. Levi scans the beach, trying to find the perfect spot to sit and watch the sun set. “First the affected area gets red, discolored, then it slowly turns purple, gets black.” 

“But it heals by morning,” Nico points out. “The bruise gets lighter, and then the sky returns to its normal, healthy color.” As he speaks, he stretches his arm out, pointing towards where someone has dragged the remains of a log down towards the waterline to serve as a bench. “Over there?”

Levi nods. “Looks good.” 

They’ve barely made it ten steps when he feels Nico’s hand brush his. Once could be accidental, but it happens three times before Nico finally hooks their fingers, filling up each other’s empty spaces, their palms pressed together. He smiles, when Levi glances up at him. Doesn’t say anything. 

Levi looks down at their hands, then at the log ahead of them, and smiles too.

*

The log is cold enough when they sit down on it that Levi flinches a little, lets out a truly offended gasp. Nico shakes his head, smiling slightly. Fondness wells up in his chest, enough to keep him warm against the rapidly dropping marina temperatures. Only glows warmer when Levi gives him a playful push without letting go of his hand, leans into Nico’s chest. 

The sky gets darker, stars starting to peek out and wink at them. When the first one appears Nico thinks, briefly, of that old children’s rhyme. Then Levi sighs, snuggles closer, giving their tangled hands a quick squeeze. His thumb begins sweeping back and forth over the back of Nico’s hand. 

Any wish Nico might make pales in comparison to the reality of that moment.

*

“Cold,” Levi complains, curling in on himself with an exaggerated shiver as he waits for Nico to get the car unlocked. The sun is long set, the sky inky over them with the moon shining pale light down. It casts silver shadows over Nico’s face when he looks over his shoulder at Levi, somehow makes his jaw, his cheekbones, even more pronounced.

Levi’s heart clenches, relaxes, as the corner of Nico’s mouth curls into a familiar half-smile and he turns. “Come here,” he says, mirth bubbling his voice, and pulls Levi into his arms. Levi burrows in, pushing up on tiptoe just enough to press his face to Nico’s neck. His nose is icy; startled, Nico sucks in a sharp breath. 

He doesn’t pull away, though. Brings one big palm up to curl it around the back of Levi’s head and keep him there, his other arm wrapped tight around Levi’s waist.

The idea of a person as home always seemed kind of sappy and unrealistic, but Levi gets it now. Standing there, pressed so close to Nico, face tucked into his neck so that with every breath, he gets a lung full of Nico’s scent, hospital and sweat and soap, faded aftershave–scents so familiar to him that sometimes his heart flips in the grocery store if he’s walking down the right aisle–held so tightly that Levi feels anchored…

Levi gets it.

It’s safe. It’s comfort. It is home. 

Nico is home. 

Chapter Text

Protein powder is disgusting. Levi needed exactly one sip of one of Nico’s gross breakfast shakes to determine that. Nico has three different flavors of the stuff in his kitchen, however, and he likes a shake every morning. 

Levi vigorously shakes up the black bottle with the little metal ball inside that Nico uses, then sets it in the fridge. He’s already had hisbreakfast, and a shower. Has set out Nico’s suit for later, with the tie they’d argued about for ten minutes the night before. There’s no more putting it off. Levi’s got to go to work.

Sighing, Levi leaves the kitchen, heading down the short hallway to Nico’s bedroom. His boyfriend is almost exactly where Levi left him, although he’s managed to sprawl out over the rest of the bed without Levi there. It makes him smile as he moves closer. 

A hand on his shoulder; Levi shakes him gently. “Hey.” 

Nico’s awake. Levi can tell because he buries his face more in Levi’s pillow, breathes in deeply. 

“Nico, I have to go to work now.” 

A grunt, and his boyfriend raises his head to blink at him. 

“I made you a shake, and I set out your suit.” 

A yawn this time, Nico inching forward. Levi takes a step back, not wanting to get dragged back into bed. 

Well, he wants to. He just can’t.

“You’re going to do great today, and tomorrow when I get off of work, we’ll celebrate.” 

“Come back to bed. We can pre-celebrate.”

Levi laughs. “Nope. I have to be there for rounds.”

Propping himself up on his elbows makes the blankets slide down his chest, and Nico knows it, so he totally earns the glare Levi gives him when he pulls back. Using his abs is cheating, and he knows it.

“I’ll see you in a few hours.”

Nico flops back onto the bed, huffing. Laughing again, Levi leans over him, cups his jaw. Kisses him softly, once, with a quiet hum. He pulls away before Nico can think to grab him and pull him down. 

Nico watches Levi move towards the door with an unreadable expression on his face. “I’ll come find you when it’s over.”

Hand on the doorknob, Levi pauses, nods. 

“Okay.” 

Chapter Text

Levi pauses with his highlighter in hand, stretching his arms over his head. It’s torture, but he glances to the right, at where Nico is fast asleep in the bed Levi’s secretly come to think of as theirs.

One more hour. One more hour, and Levi’s going to let himself get in that big bed with his boyfriend, cuddle up close and sleep for all of the six hours he’ll have before he has to get up for work.

And even that’s only a cycle he’s going to have to repeat for a few more weeks. His exams are coming up soon, and once he’s a resident, things will be a little easier.

Hopefully.

For now, he’s got the big armchair next to the bed that Nico dragged in there for Levi to study in. Doing it by himself out in the living room feels lonely, but Nico trying to stay up with him is not an option. He’s got his own exams and career to worry about.

So this works. Levi’s got his chair, and the motivation that as soon as he gets through these last few flash cards right, he can join Nico in that big bed, where Nico will wrap him up in his arms and…

Levi sighs, rolls his neck. Focus, he tells himself as sternly as possible.

Even knowing they’re both prone to tossing and turning when they sleep by themselves, the timing is so suspicious that Levi wonders if Nico doesn’t somehow do it on purpose when he starts rustling around. In seconds, half the blankets are on the ground.

“Oh, Nico,” Levi sighs, setting down the highlighter and moving his book and flash cards to the nightstand so that he could stand, stretch again. Then he bends over, scooping up the blankets and sheets and piling them back on the bed. He runs the back of his hand over Nico’s forehead, which settles him down, then pulls the sheets up around his waist–Nico likes his arms free.

“Just a little longer,” he assures his sleeping boyfriend. Kisses his forehead, then pads back over to his chair, sits down again. Once more, he picks up his book,

One more hour.

Chapter Text

Nico points out, early on in the search, that they have friends who like to sleep over, and relatives who show up without warning. That’s how they end up with a three bedroom, two bath house. 

Three bedrooms, two baths, a decent sized kitchen. A small backyard. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s…

Levi stands in a living room that has boxes piled high around the edge of it, the middle cleared for the couch that’s coming tomorrow. His hands are on his hips as he stares around, thinks about where the best places to put what will be.

A pair of arms encircle his waist just as a familiar guitar rift splits the silence. Levi covers Nico’s hands with his own as his boyfriend’s bigger body starts rocking a little in time with the music. 

“Really?” Levi laughs, turning his head, looking up at Nico’s smiling face. “We’re dancing.”

“What else would we do the first night in our new house?” Nico grips Levi’s hands, uses them to turn him around and push him out into a rock step. He twirls him again. 

“I can think of a few other things,” Levi teases, letting Nico draw him closer again, wrap his arms around Levi’s waist as his own slip up around Nico’s neck. 

“Mm, later.”

“Later?” Levi laughs as Nico twirls him out, brings him back in and dips him slightly.

“First, we dance.” 

Chapter Text

Forty-seven, forty-eight, forty-nine…

The sniffle makes Nico pause mid-sit up. There isn’t another one right away, though, so he goes back down.

Fifty. Fifty-one, fifty-two…

Another sniffle, and then another. Nico sits up completely with a quiet grunt. Rises to his feet and leans on his elbows over the back of the couch. “Everything alright?”

“This is just a really intense part,” Levi defends, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand. He leans forward, snags a tissue out of the box on the coffee table. 

Nico smiles, shaking his head slightly. Of course it is. He grabs the blanket at the other end of the couch and wraps it around Levi’s shoulders, tucking it down behind him. “I’m almost done.” He kisses the top of Levi’s head, then gets back down on the floor. Settles onto his back.

Where was he?

Fifty-three…

Chapter Text

Nico opens the door to the on call room much louder than he closes it a few seconds later. Levi doesn’t stir from where he’s slumped over the table, his books spread out. Studying while waiting for him, of course. Nico’s sorry his surgery went long, but he’s not sorry to come in here and find Levi napping. Sleep isn’t something he’s been getting a whole lot of.

Nico’s a little worried about Levi napping in contacts, until he notices the little container off to the side and his glasses, folded on a stack of red files. No need to wake him up, then. He moves slowly, treading soft, gently pulls the book out from under Levi’s head, closes it. Pries the pen from his fingers, sets that down too. Bending down, Nico slips an arm under Levi’s knees, behind his back, slowly lifts him up without so much as a quiet grunt. He carries Levi over to the bed, setting him back down just as gently so that Levi keeps sleeping. 

