Kaner is the one to pester Shawzy about his wrists most often, partly because he has some sort of strange mentor thing going on with Shawzy and partly because, in his own way, he's as much of a pest as Shawzy is. So it's no surprise, taking over Kaner's living room after a win, that it's Kaner who snatches Shawzy's beer out from in front of him.
"Uh-uh," Kaner says as Shawzy tries to take it back. "You tell me what your wrist says and then you can have it."
Shawzy shrugs and stands up. "I'll get another one."
Kaner holds Shawzy's beer behind his back and doesn't move. "No way."
Shawzy steps to the left, and Kaner follows him. "Really? Your defense isn't that good."
"I don't need defense," Kaner says, "I have skill. Are you afraid I'll laugh at you? I won't, not even if your wrist says, like, Brunhilda."
Kaner might not be laughing, but half the room is, and Brandon catches Sharpy mouthing, "Brunhilda?" at Tazer, who's shrugging like Kaner's inexplicable even to him.
"Fuck off, Kaner," Shawzy says. He steps to the right, and Kaner follows him that way too.
"Is it because you're worried you won't find them? We could help, you know. I bet we know way more people than you do, and you know you can't always find your person by yourself."
Shawzy plants himself and stares Kaner down. "Give me my beer or get the hell out of my way."
"I just want what's best for you," Kaner says earnestly. If he weren't still being a dick and holding Shawzy's beer hostage, Brandon might almost believe him. "Do you think they'll reject you? I would, but whoever has your name probably won't."
Brandon hastily puts his beer down and gets between them before Shawzy can throw the punch he's winding up for. Behind him, he can hear Kaner saying, "I just want what's best for him," and Tazer saying, dry as anything, "Getting him to hit you isn't it."
Shawzy's trembling with repressed energy, and he snarls, "Fuck you, Kaner," around Brandon's arm.
"All right," Brandon says. "Enough. Let's go get you another beer." He steers Shawzy around the couch toward the kitchen. It helps that Tazer is pulling Kaner in the other direction.
Shawzy doesn't get a beer, paces the kitchen instead.
Brandon leans back against a counter and watches until Shawzy stops pacing and turns to face him.
"He doesn't get to say that shit to me."
"No," Brandon says, "he doesn't." He smirks a little. "I'm sure Tazer is telling him that right now."
Shawzy's shoulders go down, just enough to be noticeable.
"I've never seen you without your wristbands," Brandon says mildly.
Brandon would be lying if he said he'd never wondered about it. Shawzy is easy. Well, Shawzy isn't easy, but Brandon finds his friendship with Shawzy easy, the kind of effortless that's supposed to happen with whoever's on your wrist. Shawzy never goes by Andy, but that doesn't mean he isn't the Andy on Brandon's wrist. Brandon's never seen enough of Shawzy's handwriting to know if it's his scrawl across Brandon's skin. He's never seen Shawzy's wrists to look for his own handwriting.
"No," Shawzy says, hunching in on himself.
Brandon holds up his hands, silently letting Shawzy know he's not going to push it. Then, since they're in a kitchen, he looks around and asks, "Do you think there's any real food in here?"
"I don't know," Shawzy says, looking caught off guard by the change in subject. "Does Kaner cook?"
"Probably not," Brandon says. "But Amanda might." He steps past Shawzy to open the fridge. Kaner can live with them raiding his food. Brandon pulls out a couple of chicken breasts, a head of broccoli, a container of mushrooms, and half an onion. He gives Shawzy the vegetables and a knife while he finds some spices and a couple of pans.
Shawzy is competent enough in a kitchen to start the broccoli while Brandon deals with the chicken, and they have both the pans on the stove when Kaner comes into the kitchen.
"I was going to say sorry for being a dick, but not if you're eating my food."
Shawzy shrugs. "Boller's idea."
Kaner makes a disgusted noise and goes around both of them to get a handful of beers out of the fridge. When he leaves, they can hear him saying, "They're cooking," in a tone of utter disgust. "And not for all of us."
