"Uh, dad?" Cole asked with snakes twisting in his stomach, sitting at his house's breakfast bar watching his dad make omelets.
"Yes?" Lou asked, not looking much into Cole's nervous tone as he flipped the eggs in the pan.
"I thought I should tell you in person that I, uh, have a boyfriend?" Cole phrased his statement almost as if it were a question, a test to his dad's reaction as Lou turned around to look at his son. He had known Cole was gay for a year now, but the Earth Ninja was worried his father assumed it was just a phase, as he hadn't really mentioned it since.
"About time," Lou smiled, eyes shining. "I was beginning to think you would never find someone."
"You're not mad?" Cole asked tentatively, and Lou scoffed.
"Mad? Cole, I work in the music industry. Half of the men I come across have husbands. You being gay is the least concerning thing you could tell me," Lou contended, teasing offense working his way into his tone. "Now, the more pressing issue is who he is."
"You kind of already know him," Cole scratched the back of his head, and Lou smiled knowingly.
"Let me guess... there's three boys I'm thinking of, so I have three guesses."
"Dad," Cole groaned as Lou thought out loud.
"Well, let's see. I know Jay always makes you laugh, you and Kai have had a rivalry since day one, and Zane's cooking, according to you, is the closest a human will ever get to heaven. So, I'm going to guess Zane."
"How did you..?"
"The way to your heart has always been through your stomach, Cole. But I'm sure that's not the only reason why. So, when's he coming over?"
Since Lou and Zane had previously met, and the singer was confident that he wasn't going to dislike the Ice Ninja, Cole's boyfriend was invited to stay over for the holidays, mostly due to the fact that Cole would feel terrible leaving Zane by himself at the Bounty while the others gallivanted with their various families.
Cole was already over his dad's house helping to set up the tree when there was a knock at the door. Cole beamed as he ran to greet his boyfriend, and was greeted by the Ice Ninja with a nervous smile. Zane had attempted to dress casually, wearing a light grey turtleneck and dark jeans, cuffs tucked into light brown boots. The Earth Ninja thought he had never looked softer.
"Relax," Cole soothed as he led Zane inside after the Ice Ninja removed his shoes. "You're helping to cook dinner. There's no way my dad could possibly turn you away."
"Is he here, Cole?" Lou called from upstairs, and Cole responded in the affirmative. "I'll be down in a minute. Get him some food or drink. Be a good host."
The Earth Ninja laughed, tugging Zane into the kitchen. "Alright, what do you want?"
"I am fine, thank you. Jay gave me some of the cookies he made for his mother before I left," Zane explained, Cole taking his suitcase and setting it down at the foot of the stairs.
"Listen, Zane," Cole said in a low voice, gathering him in his arms pressing his forehead to his boyfriend's. "My dad doesn't care that you're a guy. He doesn't even care that you're a Nindroid. You have nothing to worry about, okay?" Cole smiled sweetly, pressing a kiss where his forehead was resting.
"If you say so," Zane returned the sentiment weakly, nervousness still the most powerful emotion flooding his system. The pair heard Lou begin to descend the stairs, and the two mostly broke away, Cole still lingering on one icy hand as his father rounded the corner.
"Zane, it is pleasant to see you again," Lou stuck out his hand for a handshake, and Zane obliged with as warm of a smile as he could muster.
"You as well. It is nice to meet under less stressful circumstances."
"Has Cole offered you anything?"
"Yes, and I am not hungry, but I thank you for the thought."
As Zane and Lou exchanged pleasantries, Cole felt his shoulders lose their tension. He knew Zane's polite nature would melt the last bit of anxiousness he still had, and he was right, as watching his boyfriend and father get along made his heart turn into a pile of goo.
"Alright you two," Cole walked up and slung an arm around each of their shoulders. "Anyone up for some holiday baking?"
Soon, all three men were in the kitchen, Zane gently kneading the dough on the counter before shaping them into cookies, long sleeves rolled up to his elbows. Cole, not trusted by either of them, was sitting on a barstool on the other side of the island Zane was working at, watching his boyfriend intently. Zane didn't seem to be paying him any mind, concentrated on working the dough to perfection. To mess with him, Cole slowly inched the cookie cutters away from him, waiting for when the Ice Ninja was done.
The Nindroid rolled the dough out with the wooden cylinder, applying the perfect amount of pressure. Lou had stopped the making of the frosting to watch, mildly amused as Cole slowly dragged the shapes towards his chest, slowly tucking them in his waistband so Zane wouldn't be able to find them. The Ice Ninja, once the dough had been rolled to perfection, set his hand down where he had put the festive cookie cutters. When his hand met counter, he broke out of his trance, and looked over at his empty palm. He glanced around in confusion before turning his gaze to his boyfriend, who had flour dusted on his sweater and a playful smile on his face.
"Cole," Zane rested his chin on his laced fingers, his voice a statement, not a question. "Where are the cookie cutters?"
"Why are you asking me? What did I do?" Cole pouted, and Zane only raised an eyebrow. The Ice Ninja sprinkled a little more flour on the dough before scooping up some with his fingers.
"Don't make me do this," Zane smirked, and the Earth Ninja got the message.
"Well, come and get them."
Zane took that as a challenge. He dumped the flour on the dough before vaulting himself over the kitchen island, tacking his boyfriend off the barstool with a surprised shriek from the human. Lou sat back as his son was pinned down by the Nindroid, who was moving deft fingers under Cole's belt to grab the cutters before casually sauntering over to the sink to clean them. He seemed surprised to see Lou standing as a bystander, the ninja's cheeks flushing pink.
"My apologies. I may have forgotten that we had an audience," The Ice Ninja washed the metal with soap on his hands, and Lou laughed.
"No need to be. Anyone who can take down my son by jumping the counter is welcome in my house."
"Don't encourage him," Cole groaned, still on his back. "He could've given me a concussion or something."
"Anyone who gets in the way of me tasting Zane's cooking deserves what's coming to them," Lou smiled, patting the Nindroid on the back.
Cole only mumbled more, something indecipherable about how his dad already liked Zane more than him, and his father only grinned, helping Zane cut out the cookies while Cole slumped in his chair, defeated.
Later that night, there was a movie on while the three of them ate the cookies from earlier, Lou sitting in his recliner while Cole and Zane took the couch. The two ninja were leaning on each other, and Lou was pretending he didn't notice. Cole wasn't really watching the movie, instead looking down at his boyfriend, who had fallen asleep on his shoulder with eyelashes fluttered shut. His breathing was steady, and a gentle hum sounded from his chest in place of a heartbeat. There was a faint dusting of sugar from the cookies on one corner of his mouth, which Cole thumbed away with an admiring smile.
"He asleep?" Lou asked, leaning forward to inspect the two. The Earth Ninja nodded, softly petting his boyfriend's hair. "You chose well, Cole. He's very sweet."
"Yup, I know," The ninja smiled as the Ice Ninja murmured something indecipherable unconsciously. "I'm lucky he agreed to try this whole dating thing."
"Don't downplay yourself, son. He deserves you just as much as you deserve him."
"Thanks dad," Cole leaned back onto the couch, letting his boyfriend rest as the movie played, only waking him up when it was time to go to bed, the two intertwined like they could never be torn apart.