We pick up Alex and Malissa who sigh when they see Max. Malissa keeps her mouth shut, but Alex can't help himself.
"Why is your kid brother in the car?" I smack his arm and he smiles. Zie looks over at me as Max starts yelling about something.
"I've got him. Max is coming with us tonight so drop it. I'm watching him tonight." Alex and Malissa laugh and shake their heads as I hurry to the car. "Hey little man, why are you fussin?"
"I want you to sit by me! Not Alex or Malissa." The others reach us and they all share a look.
"What did you do to that kid? He never likes anyone she dates." Malissa exclaims. Zie smirks and kisses me.
"Ace is full of surprises. Liss, do you want to drive and I'll take back seat with Ace?" Malissa nods and pulls on Alexs' arm. Finally we are on our way.
"Soo... where are we going again?" Alex asks. Zie sighs and lays her head on my shoulder.
"We are going to dinner and then a movie. We need to decide between the steak house and chinese buffet still though. Max, what do you think?" I ask. Max smiles at me.
"Steak house!" He shouts. I ruffle his hair and Malissa heads in our destination. "Ace, can we play ball while you live with us?" He asks. Alex looks over at me with a surprised look on his face.
"Yea squirt. Now shush." Zie turns towards me and places her lips on my ear.
"You do realize that they are getting a different idea about why you are staying right?" I chuckle and kiss her.
"Let them think what they want. I love you either way." She goes silent and I mentally slap myself. "Again, sorry princess. I won't say it again until you do." She just kisses me and smiles shyly, laying her head on my chest. I hold her to me and look over at Alex who is looking at me. He makes an L with his hand and I nod my head. He looks at Zie and quickly looks away. I smile as Zie slaps his arm.
"It's none of your business Alex, Ace understands." I see Malissa look into the mirror at us.
"What's wrong? What did Alex do now?"
"He's getting into our relationship..." Zie says angrily. I look at Zie not realizing how much she was hurting. Alex holds up his hands in defeat.
"Hey, I wasn't trying to interfere. It's something Ace and I had talked about at school and I was wondering. I'm sorry Zie." She nods her head and looks away. I put my hand under her chin and make her look at me. There are tears in her eyes and I kiss them.
"Stop stressing out princess. I do understand. Alex was just being my brother." She smiles as I bite her bottom lip and then kiss her deeply.
"Eww... That's gross." Max whines, breaking the tension. Alex turns around towards me and leans forward.
"Where's my kiss Ace? I'm not feeling the bro-mance here man." We all crack up as I shove him away. Zie shakes her head and shares a look with Malissa as Alex and I joke a bit more and include Max, who enjoys the attention.
"Max, what do you want to eat? You have to pick off the kids menu." I say for the fourth time. He is sitting on the other side of me towards the wall. I look over at Zie who is smiling at me before sighing. Alex and Malissa are across from us looking at their menus.
"I want what you are having. I want to choose from the adult menu like you." He whines. I cross my arms and he crosses his too. "Please?" He says sweetly and I give in.
"How about this, I will share my meal with you. That way you are eating what I am. Deal?" Zie slides her hand into mine and squeezes it. I squeeze back.
"Deal!" He shouts making us all laugh. Zie leans into me.
"You are really good with him. And amazing in general." Our friends nod their heads in agreement. The waitress comes up and takes our order.
"How old are you all?" I look at my friends who shrug in confusion.
"We're in our last year of high school." I say and she shakes her head.
"And yet, you two already have a child. What is wrong with kids these days?" Zie looks at me in shock and I pull her to me.
"Look, your job is to serve not to judge. What we do with our lives is none of your concern. Now just get our food and leave us be." I say angrily. The woman looks shocked as she backs away from us. My friends are staring at me as well, but more with respect than shock. Zie is the only one who looks slightly shocked. I look away from her and out the window. "I have to use the restroom. I'll be back..."
Max follows me out of the seat, and Malissa lets Alex out. Once in the restroom Alex grabs my arm to stop me from punching the wall. "Dude, calm down."
"I shouldn't have said anything. I don't want to lose her. I mean, I love her and I've told her, but I wont say it again until she is ready. She doesn't want to say it unless she means it. I don't know what to do man. I have fallen head over heals for her, but what if she never feels that way for me?" Alex watches me as I help Max get his pants unzipped so he can use the restroom.