Brandon ignores it, and Shawzy rolls his eyes and pushes off the counter to get himself a beer out of the fridge. "You want one?"
Brandon eyes the food. "This really should have wine."
"You're such a snob," Shawzy says. He rummages around in Kaner's fridge and comes up with a bottle of wine that will pair nicely with the chicken and isn't the kind of horribly expensive thing Brandon would feel like they have to replace.
Brandon nods his approval of the wine, and Shawzy puts his unopened beer back and opens the wine instead. He opens five cabinets before he finds wine glasses, and mutters about how they could drink out of regular glasses if Brandon weren't a snob twice.
By the time Shawzy has the wine poured, the chicken's done, and Brandon has him grab plates since he's already been through Kaner's cabinets. After that, it's the work of an easy minute to plate the food and scrounge up silverware so they can eat.
Kaner has a dining room table, but when Brandon suggests that, Shawzy makes a face, and he doesn't seem to want to go back to the party with everyone else either, so they end up standing at the counter with plates and glasses of wine.
It's a companionable quiet that settles over them. They spend enough time together that they can just stand there and eat. They get left alone; Kaner took enough beer with him that no one else has come looking for more yet.
Saader does come in after a while, but he and Shawzy are close enough that it's not an intrusion.
"You're really not sharing." Saader leans against the counter next to Shawzy.
"Nope," Shawzy says.
Saader steals a piece of broccoli from Shawzy's plate.
"Not sharing," Shawzy says, but he doesn't pull his plate away when Saader reaches for another piece of broccoli.
Saader stays with them for a couple more minutes before he pats Shawzy's shoulder and says, "We all know Kaner's a dick."
Shawzy knocks his shoulder against Saader's. Saader pats his shoulder again and exchanges a nod with Brandon before he leaves the kitchen.
Shawzy ignores that interaction and steals a bite of chicken and mushroom from Brandon's plate.
"Hey," Brandon says.
"Saader took some of mine," Shawzy says.
"Well, I'm not feeding him."
"No," Shawzy says, "you're feeding me." He takes another piece of mushroom from Brandon's plate and grins at him, probably because he knows Brandon's not going to do anything to stop him.
He stops taking Brandon's food after that anyway, and they finish eating without any other interruptions.
"I helped cook, so you're going to help wash dishes," Shawzy says when they're done eating and are just sipping their wine.
"Leave them for Kaner," Brandon says. "He can deal with it."
Shawzy looks like he's going to agree to it for a moment before he makes a face.
"Neat freak," Brandon says.
"Yeah, yeah," Shawzy says. He starts stacking dishes in the sink. "I'll wash. You rinse."
They fall into a comfortable rhythm, Brandon stacking rinsed dishes in the empty dishwasher since Kaner doesn't have a dish drainer on his counter. Shawzy wipes down the counters.
Brandon holds up the wine bottle. "Do you want more of this or are you switching back to beer?"
Shawzy says, "Might as well finish it off," so Brandon refills both of their glasses.
Before Shawzy can take his glass, Brandon catches his wrist, over his wristband. He doesn't let go even though he can feel Shawzy tensing under his hand. "If you don't want to tell me about it, that's cool. But if you ever do, you can."
Shawzy carefully pulls his wrist away from Brandon and grabs for his wine glass. The wine isn't anything special, but it's still too good for the way Shawzy gulps at it.
Brandon wordlessly refills his glass.
"Okay," Shawzy says, and he relaxes, so Brandon probably didn't undo all the work he just did. "Thanks for feeding me."
It's a completely ungraceful change of subject, but Brandon goes with it. "I feed you all the time. No reason for this to be different." He picks up his wine glass.
"You're a better cook than I am," Shawzy says. He heads for the door of the kitchen, and Brandon follows him, completely braced for the chirping they're about to get for having wine when everyone else is drinking beer.
Brandon texts Shawzy, Where are you? because they were supposed to be meeting in Kaner's room ten minutes ago.
