“Neil!” Cheeks squeaked, laughing as Neil held him so that his toes dragged the ground, spinning them around. “Ahhh, Neil! You shit!” he cried, stumbling backwards when he fell to his feet, toes sinking into the sand.
Some of Neil’s friends had invited him to a bonfire on the beach for New Years Eve. They had been invited to Adam’s party, but Neil hadn’t seen some of his friends in a long time, so Cheeks decided to go with him to that party instead. He was also playing designated driver, though Neil hadn’t had too much to drink either.
Some of them had broke out a Frisbee and a someone at the fire had broke out a guitar. Neil had been running around playing Frisbee with some of the other guys while Cheeks sat and talked to a girl who had apparently known Neil as a teenager as she regaled him in tales of Neil in high school. That is, right up until Neil came up out of nowhere, scooped him up, and started spinning him around for no apparent reason.
“Neil, you jerk!” he cried, laughing as he caught Neil’s wrists, trying to hold him off playfully, only to squeak when he tripped and fell back, tugging Neil down with him. “OW!” he cried when Neil landed on top of him, and Neil quickly shoved to his knees and hands.
“Oh shit, sorry, you okay?” he asked, climbing back off of Brad.
Cheeks sighed and nodded. “Yeah, you’re just heavy,” he said, then groaned as he sat up, turning to look at Neil with a curious look. “What was that all for?” he asked, and Neil shrugged, reaching out to brush sand off of Brad’s face.
“Wanted to scare you,” he said, smiling impishly. “Worked,” he teased and Brad rolled his eyes.
“No shit,” he said, then tilted his head, humming as Neil stroked a hand over his hair. “What’s with you?” he asked, turning to kiss Neil’s palm before he could drop his hand.
Neil just ducked his head, then looked up. “You’re pretty by firelight,” he said, and Cheeks smirked.
“I’m pretty by all light,” he said, then shifted closer so that he could lean against Neil’s side, looking out at the ocean. Neil’s arm came up around him and he hummed happily, closing his eyes.
“It’s nearly midnight, huh?” he noted and Neil hummed a confirmation. “Gonna kiss me?” he teased and Neil chuckled.
“They say what you do at midnight is what you’ll be doing the rest of the year, right?” he asked, and Cheeks nodded.
“Yep, wanna kiss me and see how that works out for us?” he teased, only to perk up, eyes opening when he heard someone call a five minute warning. “Ooh, almost midnight!” he said happily, smiling out at the water.
Cheeks shivered and Neil gave him a look. “You cold?” he asked and Cheeks shrugged.
“It’s not unbearable,” he started, only to smile knowingly when Neil unzipped his hoodie. “Neil, I know you’re a gentleman and all, but you don’t-“
“No really, I’m not cold,” he said, smiling as he draped it around Cheeks. “See? I’m totally fine,” he said, and Cheeks rolled his eyes, sliding his arms into the sleeves. “Wow, you’re so tiny in my clothes,” Neil said, leaning forward to peck Cheek’s lips before standing, offering him a hand.
“Well, you’re gigantic,” Cheeks teased, poking out his tongue as he slid his hands into the jacket pockets. On their way back to the fire, he stopped, frowning as he pulled something out of one of the pockets.
Neil’s eyes widened. “Um don’t-“ He cringed, biting his lip as Cheeks opened the box and frowned when he found a key. “Um…”
“Why do you have a key in a box?” he asked curiously, glancing up at Neil questioningly.
“Well, you see,” Neil started, only to be interrupted as someone started the countdown at thirty seconds. He showed a slight amount of panic. “Um… it’s just. I-“ He groaned and started and stopped several times, only to look more panicked as the count got lower.
“Neil, I’m very confused right now,” Cheeks said honestly, looking up at him.
“Cheeks, it’s just-“
“Are you alright, honey?” Cheeks asked, reaching up to put a hand on his red cheek. “You’re flushed-“
The ten second countdown spurred Neil into action. He grabbed Brad and looked down into his eyes. “I’m in love with you like I didn’t know I could be. I’ve seen every side of you and I really wish we could spend even more time together than we already do-“
Cheeks frowned. “Neil, I love you too-“
“Brad, will you-“
Brad cut him off, looking at his hands in concern. “Neil, why are you shaking?”
Neil let out a soft laugh as he spoke the last word just as everyone shouted ‘HAPPY NEWYEARS!’…
“Move in with me?”
Time seemed to hang in the balance, everybody else celebrating ringing in the New Year while Brad stared up at him in shock. He watched the emotions floating across Brad’s face: confusion, disbelief, insecurity, concern… and finally understanding.
“What?!” he cried, a beautiful, bright smile erupting across his face. “Really?!” he asked, and Neil let out a weak laugh, nodding enthusiastically as Brad’s smile reached that level at which Neil would always swear Brad was glowing. “Oh my God, yes!” he cried, throwing his arms around Neil’s neck happily. “Baby!”
“I love you,” Neil said, catching his lips in a kiss.
“I love you too,” Brad gushed, giggling against his lips. “Oh wow, I love you unnatural amounts,” he said gleefully.
Neil just smiled brightly, pressing their foreheads together, though he had to duck to press his to Brad’s correctly. “You’re my favorite person in the world, Bradley. I want to spend even more time with you because you make my day better.”
Brad just let out an aww, tilting his head to the side. “Sweet boy,” he teased, kissing him slowly and sweetly. “I love you,” he said softly and Neil grinned, pressing their faces together even closer.
“Love you too.”
“You know, I don’t think this is going to work,” Brad said, puffing as he flipped onto his belly, looking over at Neil.
Neil raised an eyebrow, tugging off his shirt. “Oh yeah? It’s been working for about six months now, hasn’t it?” he asked, and Brad rolled his eyes.
“Not that,” he said, smirking up at him. “You getting naked is definitely working,” he said, and Neil smirked at him as he traded his jeans for pajamas. “But no, I’m looking around and as much as I’m really excited to live with you,” he started, bouncing as he crawled under the covers, waiting for Neil to join him. “The fact of the matter is, your place is tiny and I have a lot of stuff,” he said pointedly.
Neil hit the lights, then slid into bed beside Brad, humming as they both shuffled down, settling. “So what are you saying? We should move into your place?” he asked, leaning across Brad to turn off the lamp, pressing a kiss to his lips on his way back, which made Brad giggle playfully.
“I don’t know. My place is pretty… stuffed too. I do have an extra room though, so that’s something,” he said, sighing as he curled onto his side, laying his hand on Neil’s chest as he faced him. “Maybe we can get a storage unit,” he suggested and Neil hummed.
“We’ll see. We can talk more later, yeah?” he asked sleepily, and Brad nodded, humming as he curled along the length of Neil’s body.
“Hey Neil,” he said softly, and Neil hummed. “Thank you.”
Neil opened his eyes, glancing down at him. “For what?” he asked softly, rolling onto his side to face Brad, throwing an arm over his side.
Brad grinned. “For being amazing.”
Neil just groaned. “Cheesy,” he said, smacking a kiss to Brad’s forehead before closing his eyes, snuggling down into his pillow. “Goodnight.”
Brad smiled and snuggled closer to Neil. “Night Neil-y.”
Adam answered his door, only to groan. “Why. Do. You. All. Visit. Me?!?” he whined, only to stalk back inside, letting the other’s in. “Why?! Tommy and Sutan showed up twenty-minutes ago for no reason, why are you two here?!” he asked, and Neil smirked.
“Your kitchen is bigger. This equals more food to steal,” he said as they stepped into the living room.
“THAT!” Tommy cried, pointing at Neil. “And it’s food we’re not paying for!” he said, doing a little wiggle happy dance in his seat.
Sutan shot him a look. “Stop wiggling, your damn pants will slide all the way off, TommyJoe,” he said, tugging at his belt loops. “I’m not going to have you flashing everybody,” he said and Tommy smirked.
“For your eyes only, huh?” he asked, winking at his boyfriend.
Sutan snorted. “Trying to keep them from being blinded. You’ve got the whitest ass ever,” he said and Tommy smirked.
“You like my white ass,” he said, and Neil shuddered.
“Make it stop,” he whined and Brad rolled his eyes.
“Hey guys! Guess what!” he said excitedly, slinging his arms around Neil’s middle, tucking into his side. “Ask us about our big news!” he demanded and Tommy grinned.
“You’re pregnant!” he said and Brad rolled his eyes.
Sauli spoke up from his spot next to Adam. “Neil’s pregnant?!” he asked and Tommy turned to beam at him.
“I like you so much. Seriously. Best dude Adam’s ever dated!” he proclaimed and Adam groaned when Sauli reached over to high-five Tommy.
