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What Happened at the Major International Airport?

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“Hey guys?” Jared lifts his head from where it’s resting on Connor’s chest and turns to look at his boyfriends. “Would it be totally crazy for three teenagers to navigate a major international airport independently?”

“Uh – Jare? What are you talking about?” Evan tips his head back to make eye contact with Jared, trying to figure out if he’s joking or not.

“My mom’s got lots of frequent flyer miles that are about to expire and spring break is coming up. She said they’re ours if we want them. I don’t know how far we could go, but anywhere is better than here, am I right?”

“Fuck yeah you are. I don’t give a shit where we go, but I want out of here.” Connor runs a hand down Jared’s arm, tangling their fingers together. “Let’s see what flights we can get.”

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Two Weeks Later

“Terminal C, right?” Zoe glances over at her brother just long enough for someone to try forcing into the lane in front of her. She jerks the wheel and lays on the horn while Connor yells some choice words at the driver in front of them.

“Yep. Thanks again for the ride, sis.”

“No problem. Anything to get rid of you three love monkeys for a few days. I was beginning to think you’d actually grown into the couch.” She shoves Connor’s shoulder affectionately, proof that she was kidding.

“Could be worse. We could be hanging out in your room all the time.” Connor smirks and shoves Zoe right back.

“We’re in the right place, right? O’hare Terminal C? We have to get to Gate 4 before boarding starts at 11:15.” Evan is squinting at his phone screen, examining the boarding pass for the thousandth time since they got in the car 30 minutes ago.

“Evan, it was the right place last time you asked, and it’ll be the right place next time. Now put away your porn and look out the window.”

“I-i-it’s-it’s not porn!” Evan blushes bright red, even as Connor stifles a laugh against the side of his fist. “I just really really don’t want to screw this up.”

“Hey,” Connor reaches behind his seat to rest his hand on Evan’s knee. “We’ve got this. And even if it goes horribly wrong, we’ll just spend spring break in the airport. It still beats being the ‘love monkeys’ on the couch, yeah?”

Jared looks over at Evan, whose eyes are roughly the size of dinner plates, and takes his hand.

“We won’t have to do that, Evan. Connor’s just being a dick.”

“Yeah, I am,” Connor at least has the decency to look ashamed for scaring his boyfriend. “Look, I’ve flown before. It’s really not that bad, babe.”

“No, I-I know. It’s just that,” Evan drops a hand over Connor’s on his leg and fidgets furiously with his fingers. “I’ve never flown before, and my mom is super worried about me going so far from home without her. Not that she doesn’t trust you guys! But this is like a really big thing, her trusting me like this. She’s trusting all of us, really. And I-I-I just really don’t want to mess it up before we even get out of the state.”

“Evan,” Jared leans over and kisses him gently. “We’re gonna be fine. It’s just St. Louis. I’m not going to let anything happen to you. So, Connor will be protecting us both.” He chuckles lightly and looks up at Connor. “Right, Con?”

“Knight in shining armor at your service,” Connor looks for all the world like he wants to climb into the backseat and kiss Evan’s worries away. “I promise I’ll return you to your mother with at least two-thirds as many fingers as you had when we left. Kidding!” He raises the hand that’s not under Evan’s when he sees the twin looks from Jared and Zoe.

“Just get out of the car and kiss him already!” Zoe parks the car in the drop-off lane and swats at Connor’s knee. “Or don’t kiss, whatever, but get out of the car. I have plans today!”

“Bye Zoe, thanks for the ride. I’ll see you in a few days.” Connor shifts awkwardly for a few seconds before he pulls his sister into an awkward hug across the center console. Jared and Evan chorus their thanks as they pull bags out of the trunk. And sure enough, as soon as they’re standing on the curb with luggage tucked at their feet, Connor pulls Evan into his chest and kisses him carefully several times. When Evan steps back, smiling broadly, the trio grabs their carry-ons and heads into the airport.

Chapter Text

“Really, Con? Combat boots? For the airport?”

“What? They’re comfortable!”

“But it took you five minutes to get them off, and another ten to get them back on. Now we’re seven minutes behind schedule – no Evan, we aren’t going to miss the flight – and our boyfriend here is hyperventilating.”

