Prince Charming Ch. 02byalana9©
This is a very short little chapter. The next one will be much longer. The first chapter was supposed to be called Fall, but I forgot to copy the part that said that. I'll be much quicker with chapter three, I promise!
Tommy couldn't believe it was already almost winter break. Just a few more short hours and finals would be done and campus would be emptying out by the busload. He knew it sounded like the biggest cliché in the world, but the fall had simply flown by—even more so since he'd been living with Nick. He couldn't remember ever being so comfortable with anyone in his life. His friends and Nick's had started to mesh in the past few weeks, and more often than not they all hung out in a big group, the art kids and Tommy's friends from the film club he'd joined when he first got to campus. People liked hanging out in their room, watching movies or just listening to music. Tommy thought it was ironic that for the first time in his life he was kinda-sorta pseudo popular. He had to say that he liked it.
He scooted around until he could hang his head off the bed and look at Nick's new painting. It was upside down, of course, but that didn't make it any less stunning. Tommy couldn't believe how amazing it was. Nick had been working on it in the art studio after class for close to a month. He'd been able to work out a deal with his father that he could take one night art class if he filled his regular schedule with the general university requirements and the business classes that his father wanted him to take. Tommy couldn't believe how narrow-minded Nick's father was. If he had a son that was such a brilliant artist...Tommy stopped fuming and went back to admiring the painting, a play on Botticelli's Primavera (at least according to Nick—Tommy had never heard of the thing) it was a wildly colored abstract of students dancing in the trees that lined the outside of campus. Tommy may not have been able to analyze it in relation of the old renaissance painting but he knew he loved it.
He'd flopped down on his bed about thirty minutes before, right after getting back from an essay final for freshman lit. The test hadn't been a huge deal, and he thought the questions were pretty easy, but all that writing was draining, especially for the last test of fall finals. He was going to be glad for the break. Most of Tommy's friends were going home for Christmas, but he'd elected to stay at the school, and luckily theirs was the one dorm on campus that stayed open for the international students who couldn't afford to fly home. He didn't want to spend his holidays with his aunt and her two pushy daughters. He didn't like them and they were more than happy to return the favor. It was best for Tommy to stay where he was. He planned to read, fill up on junk food, watch movies and just relax. It probably wouldn't be the most memorable holiday, but it would be stress free and easy—exactly what he needed.
Tommy picked his head up off of his pillow when he heard the door to the room open. It was Nick, of course, his gorgeous face pale and tired from the long week of testing. He dumped his backpack on the floor.
"Hey, how'd your last test go? Okay?"
Nick smiled tiredly and sank onto his own bed, sighing. He kicked his shoes off and laid out on his bed. "Yeah, it wasn't nearly as big of a deal as I had myself thinking it was going to be. I freaked out over nothing."
"You gonna start packing now?"
Nick rolled over onto his stomach. "Well, about that...how would you feel about me not going?" Tommy grinned. "Really? Why?"
"Well my dad just agreed to go speak at some international finance convention in Zurich. He'd have the actual day of Christmas off, but the rest of the time he'd be working. My choices are: go to Switzerland and sit in some fancy hotel by myself, go home and have Christmas alone or at the stupid country club with my dad's friends...or stay here."
"With me," Tommy finished. "You want in on the three week long junk food and movie binge?"
Nick chuckled. "Only to be broken by the occasional video game or walk in the snow."
"Ugh. Snow. That one's all you."
"I like snow! We don't see much of it in Newport Beach."
"Must be tough." Tommy rolled his eyes and Nick threw a pillow at him.
"So what's on for tonight? Horror, sci-fi, rooomance?"
"No romance, please! That's the last thing I want to watch."
"Oh, c'mon, are you still talking about Math boy? It wasn't that bad." Nick flashed him an impudent smile.
"Uh, yes it was."
A few weeks before, Tommy had been the recipient of a phone number, passed to him shyly at the end of Math class. He'd called the boy, Oliver, and they'd gone on one excruciatingly awkward and quiet date. Tommy had vowed never to do that to himself again. Not that mooning over the barely seen Chase Hamilton was much better. At least he could do that in his head—without the painful social interaction.
"I have apparently never learned the art of small talk. Put me around a guy and I'm all tongue twisted."
