Kelly stared down at the crumpled-up travel brochure and tickets in his lap.
All Inclusive Honeymoon in Caucun.
It had a happy couple holding hands on the beach at sunset. Kelly scoffed. He hadn’t even wanted to go to Cancun. It was his wife’s idea...ex-wife? Could he call her that if she’d left him at the altar? Kelly pondered that for a few seconds before deciding it didn’t really matter. Either way he hadn’t been about to let her take their honeymoon when she was already keeping the house they had picked out together.
He looked away from the pamphlet that held all their travel plans, that they’d so painstakingly planned out together and budgeted for, and at the empty seat beside him. It just made him even angrier. A flight attendant rolled by with the drink cart and the clinking of little bottles was music to his ears. “Fuck this. I’m getting drunk.”
Putting on his best smile Kelly managed to sweet talk the the flight attendant out of a few mini bottles and secured her promise to keep them coming. Kelly admitted to himself that it was probably his pathetic appearance that moment that made her give in rather than his actual charm, but either way he’d gotten booze, so he chalked it up as a win. His first one in awhile.
He twisted the cap off a random bottle and downed it in one gulp. Vodka. It burned a little bit and he looked out the window to hide his distaste. The window seat. That was supposed to be his wife’s because if we aren’t going to be first class then at least I don’t want to be stuck in the middle Dear, I better get the window seat. He smiled bitterly remembering her words and reached for his wallet, pulling out the picture of her he always kept inside it. He tucked it into the middle seat and reached for another bottle. Tequila this time. “Enjoy the middle seat, baby” he muttered, lifting the bottle in mock cheers to the picture.
Kelly sighed before slamming back the shot; he was talking to himself and drinking alone with a photograph of his ex on an airplane before take off...it was not one of his proudest moments. The tequila hit the back of his throat and creating a warm buzz, and he felt eyes on him when he lowered the empty bottle.
“You gunna chase that?” The words were tinged with a hint of a Boston accent and amusement.
Kelly shrugged, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand before looking up. “Yeah, with another shot.”
“Alright. Then just don’t barf on me. It’s a long flight.” The other man laughed, lifting his bag up to stow it in the overhead above him.
Kelly was momentarily distracted by the way the man’s shirt rode up when he raised his arms, just enough to expose a patch of skin. He wanted to lick it, which must be the tequila talking because Kelly didn’t go around wanting to lick strange men. He may have be drinking alone on a plane, but he still had some dignity.
“I won’t barf on you,” he answered belatedly as the other guy slid into the aisle seat.
“That’s all I ask.” He gestured at the bottles surrounding Kelly, some empty, some unopened. “Bad day?”
Kelly cocked his head. “What gave it away?”
The man chuckled and Kelly took a moment to appreciate the way the sound made him feel warm all over or maybe that was just the after effects of the tequila. The man’s reddish hair and green eyes also made him feel warm.
“So you going to tell me why you’re drinking the airplane dry before take off? Or do I have to guess?”
“I’m doing everyone else a favor. Liquor is bad for you. This is charity really.”
“Yeah and I’m sure it has nothing to do with that picture stuck on the seat and the brochure on your lap.”
Kelly side eyed him. “What are you, some kind of detective.”
“Actually….” The man grinned and the warmth Kelly felt could now more accurately be defined as heat. “Yes.”
Kelly let out a groan. “Figures. Can’t a guy get drunk on an airplane and forget about getting left at the altar in peace these days?”
“Damn.” The man’s grin was gone and Kelly found that he missed it.
“Yeah.” Kelly said, tipping back another mini bottle.
Kelly was silent for a few moments as the plane continued to fill up. “Hey you aren’t going to arrest me for being drunk on a plane? That isn’t a thing is it?”
The redhead smirked at him “Just don’t barf on me.”
His companion remained quiet through the pre-flight checks and Kelly decided he should maybe wait for the plane to get in the air before his next drink. And it probably shouldn’t be tequila because it’s bad form to grope the person sitting next to you on a flight. At least he thought it would probably be frowned upon. Especially if that other person was a cop. Which was also kind of hot.
Nick tilted his head back against the seat, closed his eyes and tried not to think about weddings in general. In a few weeks he’d have to attend his best friend’s wedding, standing beside him as his best man, and all the while pretending that he wasn’t thinking about what it would be like to be standing across from him instead. He needed a distraction, which was what this trip was supposed to be, but he hadn’t even made it an hour in.
The obvious distraction would be to think about the man sitting next to him who was extremely fuckable. Nick stole a quick glance towards him and then closed his eyes again. That wasn’t such a good train of thought either, considering the guy was drunk and clearly getting drunker and not to mention he’d just been left at the altar by his wife. Still, thinking about what it would be like to press the guy up against the wall in a crowded space, say for example, an airplane bathroom, was a lot more fun than the alternative: spending the flight dwelling on Ty Grady and his wedding. Nick shifted in his seat and allowed his imagination to get a little creative.
Then someone poked him in the arm. “Hey you awake?”