Sutan smiled. “You’re getting married?” he asked and Cheeks beamed.
“Close enough!” he said, and several jaws dropped.
“Wait, WHAT?!” Tommy cried and Neil rolled his eyes, but curled his arms around Brad, smiling when Brad wiggled back, curling into Neil’s chest.
Adam’s eyes widened. “You’re not ACTUALLY getting married-“
“We’re moving in together,” Neil answered, kissing the top of Brad’s head.
Brad nodded, unable to keep from laughing as he expressed his happiness. “Neil asked me at midnight on New Years! Oh it was so sweet! He had a key to his place in a box and then he gave me his jacket when I got cold, and I found it, and it was almost midnight, then right when people were yelling ‘happy new year’ he asked me to move in!” he said, sighing as he leaned back, smiling up at Neil. “You’re the sweetest boy ever.” He closed his eyes and tilted his head up for a kiss. “It was so much more romantic than the first time a boy asked me to move in wiiiiii- ooohhh,” he trailed off, cringing as he caught himself. “Just kidding!” he said, only to wince when he saw the glare Adam was sending him. “Well… it’s only true,” he said matter-of-factly in a small voice, crossing his arms primly.
Neil just looked smug as he pressed a kiss to Brad’s temple but said nothing. Sutan smirked. “Aww, Neil Lambert, you little boy-killer!” he teased and Tommy hummed.
“Hey, we should move in together,” he said, and Sutan snorted.
“Bitch, my drag closet is bigger than your entire apartment. And MY apartment is barely big enough for me. It works well how it is. We fuck at your place, I keep my shit at my place,” he said, and Neil groaned.
“Well there goes my appetite!” he said, and Cheeks grinned, tugging him over to sit on the loveseat, holding hands between them. “Although we’re running into that problem,” he admitted.
Cheeks nodded. “Neil’s place just isn’t big enough. Mine isn’t either really,” he said sadly.
Neil nodded. “We’re thinking about getting a storage unit maybe,” he said and Cheeks nodded with a smile.
“We’ll make it work somehow,” he said, curling into Neil’s side. “I wanna wake up next to you every day. It’s so fun to watch you sleep,” he said brightly.
Sutan waved a finger. “That’s just weird,” he noted and Neil snorted.
“Sutan, I’ve woken up with Brad playfully bouncing my curls complete with sound effects before, dude. He just is weird,” he said simply.
Brad grinned smugly. “And you love me just the way I am!” he said and Neil sighed.
“Who the fuck knows why?” he noted and Brad curled into his side smugly.
Tommy hummed. “Probably the sex,” he said, and Sutan nodded.
“Yeah, probably. S’what got you to love me,” he said, and Tommy smirked.
“Hell yeah, dude. I had no clue how emotionally attracted I was too you until you fucked me like there was no tomorrow-“
“OKAY!” Adam cried, looking as if he was about to cry. “God, please kill me now. Please,” he begged and Sauli just reached out to pat his back.
“Don’t worry, love. I’ll kiss it better later,” he said, and Adam groaned, giving him a dark look.
“You’re one of them, don’t lie. You’re waiting until I least expect it, aren’t you?” he asked, and Sauli smirked but said nothing. “Exactly.”
“Oh come on, Adam, it’s not like you haven’t had or imagined having sex with everybody in this room,” Tommy accused, and Adam and Neil both let out horrified sounds, giving each other disgusted looks. “Okay well, maybe not everybody,” he said, then smirked. “Doubt you ever wanted to bang Sutan-“
“Shut up Tommy!” Neil cried, groaning. “That’s it. That officially did it,” he said, shaking his head hopelessly. “Bradley, I hope you enjoyed all the sex was had before because that officially ruined my libido. I’ll never have sex again now. I’ll never be able to become aroused again. Tommy has permanently caused me irreversible impotence-“
Sutan snickered. “Want me to get naked and dance around? Think that’ll cure your impotence?”
Tommy smirked. “Sure would cure it if I was you,” he said to Neil, who shuddered.
“I’m a one boy man, dude. My straight was bent into a specific shape, namely a Bradley Bell shape,” he said, and Brad smiled at him adoringly.
“My not-so-straight boy,” he said sweetly, pecking his lips. “Don’t worry, I’ll fix it later, baby. I’ll kiss it all better,” he said, licking his lips pointedly.
Adam just fell over across the couch and curled into the fetal position. “Make it stop, make it stop!” he cried dramatically, head in Sauli’s lap as he rocked. “Make it stop, make it stop!”
Sauli grinned. “I love you so much, silly,” he said and Tommy smiled, sharing an amused look with Sutan before shaking his head to gaze at Sauli as he petted Adam’s hair.
“You know, I have to say. We all got really lucky,” he said in a more serious tone, receiving only smiles in reply.
“Neil, it just isn’t working!” Brad whined, pouting at the miniscule pile of ‘things I don’t need all the time’ compared to his ‘things I can’t put in storage’ pile. “We’re never going to fit into your place,” he said, pouting.
Neil sighed. “We’ve got to, Brad,” he said, only to see Brad throw himself on the bed, arms crossed under his face as he pouted over the edge of the bed at him. He smiled and stood on his knees, knee-walking over to kiss his head. “Baby,” he started and Brad whined, lifting up on his elbows.
“I want to live with you,” he said in a tiny voice, knocking their foreheads together. “You’re so sweet for asking and I want it and it’s not working-“
Neil cut him off with a kiss. “Okay so… I have an idea,” he said, and Brad raised an eyebrow. “My lease is up in two months. I was going to renew it in a few weeks, but… I was thinking,” he said, and Brad jumped up to his knees.
“You’re not saying what I think you’re saying!” he started, but Neil stood up, sitting on the bed beside him.
“We could,” he said, catching his hand. He lifted his hand up and kissed his knuckles. “We could get a new place. Together,” he suggested, smiling at him. “And then we could get a place big enough for us both. I mean, it’s not that different, really,” he said, and Brad bit his lip.
“You know, this might not be what you’re talking about but I’ve been thinking about buying my own place. I’ve got some money saved up now so I could make the down payment and I was thinking about it before you asked me to move in,” he admitted.
Neil blinked. “I don’t know, I mean, I don’t even have a job, you know? Rent is one thing, if I come up short I’ve just got an angry landlord, not a bank, you know? And I mean… we’d have a mortgage and all this other grownup shit I really don’t know about,” he said softly.
Brad smiled. “You’re twenty-seven. I will be soon. We’re ready to be grownups, Neil. We can do it together,” he said, biting his lip as he shrugged. “I think… it could be cool. I mean, we’re moving in together, that’s a big step, but… this is an even bigger one. It’s a bigger commitment,” he said, smiling up at Neil with a slightly dreamy look in his eyes. “Think about it, Neil. We can do this. We can go into this together and if we buy a home, it’s ours,” he said, positively beaming. “We can make it our own and we can do whatever we want! If we want to paint the whole place green we could!”
“I really don’t want to live in a green house,” Neil said offhandedly and Brad rolled his eyes.
“Figure of speech whatever, but think!” He bounced some. “We can find the perfect place and it can be our home, Neil-y,” he said, clutching Neil’s hands to his chest. “For us. Together. Ours.”
Neil groaned as he saw the hopeful look in Brad’s eyes. “I can’t make you promises, I may actually not be able to do this financially, but we can at least look at buying our own home-“
“AHH!” Brad squealed, launching himself at Neil, hugging him as his impact forced them over onto the bed. “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” he gushed, kissing Neil with a smack. “I love you, you’re the best boyfriend ever. This is going to be incredible!” he babbled, wrapping his arms around Neil’s neck as he settled on his lap, Neil leaning back against the pillows. “This is going to be amazing,” he said, and Neil chuckled.
“I’m still not sure-“
“But you’re falling for my smile so that means you will be,” Cheeks said, grinning. “You love me, don’t even front,” he said, and Neil chuckled, shaking his head as he smiled up at his boyfriend.
Neil curled his arms around Brad’s waist and sighed. “I do, I really do,” he said honestly. “I’ve only been this seriously with one person before, and even then, I didn’t love her. Not like this,” he said, tilting his head back to smile up at Brad. “You’re special.”
Brad smirked. “Of course I’m special, I’m the one and only, bitch,” he said, then chuckled. “But I get it,” he said, tugging at a curl as he looking into Neil’s eyes. “It’s… serious, isn’t it?” he said softly. “So different and sort of new.”
Neil smiled, leaning in to kiss Brad sweetly. “You’re not a ‘for now’ to me, Bradley. You’re ‘for good’,” he said simply.
