how could i ignore you, trust me i adore you
Travis had ingrained himself into Nolan’s life in ways that Nolan didn’t even notice at first. Little ways like Nolan didn’t normally use his voice in the mornings before seeing Travis, so it always cracked when he greeted Travis. Or he adjusted his run route and time in the morning so he ended up right at the edge of Travis’s driveway in time for Travis to invite him inside to say hey to the animals before he went home to do his yoga.
Whether Nolan liked to admit it or not, a lot of his time and priorities revolved around Travis and staying over at his house became the easiest thing for their new routine. Until one day Nolan actually got a letter in the mail. Carter’s graduation invitation.
He hadn’t thought in depth about Carter graduating, Nolan remembered that Carter had gone to his, and he knew in theory he should go to Carter’s, but he kind of forgot. When Nolan opened the invite an extra sheet of paper fell out of the envelope, and he picked it up.
I gave you till Halloween to make a move. I expect you to bring your boyfriend as a plus one.
And because he was an asshole, it was signed:
Lots of love,
The best thing that ever happened to you (besides TK)
Travis came up behind him, “What’s that, Patty?”
“Carter’s graduation invitation.”
He raised his eyebrows, “You gonna go?”
Nolan shrugged, “Yeah, probably. Gonna have to drive the four hours back to the city,” and after a moment’s pause, bit the bullet, “you wanna come with?”
Nolan was so fond of this dumbass, “No, Lettuce. Yes, you.”
“I don’t want to intrude,” Travis told him, softly, looking down at his feet.
With a sigh, Nolan thrusted the small sheet of paper into his view and Travis took it hesitantly. His shoulders relaxed, and Nolan hadn’t really noticed how much they had tensed over the course of their conversation.
“So you’ll go?”
He nodded with a small smile, “I’ll go.”
They’d been going on dates since The Talk. Nolan sat Travis down the next morning with a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee and told him, “I really like you, and now I know you like me. I know that we’ve got each other and I know that you make me feel at home and warm. That’s enough for me, just to know. If you have anything else you need from me to be reassured that I’m into you, please let me know now.”
Travis looked incredibly overwhelmed and looked like he was contemplating face planting into the oatmeal. He blinked hard a few times and cleared his throat, “Wow, you um, really put it on the table. I really want to date you, but can I think about that last question for a bit?”
Nolan reached out and squeezed his shoulder reassuringly, “Of course, Teeks.”
And after that, he mostly stayed out of Travis’s way. Nolan went for a run and back to his place to make another batch of jam and to water his plants. He didn’t go back to Travis’s until the end of the day for dinner, and Travis had made a whole mess and a three course meal while he was gone.
There was a candle on the table that was set, even though they normally sat at the bar, and Travis was twisting a dish towel in his hands nervously.
“I’ve been thinking about what you asked this morning.”
“Wanna tell me what you came up with?”
Travis took a shaky breath, “It’s kind of hard for me to decipher my feelings sometimes, but I can tell they’re there because everything is super magnified. Tenderness and attention are important. I just want someone who I can be soft with and the knowledge that they can be soft with me.”
Nolan nodded, “We’ll work on it, eh? Relationships take effort.”
And that was that.
So Nolan had seen Travis pretty dressed up on some of their dates, or so he thought. But nothing prepared him for how good Travis could look. Nolan let out a long whistle, “Damn Teeks, who knew you cleaned up that nicely.”
Travis shrugged with a slight blush, “Gotta impress your city friends.”
Nolan wasn’t entirely sure how to reassure him properly, so he settled with pressing a kiss to Travis’s forehead, “You impress me,” and after a moment’s pause, “can you do my tie for me?”
Travis rolled his eyes, fond expression on his face, and held his hand out for the tie. Nolan handed it to him and stepped into Travis’s personal space. With a look of concentration on his face, Travis gently tied it for him and tightened his tie up.
“Thanks, Trav,” Nolan told him with another kiss on the forehead, “you ready?”
“As I’ll ever be, I guess.”
Wherever they went, Travis normally drove, but because Nolan knew Toronto better, he argued that he should drive. Travis eventually gave in, albeit grumpily, and pouted in the front seat for the first hour, even though Nolan let him pick the music.