Then he slips off first Levi’s shoes, moves him around enough to get the blankets over him. Kisses his temple as Levi burrows into the pillow. 

Nico switches off the light as he leaves the room, closing the door with barely a click.

Chapter Text

Levi nearly shrieks at the first touch of frozen fingers on the skin of his waist. He shivers, violently, as those fingers inch around to his front and then up, curling to press against his hairy chest, right over Levi’s heart. Nico’s chin settles on his shoulder, and he hums.

“Much better.”

“How is it that this is your second Seattle winter and you still haven’t bought gloves?” Levi complains, wrapping his arms around himself to lock Nico’s in place. “I’ve getting my mom to knit you a pair for Christmas. Your hands are always freezing.” They’re not even that much fun to hold when Levi has gloves on. That’s how cold Nico’s hands get.

And right now, they’re pressed over Levi’s heart, warming up.

Levi grins, small, turns his head and kisses the side of Nico’s face.

Chapter Text

“You always do this,” Levi points out, pointing his fork at Nico as their server sets down the brownie-crusted cheesecake he’s ordered for dessert. Then he uses his fork to take a bite, eyes fluttering closed for a few seconds as the flavor of creamy, chocolate-y goodness hits him. This is what all desserts should be. It’s no wonder that Nico’s looking tortured when Levi opens his eyes again, because Levi knows it’s his favorite.

Just like he knows Nico is too stubborn to order his own dessert. So the next bite, Levi offers to his boyfriend, who pouts.

“I shouldn’t.”

“It’s one bite.”

“I haven’t been running in awhile. I’ve been too lazy to deserve a bite.” 

Levi’s lips twitch, and he leans in a little. “What if I promise we can have wall sex later. That’s basically lifting weights, right?”

Levi knows Nico’s only glaring to stop himself from laughing. His smirk gets smugger. 

“Fine,” he shrugs, takes the bite himself, cuts off another piece and offers that one to Nico. 

With a huff, Nico crosses his arms, leans in, and takes the bite.

Chapter Text

“This is fine,” Levi says, standing in front of Nico at the airport security checkpoint, clinging to the lapels of his black pea coat. He’s trying to sound normal, trying not to be hyper aware of the fact that he’s surrounded by a bunch of intimidatingly large college athletes. “This is only for a week. It’s fine.” 

“It will be fine,” Nico reassures him. His husband has always been very good at reassuring him. Levi takes a shaky breath so that he can offer Nico a smile he knows is weak. 

“The first time is hard. That’s what everyone says. The first time you’re gone is the hardest.” 

Nico leans in, presses their foreheads together. Smiles warmly as his hands slide up to cup Levi’s face. Levi’s hands tighten in Nico’s coat. “I’m going to miss you, too,” Nico murmurs, right before he kisses Levi. 

Levi knows he whines a little when Nico pulls back too soon, because his husband’s smile gets bigger, and then he’s wrapping Levi up in his arms, pulling him against his chest so that Levi’s face is smushed against all that solid muscle, his arms like iron bands, tight enough around him Levi can’t breathe for a second. 

“I miss you already.” 

“Me too,” Levi’s reply is muffled by Nico’s fancy shirt. He pulls back, forces Nico to loosen his grip enough that Levi can tip his head back and study his face. This is what his husband wants. What he was working towards before he even met Levi. So Levi takes a deep breath, squeezes Nico’s waist, and steps back. “You’re going to take good care of these boys, Doctor Kim. I’ll see you in a week.” 

Levi cups Nico’s jaw, rubbing his thumb over it once, and then steps back to let him go. 

Chapter Text

Dahlia makes a beautiful bride. The decision to have dogs as ring bearer and flower…girl…are a little odd, but it’s Dahlia. Besides, none of them have kids yet, anyway. 

She’s beaming as she approaches Levi. Her brown eyes sparkling with unshed tears. Of joy, Levi assumes. “Can you believe I’m actually a wife? I’m married, Levi!”

“It’s all you’ve wanted for as long as I’ve known you,” Levi teases, which earns him a playful glare.

“All I want is to be able to beat Meredith Grey for longest surgery at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital, but a hunky husband was definitely on the list of things I wouldn’t mind.”

“And he is hunky,” Levi agrees, glancing through the throng of people in the ballroom, over at where Dahlia’s new, firefighting husband is chatting with Levi’s own husband. “I have to admit, you might have me beat.” 

Dahlia snorts. “Liar,” she says, shaking her head. “Please, Levi, we both know there is no man as handsome as Nico Kim in your eyes.”

“It’s why I married him,” Levi agrees, laughing. One reason at the bottom of a very long list, but still a reason. He keeps looking at his husband, who takes a drink from his glass and glances over in their direction. 

Their eyes meet. Levi knows the smile on his face is a sappy one, that matches the feeling he’s got in his chest, like butter melting on perfectly golden toast. Even now, after knowing the man for almost ten years. 

Nico blinks, slow and lazy, and his own mouth curls as he returns Levi’s smile. After a moment, Levi looks away, finds Dahlia staring at him with an amused expression.

“You know, I’m the newlywed,” she reminds him, making Levi throw his head back and laugh. “Come on. Let’s go make our husbands dance with us.” 

The crowd parts for the bride, and Levi follows after her, to where Nico is waiting.

Chapter Text

Los Angeles is possibly the most intimidating place that Levi has ever been. The city is crowded, hot, noisy, the traffic is insane–and nobody knows how to drive. Even crossing the street in the sanctity of a crosswalk is dangerous. 

Nico has been holding his hand since they left the hotel. He says they’re going to have lunch with his parents, but they’ve walked ten blocks and all that’s happened is Nico’s muttered in an increasingly irritated way about drivers in L.A. He’s not letting Levi walk on the side of the sidewalk that’s next to the street, even when people are coming towards them. It’s getting to be a little ridiculous. 

“Nico, I know how to keep an eye on traffic–” Levi starts to say, cuts off when, with a screech, a car gets rammed up onto the curb a few feet in front of them by another driver. It proceeds to reverse and squeal away. 

Levi is shaking.

“Holy crap,” he breathes out, glancing at Nico with wide eyes. Nico, who looks…pissed off, but not surprised. 

Not surprised. Levi laughs a little. There might be a hint of hysteria to it. “You know I don’t want you getting hit either?”

Nico shrugs. “We’re almost to the restaurant. We can take a bus back to the hotel.”

Levi swallows, nods. Gives Nico a small, shaky smile.

But he’s not sure that would be any safer. 

Chapter Text

“I can’t believe this is happening. This hospital is cursed.” There’s something intimidating about 6′1″ of muscled, panicked doctor no matter who a person is. At least, that’s what Levi tells himself when he finds his boyfriend pacing in a radiology lab. Pacing and ranting.

“She’s here to visit one day and has pregnancy complications. One day!” 

Scared is a new look for Nico, at least to Levi. It’s not one he likes, at all. Angry, he’s familiar with. Angry, Levi can deal with, even if it’s angry at Levi. Scared, though… Levi’s not sure what to do.

“Nico, she’s going to be okay. Doctor DeLuca is amazing and she’s going to be okay.” 

His boyfriend doesn’t look convinced. Levi licks his lips, bites the bottom one. Moves closer to place a tentative hand on Nico’s back. “If your sister is anything like you, if her baby is anything like you, then they are both fighters. They’re going to be fine, Nico, and you’ll be holding your niece soon.”

Nico’s hands are shaking when he lifts then to rub his palms against his eyes. Too roughly. Levi reaches out, takes his hands. Laces their fingers together and gives them a gentle squeeze. 

“I hate this place.”

“Nico,” Levi says gently, tugging his hands down to kiss the back of one. They’re still trembling, trapped between Levi’s own. “I know you’re scared.”

“I’m terrified.” The words are followed by mirthless laughter. 

“We’re going to get through this. Together. Your sister is going to get through this.”

“You think so?”

“Doctor DeLuca handling the surgery with Doctor Chen for the assist? There aren’t better hands they could be in.” 

Nico studies Levi’s face for a few seconds, as though he’s trying to see if he’s being honest. Levi means every word he’s saying–he asked Doctor DeLuca to see Nico’s sister himself, personally, because he trusts her. 

When Nico finally nods, Levi lets out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding. “Come on,” he says gently, stroking Nico’s wrist with his thumb. “Let’s go see your sister.” 

Chapter Text

Levi is used to having people laugh at him. He makes a lot of mistakes, he’s clumsy, and he’s weird. He’s the sort of person people laugh at. 

Nico is the only person who has ever made him feel like he wasn’t being laughed at, when he laughed. Because when he makes Nico laugh, it’s soft, with bright eyes, a wide smile, and it’s fond. He looks at Levi not like a joke, but like…like a miracle.

Nico looks at Levi like he’s a miracle, when he makes him laugh. So maybe that’s why he does it. Why he makes his little quips, even when it causes Doctor Lincoln or the scrub nurse or whoever else is there with them to roll their eyes.

