Aiden had no idea what he was doing. He felt distinctly out of his depth as he tried to figure out how to confess to Kellen.
The obvious answer was to come out and say it. That would ensure that there was no miscommunication between them. The only problem was that Aiden couldn’t figure out how to string the words together in his head, let alone in front of the brunette.
He swallowed as he thought about it, standing his Ian’s and Letta’s kitchen as Ian checked on the frozen lasagna he’d put in the oven.
“And Letta says she’s the better cook,” Ian said with an amused shake of his head. He turned back around to butter the garlic bread he was making with a satisfied smile.
Lyla scoffed at him. “Even I can throw a lasagna in the oven and butter some bread, and Isaac knows that I’m a shitty cook.”
Isaac laughed at her, a proud look on his face. “I’m the better cook between us,” he bragged.
“And I appreciate your effort, Ian,” Letta said, sending him what could only be described as a haughty look.
Aiden rolled his eyes fondly at the group of them. It had been about a week. Nikki had needed to go back to school, much to her displeasure, and was now doing her Saturday class with Kellen. She’d been looking forward to it all week.
Aiden had been looking forward to seeing Kellen again all week. Truthfully, he’d been trying to psych himself up for the conversation he was planning. That night was the perfect opportunity. He and Ian could go get Nikki, and Aiden could talk to Kellen while Ian took Nikki home. It wouldn’t be weird or out of the blue since he would have an excuse to be there. Aiden would have done it earlier if it hadn’t been during the holidays. This was a conversation that definitely shouldn’t be happening over text.
It was also a conversation he was glad his family wouldn’t be there for, since they kept shooting him looks the entire night. They knew what his plans were and were trying their best to encourage him, but those looks were only making Aiden feel more nervous.
“I think we should give Ian more credit for calculating when the food will be done and lining it up for when Nikki will be back,” Aiden said jokingly, teasingly.
“Exactly!” Ian said, taking the compliment at face value.
Aiden rolled his eyes at his oldest brother, checking the time on his phone. “If your calculations are right, then move it with the bread or I’ll leave without you,” he said without any real heat as he stepped out of the room to the front door to get his shoes on.
“Can’t rush perfection, Aiden!”
“But you can rush to get your daughter!” Aiden yelled back, grabbing his boots. He hadn’t even gotten one on when the doorknob wiggled and Nikki stepped in.
Aiden blinked in surprise. “Nikki, I was coming to get you!” he said to her. She opened her mouth to say something, but he went on, “That’s really dangerous, Nikki. It’s dark and you could have gotten hurt all on your own,” he scolded her. At the same time, he surreptitiously checked over her to be sure that she was alright.
Nikki didn’t look defensive even with his scolding. She only pouted and said, “I know that. I’d never walk alone.” She almost sounded insulted that he would think otherwise.
“Sorry, I hope this is okay?”
Aiden’s eyes shot up at the familiar voice. Kellen was standing there in his long black coat, earmuffs around his neck and snowflakes in his hair. He closed the door behind him softly after stomping his feet outside to shake the snow off. His practiced footsteps had been so quiet that Aiden hadn’t known that he was there despite the heavy black boots that he was wearing.
Kellen didn’t pause for even a second. He stepped right up to Aiden as Aiden stood up to face him. All the words that Aiden had been planning to say completely left his brain. He could barely think with Kellen standing right there with an odd expression mixed between curious, suspicious, determined, and hopeful. It was like Kellen didn’t know what he should be feeling, which was so rare that Aiden didn’t know what he should be feeling either.
Aiden swallowed. He flushed at the way his voice cracked when he responded, “It’s fine. She’s, uh, she’s safe. But what are you doing here?”
The determined look on Kellen’s face won out. “Do you still have feelings for me, Aiden?”
For a moment, Aiden couldn’t say anything. Those weren’t the words he expected to hear. He knew Kellen was the straightforward type, but the shift in conversation and the abrupt question caught him by surprise. But he had no reason to hesitate anymore.
“Yeah, I do. I don’t think I’ve ever stopped having feelings for you,” Aiden answered truthfully, surely.
His heart was in his throat. Kellen was standing directly across from him, looking down ever so slightly with his extra inch or two over Aiden. Aiden was sure that Kellen could hear how quickly his heart was beating. This wasn’t necessarily how he imagined this going. He thought that he’d be the one to confess to Kellen. He hadn’t thought Kellen would actually end up at his brother’s house to ask.
It didn’t matter if this didn’t play out how he imagined it in his head though, not when Kellen gave him a smoldering smirk and said, “Good.”
Kellen grabbed his shirt and kissed him softly. It had been seven years since they’d last kissed, and that last kiss had ended in tears. Aiden froze for the briefest of seconds at the feeling of Kellen’s lips on his before he opened his mouth to deepen the kiss. It was warm and soft like he remembered. But there was heat hidden behind that kiss too as Aiden slowly brought his hands up Kellen’s chest to rest at the juncture of his neck. Aiden had to pull back before he made any embarrassing moans where his family in the next room could hear him.
He was breathing heavily, but he tried to go in for another kiss right away. He would have done it too if Kellen didn’t pat his chest lightly and laugh lowly. Kellen’s smile flashed and his eyes lit up happily. His face was flushed with pleasure. “I have feelings for you too, Aiden,” he said softly. “Turns out that you’re pretty hard to forget.”