As they got closer and closer, Travis tensed up more and more. At a red light about ten minutes from the school, Nolan reached over and put a hand firmly on his shoulder, “Now you know how I felt meeting your friends.”
Travis huffed out a humorless laugh and reached up to give Nolan’s hand a quick squeeze, “Yeah, I guess I understand the nerves now.”
“Carter is really excited to meet you in person, and Provy will probably give you a hard time but he’s harmless.”
“What’s the plan after?”
“Carter wants to go to the bar we used to hang out at on weekends and then he’s coming back with us for a bit.”
Travis didn’t look the most thrilled about that, but Nolan hoped after they officially met things would get better. He really wanted them to get along.
Carter’s graduation was just as boring as he remembered his was, and Travis got more and more fidgety as the minutes ticked by. Eventually, Nolan reached out and grabbed his hand so Travis would stop playing with his fingers. He leaned over and whispered, “Almost done.”
Travis squeezed his hand and rubbed his thumb over Nolan’s knuckle. He squeezed one more time before whispering back, “Ready to get that drink, honestly.”
“God, me too.”
And so was Carter. He didn’t stop to talk to anyone, just quickly introduced himself to Travis, threw one arm around Nolan and the other around Travis before leading them out of the auditorium. Carter was talking to them a mile a minute, “I’ve got to pee so fucking bad, let’s stop before we get out of here, boys.”
Travis and Nolan waited outside the bathroom and Travis gave him an amused look, “Carter is, a lot.”
“Yeah, I told you he was excited to meet you.”
Travis wrapped an arm around his torso, “I guess I should listen to you more often.”
They’d turned away from the bathroom door and both startled when Carter clapped loudly behind them, “Let’s get some drinks, I’m a free man and ready to party!”
“Free is generous because of all of the student debt, but okay,” Nolan responded teasingly.
Carter beamed at him, “Pot, kettle, asshole. Just gotta find me a nice sugar mommy or daddy and I’ll be set.”
Travis straight up cackled in response. Nolan covered his eyes with one of his hands, “God I can’t take you anywhere.”
“You love me,” he told Nolan before turning to Travis, “he loves me,” and after a slight pause, “not as much as he loves you though.”
“Get in the car, Hartsy.”
They let Carter get absolutely fucked up. Travis met Provy and Sanny and they all got along like a house on fire. Nolan was absolutely thrilled about it. Not that he needed his friends’ approval, but it was nice to have anyway.
They poured Carter into the backseat and started the long drive back. He passed out almost immediately, and Nolan glanced over at Travis, “While Carter is visiting, I figured I’d move back across the street.”
Travis looked a little sad but nodded anyway, “You’ll come back after though, right?”
“If you want me to come back, I will, Trav.”
He nodded once before turning up the music.
It was an absolute act of congress to get Carter and his bag inside the house as he was out cold. Nolan dropped him on the couch and pulled his shoes off. Travis draped a blanket over him before stretching up on his toes to give Nolan a quick kiss, “See you tomorrow, yeah?”
“Yeah, I’ll stop by normal time after my run.”
He went to bed shortly after. It was hard to get to sleep without Travis’s steady breathing next to him but somehow he managed. The next morning, it hurt to peel his eyes open to his alarm, but he got up and dragged on a pair of running leggings and a pullover.
Carter was still out and Nolan kneeled down next to the couch, shaking him gently, “Wake up, Hartsy, let’s go for a run.”
He groaned and shifted a few times, stretching his legs out, before grumpily cracking open one eye, “Time’s it?”
“Fucking hell, Patty. Why so early?”
“Travis is coming for coffee at 9, I like to get my yoga in before then.”
“Fine,” he sat up with a loud groan. Carter stood up reluctantly and stumbled over to his bag to pull out some workout clothes before heading to the bathroom. He came out a few minutes later looking much more awake than before with a grin on his face, “You taking up knitting, Patty?”
“Gonna make me some socks?”
“If you want.”
“Let it be my Christmas gift. Still expect a graduation gift though.”
Nolan rolled his eyes, “My graduation gift is this fun vacation.”
