Will was always wearing the knitted creations Nico made for him, even if they lived in California and the vast majority of days were on the too hot side of the scale.
He wore his wrist warmers whenever the weather forecast announced the slight bit of cold arriving. He wore the first, wonky shawl Nico had made him the first time he'd met Hazel as Nico's boyfriend. He lovingly wore each sock Nico had made, no matter if they looked professional or like a toddler’s drawing come to life. The small bi flag Nico had knitted for him was attached carefully to the backpack he took to work every day.
But Nico had never made him something so daunting and effort consuming as a sweater. Partly because he'd never thought about it, partly because he didn't want to take that long on a thing.
But that. Well, that was before.
He wasn't sure what made him realize that Will was it, for him. He didn't think there was one specific thing. It was only natural, he supposed. His crush on Will had made him wonder about falling in love, and falling in love made him wonder about a Serious Relationship, and a Serious Relationship made him wonder about being old and gray and whether Will would still be there. The question would sneak up on him in the most random times.
He remembered where he was when the answer him, though. Wine drunk on the couch with his feet under Will's hot ass legs, thinking about whether the school would fire him if he introduced Drunk History to his students and asked them to do their own version of it, and Will absentmindedly caressing his knee, and everything was lovely and fun that night—
Like most nights, to be honest.
Whatever he had with Will, nothing else would ever be able to compare. Whatever metaphorical house or castle they had built together, he never wanted to leave it. It was his favorite, and he would never voluntarily exchange him or it for anything.
He had been afraid, but he wasn't now. As a teenager, he didn't think anyone would be able, or willing, to stay. He thought men would see right through him, see that whatever had enticed them at first just, wasn't there anymore or had never been in the first place. But he was sure of Will. Will had already proven to him, so many times. And Nico had proven back, he thought. They were standing on something solid. Leaving was a distant nightmare that would hurt them more than too much.
So Will would stay. And Nico would stay.
The wine he'd drunk made part of him feel as if this realization should have had a little more impact attached to it, a little more… whoomp. But it was on the same level of importance and novelty as shit it's my turn to buy milk, or shit I'm gonna fall behind on my lesson unit. Things he already kind of knew and was only waiting for the last pin to drop.
It was weird how realizing you loved someone so much you'd be happy sharing a life with them changed you a bit. Taking apart and naming his feelings had always been a favorite pastime of Nico's.
So, love love. Love love love, even. Friendship of the most lasting kind. Being known. Etc etc.
A new honeymoon phase began, but one where he already knew Will. He marveled at how their sense of humor was merging, and how they (ironically) watched the same awful soap opera in that obscure channel none of their friends' TVs had, and how they took care of each other.
The love Nico felt for him was bursting, but now it was love with the sureness of being loved back — so, the best kind.
And, as Nico always did when he wanted to give shape to his love, he decided to make Will something.
It had to be something special, though. Something Will understood for what Nico was really saying underneath the gift.
He found the perfect thing when scrolling through Ravelry1 while he should be refining his lesson plan. He'd actually forgotten about most of the projects he'd bookmarked to do later, but his heart skipped a beat when he saw so many tagged with Will’s name. Thank you, past me.
The one that made him stop and that he fell in love with was a sweater that reminded him slightly of summer, although those should have nothing in common. The color the designer had made it in was vibrant orange, but Nico bit his lip, an image appearing in his head of Will and his love for soft things.
It was possibly one of the most difficult things he could have chosen. He'd have to tamper with lace for this. It would take him months.
But it was already decided, in his mind, just like when he realized he was in love or that he wanted this Forever, capital-F. He wouldn't be fully satisfied making anything else.
Knitting when Will wasn't home was a pain in the ass. Will still spent too much time in the hospital, but not enough time that didn't collide with Nico's own work obligations. He snuck in some time when his students were taking a quiz, and he might have given his students more pop quizzes than usual, because that was a good time to sneak in more knitting. He was sure he would be hearing complaining about this in the teacher evaluation later in the school year.
He made the sweater carefully, counting often and repeatedly to make sure he'd done the stitches on top of the right ones. He waited for Will to have a night shift before blocking2 the finished parts of the project, staying up all night while it dried so as to avoid Will getting home early and him seeing the thing.
Nico was losing it. The last, fragile remnants of his sanity.
"Please," he whispered. "Please."
The partially knitted sleeve didn't do anything, other than mock him by existing.