Brad beamed. “You too. For me I mean, you’re ‘for good’ to me too,” he said, rolling his eyes bashfully. “God, this feels so cool. Even if I’ve sort of had the ‘for good’ fail before, it’s more now. It’s different.”
Neil cringed. “I worry sometimes,” he admitted and Brad frowned. “Like, okay, for the most part I like to pretend it never happened, but you and my brother… I thought you guys were for good, you know? You were so perfect for each other and you guys were so happy until it all fell apart and I don’t know it’s just… what if it happens to us?” he said honestly. “You’re my ‘for good’ but before I always figured you were his ‘for good’ and that didn’t work.” He shrugged. “What if it doesn’t work for us?”
Brad smiled sadly. “I don’t know,” he admitted. He slid off of Neil’s lap and curled along is side, smiling when Neil turned over and laid facing him, arm coming up to curl around him as their knees stacked together so they could be as close as possible. “I admit, at the time, I really did think he was it for me. It’s really awkward to bring up recently since I’m in love with you and he’s your brother, but I really was in love with him. There really was a time I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with Adam,” he said honestly. He smiled distantly. “The thing about it though is that… we weren’t really perfect,” he admitted. “We were right, no doubt, but if we had been perfect it wouldn’t have ended, you know? And sure, we had a good run, and as much as I know it bugs you, I’ll still always love him a little bit,” he said and Neil made a face. Brad chuckled and reached up to stroke his cheek. “But honestly, even if we had been older and more prepared for a serious relationship, I don’t think it would’ve worked in the end. We’re too alike. Adam is one of my best friends in the whole world because we’re both peppy and cheerful and we love so many of the same things, and I don’t regret what I had with him, I really am grateful I got to experience it,” he said, then smiled sadly. “But from the start we were better friends than anything else.”
Neil hummed. “What made you guys fall apart? I wasn’t as close with Adam then, so I didn’t really talk to him about the whole breakup but it was pretty sudden, wasn’t it? Like… it seemed that way.”
Brad sighed. “It really wasn’t sudden,” he admitted. “We made it out to be, we covered the slow unraveling, but it was so far from sudden,” he said, chuckling. “Adam was so… driven. He had dreams that were so big. And I did too, I came to California to be an actor and I wasn’t going to stop for anything. I think we both just had these dreams too big for each other,” he admitted. “Adam was getting so far into trying to get somewhere and I felt like I was sorta getting left behind. And we started fighting, but not like… really,” he said, making a face. “More like we started letting resentment stew without ever facing it. He was having so much success in my opinion but he kept wanting more and bigger and I would get so excited for a call back for a commercial but he wasn’t happy with being an understudy with a spot in the chorus, you know? And I get it now, I think I got it then, but the cracks were there, and it just sorta slowly started to unfold. We started to just… fall out of love I guess. The rose tinted glasses were gone and it was like ‘wow I’m living with someone I don’t really want to be with anymore’.” He shrugged. “It hurt. I won’t lie, it was one of the most painful things ever, but I just couldn’t handle it. He tried to keep me from leaving but we both knew we were better friends than boyfriends.”
Neil hummed. “It’s nice to know what happened,” he admitted. “I mean, like you said, I don’t like to remember you and Adam together. It’s stupid and petty but it’s just the man in me,” he said, grinning playfully. “But curiosity was always there. Adam never said why and I never wanted to ask.”
Brad smiled. “You two are such boys together. When you’re around, Adam isn’t this fabulous gay rock star, he’s a typical big brother,” he teased and Neil groaned. “Hey, don’t lie, deep down you love your brother,” he teased.
Neil chuckled. “Yeah, I guess it’s the whole genetic makeup thing but he’s my brother, I have to love him. And he’s fun, too. Nobody else gets rubbed quite as raw when I fuck with them,” he said and Brad smiled.
“Nobody else can roll with it so well when I start fucking with you. That’s mostly why I fell for you,” Brad admitted and Neil grinned, leaning in to peck his lips. “Seriously, you have such a sharp wit and the most amazing sarcasm to go with it and I love it. And you don’t pussy out,” he said and Neil chuckled. “If I snap you snap back and I love it. It’s not as easy to shake you as some boys. It’s like… most guys, if I called them an annoying asshole chicken fucker, they would be all hurt and shocked and even if they KNOW I’m a sarcastic little bitch they’d get their panties in a bunch over it and you actually can pick up that it’s just playing and get me right back with something equally as inventive,” he said, smiling mischievously. “It’s the best part of having you in my life, Neil. I never knew how much I wanted a smart, witty boy in my life. All this time I’ve never found anybody like you. Ever.”
Neil reached out to play with Brad’s hair. “I think we did it right,” he said confidently. Brad tilted his head curiously and he smiled a small, secretive smile. “We were friends for so long, Cheeks. We got to know everything and anything about each other. I’m not even joking, it wasn’t some repressed sexuality issues, I wasn’t even bendy like Tommy. I mean, I could play around with the others on tour but I didn’t find guys attractive except in an objective manner. You, however, have always had this charm. Sure, you’re beautiful, but I love you. The physicality is just… whatever, you know? I knew you and I didn’t really feel bothered that you made me have butterflies when you smiled. But as soon as you showed any interest in me, it was like I was a kid with a crush again. I wanted to blush half the time you smiled at me. And like, when you cuddled up to me when we would hang out, I always got clammy hands for a few minutes before I sank back into ‘friends’ mode. And I never thought you would really go for me,” he admitted sheepishly.
Cheeks frowned. “Why not? You’re sorta amazing,” he said, and Neil chuckled.
“You’ve seen my history with girls, Bradley. I’m not popular with the girls, why would I be popular with the boys? I guess I’m a specific type of person and you just happened to like it, but I didn’t expect it. But even when I didn’t think you would like me back, I still loved you. It was like… so subtle,” he admitted. “I don’t think I realized how much I loved you until that night we got together,” he admitted.
Cheeks snorted. “Oh yeah, sex totally makes you rethink-“
“No,” Neil said softly, stroking a knuckle along his face. “Before. I was talking to Tommy about how you two always managed to talk us into coming to gay bars even when it just got us molested while we watched you two flirt with boys. It was just joking, since you hadn’t really been with anybody in ages after you stopped sleeping around so much.” He took a breath and slowly slid his thumb across the bridge of Brad’s face. “I saw those guys messing with you and it just… it pissed me off. I wasn’t joking that night, I was on my way over to tell them to get their hands off of you, because you looked so freaked out and it was like my urge to protect you was stronger than anything I’d ever felt. I barely had a second to think ‘whoa, what is this?!’ before Tommy’s stupid ass started a fight, but when that guy hit you-“ He flinched. “God the only reason the ‘kill him now’ response wasn’t triggered was because I saw you were bleeding and I panicked. I ran over and grabbed you and kept thinking ‘oh fuck oh fuck’ and when I got kicked and came up and you weren’t there anymore in all the confusion, I panicked. I won’t lie, I hid it from the others when we were in jail but I was terrified because I didn’t know where you were or if you were okay and it was-“ He shuddered. “It was basically horrible. The only reason I didn’t go straight to your place when we got bailed out is because we’d been told you were fine.”
Brad smiled. “So you knew you were in love with me already when we had sex?” he asked and Neil nodded with a shy smile. “Hmm that explains you kissing me first,” he teased and Neil groaned.
“I would say that was strange for me, but if I hadn’t kissed you and we hadn’t had sex, we may have never ended up together. And it’s the high point of my life so far,” he admitted.
Brad giggled. “And that was really good sex,” he said, and Neil rolled his eyes. “Seriously though. It’s amazing you loved me like that. I won’t joke, I mostly just thought you were awesome and adorable and sweet and funny,” he said, grinning.
Neil sighed, closing his eyes as he pressed his forehead to Brad’s. “Do you think we’ll make it? I know we both intend to, but… really do you think we’ll get lucky? You think this is going to be a forever thing?” he asked softly.
Brad caught his hand lacing their fingers together on his side. “I’m going to do my damn best to make sure it does last forever. You are different to anybody I’ve ever met, Neil Lambert. I love you in a way I didn’t know I could, and that’s saying something. I want you more than anything. Does that sound crazy?” he asked, opening his eyes to smile at the warm brown eyes across from him. “I don’t know I could’ve ever said that about a boyfriend before. But I honestly think I want you more than any of my dreams, which should sound pathetic, but… I think I believe it,” he said in realization.
Neil smiled as he rolled over, half on top of Cheeks as he leaned over him, pinning him with his upper body. “If it’s pathetic, we can be pathetic together. I’ve never been in love but I know that you’re more important to me than most other things. I don’t really have any dreams. Not big ones, I mean. I just… want to be happy. And you’re the one person that makes me the happiest. So yeah,” he said softly, giving Brad a deep, searching look. “Having a happy life with you is my dream,” he revealed.
