Prince Charming Ch. 04byalana9©
"Nick! Check this out. The GSA is throwing a big masked ball next month. Do you want to go?"
Nick laughed as he struggled his suitcase into their dorm room. The place was becoming more and more crowded as the weeks went by.
"Can I get all the way into the room before we start discussing social events?" Tommy grabbed Nick's messenger bag from him and sat it on the desk chair. Then he flopped down on his bed, colorful flyer in hand, and practically vibrated. "All right, T, tell me about the dance. But first tell me about spring break with your grandma."
"Break was cool. Way too cold to swim or anything, but we walked on the beach and cooked crab. She wants to meet you this summer."
"Yeah. I've never had a really good friend before. I think I talked her ear off about you, like, the whole time." Nick reached over to ruffle Tommy's hair and tried to ignore the warmth melting in his stomach. "So tell me about this big dance."
"It's a masked ball, right, and everybody who's going puts their name in a box, you know boys for boys, girls for girls, and so on, and then they make mystery dates from the box and you meet your date there. You'll have a mask on, and so will they, but when you get your date assigned they'll assign you some sort of a marker too so you can tell who you're meeting."
Nick cringed. "And you want to go to this?"
Tommy hopped off the bed and spun around with the flyer. "Yes. Don't you think it would be romantic? You know, candles and music, and a stranger in a mask, which you can't take off like ever, and...Nicky?"
Nick couldn't help it. He burst into uncontrollable laughter. "Seriously, T. What were you eating up at the cape? Magic Mushrooms?"
"You don't think it sounds like fun?"
Nick shook his head slightly. "I'll go if you want me to, but I think it sounds like the blind date from hell."
Tommy stuck out his tongue. "Spoilsport. You don't have to. It just seemed like fun."
"Then go, babe. I don't want to ruin it for you. And who knows, maybe in May I'll be more in the mood for a mystery date." Tommy pinched Nick in the stomach, then pushed him onto his bed before crawling right next to him. "Did I tell you I found a few more places that might work?"
"Do you want to go look tomorrow before we get our books and stuff?"
"Yeah, there's one that even has a fenced in yard so you can get that dog you were wanting."
"Any of them going to be open by June? I really don't want to go back to California."
Tommy's eyes instantly got concerned. "Oh, Nicky, what happened?"
Nick grunted and rubbed his forehead against Tommy's shoulder. "Nothing different than my dad's usual shit. He insisted I come all the way home instead of going with you, then once I get there he's in meetings forever and I barely saw him. He kept dragging me to dinners at the country club too. There was this girl there that he was blatantly trying to hook me up with."
Tommy snickered at the last part. "Was she hot?"
"Shut up, dork. I actually pulled her aside a couple nights in and told her I was gay. She said thank god because she was seeing a mechanic at the BMW shop where she took her car and had no idea how to tell her parents."
"So it worked out well?"
"Yeah, we 'dated' for the rest of break, both of our parents were happy, and at least I got to come back here. She's still stuck hiding."
"Ouch. That sucks."
"Yeah. So you got any flyers for the houses?"
Tommy scrambled off of Nick's bed to his desk, where he withdrew a few slightly water-damaged flyers.
"Sorry, it was raining earlier."
Nick shrugged off the apology. "Hey, I like this one." It was a little white house with an honest to god picket fence, so cute and quaint it practically screamed 'newlywed love nest'.
"Yeah, I liked that one too. I was hoping you wouldn't think it was too, like, just married-ish."
Nick chuckled. "That's exactly what I was thinking, but who cares? It's a great place, it's right down the street, and check it out, it's got three bedrooms so we can have a study room and no one has to feel bad about watching TV."
"So that one first? I'll call the agent and set it up."
* * * *
It only took them about an hour to decide that they wanted the house. Probably less than that, but Nick could tell Tommy didn't want to seem too impulsive. He loved it on sight--the yard and the wood floors, the big bay window that looked out onto a garden. Tommy told Nick that he couldn't believe that he was actually purchasing property, but his Grandmother had agreed it was a good financial move and he wanted more than anything to have somewhere that actually felt like home. So scary or not, he was going to become a property owner--which he'd technically been for years, just not on his own. There were some repairs and remodels that needed to be done before they could even consider moving in, the house was old and the kitchen and bathrooms hadn't been renovated since the sixties judging by the decor, but luckily the house was way under any budget that he could've set so there was plenty of money for materials and hiring a contractor.