“And we’re kicking it off with a workout?”
“Precisely. Now get your shoes on.”
They ran in silence for a while, both of them with headphones in. It was as peaceful as usual, watching the sun come up. Carter paused for a minute at the top of a hill and motioned for Nolan to take a headphone out.
“How much longer are we going?”
Nolan caught his breath for a few seconds before answering, “We can just come back the way we came.”
“Race?” Carter asked eagerly.
Nolan laughed, “Yeah, sure, bud. Let’s race.”
It took them a lot less time getting back at a full sprint, and it was close but Nolan beat him back. They stopped at Travis’s driveway, and Nolan motioned to the house, “Wanna go in?”
Carter shook his head, a small smile on his face, “You go, I’m gonna go hydrate as much as possible and stretch out a little.”
“I’ll be like 30 minutes, don’t fall back asleep.”
“Aye aye, captain.”
Travis was leaning against the kitchen counter when Nolan let himself in and beamed when he saw him, “Wasn’t sure you were gonna make it.”
“Don’t be a dumbass, Teeks. I wouldn’t break routine.”
“Not this one.”
Travis’s smile softened around the edges, “Still on for coffee later?”
“I wanna go skating, Patty,” Carter told him from where he was stretched out on the floor.
“It hasn’t even snowed yet, Hartsy.”
“No but look,” he shoved his phone into Nolan’s face, “it’s gonna snow the next three days. And we can rollerblade until then.”
“Did you even bring rollerblades?”
Carter rolled his eyes, “I always bring skates everywhere I go. Text Travis, see if he wants to come.”
Nolan raised his eyebrows but did as Carter suggested. Travis responded that he had some stuff to do that afternoon, and Nolan made a mental note to check on him. He hadn’t done much with them and Nolan was starting to get worried.
“Teeks can’t come,” he told Carter.
Carter frowned, “Is everything okay with you two?”
“I thought so, but now I’m not sure.”
Humming thoughtfully, Carter rejoined him, both of their skates and two thick sweaters in hand. Nolan took his and they walked to the porch to strap them on and suit up. Carter nudged him when he noticed the velcro on Nolan’s skates, “Still can’t tie your shoes, Pat?”
“Fuck off, Hartsy,” he snapped back, knocking Carter off balance.
“It comes from a place of love, Patty. How do you wear tennis shoes?”
Nolan hated to admit it, “They stay tied, I just slide them on.”
Carter cackled and Nolan skated away to avoid his replies.
Travis finally agreed to join them for dinner, and Nolan was cooking for once. He made chili and Carter made vegan eggnog and brownies. His house smelled phenomenal, and they were both wearing Christmas sweaters. It wasn’t quite Christmas, but Carter was leaving the next morning, so they were exchanging gifts later that night.
Nolan was just glad Travis could make it because Carter had a gift for him and hopefully they could get to the bottom of the sudden coldness.
As dinnertime got closer and closer and he still hadn’t heard from Travis, Nolan started to get worried. He tried to hide how shitty he was feeling about the sudden radio silence, but Carter could read him pretty well.
Finally, 6:30 hit, dinner was at 6:00, and Carter tugged on an extra jacket and hat and called out, “I’ll be back, pour yourself some eggnog, bud.”
Travis wasn’t expecting it when Carter barged into his house. He knew it was past time for dinner, and he did feel a little bad, but he really didn’t want to take up their time. Plus, it was hard for him to see them so buddy buddy. He’d never seen Nolan that joyful before and it made him feel yucky.
“Bro, what the fuck!”
He startled as Carter stormed into the room in shorts, boots, and a ridiculous Christmas sweater. Travis raised his eyebrows, and didn’t quite answer his question, “What’s up with the fit, dude?”
“It’s the dress code. Which I know for a fact you received because I read the text.”
“Oh shit, that was tonight?” he knew it sounded weak.
Carter scoffed, “Yeah, it’s tonight. Maybe stop being an asshole and think about how shitty Nolan feels being ghosted by his boyfriend.”
“I’m,” Travis hesitated, “not ghosting him. I’m giving him space so you two can hang out.”