Because when he says, “The last time I worked this hard to figure out how something fit together, it was during a Rubik’s cube competition,” the corner of Nico’s eyes crinkle, his head ducks. He huffs out that quiet little laugh.

And when he looks at Levi, Levi feels like he’s shining.

Chapter Text

“Doctor Lincoln wanted me as his fellow,” Nico grumbles, sitting down on the edge of the bed. Levi hums in response, reaching for a green t-shirt at the top of the laundry basket. He shakes it out, folds it in half. “I had a lot of offers from a lot of hospitals, but Link promised me a year at Grey Sloan Memorial and professional sports connections, on top of getting to help him with his project.”

Levi sets the shirt aside, reaches for another one. “You feel like he hasn’t kept up his end of the deal?”

“A fellowship is supposed to be a partnership. He treats me like an intern. They all do.” Nico pauses. “No offense.”

“None taken,” Amusement bubbles in Levi’s voice. “As an intern, I wouldn’t wish the treatment I get on anyone.” 

“I really hate the way this hospital treats its interns,” Nico mutters. Levi pauses, pats his shoulder. 

“They do it to teach us.”

“There are better ways to teach you. My residency was spent at a hospital that didn’t bully me mercilessly, and I don’t make decisions about my patients based on my own personal beliefs or because they kind of remind me about what’s going on in my life.” 

“Ah,” Levi says. Hums again. Reaches for a pair of shorts, this time. 

“I don’t get to do anything during the cool surgeries, I get ignored–”

“The interns love you.” 

Nico stops, looking over at his boyfriend. He looks so tired, defeated. Levi pauses, reaches out to cup his face. “Everybody fights for ortho cases because it means working with you. You’re a good teacher. The interns love you.”

There’s a hint of fondness in Nico’s exasperation when he says, “Somebody’s got to actually show you guys what to do. I can’t just yell at you like some people.”

“And you’re a good surgeon. Everyone who’s worked on one of your solos or paid any attention to the way you can diagnose a patient in seconds has seen that.”

“The problem is that nobody with any clout in this hospital is paying attention.” Nico stands, starts pacing. Levi sighs and reaches for another pair of shorts, salmon-colored. 

“I came here because it seemed like the best decision as far as advancing my career. So far it feels like all its done is stagnate it. The only thing that makes moving to Seattle worthwhile is the fact that I met you.”

Levi freezes, raises his head slowly to look at Nico. Nico, who is staring at him with that expression he gets sometimes. The one Levi still isn’t completely sure how to handle, that makes his palms slick, his stomach flip, his heart speed up so fast that the first couple of times it happened, he thought he had an arrhythmia. “Me?”

Nico smiles, a small thing, just the ghost of it making the corners of his lips twitch. “Yeah, you. I moved here, and I met you. I could never regret that.”

The shorts drop from Levi’s fingers, because he’s too busy throwing his arms around Nico’s neck and tackling him to the bed.

Laundry be damned. 

Chapter Text

It starts out small. Barely noticeable. A new tie, in the same dark plum as the Henley Nico wore on their first real date. The Henley that Levi’s fingers had skimmed over as he’d breathed, “Purple’s my favorite color,” before he’d jerked it up and over Nico’s head, mussing up his perfect hair, and climbed into his lap.

So Nico gets a new tie. It doesn’t mean anything. 

Their second official, real date–two months after their first one, because it turns out actually going on dates is exhausting–Nico wears another purple shirt. A lavender dress shirt, because they’re going somewhere fancy. Levi ends up having to stitch some of the buttons back on, the next day, but it’s totally worth it.

Twice is just coincidence, so Levi doesn’t really pay attention until the third time. Another date, with Nico in a dark violet sweater that makes him look like some sort of hero on the cover of a romance novel meant to appeal to dissatisfied housewives. 

It definitely appeals to Levi too.

After dinner, when they’re making out in the back of Nico’s car like teenagers, Levi’s fingers skim down to the bottom of his sweater, curl at the hem. He looks up at Nico through his lashes, licks his lips. “Purple’s my favorite color.”

Nico’s eyes somehow get even darker, one of his hands coming up to cup Levi’s cheek and rub his thumb over his bottom lip. “I know.”   

Chapter Text

Normally, if Nico loses his cool, it’s because of Levi. That’s not to brag, or anything. Nico is just a pretty composed guy; Levi’s only every really seen him not be composed when he’s involved.

Alright, so maybe that’s a little good for his ego.

Still, he’s willing to take the hit to it if it means watching his boyfriend freak out over meeting his mom.

Levi sits on the edge of the bathtub, watching Nico make faces at his reflection and trying not to laugh.

“I should wear it down. No product, just comb it and let it dry. Or should I gel it? No, I look arrogant when I style my hair that way.”

“Nico,” Levi does laugh, then. “She’s not going to think you’re arrogant. At least not once you smile.” He stands up, puts his hand on Nico’s back. “You are six feet of gorgeous, chiseled man,” he coaxes Nico into sitting on the toilet, stands between his legs, “and that might throw her off, but as soon as she sees your smile, she’s going to know you’re the sweetest,” Levi wraps his arms around Nico’s neck, “cheesiest,” Nico laughs, shakes his head slightly, tipping his head up to watch Levi with warm eyes as Levi’s fingers toy with the hair at the nape of his neck, “most wonderful man.” 

“Most wonderful man who happens to be full of death traps.” 

Levi huffs. “But she’s not going to freak out to you about them. To you, she’s going to be nice. And once she gets to know you, she’s going to love you.” He pulls back, leans over to open the cabinet over the sink and pull out the little tub of styling pomade Nico uses for their dates–it keeps his hair soft, which Levi’s fingers appreciate when they run through it. He’s watched Nico do it often enough that he takes out a small amount, warms it up between his palms, starts combing his hands through Nico’s hair. 

“You told her I was a man? And Asian?”

“And not Jewish, which was honestly the biggest issue.” 

“Really?”

“Oh, yeah.” Levi sticks his tongue out, ruffles Nico’s bangs a little, steps back. “Perfect.”

Nico nudges his back so that he can stand, check the mirror. “You gave me sex hair.”

“And it looks amazing.”

“You want me to meet your mom with sex hair?”

“I want you to meet my mom. Your hair doesn’t really matter.” 

Pausing, Nico studies Levi for a few seconds. His brows quirk, the way they do when he’s puzzling on something. Then his expression smooths, he smiles. “Let’s go, then.” 

Chapter Text

“He won’t talk to me.”

Maggie glances up from the culture samples she’s examining, over at where Schmitt is standing in the doorway, then to where Helm has just sat up straight.

“What do you mean, he won’t talk to you?”

This is not the cafeteria, or a lounge, or beds in a hallway, Maggie thinks. However hypocritical it might be of her, she doesn’t like feeling out of place in her own lab. Having two interns talk about their problems like she isn’t here makes her feel out of place.

“He asked me for space, because of his grandfather, and now it’s been three days and he hasn’t–he hasn’t sent me a text or paged me to an on call room, or anything. For three days.”

“He’s mourning, Levi, people act different when they’re going through a loss.”

“I know. I know, I get that. But I want to help my boyfriend, and I can’t help my boyfriend if my boyfriend won’t talk to me.”

“He’ll talk to you when he’s ready,” Maggie interrupts. “I’m assuming you’re talking about Doctor Kim?” The fellow’s surgeries were rescheduled for the week. One of them was with Maggie, so she noticed. “He’ll talk to you when–right now, you’re helping him the way he needs by giving you the space he’s asking for. He’ll talk when he’s ready.”

Schmitt and Helm both stare at her. Maggie huffs. “This is my lab. It’s not eavesdropping if it’s my lab.”

“So…giving him space is being a good boyfriend?” Schmitt checks, glancing at Helm, who shrugs and nods. 

“Yes,” Maggie tells him. “Aren’t you someone else’s intern today?”

“When Doctor Avery took off, and you didn’t talk to him about how it made you feel, that was being a good girlfriend?”

“That was–” Maggie stops, glares. She’s going to kill Parker. “That was different. This isn’t about my relationship, it’s about yours. The situation is–Look. Doctor Kim is grieving. You’re doing the right thing, right now, by respecting his wishes and letting him take time to clear his head. He’ll appreciate it later.”

“He won’t think I abandoned him?”

“He’ll think you respected his wishes. Respect is–so, so important, Schmitt. Let him know you listen to him.”

Schmitt and Helm exchange a look, one Maggie doesn’t quite get, before Schmitt is nodding. 

“Okay, thanks.”

“You’re welcome. Now go bother someone else. I need Helm to come look at these slides and tell me what she sees.”

Helm stands, moving over to Maggie’s side, as Schmitt leaves the room. Maggie lets out a frustrated breath. 

“Interns?” Helm offers with a sheepish grin, but Maggie shakes her head.

“No.” She rolls her eyes. “People.”  