"Bro... The fact that she hasn't said it yet, tells me she loves you. I've known her and Malissa forever. She has always told a guy she loves him just because that's what they want to hear. With you... She wants to make sure you mean it. You not pressuring her into saying it is proving it. Just give her time man." I look up at him and nod my head. Max finishes and I help him zip his pants back up.
Alex pulls me into a bro hug as another guy walks and. He stares at us in horror. I can only just barely hold back the laughter. "I love you man." I tell Alex.
"I love you too. You ready for the rest of our date now?"
The guy starts coughing and looks at us in disgust. "Of course. I'll take that kiss now."
"Get out you homos! You are a disgrace to this world!" The guy shouts at us. Alex and I burst out laughing and Max joins in as we run out of the bathroom. We can't stop laughing and we run all the way back to the table. The guy comes out as we are reaching the table and heads our way.
"What have you two done?" Malissa asks. I shake my head as the girls let us in. As the guy walks over I pull Zie to me and kiss her gently. The guy flips me off as I pull away from Zie and I return the gesture.
"Careful girls. Those two are homos." The guy tells Malissa and Zie. They give us weird looks and glares at the guy.
"Really? You're trying to tell us that our boyfriends, who are brothers, are gay." The guy scoffs and walks off. "What the hell was that about?" Malissa asks again. Alex and I smile but just shake our heads.
"Nothing. Let's just say that the next time we give each other a bro hug shouldn't be in the bathroom." Alex says. "Though Ace, if you're serious about that kiss..."
"You seriously are gay man. I was only saying that cause of that guy and you know it." I laugh. Zie grabs my hand and puts it on her leg. I look at her and she looks at me with worry in her eyes. I squeeze her thigh and kiss her forehead.
"Don't just walk off like that Ace. I wasn't mad." She whispers as she buries her head in my chest.
"I'm sorry. I just needed a minute princess. I- I'm sorry." I just barely catch myself from telling her I love her again and she sighs. Our food arrives and we all chow down. I split my steak in half and cut Max's half in pieces.
"Ace, can you stay with us forever?" Max asks as we are piling into the car. I look over at him and pull him to me.
"You're stuck with me squirt. Unless your sister decides she doesn't want me anymore..." I look over at Zie with the last sentence and she shakes her head.
"Not going to happen Ace. I'm not letting you go." She grabs my hand and slips under my arm so its wrapped around her.
"If sissy ever decides that, will you still come back to see me?" Max looks ready to cry. "I don't want you to go away too." He whispers. Zie leans over and kisses his head.
"I will not leave Max, no matter what happens. Now cheer up squirt. This is supposed to be a fun night."
Max hugs me and nods his head as Malissa head?
"Okay, I've been trying to hold this in, but I just can't anymore. Why is Ace living with you two?" Malissa asks as we are driving. Alex turns around to look at us and Zie looks over at me.
"I don't believe that Zie and Max should be home alone. Their dad is never there and that just isn't right. So this week I'm staying with her, next week she'll stay with me, and I think you get the point." Malissa grins at Zie as Alex gives me a look that I know means I'll be getting talked to later.
"Yea, Ace is my daddy now and Zie is my mommy." Max adds and we all stare at him. "What?"
"Max... I'm not your dad..." I say slowly. Hurt is written all over his face.
"You take care of me. You said you would never leave. You said you love me. That's more than my real daddy. Zie, tell Ace he is my daddy." Zie looks over at me with wide eyes as Alex stares at us.
"Ace... He needs this. He doesn't have anyone but us." Zie says quietly. I look between them and then over at Alex who is nodding his head.
"You're right Max. I guess I am your dad. And I do love you buddy. I'm sorry." Maxs' smile is from ear to ear as he hugs me tight. Zie looks up at me and kisses me gently before looking away. I'm about to ask her what's wrong, but we've reached the movies and Max is already hopping out.
Malissa and Alex swarm us as we get out. "If you two are parents, that makes us Aunts and Uncles. Ace you really are good for them. I'm glad you came around and asked her out. I've never seen her so happy or even Alex for that matter." Malissa rushes as we head inside. I laugh and give her a hug.
"I'm happy too. You four are my family and I love you guys." I look over at Zie as everyone but her says they love me back. Zie looks away from me and says she needs to use the restroom. I look over at Alex as the girls and Max leave to go to the restroom.