He sat up to let Carter sit next to him. Carter rolled his eyes, “Look, I don’t know what your deal is, but Nolan was really looking forward to us hanging out. All of us. You know, like you drag Nolan to do shit with your friends that he barely knows.”
And when he put it that way, Travis felt pretty bad.
“I just don’t - “
Carter interrupted him, “Are you jealous?”
“No,” he answered too fast.
“Right, I’m gonna say this one time. I’ve never seen that boy as happy as he is right now. Well not right now I guess because he thinks you’re on the verge of dumping him, but he genuinely cares for you. He is my brother and I care so much for him that I would lay my life down to see him happy. I’m not going to sit by and let you throw that back into his face.”
“That wasn’t what I was trying to do.”
“Then get your ass up, get a sweater on, and come eat dinner. Nolan cooked and he’s probably pouting on the couch. If he cries, I will kick your ass.”
Travis felt a little better while getting dressed before following Carter across the street to Nolan’s. The house was warm inside and smelled like a Christmas tree, and Nolan was sitting at the table, chin in his palm, staring out the window with a morose look on his face. Travis didn’t like that he probably put it there.
The cautiously hopeful look Nolan cast his way when he saw Travis standing there almost broke his heart. Like he couldn’t believe Travis would show up. Which, to be fair, he had every right to believe that.
He didn’t move and Travis’s heart actually hurt. Travis walked across the room and wrapped his arms around Nolan who buried his head into Travis’s hip. With that action something settled in Travis’s chest and he squeezed Nolan a little closer. Fuck did he miss his boy.
Carter gently cleared his throat after a few minutes and Nolan jumped up, “Right, I have chili and eggnog. I was going to ask if you were good with it, Trav, but I didn’t want to push it and figured it’d be okay.”
“Sounds great, Pat.”
Nolan smiled widely and gestured toward the counter, “I have bowls. I’m gonna go get the presents I have for you guys really quick so help yourselves.”
Carter looked amused as he grabbed a bowl and mug. He looked over at Travis, “He does this thing where he makes something homemade as a gift every year to go with Christmas chili.”
“He does this a lot?”
“We stayed on campus for winter break our freshman year because of a snowstorm and we made the best meal we could with what limited food we had and did a roomie Christmas. And it extended every year past that. He was really excited to include you this year.”
Nolan came back, two small bags clutched in his hands. He held them to his chest for a few seconds, “Okay, I’m not the best yet, but I really tried.”
He handed them each a bag and waited anxiously for them to open them, biting his lip. Travis opened it curiously and couldn’t stop the wide smile from crossing his face, “Dude, is this a scarf?”
Nolan nodded, smiling at him, “You like?”
“Fuck yeah dude, Flyers colors!”
“I remember you said that was your favorite team growing up.”
Travis wrapped Nolan in a tight hug and planted a kiss on his cheek, “I love it.”
When he looked over to see what Carter got, he was sliding across the floor in a pair of red and blue socks. He tackled Nolan, “Habs colors, baby!”
“Merry Christmas, guys,” Nolan told them both with a wide smile, “let’s eat.”
Normally Nolan woke up at the alarm Travis set, but one morning was different. Travis was a light sleeper, and he felt Nolan start to shift early. When he opened his eyes, Nolan was smiling down at him and looked ethereal in the muted lighting of Travis’s bedroom.
“Why’re you awake?” Travis asked with a groan and a yawn.
“First snow of the year, I wanna go outside.”
“What time is it?”
Travis sighed and rolled onto his stomach, “Fine.”
Nolan jumped out of bed and started putting on layers enthusiastically. Travis was exhausted from lying awake at night, thinking about the conversation they hadn’t had yet. He slowly got up and put on a thick jacket and pair of socks and scarf Nolan made him.
“If you hurry, I’ll make breakfast,” Nolan told him, sliding a pair of zippered boots on.
And with that, Travis hurried up. Who could resist an offer like that.
Travis knew Nolan was from Winnipeg and that he was used to the snow, but there was still a childlike wonder on his face as he held his palms up to catch snowflakes. They caught on his long eyelashes and he stuck his tongue out to catch a few.
Watching him carefully, Travis’s heart physically hurt. Nolan walked over to him and held his hand out, “Come make snow angels?”