"What, you talk to me just fine!"
"I know you."
"Yeah, but you didn't at first."
"I don't know. You're my friend, not a guy guy. It's easy to talk to you."
Way to stab me in the heart. Nick knew he wasn't a guy guy to Tommy. Hated it, but knew it all the same. Didn't mean he wanted to hear it out loud. There was such a thing as denial after all. He'd tried to not think about Tommy that way. Really, he did. He'd had six long weeks to practice. Unfortunately, his crush had gotten worse, not better. And every time he'd looked at Tommy and told himself 'he's just a friend' his brain countered with 'yeah, a friend you're falling in love with'. He couldn't remember a time when he'd been happier or more miserable.
The first day of their break it started to snow...and snow, and snow, and snow. They'd gotten up and walked to Starbucks for coffee and muffins early, but by the time they reached campus, they were running and slipping, trying to get to the dorms before they were practically buried in the whiteout.
"Holy shit!" Nick exclaimed, shaking out his jacket and hat in the hallway so it didn't melt into a huge puddle on the floor of their room. "I think I take back that comment about loving the snow."
"No kidding." Tommy was de-mummifying himself as well, unwinding the miles of navy and light blue striped scarf that were wound around him. He stomped his feet and tried to get as much of the snow off as he could. "We should've gone to your house instead of staying here. Christmas on the beach in California." Tommy sighed.
Nick felt a quick stab of panic. There was no way he was bringing Tommy to the palace of a house his father had built for them back in Newport Beach. He was still struggling with the need to keep his identity secret versus the desire to share everything with his new best friend.
"Nah, it's best here. No annoying airports, no nosey housekeepers. Trust me."
Tommy shivered and raised his eyebrows. "I'll take your word for it. Turn the thermostat up!"
Nick chuckled and reached over to turn up the heat in their room. "You know what you need?"
"A beach umbrella and a bottle of sunscreen?"
"You need practice."
Tommy looked perplexed. "Practice?"
"Yeah, practice talking to dates. You're not going to spend all of college in this room just because you get nervous around guys."
Nick grabbed the throw from his bed and spread it on the floor in between the two sides of their room. He sat their coffees and muffins on the throw and lit a candle, which he placed in the middle of the blanket.
"Voila, dinner is served. Now sit down and be my date."
Tommy snorted. "This is dumb. I've already said that I have no problems talking to you."
Nick reached out and snagged a hat from his desk. He shoved it down so it covered as much of his blond hair as possible and put on a pair of sunglasses that was sitting on his desk. Tommy giggled. "You look like inspector gadget."
"That's your date, inspector gadget thank you very much." He reached out and poked Tommy on the side. "Sit."
"All right, inspector, what are we supposed to do here?" Tommy asked when they were both sitting. He reached out and grabbed another scarf to wrap around his neck. The dark burgundy made his pale skin, pink cheeks, and sandy hair glow—and those big brown eyes. Nick gulped and tried to focus on their little game.
"You're supposed to ask your date questions. Get him talking. For example, I can ask you—what are your favorite parts about college so far, Tommy? And you'd say?"
"My favorite part of college so far is the friends I've made. Especially my roommate, even if he is a big dork."
Nick smiled. "Your turn. Ask a question."
"What are your favorite parts of college so far?"
"Getting away from my father's house." Nick made a face. "Oh, and this boy that I'm in love with from afar." He swooned theatrically. "He barely knows I exist but I know someday he's going to come rescue me from this tower and take me to his chalet deep in the enchanted mountains." Nick finished with a flourish.
Tommy snorted, sending little bits of coffee flying from the corner of his mouth. "See, I'd have been fine the other night if that guy had been funny like you. All he did was sit there and stare."
"Then, my young padouan, you must do the talking. Ask me another question."
"Um, what's your major?"
Nick scoffed. "That's about as good as 'Haven't I seen you here before.' Try again."
"Okay, then tell me about your favorite childhood toy."
"That's better. My first bike was my favorite toy. Until I had that thing I felt trapped at my parents' house. I'd take it and sneak out at all hours of the day and night just to ride and feel the wind in my hair."
"Wait, you said parents. Like plural. I thought you just lived with your dad."