The first month or so after the house closed and it was theirs, Nick and Tommy were there practically every weekend, every second they could spare actually, picking paint colors and granite for countertops, watching with excitement as new cabinets went in the kitchen and a big gorgeous tiled shower stall replaced the old cracked tub in the bathroom. It was their entertainment, watching the house they'd be sharing come to life. Nick knew that Tommy was thrilled, under his fear, to have somewhere that was finally his--not his bitchy aunt, not just a rented room on campus, but his house. Nick was glad that Tommy hand't even considered not sharing it with him.
Nick's father had been on his case ever since spring break, sending texts and e-mails about the business school at Stanford and how Tiffany, the girl he'd met over break, kept asking about him. He knew that was total bullshit because he'd e-mailed her and she told him otherwise, and he didn't appreciate his father's heavy-handed hints that perhaps he'd be happier in California, where good lo' dad could control him better of course. His father was a bit skeptical about Nick moving into a house with 'some boy' that he'd met at school and even went so far as to say that the boy better not be one of the 'art school fags'. Since Tommy wasn't an art student, Nick could honestly tell his father that wasn't the case. He played up Tommy's science classes and told him that Tommy was from a money family in Boston, which was true. His father had been mollified enough that he dropped the argument.
After that, Nick went back to being excited about the renovations, planning how he was going to organize his room and the new furniture he'd talked his father into letting him purchase. Tommy said that of course he totally didn't care if Nick wanted to paint a mural in his room, so he spent many happy hours there on his own after class sketching and painting the designs he'd chosen for his walls. It wasn't a picture, really, just kind of his emotions swirling all over the walls, all the colors that represented him and the way he felt when he was with Tommy. He hadn't even really thought when he was sketching it out, just...felt. It wasn't anything that he could, or would, ever explain but the painting was love. Ridiculous, pain in the ass, unrequited love.
"Nicky, that's gorgeous!" Tommy exclaimed, scaring the crap out of Nick and nearly knocking him off the step stool he'd borrowed from the contractors.
"When did you get here?" He asked after he'd righted himself and the tub of acrylic paint he had balanced precariously on his hand. He'd been slowly filling in the black outlines with bursts of color, shaded jewel tones of blues and purples and bright pink-toned red.
"About five minutes ago, but I was out in the kitchen talking to Rodrigo."
"The cabinets look amazing, don't they? I can't believe the place is almost done."
"Yeah, it's amazing what can happen if you throw enough money into the mix," Tommy said with a snicker. "He told me we should be able to move in by the twelfth."
"Only two weeks?" Nick grinned. "But isn't that the night of your dance?"
"Our dance. I haven't given up on you going yet. And that's on a Friday. The first of our furniture is being delivered on Sunday, I think."
"Couches first, right?" Nick made a face.
"Yeah. I tried to get the beds first but no go. We'll probably have to stick it out another week in the dorms. As long as we're not moving during finals I don't care. That would suck."
"Yes it would!" Nick couldn't imagine trying to deal with packing their room up and moving it while cramming for finals.
"Hey, I'll let you get back to your painting. I'm going to head back to the dorm room and work on my chem lab essay questions."
"'Kay. I'll probably stay here for another hour or so, at least until the sun starts to set."
"Want me to wait for you for dinner?"
"Yeah, wait for me. I'll be back."
* * * *
Tommy had just finished the last of his Chemistry work when he heard the door rattle. There was a soft knock. He chuckled.
"Did you forget your keys again, dork?" Nick was brilliant and an amazing artist but he had to be the most forgetful person ever. He was constantly leaving things around and losing them.
Tommy opened the door smiling but was surprised when instead of Nick, it was Chase standing out in the hall. He was bronzed from being out in the spring sun playing frisbee or football or whatever it was that the jocks did. He was smiling too, but his smile drooped a bit when he saw Tommy at the door. He recovered quickly though.
"Hey little bit, is Nick around?"
"No, but he should be here soon if you wanna sit and wait."
Chase looked around, but the whole room was decorated with Nick's paintings. There wasn't any sort of side boundaries, at least visually. "Sure, which one is his bed again?"