“We’ll get all wet,” Travis complained halfheartedly.
“We can go inside and change right after, come on, Teeks.”
And who was he to deny this boy that he loved.
After a few minutes of snow angels, neither of them had moved from the ground and Travis turned his head to look. Only to find Nolan staring back at him, the joy gone from before. Nolan shifted onto his side and raised a hand to trace Travis’s lips.
“I’m so sorry.”
“What,” Travis blurted, confused.
“I should’ve done more to include you. To show you that you’re still my number one guy.”
Travis rolled to face him, already shaking his head, “No, Pat, I’m sorry is supposed to be my line.”
“I should’ve seen it earlier.”
“I didn’t want you to see,” Travis started, “but I want you to know that I do want to be your favorite boy. I want you to be happy most of all and I thought giving you time with Carter alone would do that.”
“I wouldn’t invite you if I didn’t want you there.”
Travis chuckled, “I see that now. I’ll try to believe you from here on out.”
After getting dried off, Nolan made breakfast and then demanded they make Christmas cookies. In no time at all, Travis’s counter was cleaned and covered in flour as Nolan rolled out homemade dough. Travis dug in the back of his cabinets until he found really old cookie cutters he vaguely remembered using as a child.
Nolan split the dough in half and started making a batch of frosting. Travis wasn’t entirely sure where the baking prowess had suddenly come from, but he wasn’t complaining. He zoned out for a second, thinking about it, and when he came back to, Nolan was licking frosting off his fingertips.
“Bro,” Travis told him, “how the fuck could you do this to me?”
“I have to make sure the sugar ratio is right.”
It took about 45 minutes to get through the dough and set the cookies on a sheet to start baking. It would take at least five rounds to get through them all, so Travis pulled Nolan to the couch to pick up their Sims family.
“I totally think we should get a dog.”
“We have a cat, Trav. We can’t just get a dog, it might hate Pie.”
Travis pinched his thigh, “In the Sims, dumbass.”
“Oh,” Nolan paused, “well in that case, we’re naming our dog Cake.”
“It kind of matches with Pie.”
Travis fucking loved this boy.
Travis finally brought Nolan to an ODR. He drove, one hand on the wheel, one hand held by Nolan, sitting in his lap. There had been a blush on Nolan’s cheeks ever since Travis had taken his hand, so he wasn’t letting go any time soon.
It was a short drive, and when they got there Travis grabbed both pairs of skates out of the back seat. He tossed the bigger pair to Nolan and started tying up his own. When he finished, Travis realized Nolan hadn’t tied his.
“Come on, Noley, I wanna skate.”
“Can’t what? Skate? I saw you rollerblading and it’s basically the same thing. Plus, I’ll hold your hand the whole time.”
Nolan rolled his eyes, “First of all, it’s not the same thing at all. Second of all, I physically can’t until you tie my skates.”
“You tie them.”
There was no answer for a few minutes until a quiet, “I can’t.”
So Travis immediately dropped to one knee and started tying Nolan’s skates as quickly and delicately as he could. He could feel Nolan staring at him, and he risked looking at Nolan’s face. What he didn’t expect was for Nolan to be staring straight at him.
“Thanks,” he whispered as Travis stood and helped him up.
“Anytime,” Travis told him, still hanging onto his hand as they stepped out on the ice together.
They skated in silence for a while before Nolan started swinging their hands between them, “Hey.”
“Hey,” Travis responded.
“You’re really loved, Trav.”
It was said so earnestly, so honestly, that Travis felt like someone had opened his chest and ripped out his heart.
“I love you too, Nolan.”
And right then Travis tripped, sending them both into a nearby snowbank.
“Fuck!” Nolan yelped, standing up quickly, reaching down to help Travis up who had burst into laughter and couldn’t get up alone.
“I’m sorry, that was just such bad timing,” Travis managed to force out between giggles.
“Fucking menace. We’re gonna catch a cold soon, Trav.”
“Hey not if we shower together. No one has to wait and we’ll save water, it’ll be good for the environment!”
“Good for the environment, my ass,” Nolan muttered, but didn’t resist as Travis led them off the ice.