He didn't know what he was doing wrong. There was a hole. The stitches weren't aligned. What the fuck.
"Pleeeeeease." Nothing happened.
He frogged3 the thing, not wanting to look at his work anymore to try and figure out what was wrong.
At least the pulling of a string to unmake the whole sleeve was satisfying, like poking a domino piece and watching it take down all the others. Destruction. Hubris being thrown back at the maker’s face.
Will arrived home to him lying face down on the living room floor, a half empty bowl of popcorn beside his head and an empty bottle of wine beside that.
"Babe, what's wrong?" A slight burst of panic started rising through his spine, until he remembered he’d safely hidden the sweater parts.
I wanna die, he thought about saying.
He groaned instead.
"This is a shit week," he said, and started ranting about everything that was wrong with his life. The amazing lesson he'd spend days planning wasn't as much of a hit with his students as he'd hoped; his first attempt of popcorn tonight had burned, and a meme of his face in an unflattering expression was making the rounds on Facebook, created by one of his students (he didn't know which yet), and he wasn't in the mood to appreciate it. Mercury wasn't in retrograde, though, so Nico had no idea why everything was falling apart one after the other so quickly. He could practically feel his tear glands straining with the want to cry but not actually being able to, for whatever reason.
Will quietly made it better, somehow. Ran him a bath and let him use one of the fancy bath bombs they kept saving for a special occasion. Gave him the pair of pajamas Nico liked. Braided his hair so he wouldn't have to suffer untangling it tomorrow morning, and gave him a pillow for him to hug while he did it. Put him to sleep and heard his whining. Gave him space while not leaving him alone. Heard him.
Nico took to the sleeve with a new fire in his veins the next day, new motivation driving his motions, more aggressive playlists in the background. Between “Eye of the Tiger” and “Too Little, Too Late”, he managed to keep on with minimal mental collapse.
He was so excited when he finished the sweater that he just stared at it for an undetermined amount of time. He put it on carefully, checked every inch for holes or a loose thread he hadn’t sewn into the sweater well enough. But no. It was as perfect as a knitted object could be in his hands. It would do. He could almost see Will’s reaction when receiving it. Could see his grin. Honestly, Will might cry.
“What the fuck,” Will said, sounding slightly strangled.
Will’s eyes were slightly tearing up, and he was blinking in that way he did when he was pretending that wasn’t the case. His eyes roamed over the finished sweater, taking in the soft colors and the symmetrical sleeves. He extended a hand to it, almost touching it, then paused.
“Ah shit,” Will whispered, then knelt down. On one knee.
Nico’s body stopped breathing, entire body unresponding to the sudden joy in his brain. The sweater slipped from his hands, but he caught it in time.
His brain short-circuited when Will opened a small black box that had just appeared from nowhere. Unfortunately, it opened to the most baffling sight Nico had ever seen. It was a… piece of wool, lying down on the black velvet in a vague circular shape. The stitches, if they could be called that, were knitted regularly, but still undeniably ugly. He wasn’t sure why Will would give him a piece of trash.
“I stole your needles,” Will explained, embarrassed. “Thought it might be romantic.”
It was then that Nico’s body restarted working, brain helpfully pointing out that Will was kneeling, and holding a box, and looking gray and as if he was going to pass out.
“Nico,” he sounded both as if he was about to receive a punch and as if he couldn’t wait to get the words out. “Will you marry me?”
“Uh, duh,” was not the YES he had meant to say, but the effect on Will was the same; better, perhaps. He didn’t think Will would have laughed that hard with just a yes.
He put the offending piece of wool which he could now recognize as a ring on his finger, hand uncharacteristically shaking, and they laughed and kissed and laughed. Will told him about his original plans, the actual ring he had to ask the store to readjust and would give him soon, and about the dumb speech he hadn’t finished yet. Nico told him about most of his breakdowns while making the thing, and they kissed more. And, well. Celebrating engagements, Nico found, was roughly the best thing in the world.
A student who was becoming more and more participative in the class yelled from the back, asking about the thing on his finger the next day.
On the other side of the city, his future husband was wearing a sweater made in sunset colors (pink, violet and blue, to make him laugh), and ¾ sleeves so it wouldn't hinder Will when he went to wash his doctor-y hands. Summer would start soon. The kids were impatient and enjoying the last opportunities of having free time before finals arrived. Nico smiled. He honestly couldn’t imagine a better life.
“It was a gift,” he started, and set on explaining.