Cody always tried to be quiet when he got up on the weekend. He knew Zach and Shaun liked to sleep in. As much as Zach appreciated the thought and loved to be able to wake up slowly, stretching out in the bed beside Shaun and stealing a few good-morning kisses before making his way to the living room for cartoons and cereal on Saturday morning, he hated that Cody thought he had to. He didn’t know what Cody was feeling – he was stubborn when it came to talking about certain things – but he didn’t want Cody to ever feel that he had to behave a certain way in order to keep Zach and Shaun happy, that they might leave him the way Jeanne did if he wasn’t good enough.
Also, for all that he had been doing it for years, Cody wasn’t too fond of having to keep himself entertained for too long. So, the morning that Zach woke up and noticed the clock said 10:30, he freaked out a little bit. He freaked out even more when he realized he could smell bacon and Shaun was most definitely still a warm presence in the bed beside him.
“Cody!” Zach was out of bed and halfway down the hall before his mind even registered the fact that there were two voices in the kitchen. He stopped in the doorway, trying to decide who he wanted to yell at first – Cody for not waking him up, Gabe for being there, or Shaun for giving Gabe a key in the first place.
“Uncle Zach!” Cody was sitting on the counter, kicking his heels against the wood panels and happily handing eggs to Gabe one at a time. “Uncle Gabe and I are making breakfast!”
“I see that, Codester.” Zach took a minute to let his heart stop racing and stepped around the two of them to get to the coffeemaker.
Gabe turned around to grin at Zach. “Thought we were gonna have to bring it to you, sleepyhead. Where’s my big brother?”
Shaun made a noise – part affirmation, but mostly just a grunt – from where he had appeared at the doorway and reached out to take the mug of coffee Zach was holding out to him. “Remind me why we gave Gabe a key?” His voice was husky with sleep, and Zach had to really try not to smile at him just for that.
“Fuck that ‘we’ shit. You gave him a key. I know better.” Zach stole a kiss on his way out of the room, taking his own coffee with him.
A few hours later, Zach was back at the kitchen table, sketchpad in front of him. He was supposed to be working on a project for school, but instead he was just fucking off, sketching out a rough picture of Gabe and Cody concentrating on their slice-and-bake cookies.
“Gabe’s good with him.”
Zach froze for a minute, startled, and then went back to his sketch with a shrug. “Gabe’s always been good with Cody.” And it was true. Gabe may have given Zach a fair ration of shit over how much responsibility he’d taken on, but he’d always been there. He and Tori both. Shit. He was trying not to think of Tori today, not because he missed her or because he wasn’t happy with where he was now, but because this was the first Valentine’s day in eight years that he wouldn’t be spending with her.
“That’s because they’re on the same age level, mentally.”
Zach couldn’t not laugh at that, because it was also true. Gabe was perpetually a child. A child who was currently eating raw cookie dough in Shaun and Zach’s kitchen on Valentine’s Day.
“Why is he here anyway? What happened to Lauren or Lola or whatever her name was?” It wasn’t that Zach didn’t want Gabe around, but it was Valentine’s Day. His and Shaun’s first Valentine’s Day, as if Zach hadn’t already been freaking out enough about that.
“Laurel,” Gabe spoke up, glancing at them with his serious face on. “Her name is Laurel, and she’s off at some fundraiser today, trying to drum up support against gay marriage. I don’t think I’ll be seeing her again.”
Zach could only imagine how well that confrontation had gone over. Gabe was fiercely protective over the people he loved.
“So you have no plans tonight?” Shaun asked.
“None at all, except for crashing your party,” Gabe answered cheerfully, and turned back to help Cody slide the cookie sheets into the oven. He set the timer and high-fived Cody before helping him down from the counter. “If you want me to watch the munchkin for a while, I can probably be persuaded with pizza and beer.”
Zach looked at Shaun and shrugged. It was too late for them to get reservations anywhere, and any place that didn’t have reservations was probably going to be packed. And asking Gabe to keep Cody occupied while Zach and Shaun snuck off to the bedroom for a few hours would probably bring up more Cody-questions than Zach wanted to make up answers to. “Apparently he only comes over here so we’ll feed him. We have got to find him a girl.”
“Or a boy.”