Chapter Text

Nico having to be at the hospital before Levi is a rare thing, given Levi’s the intern and Nico, for the most part, runs on the same schedule as an attending. The mornings that Levi does wake up to an empty apartment, Nico’s there for hours before he even has to be.

This particular morning, Nico is coming out of an emergency surgery he’d been called in for a little after two. (Until Levi started dating Nico, he hadn’t even been aware that orthopedic surgeons had emergency surgeries. Nico had laughed for almost two minutes when Levi told him that. It’s one of Levi’s proudest memories.) Levi stumbles into the hospital three and a half hours later, he’s clutching two cups of coffee.

Well, one cup of coffee and one dirty chai.

He changes, then checks the board and heads to the O.R. where Nico should just be scrubbing out.

“Hey,” he greets, sliding in under Doctor Lincoln’s arm when he comes out. “Brought you caffeine.” Levi holds the cup out to Nico, who dries his hands and takes it.

“Thanks.” Nico takes a sip, makes a pleased noise. “Double shot of espresso?”

“Just the way you like it.” Levi grins at him. Motions towards the door. “I have to go. I’m on Pierce’s service today.”

“Nice. Have fun.” Nico glances around, then leans in, kisses Levi’s cheek, just above his stubble. “I’ll see you later?”

“You’ll see me later.” Levi’s grin gets bigger. He raises his own coffee cup to his lips, takes a sip, and ducks back out into the hallway.

Chapter Text

It’s past three in the morning when Levi stumbles into Nico’s apartment, feet dragging. His backpack drops to the floor with a thud; he barely has the presence of mind to lock the knob and chain behind him before he’s slumping against the door, the back of his head hitting it hard enough to make him wince.

The light in the kitchen is on, casting shadows at the end of the hallway, and Nico’s fish tank is glowing pale blue along one wall of the living room. From the smell of things, Nico meditated before going to bed. Levi breathes deeply, allows his eyes to close for just a few seconds. He made it through all eighteen hours of a shift with Doctor Avery, possibly his least favorite person to work with, and his reward is this: coming home to Nico’s apartment. It smells like incense, hops, and spices, the world’s ugliest couch sits smugly in the living room, and down the hall, there is a man asleep who loves him.

Worth it. Totally worth it.  

As he slips his shoes off to head down that hallway to where his boyfriend is waiting, his stomach rumbles, reminding Levi that he hasn’t eaten since he and Taryn split a soup and salad combo at lunch. Food first, or he’ll be grumpy in the morning. 

Levi has the morning off, he doesn’t want to be grumpy.

The smell of whatever Nico made for dinner lingers more strongly in the kitchen; Levi can make out cinnamon, cardamom, and pepper… His stomach rumbles louder. He goes to the fridge to check for leftovers, and pauses. 

Nico keeps a notepad on the door that he uses to make grocery lists, jotting down things as he runs out of them or when he thinks of ingredients for a recipe. What’s written on it now, though, in Nico’s precise handwriting, are the words Check the microwave! :)

Dork. He’s such a dork. Levi might be a nerd, but Nico Kim is a cheesy dork. Levi’s grinning so wide his cheeks hurt as he turns to the microwave, pops it open. There’s a plate full of rice and what looks and smells like curry in there. Closing it again, Levi sets the timer for a minute. Leans back against the counter, staring at the note.

Grinning. 

Chapter Text

“You know you don’t have to do this.”

It’s the sixth time in as many minutes that Nico has reminded Levi of this, and for the sixth time in as many minutes, Levi rolls his eyes. 

Please. You spent three days at Comic-Con with me. I can play a game of baseball. Just don’t expect me to be good at it.”

“I’m worried you’re going to get hurt,” Nico confesses, reaching out and adjusting Levi’s baseball cap. His hand slips down to cup his cheek, rub in a spot of sunblock that Levi missed. 

Apparently, one of the many death traps his mother made Levi very aware of was skin cancer. Nico can appreciate that. The sunblock glitters, however, and he’s not sure how he feels about that. Especially when Levi had insisted Nico wear some too.

“You should be more worried I’ll accidentally hurt someone else.” Levi bats Nico’s hand away, only to tangle their fingers together. “When I was in high school, I accidentally busted a girl’s chin open with a bat during P.E. once.” 

Nico winces. “Maybe we should have you bat last.” 

“Good idea.” Levi laughs, starts tugging Nico towards where the rest of their friends are already waiting. “C’mon. After this you can buy me ice cream.”

“Oh?” Nico raises an eyebrow, lets himself be pulled along. “Why am I buying you ice cream?”

“To cheer me up when I suck at this, obviously.” Levi beams up at him as Nico’s head tips back in a laugh, swinging their hands. 

In the distance, Taryn shouts for them to hurry up.

Chapter Text

Nico’s eyes are drooping. Levi pauses, dice in hand, watching his boyfriend fight back a yawn. 

“You know, we can finish this in the morning,” he says, keeping his voice quiet so that he doesn’t wake up the rest of their friends, who have already succumbed to exhaustion earlier in the night and are scattered around Nico’s living room like the aftermath of a college party. 

“No,” Nico yawns again, shakes his head. “No, no. You worked hard to write this up. We’re going to keep playing. I want to see how it ends. You said I might get to fly a dragon?”

Levi ducks his head, laughs, looking up at Nico through his lashes with something like amazement. That Nico set this night up for him, that Nico is actually enjoying the campaign… That Nico chose to be a dwarf… It’s all amazing.

Some of it for different reasons. 

“Okay, so then just let me make us some coffee, and I’ll keep going.” Levi sets the dice down, kisses Nico’s cheek as he moves to pass him. Before he can get by, Nico’s got an arm around his waist and is hauling Levi into his lap. 

“I don’t need coffee. Let’s finish the game like this.” 

“You’ll be distracted.” Levi makes no move to get up. Nico kisses his neck, smiles.

“No. This is…motivation.”

“Motivation?” Levi twists to look at Nico’s face, eyebrow twitching. 

“To finish fast and get you to bed,” Nico says, and pulls Levi in for a kiss. 

Chapter Text

“What’s this?”

Nico looks up from the bag of groceries he’s unpacking, sets the bag of black beans on the counter. “Just something I picked up.”

Levi holds the bag of Doritios up almost accusingly. “This is junk food.” He shakes it a little. “You bought junk food.”

“It’s the kind you like, right?” Nico keeps his face carefully blank, his tone casual. “The dark green bag?”

“The salsa verde, yes,” Levi agrees. “Nico Kim, you brought junk food into your apartment.” 

Nico rolls his eyes, goes back to unpacking his grocery bag. A few seconds later, Levi smacks him on the arm. When Nico looks over again, he’s holding a small tin can of jalapeño cheddar cheese dip. 

“What is this?”

Nico grins, leans down and pecks Levi’s mouth. “You’re always complaining that I don’t have good snacks.”

“So?”

“So…” Nico kisses him again. “I bought a case of Mountain Dew, too.”

“Who are you?” Levi demands. “Junk food and stomach rotting sugar drinks? In your apartment?” His eyes narrow. “Okay, I know it’s mostly paranoia because we just watched The Faculty, but… Have you been taken over by an alien recently? Nico Kim, were you body snatched?”

Nico laughs, leans down to kiss Levi one more time. “Just enjoy it. But, uh, don’t get used to it.”

Chapter Text

The door to Nico’s apartment opens quickly, and despite the fact that Levi’s been pressed up against it for the past five minutes and could feel Nico struggling to unlock it without stopping their kiss, he still almost falls backwards when it does. Luckily, Nico’s arm is still wrapped around him, catching him. Nico’s other arm shoots up to grab the doorframe, steadying them, while he somehow manages to drag Levi closer.

Levi’s fingers tug at Nico’s hair, his body arching, trying to stay up so that he doesn’t have to break their connection, but it’s hard to walk backwards when kissing a guy several inches taller than he is. He finally allows himself to drop down onto his heels, hands sliding down to Nico’s chest. Levi tips his head forward, resting his head on Nico’s collar bone, feeling his cheeks heat like two days ago he hadn’t been on his knees for the man in the back of an ambulance.

That was two days ago, though, and it was--things were--and now he’s got Nico’s hands, hot and heavy, sliding from his hips to grab Levi’s ass and jerk him closer. He can feel how excited just kissing him has Nico, pressing hard against his stomach, and Levi--Levi’s a little dizzy.

Not dizzy enough to stop, though.

He lets his own hands slip down to the hem of Nico’s shirt and then up, under them, stroking over those taut, hard-earned muscles. The shirt gets pushed up as Levi’s hands explore higher, tries scraping his thumbnail over one of Nico’s nipples. The noise it gets from Nico just makes Levi’s cheeks feel hotter. Leaning in a little more, he kisses the skin exposed by the v of Nico’s collar, slides his tongue over the spot and then gently bites.

People, he’s heard, sometimes like biting. It gets another noise from Nico, his hips jerking again, so apparently that’s true.