“I’m not hyperventilating, Jared!” Evan forces the words out between shallow gasps for air.

“Evan, sweetheart, you’re having considerable trouble breathing.” Jared smiles sympathetically, and Evan’s pretty sure he’d hold his hand if he weren’t juggling Connor’s carry-on with his own.

“There!” Connor stands back up, having finally relaced and retied both boots. “Evan, get over here.” When Evan complies, Connor wraps his arms around his waist and lets Evan press his face into his neck, onlookers be damned. He mutters gentle comforts to Evan, so softly that Jared doesn’t catch much more than their flight time (11:45) and the current time (9:45), but it clearly works because Evan stops trembling and visibly relaxes against Connor’s body. They stand like that for a couple minutes, Connor meeting Jared’s eyes over Evan’s shoulder and smiling slightly, before he leans down to speak against Evan’s ear again.

“Better?” When Evan nods, Connor releases him, steps back, hoists his carry-on onto a shoulder and takes Jared’s hand, all in one fluid motion.

Just like that, the moment’s over and the three boys are working through the throngs of people toward their gate.

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As much as it pained him, Jared knew he had to wake his sleeping boyfriends up. Or at least one of them so he wasn’t solely responsible for deciphering the intercom announcements.

“Connor, hey Con?” Jared uses his foot to nudge Connor’s thigh until the taller boy groans mournfully and opens one eye.

“S’it time to get on the plane?” Connor tips his head onto Jared’s shoulder when he slides down the wall to sit next to him.

“Not yet, but I have food.” Jared passes Connor a cheeseburger wrapped in paper and looks at him carefully.

“What?” It’s barely intelligible, between the voice thick with sleep and the mouth full of food.

“Nothing, just that you’re cute when you’re sleepy.”

“C’mon, Kleinman, don’t tell me you’re going soft on me.”

Jared turns his head to press a kiss into Connor’s hair and rests a hand on Evan’s thigh where it cover’s Connor’s.

“C’mon, Murphy, don’t tell me you’d hate it if I did.”

“Mmm,” Connor leans in to kiss his boyfriend gently. “I think I’ll come around.

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Attention ladies and gentlemen. The loudspeaker crackles to life, and Jared sits up a little straighter, listening closely. Flight 7452, service to St. Louis, has been delayed at least one hour due to a thunderstorm affecting the destination airport. Please see one of our friendly airline attendants if you have any questions. Thank you

Well, shit.

“Con? Connor?” Jared jostles the taller boy’s ankle, causing him to jump in surprise.

“What?” Connor scowls down at him, displeased that his nap has been interrupted.

“They delayed our flight. At least an hour.”

“Shit.”

“Yeah. At least we didn’t really have plans for once we got there?”

“Yeah. Do we tell Evan?” Connor looks down at the boy curled tightly against his chest and tightens the arm wrapped around his shoulders. Unfortunately, this combined with the noise is enough to stir Evan from his own sleep.

“Mm … tell Evan what?” He yawns widely, jaw popping audibly and making Jared wince, and stretches as best as he can without sitting up.

“Evan, sweetheart, they just made an announcement about our flight. It’s been delayed an hour.” Jared takes Evan’s hand and speaks in a careful, soothing tone. In any other situation, it would be condescending, but Evan’s anxiety is already bad enough, and Jared really doesn’t want to upset him unnecessarily.

“Wha-what? Why?” Evan tries to sit up, but Connor holds him in place, running his hand up and down Evan’s side.

“There’s a thunderstorm in St. Louis right now. My guess is lightning. But either way, we’re here for another hour at least. Should we get something to eat?” Jared looks over to Connor, whom he knows hasn’t eaten since dinner last night.

“’M not hungry.” Evan’s voice is muffled by Connor’s collarbone, but they still hear him.

“Babe, you need to eat. Do you wanna see what they’ve got, or should Jared go pick up for the three of us?” When Evan tightens his hold on Connor’s torso, the longhaired boy looks up at his boyfriend. “Jare, can you go get us all something to eat? I think there’s a food court a little ways back.”