Brad just let out an excited giggle. “I’m so lucky,” he said, tugging Neil in to kiss him. Neil just showed his agreement through his kisses and touches rather than bother throwing more distractions in by speaking.
Neil was surprised to find Adam already at his mom’s place when he got there. “Well shit, I never thought I’d be seeing you nearly every day,” he said and Leila laughed at the glare Adam sent his brother.
“Boys, behave,” she said, then glanced over at Neil. “So, what have you been up to? Adam calls me most every day but I haven’t really spoken to you in a few weeks, mister,” she said, and Adam suddenly beamed.
“OOOH you don’t know the news!” he said, then grinned as he nudged Neil. “Tell mom all about your fail-tastic romance attempt!” he said and Neil groaned.
“It was fucking romantic, shut up. I’m not a romantic guy, for me that was akin to hiring a string quartet, dipshit,” he said and Leila smiled.
“Aww, you did something romantic for him?” she asked eagerly and Neil flushed.
“I asked him to move in with me at midnight on New Years,” he said, cringing. “For good luck. The fail, as Adam so eloquently said, was that he sort of found the key in my jacket before midnight and I had to stall a good minute and it wasn’t so smooth. But whatever, the point is it was fucking romantic,” he said, glaring at Adam. “Not everybody has unlimited time and money to take their boyfriends to expensive ass places and ask them to move in with them,” he pointed out.
Leila waved a hand, cutting Adam off. “Whoa, you’re moving in together?” she asked, eyes wide. “You?” she asked.
Neil frowned. “Well, yeah, what?”
“You’ve barely been dating six months!” she said and Neil raised an eyebrow.
“So? It’s not like I haven’t known him for five years,” he said, and then nodded at Adam. “This dipshit moved in with his boyfriend less than six months after he met him and you didn’t seem so shocked there-“
“Adam’s always been impulsive,” she said dismissively, earning an offended sound from Adam. “You, though, you’re always so careful and really think about stuff before you do it. I’m just surprised,” she said, and Neil smiled.
“I think Brad was too. He was so happy,” he said, shaking his head with a fond smile. “Although now he’s so excited because we decided to buy a place together-“
“WHAT?!” Adam asked, shocked. “You’re going to buy a house together?”
Leila whistled. “That’s big words, kid. I mean, sure, moving in together’s a big deal as it is, but… do you realize the legality of buying a home? Especially with somebody else. A joint mortgage is more legally binding than marriage-“
“Okay, nobody said marriage, lets hold our horses,” Neil said quickly, holding his hands up. “And technically Cheeks is going to be buying a home and we’ll happen to be moving in together the same time he moves in. He’s the one with the idea, he’s the one with money saved, and he’s the one with the credit score to actually get a loan approved,” he pointed out. “And yeah, we had that talk,” he said softly. “We were at his place trying to work out what all of his could go into storage if we moved in together at either his or my place and we just can’t fit in either apartment. I suggested we get a place together since my lease is nearly up anyways and he admitted he’s been saving up to buy his own place and suggested we do that. I was sort of iffy but he was so excited about buying a home together and making it ours,” he said, shrugging. “And you’ve seen his eyes, mom, I cannot say no to the puppy eyes. It just isn’t possible. Besides, I like it. It’s very permanent,” he said brightly.
Leila nodded. “Yeah, it’s really permanent. Are you sure six months in that you really want to make long term commitments like that?” she asked softly. “No offense, but… you and the girls never really worked too well, why should this be different?”
Neil gave her a flat look. “It is different. And I know this is shocking for some reason but knowing someone for five years still counts. Sure, we’ve only been together six months, but it’s not like a new relationship, mom. I was in love with him before we ever kissed. I think I know how different this is,” he stressed.
Adam chuckled. “I gotta side with him, mom,” he said, and Neil smiled. “As gross as it is, Neil’s pretty much crazy about his guy,” he confirmed.
She chuckled. “It’s just so weird, Neil. You’ve never been so serious about anybody.”
Neil nodded. “Yeah, exactly. We were talking about it and I’ve realized that basically he’s my everything. As stupid and sappy as it sounds, I realized something when we were talking about it being such a commitment to buy a home together. I realized that I honestly only have one major goal in my life anymore and that’s to build a life with Bradley,” he said softly, looking at his mom. “We were both really getting honest and talking about all the scary shit in our brains and that was the best and scariest realization I’ve ever had, but it’s true. Career, lifestyle, money… none of that matters as long as I can live a happy life with him. I want to be there for him and help him achieve all of the dreams he has for his career. I almost want even more to buy our home together and make it ours because it means a step towards that. It means we’re not talking about it, we’re starting a life together. It’s… fucking amazing,” he admitted.
Leila smiled in surprise. “That’s… shockingly sweet. Adam’s always been the romantic, you’ve always been the intellectual one.”
Adam snorted. “Fuck that, even I’m not that romantic. Jesus Christ, I couldn’t be that selfless if my life depended on it,” he said honestly and Neil smirked.
“Eh you may have got the looks but I got all the other shit that counts! Brains, heart, a bigger dick-“
“IT ISN’T TRUE!” Adam cried and Leila groaned.
“Please, children, I don’t want to hear this type of talk. I’m your mother for goodness sake!” she pleaded and they both shared guilty looks before mumbling apologies. “God, it’s a wonder I’m not a drunk with you two as my kids. Seriously,” she said, grumbling about the stress they caused her as she left the room.
Cheeks wasn’t going to answer his phone, since he was working with Jane and Sean on a few script revisions, but after the third time it rang, Jane rolled her eyes at him. “Just answer it, it may be important,” she said, and he sighed.
“I don’t like interrupting writing!” he said, then pulled out his phone, curious as he saw Neil was the one calling him over and over. “Hmm,” he said, and then pressed to answer. “What could be so important you can’t wait until I get home?” he demanded instead of a ‘hello’.
“Gee, hi to you too, Cheeks,” he said, and Brad grinned. “I’m actually looking into real estate and I thought maybe we should get somebody. Like, a broker to help us find what we want,” he suggested. “But I wanted your okay before I talk to someone.”
He smiled. “Oh yeah? That’s actually smart thinking. Sure, go ahead. Maybe we’ll save us some trouble. We’ll have to add the realtors fees to our budget, but it should pay off in the end. Smart thinkin’ there mister,” he said, bouncing slightly as he thought of how much closer they were to actually being home owners.
“Alright, I’ll talk to some people today, see what we can do,” he said, then chuckled. “Sorry to interrupt you baby. I know you hate being interrupted while you’re working but it was important.”
Brad ducked his head when he saw the others smirking at him. “It’s alright, I’ll talk to you later, okay?” he asked, biting his lip.
“Alright, love you, Bradley,” Neil said, and he grinned happily.
“Love you too, darling. Bye,” he said, hanging up with a happy, excited smile.
“Well, somebody’s getting serious,” Sean teased and Brad laughed.
“We were just gonna move in together, but we can’t really fit both of us in either place and I’ve been planning to buy a home lately so we’re going to do it together. I’m the one actually buying the place, but that’s mostly because I’m the one with the credit score for the mortgage approval, you know? We’re doing it together to make our home ours,” he said with a happy sigh.
Jane patted his knee. “Just think, Cheeks, it’s people like you guys that are the reason we’re doing all this hard work,” she said, and he laughed.
“Well, nobody’s talking marriage, but who knows, maybe someday,” he said with a dreamy sigh. “Mr. Cheeks Lambert,” he said, then frowned, cringing. “Uh… Bradley Lambert?” he tried, then made a face. “Bradley Bell-Lambert,” he said, then hummed. “Eh whatever, that’s a long ways off anyways,” he said, putting his phone away so that they could go back to work.
Brad groaned as he dropped his empty beer bottle to the floor. “You two always get me drunk,” he accused, glaring up at Sutan, who was sitting on the couch with Tommy laid back against him between his knees. “Fucking… drunkards,” he said, rolling onto his back to look up at them from the floor in front of the TV.
Sutan snorted. “You’re a lightweight, Bradley Bell,” he accused and Brad hummed.
“So, I was thinking today,” he said suddenly. “If me and Neil ever get married, would my name be Bradley Bell-Lambert, or Bradley Lambert-Bell?” he asked, and Tommy giggled.
“You and Neil married?!” he asked, laughing. “Yeah right,” he said, and Sutan thumped him in the back of the head.