Somewhere between everything, Nico’s managed to get the door closed again, and he’s herding Levi towards what Levi is hoping will be a horizontal surface. His knees bump against something, nearly sending him backwards again, so for safety’s sake Levi pushes Nico back and twists to see what’s in their way.

Then he pushes Nico away completely to turn all the way around and gawk.

“Um.”

“Is everything okay?” Nico’s hands slide to Levi’s hips again, tugging him backwards, his nose and lips finding the crook of Levi’s neck and doing something to it that nearly makes Levi’s knees buckle.

“That’s your couch?”

Nico pauses, raising his head. He tilts it, studying the monstrosity in front of them. It’s huge, bulky, an ill-advised combination of floral and paisley in shades of seventies orange.

“Yeah,” he said. “I bought it back in undergrad. Twenty bucks at a thrift shop.”

There’s a note of pride in Nico’s voice that Levi does not understand. That couch is not something to be proud of. That couch should have been burned at the end of the decade that he assumes conceived it.

He twists back around, looking up at Nico. Taps his fingers against Nico’s chest.  

“So, uh, which direction is your bedroom?”

*

“Levi?” Nico pushes open the door to his apartment as he calls for his boyfriend. “I brought food! Since you probably haven’t eaten since breakfast.” That last part, he mutters to himself.

Shifting the weight of the takeout bags, Nico closes the door. The apartment is quiet, and he frowns slightly, moving towards the kitchen so that he can set the food down.

“Levi?”

Nico is halfway across the living room when he notices it. There’s a quilt, covering the back of his couch. It’s folded neatly, but it hides most of the upholstery.

Smiling slightly, Nico shakes his head, leans down to examine the blanket a little more closely. It’s obviously old, and possibly, due to some uneven threading, hand stitched. There fabric mostly seem to be space-themed, but there are a few dinosaurs.

His attention is diverted from his subject by a noise. Nico looks up to see Levi standing in the hall, wearing one of Nico’s shirts over his boxer-briefs, hair sticking up wildly. He’s yawning, but he freezes when he realizes what Nico is looking at.

“Um. I realize now I probably should have asked first.”

“It’s fine,” Nico tells him, and he means it. It’s the first thing Levi’s brought over deliberately, not left accidentally. The fact that he did it because he hates Nico’s couch doesn’t make Nico feel any less pleased that he felt comfortable doing it.

“My Bubbe Greta made it for me for my tenth birthday,” Levi explains, still standing in the hallway. “It’s...You’re sure it’s okay?”

Nico starts walking towards Levi. Slow, deliberate. Levi’s throat bobs, his tongue darting out to lick those pink lips of his, eyes raising to meet Nico’s.

“It’s more than okay.” He can’t help but add, teasing, “You sure you don’t want it on the bed, though?”

Levi’s eyes widen, and not just because Nico’s reached out to rub his thumb over the patch of chest hair peeking out from Nico’s shirt. Nico’s shirt that Levi is wearing.

“N-no. The couch is fine. I brought it over for the couch. You know, for, um… I thought it’d look nice.”

Chuckling, Nico wraps one arm around Levi’s waist, tugging him close. Levi’s arms slide up around his neck as he automatically pushes up on tiptoe. When their lips meet, he makes a noise, and with a little fumbling, his legs are wrapped around Nico’s hips and Nico presses him against the hall wall.

“You really hate my couch, huh?” he asks when he breaks the kiss. Levi puffs out a laugh, fingers combing through Nico’s hair.

“It’s an eyesore. But... you’re gorgeous, and I really, really like you, so…”

“So you brought your blanket.” Nico’s eyes flicker closed when Levi leans forward and nips at his jaw, wiggles his hips insistently.

“It’s a quilt,” he breathes against Nico’s ear, “You wanna keep teasing me about it, or take me to bed?”

“Tough call,” Nico murmurs, throws back his head and laughs when Levi huffs and shoves at him, but his hands never leave Levi’s thighs, holding him up, holding him close.

*

The sound of the door closing jerks Nico from the drowsy drifting he’d been doing for long enough that he doesn’t recognize what’s on his t.v. He yawns, sitting up, reaching for the remote to turn it off.

“Hey.”

Levi gives him a tired smile, drops a kiss to the top of his head and skims his hand over the back of Nico’s neck, but he doesn’t speak as he trudges to the bathroom. When he comes back out a few minutes later, his glasses are on and he’s stripped down to his usual sleep attire.

Crawling onto the couch, Levi tucks himself into Nico’s side with his head on his shoulder. Nico drops the quilt around Levi, so that it wraps around both of them. As thanks, Levi kisses Nico’s shoulder, nuzzling into it.

“How was your day?” The words are pushed through a yawn.

Nico smiles, his hands coming up to comb through Levi’s hair.

“Fine. How was yours?”

Levi’s answer is a quiet snore. Nico huffs, fond. Moving carefully, he removes Levi’s glasses, sets them on the coffee table.

“I love you,” he murmurs, settling back against the couch. Levi must hear it, even in his sleep, because he sighs a little, cuddles closer. Resting his chin on top of Levi’s head, eyes closed, Nico grins.

“You’re going to be so offended by yourself for falling asleep on the couch.”

(He’s right.)

Chapter Text

Levi is sitting sideways on the couch with his legs crossed, books spread out in front of him, when he hears the sound of a key in the lock. Nico’s key in the lock. It takes all of Levi’s self-control not to look up and watch the doorknob turn. He waits until it opens to actually reveal his boyfriend before he allows himself to raise his head.

It’s only been two days, but the sight of Nico standing there fills the gaping hole in his chest that has been missing him. His hair is ungelled, he’s in jeans and a hoodie, and his suitcase is next to him. Levi returns the weary smile Nico gives him with one of equal trepidation. 

“How was your flight?” Levi chooses his words carefully, waiting to say them until Nico has crossed the threshold. Nico glances over at him again as he unzips his hoodie, hanging it up on the coat rack by the door. He shrugs slightly.

“It was fine. Smooth, no delays.” 

Levi nods. The next question is a little harder to get out. 

“How was San Francisco?”

Nico sighs, bending over to unlace his sneakers so that he can toe them off, put them away. Levi starts closing books, moving papers. Making room for Nico when he comes over to the couch and collapses, suitcase left by the door. 

“It was…foggy. Full of hills. I brought you back some Ghirardelli chocolate.” Nico’s head rolls to the side so that he can look at Levi with tired eyes. Whatever he sees on Levi’s face, it makes him smile. He reaches out, cups Levi’s jaw, his thumb rubbing his stubble. “They offered me the job.”

Levi lets out a breath, slowly, counting to five in his head and reminding himself that San Francisco is Nico’s dream. It’s not the time to wallow in self-pity. So he forces himself to meet Nico’s eyes and smile as brightly as he can. 

“Congratulations. I knew they were going to when they said they wanted to do your final interview in person.” 

“I turned it down.” Nico’s hand slides up from Levi’s cheek to comb through his hair, brushing it back from his forehead. Levi blinks. Blinks again. Wonders if he heard Nico properly. 

“What?”

“I turned it down.”

“Nico, you’ve wanted to work at UCSF since you decided to specialize in Ortho, They have one of the best departments in the country. This is everything you want.”

“Not everything.” 

Levi pauses, looking at Nico again, searching his expression for some sort of clue as to what’s happening with his boyfriend. Nico drops his hand, but only so that he can pick Levi’s up and lace their fingers together.

“At first, when they offered me the job, I felt like it was exactly what I wanted. Everything coming together. I have you, my career is on track… And then I was sitting in the airport, and I thought about–I thought about how I would be doing this more so that I could visit you. And you would be doing it to visit me. Which seemed okay for all of five seconds.”

There’s a point to this, Levi is sure, but he doesn’t know what it is. He latches on to Nico talking about visits. Levi’s not being broken up with so that Nico can go work his dream job and meet someone else. 

“Oh,” Levi says, for lack of anything else to say. “Why did it stop seeming okay?”

“Because it would only be visits. We would go from this,” Nico uses their joint hands to gesture between them, as if to encompass all that they’ve built in the months they’ve been together, “coming home to you more nights than not, or at least waking up to you, to visits. Hardly ever seeing each other.” 

Levi’s chest is starting to feel tight just thinking about only getting time with Nico when both their schedules allow for a break long enough to make flying back and forth worth it. He sniffs quietly. 

“I couldn’t handle that,” Nico admits, which means Levi doesn’t have to. His eyes prickle, and he sniffs again, looking down. Away from Nico’s probing gaze. “Because then I started thinking about how much strain it would put on us, and how long distance relationships rarely work out. If I took the job in San Francisco, I would be choosing a future that might not include you. Which doesn’t work for me. When I think about the future, you’re it. You’re the only one I want.”

Nico doesn’t normally talk this much. Levi knows it’s a ridiculous thing to be thinking, but if he doesn’t think something ridiculous, he’s going to start crying. 