“Sure. Just, take care of him, yeah?” Jared walks away, leaving Connor to give Evan his full attention.

“Evan, what’s the big deal with this? We’ve got to wait longer to get on the plane, but it doesn’t actually change any of our plans, yeah?”

“I-I-I guess. It’s just that I’m already really nervous about this, and now I’ve got to wait longer to get it over with, and we haven’t even been gone three hours, our trip hasn’t even started yet and things are already going wrong.”

Connor notices that Evan is shaking again and pulls him onto his lap, running a hand up and down the ridges of his spine.

“This hardly counts as something going wrong. Look up at the board; like a third of the flights are delayed for one reason or another.” Evan doesn’t look, but Connor points anyway. “As for the nerves, all I can tell you is that I’ve flown tons of times, and I’m still here. Zoe, too. It’s really not so bad, especially when you’ve got someone with you.”

“You’re here.” Connor feels Evan’s lips move against his skin more than he hears the words.

“I am here. And Jared’s here too, so you’re extra OK, right?”

“Mm, I guess,” Evan murmurs softly, on the verge of falling back asleep. Connor hums some classical tune gently while his hand traces out the beat on Evan’s spine.

That’s how Jared finds them 10 minutes later when he returns, arms full of snacks: fast asleep against the wall of the Chicago O’Hare airport, curled up in each other.

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It’s almost 1:30 when the gate agent calls their flight to board. By this time, Connor’s taken on Jared’s position as “announcement listener and decipherer”, as well as “boyfriend pillow”, so it’s up to him to rouse Evan and Jared and get them on the plane.

“Jared, c’mon, get up. We’ve gotta board.” Connor shakes his shoulder until Jared opens his eyes and straightens his glasses. 

“Shit, already?”

“Yeah. I mean, soon. They just called group ‘A’, and we’re ‘C’. If I get Evan, can you get his carry-on? I’m gonna wake him up, but you know he’s usually pretty groggy.”

“Definitely. Evan?” Jared reaches over to trace his boyfriend’s facial features, smiling gently down at him. “Ev, wake up. Up and at ‘em.”

When Evan’s eyelids start to flutter, Connor leans down to kiss his temple. “Morning, beautiful. Ready to get on the plane?”

“Mmph,” Evan, still half asleep, stumbles to his feet. He almost trips over his own feet trying to walk forward, but Connor catches him and wraps an arm around his waist.

“Whoa, easy there. Jared’s got your bag; do you have your boarding pass?” Connor takes the phone Evan hands him, holding it in the same hand as his own as they move toward the line to board.

Evan leans bodily against Connor while they wait in line, leaving room for Jared to rest his head on Connor’s shoulder and wind his arms around both of them. Being tangled together like this made moving a challenge, especially when Jared has to reach back and pull his bag along, but they make it work, not letting go until they have to scan their passes and get on the plane.

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“Ladies and gentlemen, please direct your attention to the center of the aircraft as we review the emergency procedures.” Evan immediately sits up and pulls the safety card from his seat pocket to follow along. 

“Do you think she’ll start rapping? If she starts rapping, I could go viral!” jared leans over to whisper furiously to his boyfriends, but Evan is listening intently to the stewardess and Connor has earbuds in.

That is, Evan is listening intenetly until he realizes that Connor has earbuds in.

“Connor!” Evan pulls one of the earbuds out. “Pay attention! Do you know how to use the floatation device under your seat?” He points at a set of diagrams on the card.

“Evan, sweetheart,” Connor takes out the other earbud and turns to his boyfriend. “We’re flying from Chicago to St. Louis. There is a zero percent chance of a water landing. We’ll be fine, I promise.”

Evan opens his mouth to respond, but before he can, the stewardess moves on to the next point.

“Should we expereicne a sudden drop in cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down. Place the mask over your mouth and nose and tighten the strap.” She keeps talking, but Evan is done with his careful listening. He grabs at Connor’s hand, eyes wide with fear.

“Oxygen masks? We’re gonna need oxygen masks?”

“No, probably not. But they legally have to tell us all this stuff just in case.” Connor entwines their fingers and nudges Jared’s foot with his own, offering a pointed glare.