“Oh, no,” Gabe laughed. “You are welcome to the boys, bro. Or not, since I will kick your ass if you fuck over this dipshit. Besides, with the two of you off the market, that means more girls for me!”
Zach threw his pencil at Gabe. “Fucker.” They all knew that what he really meant was best friend.
Shaun took the sketchpad away from Zach and flipped it closed. “How about you two make a beer run, and maybe go by and pick up a couple movies?”
There was something fishy about that scenario, but Zach didn’t know exactly what it was. Zach’s suspicions grew when his and Gabe’s beer-and-movie-run stretched out to be a couple hours worth of running around.
“What are you stalling for?” Zach finally asked, while they were browsing through the card section of yet another store. Zach didn’t know who Gabe was trying to find just the right card for, but they’d been to three stores already and Gabe had vetoed everything he’d picked up.
“Who says I’m stalling?” Gabe grinned at him. “Maybe I just want to spend some time with my best friend, man! With work and school and bullshit, I never see you anymore, and now I have to compete with Cody and Shaun for your attention.”
Zach shook his head. “You’ll always be my best friend, Gabe, you know that.”
“Aww, dude, you’re not gonna get all schmoopy on me, are you? Tell me how amazing I am and how much my friendship means to you?” Gabe put back the pink and flowered monstrosity of a card that was in his hand and picked up another one.
Zach rolled his eyes and punched Gabe in the shoulder, maybe a little bit harder than necessary. “Fuck you, man.”
“Naw, man, fuck you.” Gabe’s laugh faded into a sigh as he apparently gave up on the card search. “And fuck this. I don’t need actually a card anyway.”
Zach followed Gabe out of the store and out to the Blazer. Gabe was texting on his cell – Zach assumed he was probably making sure it was okay if they came back to the house.
“Did you get a card and flowers for Shaun?” Gabe asked.
“No. Flowers are too girly, Gabe, c’mon.” Zach wondered if maybe he should have gotten flowers, after all. With Tori he’d always known the deal: flowers, a schmoopy card, candy, a teddy bear. It was easy, but what he felt for Shaun was worth a little work. And he didn’t think flowers were the way to go. He also didn’t like any of the cards he’d seen, and he didn’t want to write one on his own. Words were Shaun’s strong point, not his. “I… uh, I drew him something.”
He hadn’t given it to him yet, and he thought maybe he should steal the time to do that when they got back to the house. When they got there, though, they were greeted with the sight and smell of dinner on the table, salad and grilled chicken and the broccoli-cheese-rice thingy that Cody liked so much. It wasn’t the meal that came to mind when Zach thought “romantic”, but it was simple enough that he knew Cody could help with most of it and it had been made with love, so that was more than enough to make him smile.
Dessert was chocolate swirled cheesecake with fresh strawberries, and Zach knew he was going to need to burn off some serious calories. Then he caught Shaun looking at him and knew it wasn’t going to be a problem.
After dinner, they popped in one of the videos Zach and Gabe had picked up and settled down to watch. Gabe stretched out on the floor, letting Cody use him for a pillow, with Zach and Shaun on the couch.
“Hey,” Shaun said quietly, catching Zach’s hand in his. “I love you, you know?”
“I know.” Zach smiled. “I love you too.”
A little later, Zach’s phone buzzed with a new text message from Tori: Men suck. :(
Zach shook his head and tilted the screen so Shaun could read it as he texted back. Some of us do. ;)
Shaun shifted around and whispered, “You gonna demonstrate that later?” before he pulled Zach closer and kissed him, mostly sweet and just barely on the far side of innocent.
“Hey, you two, cut that shit out!” Gabe threw a handful of popcorn at them. “Cody and I are too young and impressionable to see that shit.”
Zach laughed and flipped the bird at Gabe behind Shaun’s back, but settled down against Shaun instead of pointing out that one, it was his and Shaun’s house, two, Cody had seen them kiss plenty of times, and three, Gabe was anything but impressionable.
Zach’s phone buzzed again. don’t act so smug just b/c you got Shaun
Zach thought about it, and yeah, he was admittedly feeling a little smug about having Shaun in his life, but he was also lucky that he had Cody, and Gabe, and Tori.
Shaun took the phone out of Zach’s hand - we love you - and turned it off before tossing it onto the coffee table. “Hey, Gabe, you got Cody, right? We’re going to bed.”