“So I called UCSF, and I told them I appreciated the offer, but I had to turn it down. Then I called the Chief, and I asked her for an interview. And then I came home,” Nico’s voice lowers to a hushed volume, still manages to be impossibly warm, “and…” 

When Nico trails off, Levi looks up at him, brows knitting together in confusion. 

“And?” he prompts. 

Nico uses his grip on their joined hands to tug Levi closer, then releases him to wrap an arm around Levi’s shoulders. Levi snuggles in easily, ear pressed to his chest. He feels the rumble of Nico’s next words before he hears them. 

“And here you are.” 

Chapter Text

“I don’t see why we can’t go. It might be fun.”

“Not everybody liked high school. In fact, most of the people I know emphatically did not.”

“I want to see where you went to school. You grew up in Seattle and you never show me any of your childhood spots.”

Levi sighs as he unlocks the door to their apartment, shooting Nico a sour look over his shoulder. They’ve been having this argument for the past ten minutes; he deeply regrets suggesting they check the mail.

The first piece he’s gotten living at Nico’s, and it’s a resounding disappointment.

“My childhood spots were the comic book store and the movie theater, Nico. And my mom’s basement, which you’ve seen. You don’t need to see the high school where I was bullied every day for four years.” Levi tosses the keys in the little bowl on the table by the door as he steps inside, moves to allow Nico in as well. He hangs up his bag as Nico removes his scarf, falling into familiar routine.

“I think of it as the high school where you won thirteen different debate tournaments and were elected the first sophomore president of the math club.” Nico hangs up his jacket, takes Levi’s from him to hang it up too. Levi shoots him an exasperated look as he hands it over, lips curling slightly despite himself.

“You forgot nationally ranked science fair finalist two years in a row.” His tone is lofty, making Nico duck his head and chuckle. He steps closer, hands reaching out to catch Levi’s hips and tug him in.

“My bad.” Nico’s looking at Levi in that way of his, the one that makes Levi’s stomach swoop and flutter all at once. Soft and warm and like Levi is special and wonderful. Levi settles his hands on Nico’s chest, tilts his head back to watch him. “We don’t have to go. But Levi, look at yourself. Really look at yourself. You’ve come so far.”

Levi’s brow furrows, then smooths as he thinks Nico’s words over. He’s a far cry from the awkward loser who got shoved into lockers and had to keep spare glasses everywhere because they’d get snatched and snapped. He’s chief resident at one of the best teaching hospitals in the country, his boyfriend is a talented attending surgeon, who happens to be gorgeous, and he’s not living in his mom’s basement anymore.

“All I’m saying is,” Nico continues when Levi doesn’t answer right away, “they can’t hurt you anymore. You’re better than them, and you’ve more than proved it.”

Levi’s eyes skim over Nico’s face twice before he surges up on his tiptoes, arms wrapping around Nico’s neck as he presses their mouths together. His hands slide up, into Nico’s hair, then down to cup his jaw, slide to rest on his chest again. Levi pushes back gently, smiling when Nico chases his mouth, and drops back down onto his heels.

“How do you always know the right thing to say?”

Nico shrugs, hands sliding a little lower.

“I guess I just…” He looks down, searching for the right words. When Nico raises his eyes again, Levi’s breath catches at the raw honesty on his face, “I guess I just love you.”

Levi can feel his mouth twitch, can’t fight the grin that spreads. Still, he rolls his eyes, shrugs, sighs.

“Alright,” he says, drumming his fingers against Nico’s chest as he meets his gaze, “we can go.”

Chapter Text

There’s the sound of sloshing in the kitchen. Sloshing.

“Nico?” Levi calls. More sloshing, and a muttered curse.

“Kitchen,” Nico yells back after a few seconds.

Levi follows the voice, pausing in the doorway to stare at the sight of Nico on his hands and knees with a sponge, which he’s using to wipe the floor.

“What are you doing?”

“My parents just called,” Nico rises up to his knees, twists so that he can dip the sponge in a bucket behind him, ring it out. He goes back to scrubbing. “They’re on a flight in. Six hours. Apparently, Dad has a conference here. This place has to be immaculate.”

Nico says it like he doesn’t believe any part of it.

“Alright,” Levi says slowly, looking between Nico and the mop bucket. An actual bucket, full of gray water and sad bubble remnants. The source of the sloshing, Levi realizes.  “Do you want me to help?”

Nico doesn’t even look up from the imaginary grime he’s scrubbing at with the brillo side of a sponge.

“No.”

“Do you want me to leave?” Maybe Levi should take his things and go study at the library. Or Taryn’s. Just until Nico’s parents are gone again.

That gets Nico to look up. Look up and stand up, on his feet in the amount of time it takes him to blink. He drops the sponge on the floor, arms shooting out so that he can grab Levi by the shoulders, eyes wide, frantic.

“No, you can’t leave. You’re really the whole reason they’re coming. They have to meet you.”

“I’m the whole reason they’re coming?” Levi’s voice squeaks at the end. He would flail, but Nico is holding on to him with bruising tightness. He just grabs his wrists instead, thumbs rubbing over Nico’s pulse points. “Why am I the whole reason they’re coming?”

“They want to meet the man I turned down San Francisco for,” Nico cringes as he says it, like he knows how it’s going to make Levi feel. The stab of guilt that twists a little before he pushes it down.

“They want to see how much of a mistake you’re making,” Levi says, going for glib when he feels anything but.

“Hey, no.” Nico shakes his head, sliding one hand up to cup Levi’s cheek. “I’m not making a mistake. Don’t do that to yourself.”

“Your parents might not see it that way,” Levi points out. “What if they hate me? What if they look at me and wonder what you see in me?”

“Not going to happen.”

“Not everybody sees what you see in me, Nico.”

“More and more people are starting to.” There is so much conviction in what Nico says that Levi’s heart skips.  

Levi sighs, stepping back so that Nico’s hands fall. He watches Nico clench them briefly.

“Okay,” he says. “So if you don’t want me to leave, but I can’t help, what can I do?”

There’s a beat before Nico answers where he’s just looking at Levi, who fidgets, shifting his weight, twisting his fingers together. Then his boyfriend breathes out, closing his eyes for a second before he opens them again with a soft smile.

“You’re already doing it.”

A part of Levi wants to melt. A bigger part of him has him narrowing his eyes in exasperation.

“This is not the time to be cheesy, Nico Kim. I’m going to be meeting my boyfriend’s parents in a few hours, and they want to make sure I’m worth him passing up his dream job!”

“You are worth it, Levi. They know you are, because I told them. I told them exactly what I told you.”

“You basically told me you want to be with me forever,” Levi points out.

“Exactly.”

“Oh.” Levi feels the air woosh out of him, has to sag against the kitchen entryway so that his knees don’t buckle. “Oh.”

He’s not just meeting his boyfriend’s parents. He’s being inspected as a potential son-in-law.

“I have to cook something,” he says, suddenly knowing exactly what to do. “Do you think your parents would like pot roast? Or–no, I don’t have time for that.”

Nico is laughing at him. Not out loud, but his eyes are bright, narrowed because of how high his cheeks are pushed up from his smile. Levi stops himself before he works himself up any more.

“I’m just going to go to the store,” he says instead, narrowing his eyes at his still smirking boyfriend. Like Nico hadn’t been a complete mess before his first official dinner at Levi’s mom’s. Levi, however, is decent enough not to point that out.

“You do that,” Nico says, laughter in his voice. Levi sniffs.

“You go back to cleaning a floor that’s already spotless.”
“I will.”

“Okay then.”

Levi’s eyes stay narrowed for a few seconds longer before he darts closer and gives Nico a quick, hard kiss on the mouth.

“I’ll see you soon,” he calls over his shoulder as he leaves the apartment.

Maybe he’ll make stroganoff.

Chapter Text

The thing is, Levi doesn’t mean to eavesdrop. Most of what he hears, he hears because the attendings seem to forget he’s there more often than not and talk as freely in front of him as if Levi were a comatose patient. What he’s doing at the moment isn’t intentional eavesdropping, either. Levi’s ears just snagged on the words “renaissance faire”, which is fair–he snickers to himself–because he likes the ren faire. He goes every year, in costume. In fact, he and Nico are supposed to go that Friday.

“You want the afternoon off to go to the renaissance faire,” Link is saying. Levi wishes he could see his face. He can’t tell whether the other man is laughing or skeptical, or maybe both. Levi’s a little skeptical himself, particularly if he’s talking to who Levi thinks he might be.

Nico goes to the faire, and he enjoys the turkey legs and the alcohol, but Levi hasn’t been able to convince him to dress up yet. He’s hoping for this year.

“Not the whole afternoon. Just a couple of hours.”

It is Nico. Levi almost drops his tablet.

“To go to the renaissance faire.”

“Will you stop saying it like that? A lot of people go to it, man. And they dress up and compete in jousting tournaments, and…the beer tour is pretty cool…”

Of course. Levi smothers a sigh and a grin.

“Aren’t you going with Schmitt on Friday? He’s been talking about it for what feels like a month.”