“Yeah, Ev. Like, you can’t smoke the airplane bathroom but they still have an ashtray. They’ve gotta cover their bases. It’s only an hour long flight, we’re gonna be fine.” Jared sets his own hand over Evan and Connor’s, thumb stroking the back of Evan’s hand. “Hey, listen, she’s wrapping up.”

They turn their attention back to the stewardess, who is demonstrating how to fasten a seatbelt.

“Please fasten your seatbelts and secure all baggage underneath the seat in front of you. Small electronics may be used, but must be placed in airplane mode. We will be taking off shortly, thank you for flying United.” With that, Connor reaches into his bag for the pack of Juicy Fruit he brought.

“Gum? It’ll help your ears when we start climbing, trust me.” Just as he folds his own piece into his mouth, the plane tips back and Evan squeezes his hand even tighter. Connor squeezes back and reaches over with his free hand to turn Evan’s head so he’s looking at Connor, not the world falling away.

“Hey, you’re OK. Right here. Look at me, Evan. You’re good, yeah? I’m right here, Jared’s right here, everything’s good.” He doesn’t see Jared’s head pop up over his shoulder and start making stupid faces at Evan, but he does notice that Evan relaxes a little bit and smiles.

“Ye-yeah. Everything’s good. I’ve got you idiots,” that’s directed at Jared, who puts on a face of pure innocence when Connor turns around to see why Evan’s calling him out, but crosses his eyes as soon as he turns back to Evan. “so it’s gonna be OK.”

Chapter Text

They’ve been in the air for 20 minutes when the attendants come around with the beverage cart. Jared asks for orange juice and Sprite, plus an empty cup to mix them together.

(“Hey, just because I’m not 21 doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a nice mimosa!”

Evan tries to order Coke, but Connor makes him get a water too, in case his stomach needs settled later.

Connor, for his part, goes for black coffee, but he drops a couple ice cubes from Evan’s water in when he thinks no one is looking.

The drinks go much better than expected, honestly, aside from Jared spilling part of his “mimosa” down his front. Connor almost drops his coffee when Jared jumps, but he gets it on the tray table just in time. Between the two blunders, Evan is laughing so hard that he forgets to be anxious for a few minutes.

It’s nice, but just as Evan is opening his mouth to tell Connor so, the plane bumps up and down once. Nothing too severe, but enough that the intercom beeps on a minute later.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign. We ask that you please remain seated for your own safety and that of the other passengers.”

What was going to be a comment about how flying was almost enjoyable became a sharp gasp as Evan screwed his eyes shut and grabbed wildly for a hand to hold.

He gets two hands, one from each boyfriend, even though Jared has to lean uncomfortably far over Connor to reach him. Connor nudges the armrests up to make cuddling slightly easier, but the seatbelts are still restrictive so they can’t get much closer than handholding.

They spend the next ten minutes like that – leaning toward each other as far as they can and holding hands while Connor murmurs softly to Evan in an attempt to calm him down.

(Jared tries to chime in, but it turns out that “it’s cool, Evan, we’re not gonna die in a fiery explosion” isn’t the most helpful thing he could possibly say.)

Between the hand holding and the soft words, Connor and Jared are finally able to calm Evan down enough that he slumps into the side of Connor’s neck and nestles in close.

Chapter Text

Evan’s face stays pressed into Connor’s neck long enough for Connor and Jared to assume that he’s fallen asleep. Connor jumps when he feels Evan’s lips move against his collarbone.

“What’s that, sweetheart?” He tilts his head down to hear better and Evan repeats himself. “Yeah, the seatbelt light is still on. Why?”

When Connor’s face melts into a smirk, Jared takes notice.

“What’s going on?”

“It seems,” Connor leans over, whispering conspiratorially, “that our dear boyfriend has met the repercussions of having two beverages on an airplane.”

“Oh.” Jared stifles a giggle, squeezing Evan’s hand gently. “Babe, if you gotta go, get up and go.”

“I can’t,” Evan doesn’t look up, but he speaks loudly enough to be heard. “The light is on.”

“Evan, the light is just a guideline. They’re not gonna like arrest you for standing up or whatever.”