Shawzy texts back, 2 mins, and Brandon shakes his head and tunes into the conversation everyone else is having.
"Maybe it's Brunhilda," Kaner says, and that probably means he's talking about Shawzy's wrist again.
"It's not Brunhilda," Tazer says. "Where are you even getting this shit?"
"There was this movie I watched with my sisters where this guy-"
Sharpy claps a hand over Kaner's mouth. "Maybe he doesn't want to tell you because your reference points are terrible movies you watched with your sisters."
Kaner makes a muffled protest, then Sharpy makes a disgusted noise and pulls his hand away.
"Gross." Sharpy wipes his hand on Kaner's shirt. "Why does it matter so much to you anyway?"
"We know everyone else's," Kaner says, "even the weird ones like Man-child's A."
"Maybe he doesn't have one," Bicks says, which is the most depressing guess Brandon has ever heard.
"Maybe he had one who died or rejected him," Tazer says, which is now the most depressing guess about a person's wrist that Brandon has ever heard.
"And maybe he just doesn't want to talk about it," Saader says, "and you should stop trying to make him."
"I'm with Saader," Brandon says. "And Shawzy's going to be here any minute, so if you don't want to be a bunch of dicks," he crosses his arms over his chest and stands up straight to impress on Kaner and the rest of them how much they don't want to do that, "you'll change the subject now."
No one says anything for a good ten seconds, and then Bicks says, "Why can't we go to the sushi place we passed on the way in?" which restarts the previously settled argument about restaurants.
It's still going when Shawzy pushes through the door, jaw set, and asks, "You still haven't decided?" He jerks his chin at Saader. "Race you down the stairs."
Shawzy and Saader push each other out of the door and go racing down the hallway. Brandon jogs after them at a slightly more sedate pace. If it's a choice between watching them race down the stairs and listening to Bicks and Sharpy's continuing argument, he'll choose Shawzy and Saader.
As a group, they're just about to the stage of drunkenness where they either get philosophical or think everything is funny. Tonight is going to be a philosophical night, going by the way Kaner is holding forth on the glory of names.
"Like, you can fool around or whatever, but there's that one person who's right for you, and their name is on your wrist."
"Yes," Tazer says, "we know."
He's being very patient, while most of the table is either nodding along with Kaner or laughing at him. Brandon keeps an eye on Shawzy instead; Tazer can be trusted to keep Kaner in line, which leaves Shawzy to Brandon.
"But how great is that? Like, there's someone for everyone." He holds up his own wrist and stares dreamily at it.
"Oh, Peeks," Sharpy says. "Little Peekaboo, how naive you are in the ways of the world. Just because there is someone for you, doesn't mean it's magically perfect. You have to work at relationships."
"Amen to that," Duncs says, and he and Sharpy toast across the table.
"And you better believe it coming from him," Seabs says. "If the only one of us to have a strong enough connection to have a name on both his wrists" - Sharpy holds up both hands so they can all see the dark lines spelling out "Abby" on his wrists - "says it still takes work, you know it takes work."
Shawzy barks out a laugh that comes as a surprise even to Brandon, who's been watching him closely.
"I have two," Shawzy says when everyone turns to look at him. He's so very carefully not slurring his words that he has to have had even more to drink than Brandon thought. "Not the same, like Sharpy's. Different people." He holds up his covered wrists.
Brandon doesn't know much about what it means to have two different names, only that it's even rarer than two of the same name.
"Like you're going to have to choose between them?" Kaner asks.
Shawzy shrugs and looks down at the table, at the beer bottle he starts picking the label off of. "Maybe. Some people out there say you can have both of them without having to choose, but," he shrugs again, "I guess that's up to them."
"Do you-" Kaner starts to ask, and then he says, "Ow!" and even Brandon turns to look to see him glaring not at Tazer but at Saader. "I'm not trying to be a dick, okay?" he says to Saader, and then to Shawzy, "Do you know who they are?"