“You insensitive jerk, what if they do want to get married some day?! Not everybody’s a commitment-phobe like you.” He smiled at Brad. “I like Lambert-Bell. It sounds better,” he said.
“Yeah but doesn’t it usually go alphabetically?” he asked, then snorted. “I don’t know why I’m even asking. If we do ever get married, it’ll be years. I just felt curious.”
Sutan hummed. “You think you guys will last years?” he asked.
Brad sat up, yawning as he curled around his knees. “Yeah. I mean, I can’t know, but I think so. It’s different with us. I mean, we talked about really in depth things not long ago and Neil says that his big dream in life is basically to build a happy life with me, so he sure seems like he’s in it for good.”
Tommy snorted. “What about you? You used to like the boys, Bradley,” he teased, curling on his side to pillow his head on Sutan’s thigh. “I mean like… lots of boys. I know you’re into monogamy but monogamy and forever is a big deal,” he said, pointing at him with his nearly empty beer bottle.
Brad snorted. “What, you’re not into forevers?” he asked.
Tommy shrugged. “I don’t really do making promises and shit. I mean,” he paused, then nodded at Sutan. “I love this dude. A lot. I’d be happy to be with him forever and shit, but I don’t wanna go around promising always when you can’t know that shit, you know?” he said, and Sutan smirked.
“You will be though. I’d like to see anybody do you as good as I do,” he said knowingly.
Tommy hummed. “True, but I still can’t promise that,” he said, and Sutan grinned.
“Hey, I used to get around, the fact we’re together exclusively for now is good enough for me.”
Brad snorted. “I’m big on the future though. I know it’s stupid and I should just live for now, but I like it.” He smiled into his knees. “I like thinking about sharing a life with Neil and having a future with him. Coming home to him and stuff. It’s sappy but it’s what I want, you know?” he said, and Sutan grinned.
“You always were more sentimental than me,” he said, shrugging. “Hey I can see it. Never thought Neil Lambert would be the one going home to somebody or being at home to have somebody coming home to him, though,” he said, and Tommy giggled.
“Hell no! He’s like… such a ‘single’ kind of dude. I see it though, you two are fucking perfect for each other,” Tommy said, then gestured to Sutan and then himself. “We always said so.”
Sutan made a face. “He’s a boy like Tommy though. I love Tommy to death but I could never live with him. Never,” he said, and Tommy smirked.
“I’m just man baby. A man!”
Brad laughed. “Neil’s not as much of a boy as Tommy. Neil can at least clean his house and groom himself. He may not be as fabulous as a little gay boy like me, but he’ll do. Besides, I don’t really mind doing more than my share of the cleaning as long as he isn’t a massive slob, you know? It’s really cathartic to clean things.”
Tommy nodded. “It really is. I just do it like… every two months or so, not all the time.”
Sutan cringed. “And this is why we hang out at my house, not yours,” he said and Tommy smirked.
“You love me, funky smell and all,” he said, and Sutan just laughed.
“God knows why,” he said, shaking his head as he patted Tommy’s middle affectionately.
When Brad got to the restaurant where he was meeting Neil and some of Neil’s old friends from college, he could only hesitate as he saw how nice and conservatively everybody in the restaurant was dressed. All the ladies, young and old, were wearing nice skirts and blouses, reserved jewelry, and very refined hairdos. All the men were in nice button downs and slacks, some in suits and ties. He could feel eyes judging him as he had the hostess lead him to the table.
He had been late from a meeting and had rushed to get ready before meeting Neil at dinner. He had gone with a simple outfit of jeans and a sparkly purple tee-shirt complete with his favorite ratty sneakers that had long ago been bedazzled in a brief rhinestone frenzy he’d gone through. He was just glad he hadn’t had time to throw on some glitter like he had planned to one he approached the table.
“Neil,” he said softly when he got behind Neil, laying a hand on his shoulder.
Neil turned around and smiled brightly. “Hey baby,” he said, standing quickly to give him a kiss, then pull out the empty chair next to his at the round table where they were sitting. “Brad this is Evan and Sara, Carol and John, and Elliot and Paige,” he said to introduce the three other couples at the table. “Everybody, this is Brad,” he said, taking his seat again.
Brad waved. “Most people call me Cheeks,” he joked, laughing softly, only to trail off when he realized nobody was really laughing with him. Neil just gave him a sympathetic look, taking his hand under the table.
“Cheeks? Is that a nickname or something?” one of the women across the table asked, he wasn’t sure who.
Brad gave an enthusiastic smile and nodded. “Yeah, it’s really not much of a story, I just always got attention for my cheekbones, so, you know.” He rolled his eyes. “Cheeks it was.” He got a few polite smiles and then cringed. “But, you all can call me Brad, I guess,” he said awkwardly and Neil gave him a comforting squeeze of the hand.
“Brad’s an actor,” Neil said, trying to change the subject.
“An actor huh? Anything we might know?” One of the men- Brad suspected Evan, he looked like an Evan- asked.
Brad smiled. “Well, I’ve got a pretty successful web series called Husbands that I star in,” he said, only to feel the awkwardness grow when nobody seemed to recognize it. “Uh, well I’ve been on… a few things. Mostly just, you know… ‘random guy in shirt’ or whatever though,” he trailed off with a helpless glance at Neil, who just jumped in.
“He’s really going places with his web series. It’s really popular. It’s even been reviewed by magazines and stuff like that and it’s all positive,” he said, trying to play Cheeks up to them all.
Brad smiled at the lady next to him. “So… what do you do-“ He froze slightly and Neil whispered the woman’s name in his ear. “Carol?” he finished.
She smiled politely. “I’m a computer design engineer for a company that makes televisions,” she said. “John is a bank manager,” she explained.
“Oh that’s got to be fun, right?” Brad asked, and John just shook his head.
“No, not really,” he said flatly.
Neil chuckled. “Well, I never did ask, how is academia treating you, Elliot?” he asked, and the man with the rather intense eyes and a wife with a seriously intense bun made a gruff sound before speaking.
“I’m a full professor now. I teach chemistry now,” he explained. “Paige just got her doctorate degree in nuclear physics as well,” he said, gesturing to his wife.
Cheeks whistled. “Wow, that must be really fascinating.”
Paige smiled. “Yes, it’s amazing how much joy can come from working with the new particle accelerator at the university. Very interesting findings every day,” she said and Neil smiled.
“Evan’s a political science analyst for a research group. Sara is a ballet instructor,” he said, and Sara smiled.
“I always feel so out of place since I didn’t go to college,” she admitted and everybody chuckled politely, though Cheeks immediately saw the sympathy in her eyes.
“Well, I think you’re still less out of place than us,” he joked, though he saw that she could tell he wasn’t really kidding. “So Evan, what does a political science analyst do for a research group?” he asked, genuinely curious.
Evan cleared his throat. “We do studies on how certain wording affects polls, especially in politics. Certain issues have vastly different results based on wording, you know?” he explained. “I hold blind studies comparing the effectiveness of humanizing certain political belief polls versus sterilizing them.” He looked at Neil. “You have an interest in politics right? How do you feel about the theory that’s going around about how humanizing political moves as a rule is an attack on a politician’s character?” he asked.
Neil rolled his eyes. “Just the other day I was showing Brad this article about that same thing,” he said, and Brad nodded.
“Yeah, the GOP candidates clearly don’t want their moves and motives shown in the human interest scenario because they really don’t want people to see how nothing they say is for the good of people, but for the good of pocketbooks. Neil wrote a really good blog on the subject, you should check it out,” he suggested, and Neil smiled at him secretively.
Carol looked surprised. “You’re interested in politics?” she asked, clearly shocked.
Neil shared a grin with Brad, nudging their hands against his knee. “Oh yeah, Brad’s been one of the only people in my friends and family group that is really into politics as much as I am. We used to end up sitting around a TV watching the news together at parties because we weren’t as interested in the dancing as senatorial election news,” he joked, and Brad smirked.
“Pretty sure that’s how I met you,” he noted and Neil nodded. “But don’t be fooled, I was totally interested in the dancing,” he said, and everybody laughed, though most of them seemed forced, which really annoyed him some.
Sara smiled genuinely as she leaned forward. “So, I have to ask, how long have you guys been together?” she asked, ignoring the looks her friends gave. “I knew Neil in college and he was so socially inept,” she teased and Neil rolled his eyes. “You would talk to a girl about every topic that wouldn’t get you her number before landing on one that would.”
Brad smiled at Neil. “Well, I’ve known him about five years, so I must’ve met him about the time he was still in college,” he said and Neil nodded.