Tommy pointed to Nick's side before he sat back down at his computer chair. He didn't want to act like the biggest chatterbox in the world in front of Chase but that seemed to be his lot. Tommy looked at his chemistry lab book and tried to pretend he was still working on it so he wouldn't just start talking.
"So you going to the mask dance?" Chase asked, breaking the silence that Tommy had been determined not to fill with endless babbling.
"I think so. I'm trying to get Nicky to go with me."
Chase chuckled. "It's supposed to be a blind date, not a date with your roommate."
"I know, I just wanted him to do something fun. He's seemed a little down lately. I mean, he's happy about our house but--" He broke off before he started talking too much. Besides, he knew Nick wouldn't appreciate him spilling things to Chase.
"Your house?" Chase looked taken aback.
"Yeah, I bought a house near campus with, well it's a long story, but anyway it's getting a few things done to it and then we're going to move in together so we don't have to live in the dorms next year."
"Like in together, together?"
"Oh, no. Nicky and I are just friends. We'll have our own rooms." Tommy realized that he might not like it as much, sleeping without being able to hear Nick breathe.
"Does his father know?"
Tommy shrugged. "I assume so, since he paid for Nick to get new bedroom furniture. What's with his dad? He seems like such a dick."
Chase snorted. "Don't you think he's allowed to be?"
"What do you mean?" Tommy was perplexed.
Chase's eyes went wide for a minute. "I thought--oh. Well, he's just really rich and has a powerful job, you know. Nick should have more respect for him."
"I think he should have more respect for Nick."
"Whatever short stuff. So I think you should go to the dance. Get Nick to put his name in too. It'll be more fun if more people come."
"What box are you putting your name in, girls or boys?"
Chase shrugged. "I don't know. I'm sure Nick's told you I'm happy with either."
Tommy kind of had a feeling that Chase really wished he could put his name in the box that said Nick Logan Only. There wasn't any other reason for him to be so persistent about coming around. Tommy wished it was for him instead.
"Well, I'll try to get him to come. We've both been pretty busy getting the place ready to move in."
"You should get Nick to sign up."
"Listen, I'm going to bounce. Tell him I stopped in to say hi, and maybe I'll come by next week, okay?"
"Yeah, sure." Tommy tried to keep the eager to please sound out of his voice.
Chase hesitated at the door. "Hey, kid, you wanna go get dinner with me?"
"Sure!" Tommy answered hopping up out of his computer chair, all pretense of not being eager lost.
He pulled his coat on and without any hesitation he followed Chase out the door.
* * * *
Tommy was walking home from dinner on his own. It hadn't been the intimate date that he'd hoped--a few of Chase's buddies had shown up and he spent most of dinner crowded into the corner of the table against the wall. He'd gone a few times to refill Chase's soda for him. When he'd gotten up to clear his tray, he came back to find Chase and his friends gone. Tommy had shrugged and headed for the door and back to his dorm.
When he got back in, Nick was sitting at his desk doing homework. Tommy could tell before he even got all the way in the room that Nick was mad. He knew why too. Him and Nick always went to dinner together. Shit. He'd ditched Nick for Chase, even after he'd told Nick he wasn't going to be an idiot over Chase, he'd gone ahead and done it. And for what? So he could be ignored and treated like an errand boy and an idiot? Tommy felt like a fool. He closed the door behind himself softly.
"Hey," he said quietly, apology at the ready.
Nick didn't reply.
Nick's terse set down made Tommy's throat tighten.
"How was your dinner with Chase?" Nick asked, interrupting him. Tommy's stomach coiled. He felt awful for being so thoughtless.
"I thought you were going to be the smart one. I can't believe you're going after him just like everyone else." Nick made a disgusted face.
Tommy already felt like a moron after what'd happened at dinner. He'd actually thought that Chase wanted to hang out with him. Nick's scorn didn't help. He reacted, and probably not the best way.
"You're just jealous!"
"Yeah, jealous. You're mad that Chase wouldn't be gay for you and now every time someone else likes him you try to sabotage it so they can't have him!"
Nick's face bloomed into mask of incredulity. "Are you fucking serious?"
Tommy was on a roll, the anger from his night coursing out and aimed unfairly and directly at Nick.
"Yeah, I'm serious. I mean, you don't date, you're all bitter over the guy, and whenever anyone else is interested in him you get all pissy and protective, like you're marking your territory. It's pathetic Nick."