"It's not you man. She wants to say it, but every time she has in the past she's been hurt." Alex tells me. I sigh loudly.
"What else do I have to do to prove I'm not like all the others. I've adopted her kid brother as my kid, I moved in to make sure she is safe, I have embarrassed my self by saying those damn three words and having her not say them back. I love her Alex. And now I'm scared I'm going to lose her."
"You aren't going to lose her. Just give her some more time. Okay?" I nod my head and look away as the girls join us. I grab Zie's hand and she hugs me tightly.
"I'm sorry Ace... I know I'm hurting you and I'm so sorry." I laugh and she looks at me with tears in her eyes.
"Hurting me? It's more like torturing me, but you're worth it. I told you how I feel and if you don't feel the same then I'll know when the time comes. I'm here Zie, just don't forget that okay?" She smiles and kisses me before joining Malissa. I look over at Alex who slaps me on my back before joining the girls. "Come on squirt, let's go join the others."
Half way through the cheesy chick flick that Alex and I were forced to watch, Max falls asleep. Alex leans towards me to whisper in my ear.
"So... Where do you plan on sleeping tonight?" I chuckle and glance at Zie.
"I don't know man. Where ever she tells me to. I'll do what ever it takes to keep her happy." Max sits up and I can feel him shaking. "Hey, what's up little man?" He looks up at me and buries his face in my chest.
I can feel my shirt soaking up his tears as he continues to shake. "Hey let's go refill our cups okay?" He nods his head and I pick him up. "Zie we'll be back. We're going to go fill up our cups." She nods her head, but glances at Max with worry written on her face.
"Maybe I should come with..." I shake my head and look give her a smile. I carry Max out and sit him down on one of the benches with me.
"Hey, what's wrong?" He looks up at me and I wipe his tears away.
"It was a bad dream." I look at him and smile sweetly.
"What was it about buddy?" He shakes his head.
"You tried to save mommy, and instead they shot at you. And mommy had a baby in her belly. It was so real daddy." I hug him tight.
"Hey, that's the funny thing about dreams. They seem real but they aren't. I promise."
"Daddy, you told momma that you needed us to be together because you had to protect us. Why? Why are people doing this to us?"
I look at him and want to kill every person in the world for him. Six years old and is already seeing death at every corner. "It's just some kind of sick joke buddy. Someone out there thinks this is funny and will get in big trouble one day for it. Please don't worry about it bud." He hugs me and nods his head.
"Thanks daddy, I'm better now." We head back in and Zie holds up my cup.
"For going to fill up your cups you sure forgot your cups." Max giggles and I set him back down in hes seat. I kiss Zie and shake my head.
After the movie we drop off Alex and Malissa who say they will see us tomorrow morning and I join Zie up front. Max is passed out in the back and doesn't even notice that I'm not there. We are silent on the way home so that we don't wake Max up. I carry him to his room, taking off his boots and jacket and tucking him in before joining Zie in the living room. I pull her to me as she looks up at me.
"Ace... Thank you. You were incredible with Max and that means a lot to me. Not only that, but no other guy would have adopted my brother as his own kid." I chuckle as I shrug my shoulders.
"It was no problem princess. He's a great kid and I look forward to seeing him grow up. He's smart." I watch as Zie bites her lip and I can tell she wants to say something, but instead she looks around.
"Umm... So I don't know where you want to sleep. You can sleep out here on the couch, or Max's room, or you could sleep... In my room?" I smile at her as the worry in her voice breaks through.
"Where do you want me to sleep princess?" She blushes as she ducks her head.
"With me if that isn't to weird. I know you're upset with me because I won't say it back so I understand if you would rather sleep some where else. I-" I kiss her deeply to shut her up. She leans into me and wraps her arms around my neck as I pull her into my lap. I pull back after a bit to breathe and she laughs.
"Zie, there is nowhere I would rather sleep than by you, even if you won't say it back. I understand why and I respect your choice. I do get frustrated, but more with myself. I just feel like I'm doing something wrong at times, even though I know deep down that I haven't." She stands up and pulls me along with her to the room at the end of the hall.
I smile and shut the door. Zie sits on her bed and stares at me as I walk around and look at her stuff. "Ace, you haven't done anything wrong. I love you." I look back at her in shock and join her on the bed.
"You aren't just saying that to make me feel better right?" I tease. She pushes me back and kisses me.
"No Ace. I love you, I wasn't positive before, but I am now."