“We were more acquaintances at first but I’d say for the last four years we were friends, then the last year before we got together we were pretty close for people living on opposite sides of the country, and then when I moved back here we ended up dating pretty soon,” he said, and Brad smiled at him lovingly. “Then we’ve been together about seven months now?” he asked, and Brad rolled his eyes.
“You’re such a boy, yes seven months you loser,” he said, scoffing. “I remember when you could tell me down to the day how long we’d been dating,” he chastised.
Sara let out a soft ‘awww’. “That’s so sweet, Neil!” she said, and he ducked his head shyly.
“Well, he says that, but it was for about the first two months, then I stopped really counting,” he admitted. “Although it isn’t hard to remember our anniversary since I sort of ended up getting arrested,” he joked, and Brad groaned.
“Please not that story,” he said, and Sara shot Neil a look.
“Okay,” he said, smiling at her. “So, a guy hit him at a bar and some friends and I ended up getting into a bar fight over it and he got sent to the hospital and we ended up in jail,” he said, cringing.
Sara laughed, while the others gave them seriously judgmental looks. “Oh Neil, you got I a fight? You were so peaceful when you were younger!”
Neil scoffed. “I still am, our friend just has a violent streak and I couldn’t really get out of it once I was in the middle of the fighting! Brad and I are pacifists, we don’t really do violence, but our friend… well let’s just say rock stars, man,” he said, shaking his head. “Violent little shits.”
Brad snickered. “He really is,” he said, rolling his eyes.
Evan hummed, clearly looking down the end of his nose at them. “Some of your brother’s friends, huh?” he asked Neil, who chuckled, though Brad could feel him tense.
“Come on, they’re not that bad. And the last few years, my brother’s friends are my friends,” he said with a slightly defensive tone.
“It’s just a shame you end up being linked to all that wild behavior,” Carol said solemnly. “I mean, it has to make it tough to make the right connections,” she said pointedly.
Neil raised an eyebrow. “I don’t know about you guys, but I’m twenty-seven years old. I’m not too old to be part of their wild behavior. Usually I’m the one standing there suffering second-hand embarrassment when my friends are falling down drunk and making out with each other, but I promise you, I don’t regret going on tour with them when I do go for anything. It’s got me around the world and keeps me paying the rent since the job market is so shitty right now. And we may have differences, but seriously, that’s my brother, you guys,” he said with a warning look. “Besides, I’d have never met half the friends I have if I wasn’t associated with my brother,” he said, and Brad smiled at him.
“You’d have never met me if it wasn’t for your brother,” he said, and Neil smiled.
Elliot scoffed. “Oh how tragic would that have been?” he muttered mockingly, and Brad deflated, ducking his eyes to hide his hurt look.
Neil’s eyes darted up sharply. “Watch your mouth, Elliot,” he said in a warning tone. He pointedly slid his arm around Brad’s shoulders and kissed the side of his head before whispering in his ear. “I’m so sorry this has turned out like this. I’ll make it up to you, I swear,” he said and Brad just slid his hand to Neil’s knee, butting his head against Neil’s jaw before he looked up at him, mouthing ‘love you’ to him.
“Alright, boys,” Sara said, calmly, making a quiet descend on the table. When the waitress came to take their orders, the palpable uneasiness dissipated enough for polite conversation to start up again.
When they left the restaurant after a strained meal, Neil immediately pulled Brad into a hug, not caring if they were blocking the sidewalk or not. “I’m so sorry, Bradley. You have no idea how shocked I am at how that went,” he said in a rush, holding Brad close.
Brad sighed, tightening his arms around Neil’s middle, pressing his face into Neil’s neck. “I haven’t felt so openly judged in so long. I mean, strangers are okay, but your friends-“
“Fuck if I give a shit about those assholes anymore,” Neil said firmly. “Sara was still sweet as ever, but my God, they’re assholes! You’re so amazing for not standing up and walking out and leaving me hanging like that. I wouldn’t have blamed you, though,” he said, pulling back to look into his eyes. “You okay?” he asked.
Brad smiled. “Yeah, I’m okay now. At least you stood up for me,” he said, and Neil rolled his eyes, leaning down to kiss him sweetly.
“Like I’d do anything else,” he said, then kissed his forehead. “Come on, let’s get out of here, go back to my place and get a good nights sleep,” he said, and Brad raised an eyebrow.
“Oh yeah? For what? I’m not arguing, but that’s not exactly what I was expecting you to take me to your place for,” he said, smirking.
Neil grinned. “Tomorrow at ten, we’ve got a meeting to view a condo,” he said, and Brad beamed.
“REALLY?! You didn’t tell me?!” he asked, then jumped up and down happily. “Neil, we’re viewing a potential home! YAY!” he cried, clapping his hands gleefully. Neil just smiled and thought back on what they said.
Nothing was wrong with Brad and nothing better had or could ever happen to him.
Brad was practically bouncing around in the passenger seat of Neil’s truck. “Neil, we have a viewing on a home we could buy! I feel so grown up!” he said excitedly, squeaking. “Neil-y, we’re going to be homeowners SOON!” he said, grabbing Neil’s upper arm happily.
Neil chuckled. “I hope so. One month and then I’ve got to move out, so I’ll be piling my shit in Adam’s shed and living with you until we find a place,” he said and Brad shrugged.
“We should be able to get somewhere move in ready within the next few months. We can live together at my place until we’re ready to move, it’s not too bad,” he reassured, smiling. “I’m moving into a home with you. My sweet, gorgeous boyfriend. I’m a lucky man,” he said, sighing dreamily.
Neil just laughed. “You’re way too into this ‘togetherness’ thing,” he teased and Brad rolled his eyes.
“You better be just as into it as I am, Neil Lambert, or I’ll kick your ass,” he threatened playfully.
Neil just smiled as they pulled up outside a building where they were meeting the realtor. “Well, this is it,” he said, and Brad hummed, looking up at the building.
“The neighborhood is nice. Walking distance from some shops and restaurants, so that’s nice,” he said, taking off his seatbelt. “Let’s go,” he said excitedly, hopping out quickly. Neil got out of the truck and circled around to take Brad’s hand as they walked to the building.
The main entrance went straight to the stairs and an elevator, which was where a lady in a nice suit was waiting with a bag and folders in her hands. “Mr. Lambert,” she called, waving them over.
Brad smirked. “Ooh, Mr. Lambert, huh?” he teased and Neil rolled his eyes at him.
“Hey there Ms. Wallace,” he greeted, then gestured to Brad. “This is Brad Bell,” he introduced and they shook hands.
“Neil mentioned that he was buying a home with someone. Are you a friend?” she asked, and Brad could immediately see the way she looked at Neil.
He smiled overly politely then laced their fingers together, leaning into Neil’s side. “Oh no, I’m his boyfriend! We’re buying our first home together,” he said, giving Neil an exaggeratedly loving look. He saw the way she deflated and suddenly had an urge to make victory arms, but withheld the urge, as it would be rude. “So, what’re we looking at?” he asked, and she fixed a smile on her face quickly.
“A nice little two bedroom on the third floor. About six hundred and fifty square feet, so there’s more of one bedroom and an office, though,” she said, and they nodded, following her into the elevator. When they got to the hall, Neil and Cheeks commented to each other about how narrow the hall was, but said little otherwise.
When they walked in, Cheeks let out a soft sound. “I like the colors! The wood floor is nice and the yellow is pretty,” he said, looking at the walls.
Neil hummed. “The kitchen’s pretty small though,” he said, peeking through the door to their left, where the tiny kitchen was stuffed almost into a closet.
They continued through the door to the side and found a small hallway. “The bathroom is through here and the bedrooms are both here,” she said, gesturing to the doors.
Brad peeked into the first door and found the small bedroom. “Definitely an office,” he said nodding. “Good idea though,” he said, and Neil nodded approvingly.
Neil looked across the hall and hummed at the bathroom. “It’s not bad,” he said, and Brad ducked under his arm to see.
“Dude, no way in hell will you fit in that shower,” he teased, looking at the tiny, single stall shower. “Your elbows will bash into every wall and you’re too tall to duck under the shower head,” he teased. “Your long ass legs won’t fold far enough for you to duck under it.”
“Well it could be worse, if I was a little glitter-queen like you we’d fight over vanity space,” he said, looking at the counter. “BUT all in all the bathroom isn’t bad,” he said and Brad hummed.
“Yeah, we’ll just have to wash your hair in the sink,” he teased, reaching up to ruffle Neil’s curls as he ducked out to go look at the bedroom. “Ooh! Neil! Come look at the bedroom!” he called, and Neil followed his voice down the hall.
When Neil got there, he froze, eyes wide. “It’s pink,” he said, and Cheeks beamed from his spot by the window.