Nick looked down at the blueberry muffin he'd been playing with. "I do, now. My mom disappeared when I was ten. Left a 'Dear John' and was never seen or heard from again, other than to file for divorce."
"Really?" Tommy scooted around to Nick's side of the blanket, game obviously forgotten. He laid his head on Nick's shoulder. "That must have been hard for you."
Nick shrugged, but not enough to bump Tommy's head from his shoulder. Then he laid his own cheek against Tommy's soft waves. "It kinda sucked, but she'd never been around much anyway. Mom was a trophy wife who'd never wanted to get pregnant. She did the ten years required in the prenup and then booked. Dad got served papers from some town on the French Riviera."
Tommy laid his hand on Nick's thigh and squeezed. The small gesture, meant as comfort, made Nick's cheeks heat. His body couldn't take too much more of that kind of proximity to Tommy before it started showing its interest.
"I'm really sorry, Nicky. I know what it's like not to have a mom. I wouldn't wish it on anyone else."
Nicky? Nick just let it go and breathed in the soft apple smell of Tommy's shampoo.
"It's okay, short stuff. You done practicing?"
Tommy nodded. "Yeah, I'm always going to be useless with guys. Let's watch a movie." He hopped up on Nick's bed, which had the best view of the TV. "What do you want to watch?"
"Horror! I say we do the Saw movies."
"I might scream."
Nick chuckled. "I'll hold your hand."
Nick got a tongue and a rude noise for that comment. He chuckled as he set up the DVD and closed their curtains to cut off the blinding white of the snow outside.
They watched the movie in silence for a while. Tommy cuddled close to Nick and sighed happily when Nick draped an arm around Tommy's shoulders. They'd been doing that since the very first weekend. There was something about their friendship that made touching comfortable. Tommy liked the closeness, how they were totally platonic but he could love on Nick all the wanted. It was like the best of all worlds. He could fantasize all he wanted about the gorgeous Chase, who popped in to smile and flirt every few days and have his equally gorgeous but non-threatening best friend to snuggle with and talk to.
Tommy tried to pay attention to the movie but Nick's little game earlier had brought up a ton of questions in his head. He scooted down so he could lay his head on Nick's lap and pulled the blanket from the floor to cover himself with. After that he stared blankly at the TV and let his thoughts run wild. He wanted to date, he really did, but the idea of suffering through another awkward date made him want to say 'forget it' and become a priest or something, not that he was Catholic. It was easier to drool over Chase and cuddle with Nick—at least until Nick found a boyfriend. And he probably would soon because the boy was beautiful. Tommy hoped Nick's soon to be boyfriend, whoever he was, would be okay with roommate cuddling time. He would seriously miss it.
"Hey, Nick," he whispered about halfway into the movie. Nick jumped. Tommy probably would have been tense too if he'd been paying any attention to the screen.
"You scared me. What's up?"
"Have you ever kissed a guy?"
Nick looked surprised. "Well, yeah, haven't you?" Tommy shook his head.
"Not even in the back of your little closet?"
"No, not at all."
Nick chuckled. "A gay guy who's only kissed girls. You'd think it was the fifties or something."
Tommy pinched Nick and fell silent again. It was too late to pay attention to the movie. He had no idea what was going on. He just closed his eyes and kind of draped his arm across Nick's thighs. Nothing wrong with taking a nap.
When he woke, the TV was off and Nick had moved from under his head to curled up behind him. The blanket was over both of them and Nick's arm was circling his waist. He was warm and comfortable but he thought that if he didn't get up, he'd end up sleeping the whole day away. Tommy went to sit up but the arm around his waist tightened.
"Go back to sleep, T. I'm comfortable."
"It's already nearly one."
"So? It's break. What's it for it not sleeping?"
"True." Tommy lay back down and snuggled into Nick's warmth. "Nick?"
"Talking is not sleeping."
"How many guys have you kissed?"
"Five million. Close your eyes."
Tommy snuffed down a giggle. "I'm awake now."
Nick brushed a kiss across the back of his neck and tightened his arm. "You only think you are. Close your eyes."
"Why is it so easy with you?"
Nick groaned and kissed the back of Tommy's neck again. Tommy shivered, the kiss causing pleasant chills. Sometimes the cuddling felt a little bit more than platonic. "It just is. Will you please go back to sleep? I just laid down a little while ago."