He opened his eyes to see said flight companion leaning over the seat between them. He blinked hard rubbing at his eyes as he sat back to put some more distance between them. He hoped his thoughts weren’t as obvious as they felt. “I am now.”
“Oh good. I’m Kelly by the way.” He dropped his voice to a stage whisper. “Want a drink?”
Nick eyed the small bottle Kelly was holding below the seats like it was contraband and he decided to humor him. “Did you sneak all this booze on here? You know that isn’t exactly legal. Someone could arrest you for that.”
Kelly grinned. “Well you don’t exactly look like you’re on duty...unless you’re an undercover air marshal or something” His eyes widened. “Oh my God. Are you?”
Nick rolled his eyes. “No, I’m not.”
“But that’s exactly what you would say if you were….” He was eyeing him suspiciously now. “I know how you can prove it. Have a drink with me.”
“I’m not. Scouts honor.” Nick held up his hand.
The man’s eyes narrowed. “I’m not sure I believe you were a Boy Scout either.” Nick laughed, but said nothing, he wasn’t really sure getting drunk would lead him to great decisions. Kelly pouted at him. “Come on. I just got left at the altar and I’m about to go on my honeymoon alone. Have some sympathy man. Don’t make me drink alone.”
“You’re already drunk.” Nick pointed out helpfully.
“Yeah, but I could be drunker.” Kelly held out a mini bottle of whiskey and shook it at him. “Come on. I bet you’re a whiskey drinker.”
Nick took the bottle, pointing it at Kelly, “This is manipulation.”
Kelly grinned in victory. “Drink up, it’s on me.”
Nick opened the bottle and put it up to his lips, “In that case, for the next one I want something top shelf.”
“I’m not sure there’s a huge selection.”
Nick smiled. “Fine then, something Irish.”
“That we can do.” Kelly pulled out another bottle, Jameson this time.
“Seriously. Where the hell do you keep getting these?”
“The flight attendant and I have an arrangement.”
Nick shook his head. “I’m not sure I even want to know.”
“She brings me booze, I don’t spend the duration of the flight telling the entire plane my sad story.” Kelly smiled with more than a hit of self deprecation.
“I was married once.” Nick could feel the whiskey coursing through him already. Must be the altitude. “You dodged a bullet I think.”
Before he could stop himself he was spilling his entire story about how he got drunk one fateful night in Vegas and woke up married to a stripper. Nick hated telling that story, but sharing his own misfortune seemed to cheer Kelly up considerably, which seemed more important than his own shame upon recounting the experience.
By the time Nick finished the story they were both laughing.
“I can’t believe you don’t remember marrying her.”
“That isn’t even the worst part! I had to bribe her to get it annulled. She wouldn’t do it.”
“Wow Irish, those are some impressive commitment issues you’ve got.”
Nick cocked his head, “Irish?”
“Well I’ve just realized I don’t actually know your name.” Kelly smiled.
“Maybe that’s a good thing seeing as how I’ve just told you my most embarrassing story.” Nick was suddenly concerned about how easily he’d opened up to a virtual stranger.
“No fair. You know my name and you have a first class seat to my most embarrassing story because this whole drunk-on-a-pane-after-being-dumped-crying-to-a-complete-stranger thing, yeah it takes the cake. ”
“I don’t think you’re doing so bad.” Nick finished the Jameson and licked his lips. “Her loss. My gain. I’m Nick.”
“You’re just using me for my free booze,” Kelly teased.
Nick winked and for a second he thought he saw a blush cross Kelly’s cheeks but maybe the booze was just making him see things. He found that he liked talking to Kelly and he enjoyed making him laugh, which was incredibly easy considering they were both quickly approaching extremely tipsy, if not flat out drunk.
He also might really like fucking Kelly.
“So.” Nick cleared his throat, ignoring the turn his mind wanted to take. “This the ex?” He taped at the picture still on the seat between them.
“She didn’t want to sit in the middle,” Kelly slurred slightly. Nick nodded as if his explanation made all the sense in the world. “We’d been dating since high school,” Kelly continued unprompted. “After she didn’t show up for our wedding she told me that she loved me, she just wasn’t in love with me. I think she just liked the idea of getting married more than she liked me.”
“She could have had the decency to say something before you guys planned the wedding, man.”
Kelly shrugged. “It probably wasn’t all her fault.” He smiled sadly. “I wanted a family and a home. Marriage just kind of seemed like the next thing we were supposed to do. We were too busy planning our lives to realize we’d fallen out of love. I fucked up my marriage before it even started.”
“Hey. Don’t be so hard on yourself. At least you’ve got a vacation to look forward to.” Nick couldn't explain why but seeing Kelly lose his easy smile pulled at his heart.
“What am I supposed to do on a honeymoon by myself?” Kelly muttered.
Kelly huffed a laugh and fiddled with the wrapper around the mini bottle still in his hand. Then he tilted his face up towards Nick, his eyes shining with something almost hopeful. “Hey where are you headed anyway?”
“Um. My best friend is getting married.”
Kelly snorted. “A wedding. Small world. In Mexico?”
“Not exactly. I’m kind of here to escape the wedding.”
Kelly narrowed his eyes at Nick. “Why do I feel like you aren’t telling me the whole story.”