“I know, isn’t it awesome!” he said, only to hum. “This giant window isn’t my thing though,” he said, making a face. “The house across the street can totally see in,” he said, crossing his arms.
“We can buy curtains,” Neil suggested as Ms. Wallace walked in behind him.
“Of course I would suggest that anyways, the sunlight could wake you up in the morning,” she mentioned.
Cheeks hummed, eyeing the way Ms. Wallace was looking at Neil’s ass when he wasn’t looking. “We would have to, no way would I ever be able to have sex thinking the neighbors would be spying on us. As happy as I am to go naked in public, fucking is NOT for show,” he said, and Neil groaned, flushing as he slapped a hand over his face.
“Cheeks, we’re not alone, dear,” he said, and Brad smirked as he saw the flush on Ms. Wallace’s face.
“Oops,” he said with a giggle, smirking to himself when they started out of the room.
After the first apartment, they saw four more that were increasingly bad. Neil was increasingly frustrated and Cheeks was getting annoyed at Ms. Wallace’s wandering eyes. She wasn’t exactly ugly so he really didn’t like when she flirted with Neil. Not that he would like it if an ugly woman flirted with him, but the idea that an attractive woman was into his guy pissed him off.
“Seriously?” Neil asked, staring. “There is a sink in the closet,” he said, blinking. “Why is there a SINK in the CLOSET?!” he called out into the hall. “The bathroom isn’t even IN the bedroom, why is the sink in the closet?” he called from the doorway.
“No clue but come here, I want to see if we both could fit in this shower,” Brad called, and Neil face palmed.
“Definitely no kitchen nookie in this apartment!” Eber called and Neil instantly regretted bringing him with them.
“DAD! BRADLEY! Ms. Wallace is somewhere in here and she can hear everything you say!” he shouted angrily. “STOP EMBARRSSING ME!” The only response was amused chuckles from his father and a tiny and not at all apologetic ‘oops’ from his boyfriend.
Brad bounced in with Ms Wallace on his heels. “I like the street, though. We’re right near the mall,” he said, faking a swoon.
Neil caught him and shook his head. “Oh yeah and did you notice the neighborhood? On this ground floor we’d both die in a drive by,” he said, shaking him slightly. “In our sleep!” he added.
Brad pouted. “But the light fixtures are cute-“
“There’s a window IN THE SHOWER! Seriously Cheeks?” he asked, and Eber walked in.
“Did you know that from the shower you can see the people walking by on the street?” he asked curiously. “Like, maybe not Brad, he’s too short, but you and me are the height to be face to face with passersby,” he said.
Neil just shook his head. “What lunatic built this house man?” he asked, sighing.
Ms. Wallace put a hand on his arm. “Don’t worry, Neil, we’ve got a few more,” she said and he hummed.
“I hope so. I’m moving out of my place this weekend and we really can’t fit together in his place for very long,” he said, shaking his head.
Brad not-so-subtly edge between Neil and Ms. Wallace. “Don’t worry babe, we’ll work it out,” he said, smiling up at him before giving Ms. Wallace a very clear warning look.
Neil flopped face first onto the air mattress on the floor, the last thing in the apartment since he had to turn over the keys first thing in the morning to the landlord before he left. Brad flopped down on his back, making Neil grunt as his weight landed right on his back. “Mmmm, Neil-y, I’m tired,” he said, rubbing his face between Neil’s shoulder blades.
“Me too, Cheeks,” he mumbled, then shrugged until Brad slid onto the mattress beside him. “Hey, last night here, huh?” he said, smiling across the mattress. “I think it was pretty good as far as places go, don’t you?” he asked.
Brad nodded, smiling. “It’s where we spent all those nights cuddling and denying it was cuddling,” he said, grinning.
Neil nodded, sliding closer to kiss him. “And our first kiss, our first time together, my first time with a guy,” he said, chuckling.
Brad smiled tiredly then shuffled closer. “Think we should give it a proper goodbye?” he suggested, tilting his lips up for a kiss.
Neil hummed against his lips, pulling away with a pop. “Too tired for much, baby,” he said softly.
Brad yawned and hummed. “We can always reenact those platonically not platonic nights,” he said, smiling up at Neil.
Neil grinned and kissed Brad’s smile. “Goodnight, Bradley,” he said and Brad hummed, cuddling into his chest as Neil held him.
Brad grumbled as he shoved his way deeper into his closet, climbing around the boxes piled in there. “DAMN IT!” he shouted as he found himself not only stuck between two boxes, but unable to even reach what he’d crawled in to get. “NEIL!” he shouted, struggling, only to fall backwards with a squeal, groaning when he landed on a box, one leg straight up in the air, the other still stuck between boxes. “NEIL COME HELP ME!” he shouted louder. After a good minute passed he growled. “DAMN IT NEIL LAMBERT I SWEAR TO GOD I WILL HAVE YOUR BALLS IF YOU DON’T HELP ME!” he screamed loudly.
“Cheeks? Did you call me?” Neil’s voice asked faintly. When the door swung open, Brad could only see one of Neil’s legs between a gap in the boxes. “Babe? You in here?” he called.
“Neil, help?” he asked, holding up an arm.
Neil chuckled. “Brad, what are you doing?” he asked, shoving boxes the few inches necessary for him to get through, only to fall over the same box that Brad had, groaning as he landed on top of Brad, who cried out. “Shit, baby? Wait-“ He scrambled up and precariously found footing on either side of the box, holding onto the racks of clothes to keep from falling again. “You okay?” he asked, and Brad pouted up at him, holding up his hands.
“I got my foot stuck,” he said, whimpering when Neil pulled him up by his arms, straining his crooked leg. “Ow, ow, ow- Neil-“
“Hold up, I got you,” he said, then wrapped Brad’s arms around his neck, letting him hang on, before working his hand between the boxes to free his foot. Brad groaned in relief when his foot slid free. He immediately climbed on top of the box, light enough that it held him, and clung to Neil.
“We really, really need a new place like yesterday,” Brad said, and Neil chuckled, kissing his cheek.
“Hold on,” he instructed and Brad held tight as Neil curled an arm around the back of his thighs and lifted him, hanging onto the wall as he stumbled his way back out of the closet, holding Brad close. When they both fell out of the closet, landing side by side on the carpet, Brad sighed.
“I wonder if this relief is how babies feel after birth?” he asked and Neil cracked up, which prompted him to giggle along with Neil.
“We really, really need to pick a house, Cheeks,” he said, rolling onto his front, propping up on his elbows to smile down at Brad.
Brad groaned. “But we haven’t seen one we like yet,” he said, pouting. “Well, not that we both like,” he conceded.
Neil chuckled. “Well living together here is killing us,” he said, and Brad huffed.
“Your shit is killing us. My God, if it isn’t boxes raping every free space in my apartment, it’s how you keep organizing everything in my bathroom-“
“We’re moving in together, you really have to get used to that-“
“NEIL!” Brad snapped, glaring. “Wait until we MOVE before you start moving shit. New routine that suits us both can be established when we have a home! Not when I’ve had this organization system as my routine for a few years now, damn it!” he argued, then stood up to stalk off.
Neil sighed, standing up slowly. “Fine, whatever, continue to live in filth until we find a place-“
“I WILL HAVE YOUR BALLS LAMBERT!” Cheeks shouted back, making Neil smirk.
“The only question for that is ‘when and where’, babe!” he called, earning a frustrated growl from the other room.
“Alright, we’re here ass face,” Brad said sharply, shoving Neil off his shoulder as Eber stopped the car.
“Thank you goat fucker,” he replied, opening the door.
Adam rolled his eyes at them from the passenger seat. “Wow, what a glorious morning for the love birds,” he said, and Eber chuckled.
“Pretty sure none of my lady friends would stick around after I called them a goat fucker,” he said, and Adam and Neil both cringed at the words ‘lady friends’.
“Old men do not date, I refuse to believe it,” Neil said as he held the door open for Cheeks, only to groan when, rather than get out through the open door, he braved jumping out of his side between passing cars, darting around the back just ahead of a passing vehicle. “Bradley, if you get ran over just to spite me, I’ll kill myself just so I can kick your ass for all eternity,” he threatened and Brad rolled his eyes.
“I’m not going to get ran over you douche nozzle, I’m small enough to fit between the cars,” he said, poking his tongue out at him.
Adam snorted. “That’s a new one,” he said and Eber laughed as they headed with them to meet Ms. Wallace at the gate in front of them.
She opened it with a code and smiled. “Hi guys,” she said, then smiled. “See dad’s here again!” she said, then blinked but quickly regained her composure as she spotted Adam. “And who do we have here?” she asked, and Neil rolled his eyes.