"I can't fucking believe this Tommy, especially not coming from you."
"What you can't believe that Chase could want someone else, or you can't believe that I've finally figured out your game?"
Tommy had no idea what the hell he was saying. He was just opening his mouth and all these ridiculous anger fueled things were flying out. Shit. He needed to stop this.
"Fuck. You. I'm getting the hell outta here. You're not the friend I thought you were."
Nick slammed out of the room and Tommy sank onto his bed. He wanted to cry but felt like a moron doing it. He wanted to throw things, but didn't have anything that he cared so little about that he'd be okay with ruining it. Fuck. He knew that was just about the stupidest thing he'd ever done.
* * * *
Nick knew what he was doing was mean but he didn't know how to stop himself. He had this kid Gavin from the art building over. They were watching a movie and both sitting on his bed because that really was the best place to see from. Nick knew that Gavin liked him, he also knew that Tommy was due back from class any minute. Nick would show Tommy fucking pathetic. He was still so mad at Tommy. Mad that Tommy was so into Chase, that he'd dared to insinuate that Nick was jealous over Chase's time, had dared to tell Nick how he felt about Chase and Tommy and Argh. Like the little moron knew. Of course he doesn't cause you never told him. It had been three days since their fight and he hadn't said a word about it. About anything actually. There had been nothing in their room but silence. Nick hated it. But he hated the way that Tommy had looked at him more. Fucking pathetic. He didn't think so.
Nick pushed his thoughts down and slung an arm around Gavin's shoulders. Gavin smiled tentatively at him and put a hand on Nick's knee. Nick felt like a raging asshole. Gavin wiggled a little closer and laid his head down on Nick's shoulder. He had nice shiny black hair that smelled like strawberries and he was great with oil pastels. He'd have made a nice boyfriend for Nick. Nick wanted to shove him away, tell him to get the hell out. It felt all wrong to have anyone that close to him who wasn't Tommy. No one else was hardly ever in their room anymore. It was their space. He was ruining it over what? Jealousy? He gritted his teeth and dropped a small kiss on Gavin's head. What am I doing?
It was during that short caress that the door popped open and a tired looking Tommy plodded in. Nick's heart wrenched but then he remembered Tommy calling him pathetic, he saw those big dumb eyes staring at him and accusing him of being a loser. He kissed Gavin again, this time on the mouth, slow and soft.
"Hey, Tommy, would you mind clearing out for a few hours?" He made his voice sound as sleepy and sexy as he could, like it would just be a matter of time before he was in Gavin's pants. Then he looked up and gave Tommy the coldest glare he could muster over Gavin's head. One that said Get Out.
Tommy's soft little mouth opened and his backpack slithered out of his hands onto the floor. His keys clattered noisy and awkward onto the linoleum floor. Tommy just stared until he took a breath and seemed to shock himself out of silence.
"S-sure," He mumbled and turned leave without bothering to pick up his keys or his backpack. He rushed as fast as he could to get out, but he didn't get through the door without Nick noticing the defeated look on his face. Nick had done it, shown Tommy that he could date on his own and not be fucking waiting around for Tommy's affection twenty four hours a day. Tommy? No, he thought Nick was in love with Chase. God, the whole thing was such a mess. He didn't even know what the hell he was trying to prove. Whatever it was, that sad little look on Tommy's face told him he'd proved it.
It should have been victory coursing through him, the sweetness of hurting Tommy like Tommy had hurt him, but instead he just felt miserable. He made a pretense of tucking Gavin's face into his chest, hoping that it seemed intimate. Mostly he just didn't want the poor guy to see his face.
Nick got through the movie, and he gave Gavin a kiss goodnight, hoping he hadn't just created another awkward situation but knowing he probably had. He felt like the biggest jerk on the face of the planet. What he'd just done was a total Chase move. He couldn't believe that he'd even done it. Nick got out his phone to call Tommy and tell him to come home, to say he was sorry. He pressed talk and waited for Tommy to pick up. In a moment though, Tommy's backpack started vibrating. Shit. He was who the hell knew where Tommy was or when he'd return. Nick squeezed his forehead with his hands and winced.
Fuck. He'd just taken the most uncomfortable situation ever and made it way worse. What the hell had he been thinking?