"Yeah. I'll try."
Those warm arms tightened again, and Tommy closed his eyes, surprised when they started to feel heavy again.
* * * *
Christmas day in the dorms with only Nick and a handful of exchange students had to be the best Christmas that Tommy ever had. They decorated the common room with a throwaway tree that someone had found out on the street somewhere and little cut out paper snowflakes. They made hot cocoa and cider, and one of the Finnish kids brought out a bottle of hard alcohol to mix with the cider that Tommy thought had to be illegal in the states. They made silly paper Christmas hats and danced, more than a little tipsy, to boy band hits of the late 90's.
Later in their room, Tommy and Nick exchanged presents that they'd bought for each other: a new sweater and some fantasy books for Tommy, and a thick spiral pad of nice art paper and some fresh watercolor pencils for Nick. They relaxed on Nick's bed and watched The Nightmare Before Christmas and Elf with Will Farrell instead of the steady diet of horror and sci-fi that they'd been living on. They were lying in their own beds trying to fall asleep when Nick's voice broke the silence.
"Wouldn't it be nice if school were like this and we never had to go to class?"
Tommy chuckled. "Just us and some crazy exchange students drinking and dancing? It would be fun, but probably not very productive."
"Probably not. Plus I think I'd be hungover all the time. I'm already getting a headache."
"Yeah, me too. How many cups of that cider did you have?"
"Me too." He shivered. "Must be wearing off though. It's cold in here."
"Come over here then. I'm cold too." Tommy got up eagerly, shivering, and crawled into Nick's warm bed, happily snuggling himself into Nick's body heat. "See, that's better."
"Yeah, it is. Is it still snowing?"
Nick laughed softly. "I don't know. I can't see out the window either." He roped his arm around Tommy's shoulder and kissed the back of his head. "Night Tommy."
There was silence in the room for a few minutes. Tommy could hear Nick breathing but he knew he wasn't asleep.
"You know what I really want for Christmas?"
He could hear Nick's sigh. "What do you really want?"
"To kiss a guy. Just once, I swear. I'll never bring it up again."
Nick sat up. "Wait, you want to kiss a guy, like right now?"
Tommy nodded. "I want it to be with someone I feel safe with. It has to be you Nicky."
"You know nobody's ever called me that?"
"No, it's okay from you. I don't mind. You really want me to kiss you?"
Tommy nodded. The idea had come out of nowhere but once he'd made up his mind he wasn't going to change it. It made sense anyway, Nick would help him, tell him what to do right.
"And things aren't going to get all weird because we've kissed?"
"No, just think of it as more dating training."
Nick breathed out slowly, shaking his head. "I must still be drunk. I think I'm actually going to kiss you."
Tommy felt stupid all of a sudden. "Nick, if you really don't want to—"
"Shhhhh. Just follow my lead."
And then Nick's lips were on his and it felt a-maze-ing. Nothing like those weird little kisses he used to share with Nicole, his virginal ex-girlfriend, nothing like he'd even imagined. Nick cupped his chin and ran his fingers through his hair. Satiny lips traced over his jaw, to his ear, back to his thirsting lips. He nibbled a bit on Tommy's lower lip. Tommy arched up into Nick's body, wanting more.
"Open your mouth," Nick whispered.
Tommy opened his lips and Nick's tongue slipped in warm and soft. Tentatively, Tommy slipped his own tongue out to stroke Nick's and shivered when the kiss was deepened. He reached up to thread his fingers through silky white-blond hair and smiled when he felt Nick shiver too. So that was what kissing was all about—making the other person get all shivery from feeling good. He liked it, more than liked it truthfully.
Slowly Nick's lips drew away from his, brushing one more little peck across his mouth before complete separation. "So?" He asked softly. "What did you think?"
Tommy let out a ragged breath. "Better than I thought possible."
Nick closed his eyes for a second, then brushed Tommy's hair out of his face before lying back down behind him like they'd been before.
"Remember, no weirdness."
"I promise. Night Nicky."
"Night, T. Love you."
"Love you too, Nicky. Couldn't ask for a better best friend."
It was the first time they'd ever said it, but it made Tommy's insides all warm and happy. He wanted to be friends with Nick, just like they were, for the rest of his life. He didn't want anything to change...