Shawzy shrugs, kills his beer, and stands up. "I need another beer. Anyone want anything?"
They have a waitress who's been taking good care of them, but no one mentions that to Shawzy.
"I could use another one," Brandon says, holding up his beer so Shawzy can see the label.
Shawzy nods at him and walks away from the table.
"Does that mean he knows or he doesn't?" Kaner asks.
"I'm pretty sure," Brandon says, "it means he doesn't want to talk about it."
"Yeah," Saader says. "Give it a rest."
Brandon ends up drinking enough that he wakes up hungover, does okay in practice, and falls into bed for a nap in the afternoon. He feels better after his too-long nap, and he throws things into a blender for a smoothie while he opens up his laptop. He puts the blender in the sink and takes his smoothie and laptop into the living room so he can be comfortable while he googles what it means to have a different name on each wrist.
The basic introductory stuff he finds all says the same thing Kaner did: that a person with two wrists has to choose between them, and someone gets left unhappy. The Wikipedia article goes a little farther, and has some links he clicks on that send him to pages where people talk about not choosing.
"Most of us share," one of the pages with a basic explanation says. "Threesomes sometimes work (and definitely do if each person has the other two people's names), but sharing almost always does, if everyone's willing to do the work for it."
Brandon reads the rest of the page and follows some of the links to other people's stories about having two names, or about having the name of someone with two names.
Brandon rubs his wrist. Shawzy having two names means he could still be Brandon's Andy.
Brandon finishes off his smoothie and lies down on the couch, laptop on his stomach, and idly clicks through his sister's latest batch of Facebook pictures while he thinks about the possibility that his name is on one of Shawzy's wrists. It would mean there's something to the way their relationship is so easy. It would mean he could have Shawzy around a lot more than he does now, sharing space and eating his food. It would mean he could find out what sex with Shawzy is like, and that's something he wants.
It would also mean sharing Shawzy, if that's what Shawzy and whoever is on his other wrist want, and that's harder to imagine. He's only ever thought of the Andy on his wrist as his. How he would ultimate feel about that probably depends, he thinks as he leaves a comment on the best of the pictures of his niece playing dress-up with her bff, on who the other person is. And he still doesn't know that he's on one of Shawzy's wrists.
Brandon wakes up too early in the morning - a hazard of going to bed early after having a hangover - with the kind of sudden clarity that comes from figuring out a problem while he sleeps. Shawzy didn't say he had two names on his wrists; he said he had two different people. He's close to Saader in a way that's similar to the way he's close to Brandon. Saader's wrist has a capital A. Saader's first name is Brandon.
Brandon gets out of bed and gets his laptop without bothering to do anything else first, like brush his teeth or get dressed or eat. Five minutes later he's staring down at a page like the ones he found yesterday with personal stories. This one is from a woman with two different names on her wrists. Her husband has her name on his, and her boyfriend has just her first initial.
"Common wisdom," she says, "suggests that an initial means a connection that isn't as strong. I wouldn't say that's true about us. It's different, sure, and BF doesn't have the personality type to be with someone all the time anyway, but it's still strong, and it still matters."
It's the personality type part that catches Brandon's attention. That's not him. If Shawzy is his Andy, he wants that to be a real commitment, as much time as they can stand to be around each other. But maybe that's Saader. He does have just a single letter on his wrist; maybe it's a weaker connection, but maybe it just means he'll love Shawzy as much as Brandon will but not want to be with him all the time.
If Shawzy is Brandon's Andy and Saader's A.
Brandon invites Shawzy and Saader over for dinner. He does think about the possibility that they're both on Shawzy's wrists, but mostly he does it because he does it sometimes, and it's been a while since the last time.
Brandon doesn't tell Shawzy to show up early and help, the way he does when it's just the two of them, but Shawzy does anyway. Brandon puts him to work cutting up vegetables while he gets out a couple of pans.