“He gets excited about it. It’s like our tradition,” Nico’s voice is a little tense for a moment. Levi’s grin might go a little soft. He’s not admitting to anything. “I have to go there without him for this.”

“What, are you going to surprise him with a costume? Never mind, I don’t want to know…”

“No,” Nico’s voice is emphatic. Levi might be a little disappointed. He’s not admitting to that, either. “It’s this ring.”

There’s a moment of shocked silence. Levi himself is too stunned to move, too stunned to think. He knows exactly which ring Nico is talking about.

“We go every year, and he always checks to make sure it’s still there because it’s perfect. He’s been eyeing it since before we even met. The seller knows his name.”

“That’s…”

“Sweet,” Nico finishes for Link. “Levi’s a romantic.”

“I think you’re both a couple of saps. So you’re really going to propose?”

“I’m…thinking about it. Levi’s almost done with his residency. His fellowship is coming up…I think it’s time. I know I want to spend the rest of my life with him. He should too.”

“I take it back. That’s the least romantic reason ever to get married.”

It’s not, though. In fact, Levi’s knees feel a little weak. The last time they faced something like this was the end of Nico’s fellowship, and Levi’s insecurities had been a factor in the biggest fight they’d ever had. Not the main factor, but enough so that he’d been afraid to bring up his own fellowship options.

But Nico was thinking about him. Thinking about ways to reassure him without Levi having to ask. What could possibly be more romantic?

“Can I have the time off?” Nico sounds close to done with Link. Levi can picture his face, and he really wants to sneak a peek. It’s one of Nico’s best faces.

“Who am I to stand in the way of true love? Even death can’t do that. Alright, go. Take a long lunch break. After our surgery this morning.”

Their voices are moving towards the door. Levi has just decided to bolt around the corner when it opens, revealing his boyfriend and Link.

Who are both staring at him. Link looks like he’s trying not to laugh.

“Levi.” Nico looks over his shoulder, for some reason, then back at him, eyes wide. “How long have you been–you weren’t supposed to hear that.”

“Hear what?” Levi chirps, although it comes out a little strangled and he’s pretty sure, given how hot he feels, that is face is bright red. He clears his throat, tries again. “I just got here.”

Nico eyes him suspiciously, while Link’s shoulders shake with repressed animosity next to him. Levi hates him. So much. There’s a real animosity there, it’s kind of alarming.

“The intern I was going to assign to your surgery is out today, so I thought I could scrub in instead?”

Link manages to get hold of himself, smacks Levi lightly on the shoulder when he passes him.

“Sure thing. Been awhile since we’ve gotten to have you on ortho.”

Nico is still eyeing him with suspicion. Levi smiles at him, or tries to, falls into step beside him and wonders how he’s going to pretend for an entire femur reconstruction surgery that he doesn’t know his boyfriend is planning to propose.

Well, he’s done more difficult things. Levi glances at Nico as they walk, the way he glances to the side like he can feel Levi’s gaze and the corners of his mouth twitch up.

Maybe.  

Chapter Text

Even six years later, Levi still has moments where he can’t quite believe that Nico is his. Moments like the one in front of him–or rather, Nico is in front of him, sprawled lazily across their bed with skin still damp from the shower and the knot holding the towel around his waist loosening every time Nico shifts.

Levi’s got a text book that weighs ten pound on his lap, but it’s not helping his problem.

“Alright,” Nico is saying, although concentrating on words is hard when there’s one drop of water that’s shaken itself loose from Nico’s hair and somehow managed to land on his shoulder, slide over the muscle of his arm when it bulges as Nico stretches. “So I’m a patient. Car rolled twice, I was wearing my seatbelt but it’s obvious I hit my head. What do you do?”

For a second, Levi chews on his bottom lip, fingers drumming over the glossy pages in front of him as he considers his options. Then he moves the book so that he can get up on his knees, crawl forward. He’s just about to move his arm so that he can crawl over Nico–with an end goal, obviously, of sitting on him–when Nico makes a disproving noise.

“Don’t touch me,” he reminds Levi. “Visual assessment first, remember?”

“I have visually assessed enough to know we are taking a break,” Levi says firmly, unpausing to follow through with his intended plan. Or he would sit, except that as soon as he’s hovering over Nico, Nico’s hands are on Levi’s hips, dragging him down and rolling him over. Levi’s knees come up, framing Nico’s hips, as Nico’s hands go from Levi’s hips to his wrists, pin his arms over his head.

“You wanted my help studying,” he reminds Levi, his lips so close to Levi’s their mouths are almost brushing. The hint of contact has Levi’s spine tingling. He lifts his head and Nico pulls up a little, so that Levi can’t kiss him. “Your exam is in three days.”

“I’m ready. Totally prepared.”

“You’re trying to make out with your patient.” Nico is laughing at him. Levi falls back against the pillows, pouting.

“Only because my patient is my hot fiancé wearing only a towel.”

“Who’s just been in a terrible car accident,” Nico shoots back, voice barely above a whisper. He starts kissing Levi’s throat, which is just unfair. Nico’s lips are warm and soft, his nose nuzzling at the tender spot behind Levi’s ear as Nico nips at his jaw.

“You seem to be doing just fine.” Levi bucks his hips up to prove his point. All it does is make Nico grind down. Levi has to choke back a moan.

“Guess I had a really good doctor.”

“God,” Levi groans, rolling his eyes at the ceiling. So cheesy. “Shut up and kiss me already.”

With a grin, Nico does.

Chapter Text

“Levi?!”

The door to their house slams open, Nico’s voice loud enough Levi can hear it in the kitchen, way in the back of the house.

“Levi!” Nico yells again. Levi frowns, leans forward to brace his hand on the back of the chair he’s standing on, step down. 

“In here!” He yells over his shoulder, then faces his problem again, hands on his hips. Even on the chair, the top shelf is too high for him to reach. Levi’s not that short, it shouldn’t be such a problem. Apparently, this house was built for giants.

“Levi.” Nico appears in the entrance to the kitchen, looking winded, his hair mussed. His eyes land on Levi and his shoulders slump. “You’re alright.”

“Of course I’m alright. Why wouldn’t I be?” Levi makes a face at Nico’s dramatic behavior. “Can you get my recipe box down from the top shelf of the cupboard? It’s too far back for me to reach.”

“That’s why you sent me an all caps ‘I NEED YOU’ text?” Nico moves further into the kitchen so that he can sit down at the table, give Levi a disbelieving look. “I thought you had an emergency.”

“This is an emergency if you want dinner. The store was out of chicken sausage at the butcher’s counter, so I’m going to make my own. But I need you to get me down the recipe box.”

For a second, Nico just blinks at him. Then he ducks his head, shakes it slightly, huffing a laugh.

“Alright. You can stuff sausage,” Nico stands up, goes around the table to get down the box in question, “I’ll make fresh pasta.”

Levi beams.

Chapter Text

“It’s so weird being back here.” Levi Schmitt-Kim looked around at the ambulance bay that belonged to the hospital he’d once considered home. Next to him, his husband squeezed his hand, glancing down at him with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s only been a couple of years.”

“Still, it feels like so much has changed.”

“The same stuff would have changed if we had been here,” Nico pointed out, smiling slightly. “It just wouldn’t have been as noticeable to watch it happen.”

Levi nodded. He wondered how the people who worked at Grey-Sloan Memorial for their whole careers felt. Watching everything change around them constantly. It made him think of Webber, Bailey, Meredith Grey, and all the people who had helped shaped him into the surgeon he was. The people who had stayed there, in Seattle.

Levi and Nico had left when the time had come for Levi’s fellowship to start, after Nico had gotten offered a job as the doctor for a college hockey team. It really only had been a few years, but…

The doors to the clinic opened, and Taryn wasn’t hard to find. She was at the check-in counter, barking orders at a couple of nurses and interns. When she spotted them, her face lit up.

“Oh, my god! What are you two doing here?” The blonde came out from behind the counter, throwing her arms first around Levi, then Nico. “The wedding’s not for three days.”

“We decided to come early,” Levi said, glancing up at Nico. “Wanted to see our old stomping grounds, I guess.”

“Well, it’s great to see you, but I can’t leave the clinic unattended with these interns running it. You’re gonna have to wait a couple of hours, but then maybe we can do lunch?”

Nico nodded, while Levi was a little more vocal in his agreement.

“That’s fine. Just text us when you’re on your lunch break.”

“Will do,” Taryn waved them off as she gets distracted by another intern, asking a question.

They were on their way back across the bay when Nico stopped, using his grip on Levi’s hand to tug him to a standstill as well.

“What?” Levi looked at where Nico was staring, then shook his head. “No. No way. It’s not possibly the same one.”

Nico gestured to the license plate of the ambulance, a slow smirk spreading over his face.

“Pretty sure it is. I remember the number.” Nico glanced around at the otherwise empty ambulance bay, then moved around the vehicle, opening the side door and waggling his eyebrows at Levi. “For old times’ sake?”