“My brother, ignore him though, he’s here with my dad because they both hate me,” he said, and Brad hummed.
“So, security gate, that’s nice,” he said, looking at the key pad by the entrance.
She nodded. “Yes, the complex is centered around this courtyard with key code entry to the gate,” she said, leading them down a brick path. There were benches of wrought iron matching the gate on either side of a fountain in the middle of the courtyard. There were flower beds beside the walkway to each door. “Now, there’s six units, four of them are occupied, but this is the one I’m showing you guys,” she said, leading them to the back right corner of the courtyard. “It’s a back unit so there’s less street noise. There’s a small park on the other side of the building so the view is of a small pond and walking paths, not a street view,” she explained. “There’s a small patio as well,” she said as she unlocked the unit, opening the door.
As they walked in, Cheeks immediately cooed. “Oooh, look at the high ceilings!” he said in wonder.
“Yes, the high ceilings definitely open it up,” Ms. Wallace said. “Also, the open kitchen, living, and dining area help,” she said, and Neil walked over to the kitchen, which was straight ahead of the entryway, along the corner with bar creating a U-shaped kitchen. The large, open room had an area for a dining table as well as room for a living area centered around a the fireplace.
“Is the fireplace electric or gas?” Neil asked, and Ms. Wallace checked her clip board.
“Electric, so that’s good,” she said. She saw Cheeks gaping over the spiral staircase leading up to a landing. “Ah, you spotted the loft,” she said, and Neil smiled at the bright look on Brad’s face as he headed up the tightly spiraled stairs. He headed opposite them and looked out the sliding door onto the small, walled in patio.
“I like the fact that the wall is only waist height, so you can see the park from the patio,” he mentioned.
“Yo skank muffin!” Brad called and Neil sighed, turning to look up at him, raising an eyebrow as he saw him hanging over the half-wall around the loft. “This is great size for an office,” he suggested.
“Yes, it’s good size for either ran office or possibly a guest bed,” Ms. Wallace suggested.
Neil looked at the door behind the spiral stairs. “What’s in here?” he asked, walking over to open it, only to smile. “Hey cock jockey, there’s a laundry room in here!” he called up the stairs.
“Sweet,” Cheeks called as he headed down the steps. “Ooh, is the bedroom through here?” he asked Ms. Wallace, going to the door in the corner between the wall to the laundry room and the fireplace.
“The door opens to a small hall with the master bath on the other side of this wall and the door to the bedroom straight ahead,” she explained, and he opened the door ahead of him, gasping at the tall windows along the back wall, which let in plenty of light. The park was down a slope so nobody could see in them either. The walls were a soft blue that he adored. He there was a door in the corner to his left and he opened it only to see a narrow but deep walk in closet.
“YES! A closet big enough for us both!” he said, triumphantly. He came out and then headed past Ms. Wallace to open the bathroom door, only to gasp softly. The bathroom wasn’t massive, but it was really nice. It was narrow and long. Along the back wall, there was a large walk in shower, comparative to the size of the bathroom, with the same tile as on the floor on the shower walls and a single pane of glass between the shower head and the toilet. The vanity and toilet were on the left side nearer the door. There was a high window above the shower that let in natural light as well as a row of lights above the vanity mirror “Hey Lambert!” he shouted.
“Yeah?” came almost simultaneous responses.
Brad rolled his eyes. “The cute one!” he called back, only to get three replies of ‘Yeah?’, which made him smile fondly at his reflection in the mirror. “The one with the biggest dick, then!” he shouted, giggling when he heard a loud curse and groan.
“BRADLEY!” Neil shouted, clearly embarrassed.
“It’s a lie!” Adam called, and Brad smirked.
“Hey, you can’t know that for sure, kid!” Eber called and Brad cringed, gaping in horror at the thought of what he was implying.
“Thank you for that, dad, I have to go kill myself now,” Neil’s voice echoed, sounding closer. Brad turned expectantly, smirking when he saw a bright pink Ms. Wallace outside the bathroom door.
As soon as she edge out of the way for Neil, Brad gestured to the walk in shower. “We can definitely have sex in there,” he said with a bright smile.
Neil just flinched, groaning as he glanced over his shoulder at Ms. Wallace. “I do apologize for him, I am taking him back to the store and exchanging him for a model that isn’t defective as soon as possible,” he promised and she chuckled awkwardly before slipping back out into the living area. “Fuck nugget, if you embarrass me any more-“
Brad rolled his eyes. “You love me, you wouldn’t dare leave me, suck it,” he said simply. “I love this place,” he said seriously. “This bathroom is so modern, the kitchen as updated, the bedroom is a decent size, the closet is manageable, and there’s in-unit laundry,” he said, giving him a pointed look.
Neil smiled. “I don’t know,” he said, edging past him to look at the shower. “The doorless shower freaks me out some. What keeps the water from running out here and on this tile, all it takes is one misstep and you would fall. And the way the vanity and toilet are set, a few inches off to the side and it’s lights out when you fall down,” he said, looking at the narrow width of the bathroom.
Brad glared. “Look at the counter space you get in exchange,” he said. “And the SHOWER, Neil! It’s gorgeous!” he said, walking past him. He stepped into it and smiled at Neil through the glass. “When you’re showering, I can just walk in and watch you naked and wet!” he said with a flirty smirk. “And besides, I could easily lay down in this shower, Neil. It’s HUGE!” he said, holding out his arms to show his fingertips didn’t touch either wall width wise. “Hell, we could shower together- you know, other than in a sexy way- and never even touch each other,” he said pointedly. “And there’s a fire place! And oh my God, did you see the pretty iron spiral staircase?! How gorgeous is that?” he asked, smiling. “And that little loft area is a great spot for an office. It’s just big enough for a desk and chair and maybe a couch or reading corner or whatever. It’s amazing,” he said softly.
Neil sighed. “You really love this one, don’t you?” he asked, and Brad nodded, coming out of the shower to walk over. “It’s in a decent neighborhood,” he conceded.
Brad frowned. “What don’t you like?” he asked, and Neil ducked his head.
“It’s… top of our budget. Seriously. Possibly a bit over,” he said softly. “I mean… fuck, Bradley, I don’t have a job yet. Hell, I don’t know if I’m going to GET a job until Adam goes on tour again and hires me as tour bitch again,” he said nervously. “I feel bad enough letting you put all your savings into the upfront ten percent-“
“Neil-y,” Brad said softly, sliding up to his front. He looked up into Neil’s eyes as he curled his arms around him. “I suggested we buy a home instead of rent it, didn’t I?” he asked. “And it’s my money, I can spend it how I want,” he urged. He pouted. “Is this why you’ve been so annoying all morning? You’ve been bitchy since we got up,” he noted and Neil deflated some.
“I just hate it. I don’t like making you put so much into something when I can’t even go in even with you. We’re a couple, we’re supposed to do shit in halves, you know?” he said.
Brad smiled and tilted his chin up to peck Neil’s lips. “Honey, you know what else being a couple entails?” he asked and Neil raised an eyebrow. “Providing for each other. I can trust you not to be a freeloader, Neil. You’re not a deadbeat looking for me to pay your bills for you. Hell, I couldn’t if I wanted to! But you have to accept that right now, I’m getting work and you aren’t. Someday, you’ll turn around and cover me for something, you know? And I know you plan on paying half the payments for me every month, so stop worrying. Don’t feel embarrassed that I’m paying the upfront ten percent, or however much they’re asking, because I’m the one with the money and, to be fair, I’m the one whose name it’s going in. So technically, you’ll be the one homeless if we ever break up,” he pointed out.
Neil smiled in amusement. “I wasn’t actually worried about that,” he confided and Brad smirked.
“You know you’re my forever, don’t you,” he teased and Neil nodded, stealing a soft kiss.
“I’ll make this up to you somehow. Someday, in the future, when I’ve got a job and money and benefits and shit, I’ll do something for you to make it even. I want to share the load evenly, you know?” he said.
Brad nodded. “I know, baby. And one day we’ll even it up. Hey, if you want, we can start a roster and count up every major purchase to keep us in check so that when you’re in a career, rolling in the steady paychecks, you can cover me when I’m between gigs,” he said, and Neil grinned.
“Deal.” He pulled back and looked around. “So, you think this is it?” he asked and Brad beamed.
“YES! I love it, Neil! You know you like it,” he said, and Neil chuckled.
“Yeah, I do,” he said, then took Brad’s hand. “Come on, let’s go tell Ms. Wallace we’re ready to make an offer on this one, just to be sure nobody else is offering as well,” he suggested and they both headed out, eager to take their first step towards a long, happy life together.