Shawzy talks the whole time, mostly telling Brandon stories about what his family's been up to and occasionally digressing into the plot of whatever he last watched on TV. Brandon mostly makes "mmhmm" noises when appropriate, except for when Shawzy starts dumping things into a pan.
"Keep the mushrooms out," Brandon says. "They're for the sauce."
"Yum," Shawzy says, and then the buzzer rings and Shawzy goes to let Saader in.
This is what it could be like if he's on Shawzy's wrist, only he'd also get to lean across the island in the kitchen and kiss him while they're cooking.
Brandon shakes off the thought and steps away from the stove to exchange a quick hug with Saader.
"It smells good," Saader says, leaning around Brandon to look into the pans on the stove.
Brandon glances at the steaks. "Ten minutes."
Saader and Shawzy lean against the counter. Shawzy starts over from the beginning of the story he was telling, and directs most of it toward Saader this time.
Brandon takes the steaks out, throws the mushrooms and some butter into the pan, and lets them cook down into a quick sauce while the steaks rest. He spoons sauce over the steaks, and then passes the plates to Shawzy to dish up rice and vegetables.
Shawzy's been in Brandon's kitchen enough to be able to plate things neatly, and he wipes the edges of the plates with a towel. He keeps two and hands the third to Saader to carry into the dining room while Brandon brings drinks.
They fall into silence while they dive into the food.
"This is good," Saader says after a few minutes. "Nice job with the veggies, Shawzy."
"I'm good for something," Shawzy says.
"He learned from the master," Brandon says with a grin for both of them.
Shawzy kicks him under the table even though he grins back.
After they eat, Brandon lets Saader insist on helping to clean up, and he leans against the kitchen counter while Shawzy and Saader do the dishes and wipe down the counters.
"No dessert?" Shawzy asks after he wipes his hands on a dish towel and hangs it up neatly.
"I'll make you a smoothie later," Brandon promises, and he herds them into the living room so they can watch a movie.
Brandon and Shawzy overrule Saader's attempt to make them watch a serious drama and pick an action movie none of them have seen yet. It's nothing that requires too much mental effort, a cop and a hacker girl on the run from mobsters and dirty cops. She spends the whole time calling him Officer Bennett and insists she goes by Silver, and Brandon sees it coming long before the end of the movie when they find out her real name is on his wrist and his first name is on hers. It's the kind of plot twist that always happens in these movies. The movie cuts from them kissing to the credits, and Brandon looks over at Shawzy and Saader to see what they thought about it.
Shawzy's staring at the screen with an intensity the credits don't warrant.
Saader shrugs at Brandon from the other side of Shawzy, and Brandon nudges Shawzy with an elbow.
Shawzy jerks, then looks at him and then Saader. Then he sighs and starts taking off one of his wristbands.
Brandon turns off the TV.
Shawzy leans forward to drop both of his wristbands on the coffee table, and then he sits back and holds out his arms, wrists up, one to Brandon and one to Saader. Brandon takes the one Shawzy's holding out to him, and that is his handwriting across the inside of Shawzy's wrist.
"I'm on your wrist?" Saader asks. He's staring down at Shawzy's wrist without touching him.
"And you knew that and didn't tell me?" Saader holds out his wrist. "Did you know this was your A?"
"Yes," Shawzy says. "I didn't-" He looks to Brandon, and then frowns. "You're not surprised."
"No." Brandon rubs his thumb over his name on Shawzy's wrist.
"You knew?" Saader asks.
"I guessed," Brandon says to Saader, and then to Shawzy, "You said you had two different people, not two different names."
"We're on your wrists," Saader says.
"Yes," Shawzy says. If Saader's freaked out, Shawzy at least seems calm, or calm enough not to pull away from where Brandon's still holding his wrist.
Saader looks from Shawzy to Brandon. "What now?"
Shawzy sticks his chin out, which he probably thinks makes him look tough but actually makes it obvious he's just faking the bravado. "I guess it's up to you, if you want to make me choose, or what."