It takes a little more cajoling, but Connor and Jared eventually convince Evan that the plane isn’t going to fall out of the sky just because he gets up to use the bathroom.

After a near miss with Jared’s genitals on his way out of the seats, Evan makes his way down the aisle to the back of the plane, where the flight attendant is sitting right by the door. When he goes to open the door, the steward looks up and says something, but he’s so worried about being out of his seat that he doesn’t hear it.

“Um … can I go to the bathroom?”

“I have to tell you that the seatbelt light is on.”

“Right. But can I use the ba-bathroom?”

“I can’t tell you no, but I have to tell you that the seatbelt light is on.” The steward looks at Evan again, clearly done with his customer service face for the day.

“O-o-OK.” Evan turns around and goes back to his seat, face blushing bright red.

“Evan? What’s wrong?” Jared looks up when Evan gets back, confused at how little time he’d been gone.

“He-he said the light was on.” Evan’s voice is small and upset.

“Did he say you couldn’t pee?” Connor turns to Evan and furrows his brow in confusion.

“He said he couldn’t tell me ‘no’, but that he had to tell me the light was on. Guys, we’ve got like 30 minutes left, plus landing and if they don’t let us off right away … I’ve really gotta go.”

“Then go. He didn’t tell you no, that means you can use the bathroom.”

“Jared’s right, Ev. Just go back there, open the door, and pee.”

“Close the door first, though.” Jared adds helpfully, like Evan hasn’t been using the bathroom by himself for the last 15 years.

“Yo-you’re sure it’s OK?”

“Babe, if he tells you no, tell him to come talk to me. I’ll fight him for you.” Connor rolls his eyes and smiles at Evan. “Now go. We’ll see you in a minute.”

“O-o-OK.” Evan goes back to the bathroom, but this time when the steward tells him the light is on, he replies “I understand that, but my boyfriend said he’d fight you if you didn’t let me pee,” and goes in anyway.

The steward looks where Evan pointed, and sees Connor and Jared both waving happily. When he looks away, both boys sink back into their seats.

“Jeez, letting Evan go to the bathroom shouldn’t be such an ordeal.” Jared tips his head onto Connors shoulder, waiting for his boyfriend to bury a kiss in his hair.

“Yeah, but at least we got him there now. It’s not his fault that the steward has to tell him that. It’s not the steward’s fault either.”

“Con, you literally just told Evan you’d fight him.”

“I didn’t mean it.”

“Sure you didn’t. We both know you’d cross anyone who upset Evan.”

“Like you wouldn’t?”

“I’d try, but let’s be real here. You’d just end up protecting me too.”

“Yeah, probably so.” Just then, Evan reappears. “Hey, babe. Feel better?”

“Yeah. Can I sit back down now? The seatbelt light is still on and that flight attendant made me really nervous about it.”

“I’ll fight him.”

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“Ladies and gentlemen, as we start our descent, please make sure your seat backs and tray tables are in their full upright position. Make sure your seatbelt is securely fasted and all carry-on luggage is stowed underneath the seat in front of you or in the overhead bins. Thank you."

Jared stacks the cups and passes them to the flight attending, closing his tray table.

Suddenly, the plane lurches sharply to the left, turning in a tight corkscrew. Evan, who was almost asleep on Connor’s shoulder, sits up and gasps.”

“Co-Connor? What’s going on?”

“Hey, we’re landing. It’s OK, this is always what it feels like. We’ll go back and forth a few times, but it’s fine. I promise.”

“Sw-switch me seats? Can I have the middle?”

“Evan, you know I would, but we really can’t stand up now if the plane’s gonna turn again.” Connor really does feel for Evan, but he doesn’t want either of them to go flying down the aisle.

“What if I just scoot over your lap? Li-like switching seats on a bus? Pl-please, Connor.” Evan’s panic is quickly building, and the tears in his eyes win Connor over.

“OK. But we’ve gotta move fast, OK? We’ll wait for the turn to level out, and we should have a minute or so.”

Perfectly timed, the plane pulls out of the turn, flying flat again. In one single, albeit jerky, movement, Evan has his seatbelt off and is sliding over Connor as Connor scoots to take Evan’s seat.