Levi crossed his arms, trying hard to look disproving, but it was impossible to do with the corners of his mouth insistently curling upwards.

“Fine,” he huffed, dropping his arms again and moving to climb into the ambulance. Half-way up he paused, giving his husband an arch look over his shoulder. “But if we get caught, it’s your fault.”

Chapter Text

The shower had been running for so long the water had gone cold, but Levi stayed under the spray, shivering. If he wasn’t in the shower, he would be out in the locker room, and he could hear the voices of his fellow interns, snippets of their conversation when one of them got too excited.

“–he dropped a tray–”

“–middle of surgery–”

Someone’s locker door slammed, and Levi could hear people filing out. The last thing he caught made his shoulders slump even more, made him scrub a hand over his face.

“Typical Glasses.”

It was pretty typical of him. He was a clumsy mess who probably had no business trying to become a doctor, according to everyone but his mom. But this time, it hadn’t been Levi’s fault. Dr. Kim had winked at him. He’d winked, and right before he’d winked, his eyes had met Levi’s and they’d gone so dark…

Levi shivered, not sure if it was the chill of the spray or the memory of the shock that had fired through him earlier. Either way, the locker room seemed empty, now, so he shut off the water, grabbed his towel when he stepped out of the stall to wrap it around his hips.

He was, Levi decided, mad. He was mad that this hotshot new ortho fellow had decided to mess with him during a surgery. They didn’t even know each other, so Levi hadn’t really had a chance to screw up in front of him before Kim decided to wink at him. Unless… A sick feeling twisted Levi’s stomach, and he sat down heavily on the bench in front of his locker.

Had he been told, already, that Levi was “Glasses”, and decided to have some fun at the expense of the screw up rookie? Levi had known guys like that in high school. New kids who thought the best way to get in with the right people was to pick on the most obvious target.

Well, this wasn’t high school. Levi sat up a little straighter, his shoulders moving back, chin coming up. It wasn’t high school, and there was no way in hell that he was going to let himself be bullied by some handsome jock.

It sucked though. Levi stood, opened his locker, pulling out fresh scrubs. Before The Wink, Nico had seemed kind of nice. He’d been careful with their patient, he’d known what he was doing, and Levi had appreciated the show of attitude towards Dr. Avery. He’d smiled at Levi in the scrub room, too, just before Dr. Lincoln had come in.

Lost in his thoughts, Levi nearly didn’t notice when his pager started going off. Levi finished dressing quickly, made sure he had what he needed and then left the locker room and almost ran straight into Dr. Kim.

Big hands–very big hands, that were warm and steady–grabbed Levi by his shoulders, and Levi thought maybe he was having a stroke, because he was pretty he felt something pop in his brain.

“Sorry,” he managed to get out without choking.

“My bad, dude,” Dr. Kim said at the same time. He grinned, charming. Or–Levi supposed people might find it charming. “Actually, I was looking for you.”

“You were?” Levi watched, dumbfounded, as Dr. Kim stepped back, eyes flickering to Levi’s damp hair and crinkling at the corners.

“Yeah. You’re Schmitt, right? Link wanted me to check in with you. He wants me to be paged about any changes in Nisha’s condition tonight.”

“You?” Levi swallowed. “Not–not Dr. Lincoln?”

“Well, I’m working tonight and he’s not, so.” Dr. Kim smiled at Levi again. His stomach did this weird swoopy thing, and he had to remind himself he wasn’t going to be bullied. His shoulders straightened again, and he looked Dr. Kim in the eyes.

Only for a second, though, because they were really intense eyes and Levi was a little worried, when they widened and then got dark like that, that another wink was coming. His cheeks felt hot.

“I can handle her. But I’ll page you if something happens.”

“Thanks, dude.” One of Dr. Kim’s big hands was touching him again, squeezing his shoulder, and then the fellow was gone, turned and walking down the hall away from him. Levi stared after him for a few seconds before he remembered he’d been paged.

It wasn’t until he reached Nisha’s bed that he realized that Dr. Kim hadn’t called him Glasses.

Chapter Text

Nico slams the door to their apartment behind himself as he steps into it. Levi spins on his heels, knowing what’s coming and ready for it. 

“You wanna tell me what the hell that was all about?” Nico asks, and he’s trying to stay calm, Levi can hear it in the way he paces his words. To hell with that. Levi’s not about to be so generous. 

“You know what it was about,” he says, low, crossing his arms over his chest. “When were you going to tell me that you were interviewing for other jobs?”

Nico rolls his eyes, which just pisses Levi off more.

“I’m not. Link is the one--”

“So tell him to stop doing it! This is the third time I’ve interrupted you having lunch with some sports team manager, Nico, and I’ve known about exactly none of them beforehand.”

“I don’t know about them beforehand!” Nico throws his hands up. “I get to work and Link says, ‘Hey Kim, so-and-so is here and wants to meet you’, Levi, am I supposed to stop what I’m doing just to text you about it? Why is this such a big deal? You’re looking at fellowships all over the country!”

“And telling you about all of them!” Levi drops his arms, too worked up to keep his hands still. “I’m trying to make these decisions together!”

“I’m not making any decisions! If there were decisions to be made, I would come to you!”

“Would you?” Levi’s eyebrows go up in disbelief. “You didn’t come to me before, about San Francisco.”

“Oh, for fu--Levi. We’re at a different place now than we were then. I don’t tell you about these lunches because I don’t consider any of these jobs options. If I start looking for a new position, it’s going to be because you want to go somewhere else. I’m here. I’m not going to leave you. I love you.

Levi glares, mostly because he’s not sure what to say in response. Finally, his shoulders slump a little. 

“Well, I love you too.”

The smile Nico gives him is small, but reassuring enough that Levi shuffles a little closer. 

“I guess I overreacted.” He brings his hands up to Nico’s chest as his boyfriend’s palm his hips. 

“It was on me too. I should have been communicating better about what was going on after the first time.” 

Levi melts, sliding his arms all the way around Nico’s neck. After a few seconds, Nico speaks again, bringing a hand up to cup Levi’s face, drag his thumb down Levi’s ear and brush it over his cheek.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you.”

Sighing, Levi shakes his head slightly. 

“I yelled first. I’m sorry too.” Pushing up, he gives Nico a quick kiss, plops back down and pats his chest before untangling himself. “I’m going to make dinner, alright?” 

“Alright.” Nico lets him go with a warm expression on his face that matches the feeling Levi has in his chest. “Hey, Levi?”

“Hm?” Pausing at the kitchen entrance, Levi looks back over his shoulder. Nico’s smile grows wider.

“Marry me.” 

Chapter Text

They’re in the middle of a rare, incredibly lazy Saturday off when Nico does it to him. He prods Levi’s thigh with the foot he’s got pressed against it until Levi looks up from his book, and then says it, casually. Casually will get the best results.  

“I forgot to tell you, my grandparents are going to be in town next weekend.”

Still is not Levi’s natural state of being, so when he is, it’s unnatural. Nico watches him, trying to keep a straight face. He can practically hear the internal panic that will inevitably spill out as a frantic monologue, and he’s wondering how it’ll start this time. Levi takes a deep breath and Nico sits up a little more, leaning in slightly. 

Luckily, Levi doesn’t pick up on it. 

“So, um,” he begins, folding the corner of his page and tucking his book between the couch and his other thigh. “Why are your grandparents coming to town?”

Nico shrugs, ducks his head as he fights off the grin at the strangled little noise Levi makes. 

“Mom said they wanted to see me in action, you know. I’m an attending now, with a serious boyfriend.”

“Me. I’m the serious boyfriend.”

“I’m glad we’re on the same page.” Nico can barely hold back his chuckle. He reaches out, takes one of Levi’s hand with his. 

“How do they even know about me?” Levi tries to gesture despite having an entire extra arm attached to his hand now.

“My mom mentioned you to them.”

“Your mom?” Levi’s voice comes out strangled, high-pitched. Nico allows a grin just until Levi looks at him, barely gets it off his face in time. “I’m not even sure if your mom likes me!”

“She likes you. That’s why she told them about you. And my grandparents are going to love you. I was thinking they could come over and you could cook for them.”

“What?” It’s a full on squeak as Levi’s whole body turns so that he can look at Nico with wide eyes. “No, no no. I’m not cooking for your grandparents the first time I meet them.”

“You’re getting really good at dumplings. You could make them that.”

“Nico Kim, I am not getting good at dumplings and you know it…” Nico can’t keep the grin off of his face with Levi’s sputtering, and as soon as he notices, his boyfriend stops, narrowing his eyes. “You’re messing with me.”

“I am.” Nico leans over, kissing Levi’s cheek. “I already made a reservation, and I told them you could only make it for dessert.”  

Levi’s glare is about as effective as a disgruntled kitten’s. Nico kisses him again, his jaw this time. Levi’s hands push at his chest, but he’s gripping Nico’s shirt so that he can’t actually pull away.

“I hate you.”

“No, you don’t,” Nico says, and hauls him into his lap.