Brandon exchanges a look with Saader to make sure they're on the same page before he says, "I think that's up to the three of us." He rubs Shawzy's wrist. "You get a say in this too."
On Shawzy's other side, Saader is nodding his agreement. "We're not going to leave you out of that decision." Saader finally puts his hand on Shawzy's wrist. "I need some time to think about this first." He doesn't let go of Shawzy's wrist until after he stands up. He nods at Brandon. "Thanks for dinner."
Brandon nods back and watches Shawzy watch Saader leave. Shawzy only turns to look at him after Saader's gone.
Brandon lifts Shawzy's wrist to his mouth and brushes a kiss over his name. "Come into the kitchen. I'll make you a smoothie." He lets go of Shawzy's wrist and gets up from the couch.
"A smoothie?" Shawzy asks a couple of seconds later.
"I told you I would," Brandon says. It takes until he has the blender half full before Shawzy joins him in the kitchen.
The blender is very loud in the silence of Shawzy not talking in his kitchen. Brandon pours smoothie into two glasses and gives one to Shawzy.
"You're not freaked out about this?" Shawzy asks.
Brandon shrugs. "I've had some time to think about it and get used to the idea. Are you freaking out?"
Shawzy shrugs, which means he is, at least a little. "You're okay with it?"
Brandon steps in close, so close Shawzy has no choice but to look at him. "Andy, I've been hoping I was on your wrist since I met you."
Shawzy doesn't respond to most of that sentence, but after a second he says, "No one calls me that."
"Except my wrist." Brandon rests his fingers lightly on Shawzy's wrist. "I won't if you don't want me to."
Shawzy looks down at their hands. "It's okay."
Brandon brushes his lips across Shawzy's cheekbone, then steps away to wash the blender. Shawzy is quiet for long enough that Brandon is rinsing the blender when he speaks.
"Isn't that cheating?"
Brandon shrugs. "Maybe, but I'm not going to make you choose, and I don't think Saader will either."
They drink their smoothies in the kitchen, and Brandon isn't surprised when Shawzy leaves after they're done. He is surprised that Shawzy hugs him, and even more surprised that it's a real, long hug instead of the kind of casual bro hug they exchange all the time.
They fall into a holding pattern for most of a week. There are practices and games, and Brandon goes out to dinner with Shawzy once and to a bar with Shawzy and Ledds twice, and none of them talk about their wrists at all.
Saader catches Brandon after practice one day and says, "I'm ready to talk about it. The three of us."
Brandon nods. "Game tonight. Dinner at my place tomorrow?"
Guilt crosses Saader's face. "I didn't mean-"
Brandon grins and claps his hand on Saader's upper arm. "I don't mind cooking for you two."
Saader keeps looking conflicted for a minute before he says, "Okay."
This time, Brandon does tell Shawzy to come over early and help cook. He doesn't make anything too complicated - salmon, quinoa, and a kale and lentil recipe he's been wanting to try - but he likes having Shawzy's company while he cooks. He's even good and keeps his hands to himself.
Saader shows up right on time, a couple of minutes before everything will be done. Brandon lets him in, gets him a glass of water, and gestures him into an out-of-the-way corner of the kitchen.
Shawzy looks from Brandon to Saader, then crosses his arms over his chest and asks, "Do we have to wait until we eat to talk?"
"No," Saader says. "We're both on your wrists. I don't want to make you choose."
"Me either." Brandon already told Shawzy that, but he hasn't talked to Saader about this at all.
"Are you sure?" Shawzy asks Saader.
"I've had my whole life to get used to the fact that I wasn't going to have a relationship quite like other people's," Saader says, "and I want you to be happy. So, yes, I'm sure. If you want both of us, you can have both of us."
All the tension goes out of the room, and Shawzy slumps against one of the counters, close enough to the stove that Brandon nudges at his hip until he slides a few inches away from it.
"What now?" Shawzy asks. "Do we make a schedule or something?"
Brandon laughs. "A schedule?"