Almost as soon as they start moving, they’re done, seatbelts rebuckled and Evan clinging to a hand from each of his boyfriends. Just in time too, because the plane jerks again, this time to the right, as it dips down again. Evan screws his eyes shut and tries to take deep breaths, but he’s panicking hard enough that all he can do is suck bits of air in and out, panting heavily.

“Hey, Evan, hey. Look at me, babe.” Jared squeezes Evan’s hand and speaks softly. “You’re OK. Can you open your eyes?”

Evan doesn’t respond, but his grip on Jared’s hand is so tight that Jared’s fingertips are turning purple. Jared looks up and makes eye contact with Connor over Evan’s hunched shoulders, mouthing help.

“Evan, can you breathe with us? C’mon, here we go. In … out … in … out …” Connor twists so his free hand can trace lines up and down Evan’s back in time with the exaggerated breaths he and Jared are taking. “In … out … in … out … Jared’s gonna count some now, yeah?”

Seamlessly, Jared picks up Connor’s rhythm. “In … out … in … out …”

Meanwhile, Connor takes a deep breath and whispers something that sounds like “please, for the love of god, turn your head,” before pressing his lips against Evan’s cheek.

Whether he heard Connor’s plea, or just acts on instinct, Evan turns his head so Connor’s lips cover his. Neither of them move for several long moments until Evan pulls away from Connor with a harsh gasp.

“Wh-what was that?” He’s not offended, but certainly very confused as no one’s ever kissed him in the middle of a panic attack before.

“You were breathing too fast through your mouth, so I stopped you from breathing through your mouth at all. Better?”

“I-I-I—no?”

“But you’re talking now, so it’s at least a physical improvement. C’mere.” Connor holds his arms out, inviting Evan to lean awkwardly against him without having to drop Jared’s hand.

Jared, Connor finally notices, is staring at him incredulously and still whispering “in … out … in … out …”

“Jared? You don’t need to count anymore. But good work.” Connor lets his hand fall to rest on Jared’s shoulder, and Jared lifts the hand not holding Evan’s to wrap his fingers around Connor’s.

They’re still sitting like that when the plane bumps as the wheels touch down, oblivious to the looks from other passengers at the three teenage boys holding hands and cuddling on an airplane.

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“Connor, I know it’s your ‘aesthetic’ and all, but did you have to get an all black suitcase?” Jared sighs as he lifts someone else’s bag back onto the luggage carousel. For the fifth time in the ten minutes they’ve been standing there.

“What am I gonna do, drag a bright yellow suitcase all over? In this outfit? Don’t cramp my style, Klienman.” Connor leans forward to check another bag. “Nope, not this one.”

“I think that one’s mine.” Evan points at the red suitcase rounding the end of the track. “Jare, can you grab it? What if I miss it or step in front of someone else or get the wrong bag or—“ He keeps listing ways it could go wrong until Jared sets the suitcase in front of him and kisses him gently.

“Hey, it’s OK. We made it, you’ve got your bag, I’ve got my bag. Now if we could just find Tall Dark and Scary’s suitcase, we’ll be on our way.”

“HA!” Connor shouts triumphantly from where he’s still standing by the carousel. “I told you I’d be able to find my plain black bag among all the other plain black bags.”

“I never said you wouldn’t be able to find it. I just said you were making it unnecessarily hard to find it by refusing to use a colored tag or something, at least.” Jared rolls his eyes as he turns back to Connor. “You’re sure that’s it? It looks just like at least half of the bags here.”

“Yes, I’m sure. See, it’s got my tag on it.” Connor flips the tag (matte black with a glossy black stripe) over to show Jared his contact information.

“Good. That’s three people, three carry-ons and three checked bags. So, everything?” Jared looks at the others as they pass the bag check tags to attendant for verification.

“Yep. Anyone need to use the bathroom before we head out?” Connor passes his suitcase forward to be checked.

“I went on the plane, so I’m good.” Evan reaches out and takes Jared’s hand.

“Good. Shall we?” Jared takes a half-step backward to reach for Connor’s hand.

“Let’s go.”