Nick looked down at his lap and away from Kelly’s wide honest eyes. Why was it so easy for Kelly to know something was going on when Nick’s own best friend couldn’t tell?
“Look, I know I’m just some drunk guy on a plane, but you look like you could use someone to talk to….and well, I sure as hell won’t judge you.” Kelly nodded at the scattered bottles and the picture of his ex-wife and managed a smile back at Nick.
Nick took a deep breath. “Weddings make me uncomfortable, all that commitment stuff. My sister convinced me a vacation would be a good idea before the wedding. Mexico was her idea, I would have been content just taking my boat out on the open water for a few days.”
“Wow stressed about commitment and it’s not even your wedding. Those really are impressive issues.”
Nick glared, “You said no judging.”
Kelly laughed. “I’m only teasing you. Isn’t it usually supposed to be the bride or the groom that get cold feet, not the friends?”
Nick’s voice got quiet. “My best friend is also my ex.”
Kelly made an understanding noise. “Ah. so you’re not going to go?”
Nick looked at Kelly taking a deep breath before answering. “I’m supposed to be his best man.”
Kelly looked confused and Nick sighed. “The groom is my best friend. We used to be together, and I was in love with him.” All these years and it still hurt to admit. Nick closed his eyes and looked away. He knew agreeing to be the best man to his ex-boyfriend was probably a horrible idea but Ty was also his best friend. He couldn’t have said no, despite how the thought made his stomach twist. He knew he would be there at the wedding beside his best friend when it came down to it, no matter what.
Nick snuck a glance at Kelly, who was chewing on his lip in thought. He braced himself for Kelly’s response, preparing himself for the other man to become uncomfortable with him.
“So...you don’t really have a lot of plans while you’re here…” Kelly sounded almost shy.
“You could say that I guess.” This was not the follow up question he had expected.
“So the thing about this honeymoon package. It’s all inclusive...drinks and everything….nicest room in the nicest hotel in the caribbean…. but it’s for two people.”
“Are you asking me to go on your honeymoon with you?” Nick asked slowly.
“No. Maybe. Do you want to?”
“That’s crazy. You don’t know me, I could be anyone.” Nick shook his head slowly in disbelief.
“I know you’re a cop and you’re Irish.”
“I’m a detective.”
“Well I thought I knew my wife and look how that turned out.” Kelly reached for another mini bottle.
The bitterness in Kelly’s tone made Nick pause. He didn’t know Kelly well enough to know if he was serious about Nick joining him or just tipsy and spitting out half cocked ideas. Regardless, he didn’t want to disappoint him by saying no. But was he really considering joining him? It would be crazy. The whiskey swirling around Nick’s head made him think that it might just be the good kind of crazy that Nick needed to actually enjoy his vacation.
Kelly moved closer to Nick, sliding into the middle seat and closing the small distance between them. He rested his hand on Nick’s thigh, and Nick could feel the burning heat through his jeans. Kelly looked straight at him, his eyes only a little glassy. “I’ll make it worth your while.”
Nick tried to stifle his gasp of surprise. Yes. This was definitely crazy. He could feel Kelly’s breath on his skin, the lingering scent of whiskey strong on his lips and all he wanted to do was taste them. It would be so easy to just lean forward and press his lips to Kelly’s, damn the consequences. He wasn’t even sure if Kelly was aware of how his hand had inched up his thigh but Nick was definitely aware, and he already half hard in his jeans.
“How about we let that thought settle with the whiskey, Kels?”
Kelly’s forehead wrinkled in confusion but he was still smiling. “Kels,” he whispered. “I like that.”
Kelly sat still staring at Nick with a dopey smile on his face for a few seconds until his gaze drifted down to Nick’s lips, and Nick swallowed self consciously.
“I don’t usually do this,” Kelly admitted.
Nick let out a small laugh. “What, invite complete strangers on a honeymoon?”
Kelly licked his lips and shook his head. “No… well yeah, that too.” Considering how drunk he’d seemed moments ago, Kelly was remarkably steady as he moved to whisper in Nick’s ear. “I don’t invite guys on my honeymoon with me, but I’m assuming the basic principle is still the same.”
Nick’s own sharp intake of breath was far from subtle. “Kels.” He pressed his hand against Kelly’s shoulder, gently pushing him back into the other seat and away from him. There was no way he could let this happen. “How about you ask me again when we land alright? I think you’re a bit of a lightweight,” Nick said gently.
“I’ve only had a few more than you.” Kelly screwed his eyes up at Nick. “And you’re not even drunk.”
“High tolerance. I’m Irish. Remember?”
“Yeah.” Kelly laid his head against the seat. “Irish and a Detective…. Hey Irish-”
When Kelly didn’t finish his sentence Nick turned to look at him, only to find that he was passed out asleep with his face pressed into the seat. Nick chuckled softly, knowing he was right to fend off his advances, despite how much he wanted Kelly. He probably wouldn’t remember it in the morning, and for some reason, that thought make Nick sad. He reached for an airline blanket and threw it over Kelly before leaning back in his own seat.