Shawzy frowns at him. "I want it to be fair."
"I have one letter," Saader says. "Boller has four. It's never going to be fair."
Shawzy frowns harder.
Saader shakes his head and goes over to tug at Shawzy's wrist. "I'm not going to love you any less if he gets more time with you."
Brandon turns his attention to plating dinner when Saader kisses Shawzy. They don't kiss for long, and then Saader takes the first plate from Brandon. Brandon hands the second plate to Shawzy, but doesn't let go of it, and instead tugs at it until Shawzy comes closer and Brandon can kiss him. He keeps it light, and gentler than kisses with Shawzy will probably be most of the time.
Brandon lets go of the plate, and gives Shawzy a little push on the shoulder to get him to go join Saader at the table. Brandon follows with his plate, and they have a surprisingly normal dinner.
Saader and Shawzy clean up the kitchen, and they agree on a movie to watch without much arguing. Shawzy sits in the middle, like he always does, but this time Brandon doesn't have to keep his hands to himself. He tugs Shawzy over with an arm around his shoulders until Shawzy is leaning on him with Brandon's arm across his chest. On Shawzy's other side, Saader picks up his legs and drapes them across his lap with one hand resting on Shawzy's shins.
Shawzy gives them both skeptical looks, but then seems to accept it and relaxes against Brandon.
Brandon invites Shawzy over for dinner a couple of times, they go out to dinner, they go to the movies. It's a lot like what they do all the time, except now Brandon can lean across the counter and kiss Shawzy while they cook, and they hold hands in the back of darkened movie theaters. They make out on the couch a couple of times, sliding down so Shawzy's lying on top of Brandon. Shawzy stops them before they go any further, and as much as Brandon wants to push, he doesn't.
Twice, Brandon's suggestion of a movie is met with Shawzy looking guilty while he says he's already seen it. Brandon takes that to mean that Shawzy's going on dates with Saader too.
Brandon agreed to sharing, but that doesn't mean he doesn't sometimes feel jealous because Shawzy isn't his alone. When that happens, he looks at his wrist, and lets the four letters there remind him that Shawzy is his if not his alone.
Shawzy invites Brandon over one afternoon. When he gets there, Shawzy leans into the kiss Brandon gives him, and then pushes him toward the living room where Saader is already sitting on the couch. Brandon greets him and takes the other end of the couch.
Instead of sitting between them, Shawzy sits down on the coffee table facing them. "We need some rules," he says, looking so determined Brandon can't do anything but take him seriously.
Brandon exchanges a glance with Saader that confirms Saader is just as in the dark about this as Brandon is.
"What kind of rules?" Saader asks.
"I don't know." Shawzy rubs his palms on his thighs. "Whenever I'm with one of you, I feel like I'm cheating on the other one. You," he looks at Saader, "always had only an initial, but you," and now it's Brandon's turn to be the center of Shawzy's focus, "you're just okay with sharing me."
"No," Brandon says. "I'm okay with sharing you with Saader." He leans forward, but stops short of touching Shawzy because that might just make things worse. "I get jealous." He holds up his wrist. "But I know we're still meant to be something even if you have something with Saader too, and I can live with it."
Shawzy takes Brandon's hand. "We still need some rules."
"First rule," Saader says, "we respect your time with each of us. It's never going to be even, and we can't make a schedule with our schedules, but if you're spending time with one of us, the other one respects that."
"I can agree to that," Brandon says.
Shawzy nods. "Me too."
"Second rule," Brandon says, "no lying. You're not cheating on either of us, and you don't have to lie about who you're spending time with. And we'll be honest about it if we need more time with you or whatever."
"Okay," Saader says.
"Yeah," Shawzy says.
Brandon squeezes Shawzy's hand. "What else?"
Shawzy squares his shoulders, like he's bracing for it, before he says, "No talking about me behind my back. Like, good stuff is okay, but if you're mad at me, you have to talk to someone else about it, not each other."
It's a reasonable request, so Brandon nods and agrees to it, and so does Saader.
