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With You I Can Take On The World

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Zach loved Cal Arts.

Really, he did. He’s been sketching and painting and spraying since forever, but never had any actual professional guidance. That is, except his high school art teacher when he was fourteen. But that was a long time ago.

So, yeah. He’d been stealing precious time between his shifts at the restaurant and babysitting Cody for several years now, and suddenly he didn’t have to. Suddenly, he had whole days to dedicate to art. He had people who’d offer him advice and guidance, and classmates he could chat with about the benefits of heavy-grain over fine-grain paper.

It was amazing, but it was . . . a lot.

It felt like a dream.

It has been two moths, and Zach still couldn’t completely comprehend that this was now his life. Luckily, he didn’t have much time contemplating it. He was incredibly busy, between work for school and his shifts at the local art store and looking after Cody. Although Shaun helped a lot with the last bit.

Shaun. Even now, Zach couldn’t suppress a smile just thinking about him.

His second novel was apparently coming along now, although he still refused to tell Zach anything about it. In the meantime, he was writing short stories for a local magazine and as a result, his schedule was rather more flexible than Zach’s. As a result, Zach was in charge of dropping Cody off to school each morning, but Shaun took care of the rest.

He picked Cody up from school and his extracurriculars, made sure he made his homework, cooked dinner for the three of them.

It was, frankly, a huge relief.

Especially since Shaun genuinely liked having Cody around for good. Zach was a bit worried, in the beginning, and it took several long conversation and nearly a month for him to start believing it.

If Zach’s life felt like a dream, it was mostly because of Shaun. It was Shaun who send his application to Cal Arts, and Zach wouldn’t have been able to afford a Los Angeles apartment on his own. As much as he loathed to admit it, he probably wouldn’t be able to take care of Cody on his own.

Being around Shaun felt like standing next to an open fire - yet the warm was only softly enveloping Zach, never burning him. Shaun’s presence was comfortable and exciting at the same time. It made Zach desperately burn for his touches yet absolutely content when Shaun directed a smile at him.

Zach’s been falling in love with Shaun for a long time now, but it was only in the last two weeks he was willing to admit it to himself.

He parked the car next to their apartment building, balanced all of his art supplies and started going up the stairs. Thank god it was Friday. Zach really looked forward to a lie in tomorrow and some time spent with Cody. Perhaps they could go out for ice cream? They hadn’t been anywhere the whole week. Zach knew it was alright - Cody went to school and was kept busy - but still felt mildly guilty about it.

And, if they managed to tire Cody sufficiently - to put him to sleep early - maybe they’d have time to ... to do more and for longer than for the past week. Sex-vise, that was.

Zach unsuccessfully tried to fight the blush that was climbing on his cheeks. This was stupid, really. They’ve done more than enough. There was no need for Zach to blush just thinking about sex.

Balancing his art supplies for the weekend in one hand, he unlocked the door with the other, and stepped inside the apartment.

It was like stepping into a different universe. Music was blasting from the kitchen so loudly Zach was surprised he couldn’t hear it on the corridor. Underneath the steady beat, he could make out Cody’s giggling.

Curious, Zach carefully lowered his supplies onto the short bench and kicked off his shoes, before venturing across the hallway and into the main part of the apartment.

Shaun was standing in the middle of the kitchen that was doubling as the dining room, Cody sat on his shoulders. They were dancing to the music, Cody with a spatula in his hand. Beside them, pasta was cooking on the stove and - were those cookies in the oven? It was definitely cookie dough all over Cody’s face.

Zach smiled. Although this was not an unusual scene to come back to, he didn’t think he’ll ever get used to it.

Cody spotted him first.

“Daddy!” His yell was louder than the music, which was quite a feat. Shaun winced and the volume and helped Cody down from his shoulders, throwing a hello smile in Zach’s direction. Afterwards, Zach’s vision was obscured by Cody jumping into his arms. He bend down and caught him, hugging him tightly.

“Hey, Cody-man. How’s your day been?”

Cody made a disgusted face. In the background, Shaun turned the music down.

“Booring. We had to read this whole thing, and-“ Zach let the boy’s chatter wash over him like calming tides of the ocean. He’s missed this. Ridiculous, since it’s barely been twelve hours since they have last seen each other, but . . . Well. If he could take Cody into school with him, he would.

Shaun finished making dinner and setting the table, letting them catch up. The smell was delicious, a bit of garlic and that Italian seasoning Shaun started to use once he realised how much Zach liked it. Once Shaun was finished with the table, Cody finally detached himself from Zach and started dividing the spaghetti into plates. He got pasta everywhere but the plates in the process, of course.

Taking advantage of his distraction, Shaun slid over to Zach.

“Hey, babe,” he murmured. Perhaps he didn’t consider a simple smile an adequate greeting. He circled his arms around Zach’s waist, drawing him closer. Zach happily let himself be pulled, soaking in the moment.

Shaun smelled of cooking and freshly done laundry. Zach couldn’t resist pressing himself closer and burrowing his face in the crook of Shaun’s neck, breathing in deeply. He caught a whiff of cologne, probably from this morning, and the deeper, spicier smell that Zach was still unable to identify but that has now been irrevocably associated with Shaun. It also had the unfortunate effect of making Zach want to lick him.

He contented himself in pressing several small kisses on Shaun’s neck, before leaning in for an actual kiss.

No matter how many times they did it, the moment their lips brushed was never less than amazing. It was like static in the tips on Zach’s fingers and toes, all tingly and exciting.
They kept the kiss short and sweet - Cody was just there, after all - yet when they separated, Zach felt warm all over, melted in Shaun’s arms. One look at the soft intensity in Shaun’s eyes told him he wasn’t the only one feeling that way.

“Daddy? Daddy!”

Ah, right.

They definitely weren’t alone.

Zach disentangled himself from Shaun’s arms, checking quickly he wan’t too upset by the interruption. He wasn’t expecting him to be, but it was still a relief to see the fond exasperation on Shaun’d face.

“What’s up, Codester?” Cody proceeded to proudly show off his spaghetti-eating skills, all while pilling sauce on the table over the pasta that were already scattered there. Zach winced internally, glad they had the foresight not to put any table cloth on.

He cleaned up Cody’s mess, and when he sat down to eat, Shaun reached across the table and tok his left hand. It was a bit awkward, to try and eat only with one hand while listening to Cody and not getting distracted by Shaun, who started to trace absent-minded patterns with his thumb on the back on Zach’s hand.

Even so, Zach could definitely get used coming back home to this.