Shawzy's shoulders go down about a thousand miles, and he loosens his grip on Brandon's hand. "Good. And we still do stuff together, all of us."
"Yeah, babe," Brandon says. "I think we can do that."
"Definitely," Saader agrees.
"Okay," Shawzy says, nodding. "Good. I'm good with all of that."
Brandon brings Shawzy's hand up and kisses the back of it. "Works for me."
"Me too," Saader says. "You going to come cuddle with us now?"
"Yes," Shawzy says with a bright grin. He grabs at the remote off the table behind him while Brandon pulls him toward the couch. He gives the remote to Saader, and then settles down, head on Saader's lap, legs thrown over Brandon's, and still holding Brandon's hand.
The next time they make out on the couch, Shawzy doesn't make them stop, and they get off messy and breathless. Brandon can't stop smiling when he kisses Shawzy afterwards.
"Come on, come on," Shawzy says, walking backwards and pulling Brandon toward his bed, eager and pushy now that they've been doing this part for a while.
Brandon laughs and lets himself be pulled, and then pulled down on top of Shawzy. He kisses Shawzy for a couple of minutes, slow, easy making out while Shawzy's hands creep up the back of his shirt.
Brandon pulls back and looks down at Shawzy.
Brandon rubs his thumb over Shawzy's cheekbone. "Are you happy? Is this whole thing working for you?" He's pretty sure he knows the answer, but he thinks it's also worth asking.
Shawzy frowns and pushes himself up on his elbows. Brandon sits back to keep the same distance between them.
"Have you been talking to Saader?"
Now it's Brandon's turn to frown. "No. Why?"
Shawzy slumps down onto the bed. "He asked me the same thing last week."
Brandon starts to laugh. "I think you have a type, babe."
"Yeah, whatever." Shawzy grips the front of Brandon's shirt and uses it to pull him down. Once Brandon's lying on top of him, Shawzy wraps his arms around him. "Yes, okay? Yes, I'm happy. Yes, it's working for me. Can I get into your pants now?"
Brandon laughs. "Yeah, sure." He takes Shawzy's wrist, the one with his handwriting on it, and brings it up to ghost his lips over the letters. "I love you too."
Saader loses their rock-paper-scissors tournament and has to drive the three of them to Tazer's. The party is some sort of midseason get-together for them all to relax and bond that will probably boil down to drinking and video games.
Brandon and Saader are talking about nothing important on the elevator ride up, but they stop when Shawzy heaves a sigh loud enough to be heard over both of them.
Brandon exchanges a look with Saader, long enough to confirm that Saader doesn't know what Shawzy's sighing about either, and then they both look at Shawzy as he strips off both his wristbands and shoves them into his pocket.
Brandon puts his hand at the small of Shawzy's back. "You sure about this, babe?"
"Yeah," Shawzy says, "I'm sure." He turns around to look at Brandon and Saader. "That's okay with you, right?"
"Yeah," Brandon says. "They're going to find out eventually."
"Fine with me," Saader says with an unconcerned shrug.
Shawzy turns around when the elevator dings at Tazer's floor, and he leads them out and down the hall to the door that's not even closed.
"Anyone could get in here," Brandon says to Tazer as they pass him on the way to where the food and drinks are.
"Anyone did," Tazer deadpans back.
Brandon flashes him a grin before he gets a plate and a beer. They separate after they all have food, Saader getting caught up in a discussion with Tazer, Shawzy bullshitting with Ledds, Brandon going to join Sharpy in chirping Seabs about his hair.
It takes a while for anyone to notice, but Kaner's exclamation of, "Shawzy!" is loud enough to catch everyone's attention.
Brandon heads in that direction. He looks across the room for Saader, who is also moving toward Shawzy and Kaner.
"You're not wearing wristbands," Kaner says.
Shawzy looks up, meeting Brandon's eyes, and then looking toward Saader. "No," he says, "I'm not," and he turns his wrists up.