Kellen leaned in to give him another kiss that was just as enticing as the last. Aiden reached up a hand to trace over Kellen’s cheek, his fingers tingling at the sensation of the other man in front of him. Kellen’s skin was cold from the heavy winds outside.
This time, Kellen was the one who pulled back. “We should talk, Aiden,” he said, but it wasn’t the type of “we should talk” that Aiden had said so many years ago. It was full of warmth and promises of much more than a simple talk.
“Yeah,” Aiden agreed, swallowing. “Yeah, we should. Uh…” He looked around and stepped back as he tried to get his brain to start working again. Aiden rolled his eyes when he heard someone yelp as they quickly hid behind the wall again. “My family’s nosy,” he deadpanned to Kellen. “We can walk to my apartment,” he suggested, only hearing how that sounded after he said it, “N-not that I’m suggesting anything! Or that I expect anything—”
Kellen cut him off with a kiss and a loud chuckle that he clearly tried to reign in. “Still adorable. Relax, I know. Talking for tonight. But maybe after we talk…” He left the statement open, laughing into his hand when Aiden’s ears got red at the thought. Kellen was already well on his way to staining Aiden’s face red for eternity.
“You tease,” he joked, mimicking a conversation from so many years ago.
Kellen gave him a sexy smirk. “I excel at teasing.” With a more serious expression, he added, “But are you sure this is okay? Your family’s here.”
“They’ll understand,” Aiden said quickly. “Right?” he called out, waiting with his arms crossed.
There was a pause before Isaac’s and Lyla’s voices answered at the same time, “Sorry!”
Kellen burst out laughing. “I love them,” he said, still laughing even when Aiden got his winter gear on and grabbed Kellen’s hand to lead him out the door. He winced at the chill of the air on his face, but that was probably just what he needed. Aiden was feeling much too warm with the memory of Kellen’s lips on his.
Kellen nudged him to get his attention, an amused smile on his face.
“Ah, sorry,” Aiden apologized. “I’ve been thinking about doing that for a while,” he admitted. Reaching forward, he went to grab Kellen’s earmuffs to pull them back up. Aiden hesitated for a moment though, unsure of exactly where they stood and if he was allowed to touch Kellen casually or intimately.
Kellen only smiled fondly. “It’s okay, Aiden,” he said under the noise of the wind. He stood still when Aiden pulled the muffs up for him, his fingers brushing lightly over Kellen’s cheeks and hair for just a second. Kellen returned the favor by adjusting Aiden’s scarf to cover him more fully, his cold fingers sending little shivers down Aiden’s spine.
At the same time, Aiden felt a shock of warmth run through him that had nothing to do with the scarf. The simple gesture made his heart feel too big in his chest. Kellen had always been like that, with delicate touches and affectionate gazes that made Aiden feel cared for.
Aiden watched as Kellen lowered his hands, blinking as he realized something. He gave Kellen a look. “You still don’t have gloves? And you walked all the way here?”
“I was in a rush!” Kellen defended, putting his hands up in surrender before shoving them back into his pockets. “Class ended early and Nikki and I needed to get here before you came to get her.”
Aiden shook his head fondly. “Give me your hand then.” He took hold of Kellen’s hand, giving him one of his gloves. Kellen flushed at the caring gesture, clearly touched as he wrapped his gloveless cold hand in Aiden’s, giving it a light squeeze.
The silence of the snowy night surrounded them. It wasn’t uncomfortable. It was serene. Aiden could see snowflakes sparkling underneath the streetlights, the white snow illuminating the dark night. He breathed out, fogging up the air in front of him as he held onto Kellen’s cold hand. Their boots crunched up the snow underneath them as they started walking in the direction of Aiden’s apartment.
“How did that happen by the way?” Aiden asked, interrupting the silence. At Kellen’s questioning look, he added, “I mean, you just decided out of the blue to come to my brother’s apartment with Nikki to ask me that?”
Kellen’s eyes lit up in realization. “Actually, Nikki grabbed me to talk with me once class ended.”
Aiden listened as Kellen explained. Apparently, Nikki had heard everything about how much he loved Kellen when Aiden had come out the week before. She’d taken it upon herself to ask Kellen about it in an uncharacteristically serious manner, which prompted Kellen to walk her home so that he could confirm it for himself.
“I thought I was in trouble,” Kellen said with a chuckle. “Nikki asked if we could talk in my office and I swear I flashed back to high school. She actually called me ‘Kellen’ instead of ‘Mr. K.’” He looked over to Aiden with his eyes lidded and a little smile. “But then she told me that you would probably be really angry with her for saying something, and that she was sure she shouldn’t have been listening in, but that she wanted her Uncle Aiden to be happy. I, uh, I’ve got to admit that it’s pretty sweet that she thought talking to me was the best way for that to happen.”
Aiden squeezed Aiden’s hand. “She’s perceptive then,” he said seriously. “Because being here with you does make me happy.”
Kellen looked over at him, a smirk lighting up his face. “Have you gotten braver? Saying sweet lines like that always used to make you blush.”
“Oh, I’m already blushing, but it’s too cold to tell,” Aiden joked.
Kellen laughed loudly as usual, that barking noise making a few people who were walking turn to look at them. Aiden smiled when Kellen took no notice of it; he never did. His level of self-consciousness had never been very high.
Aiden nudged him to get him to refocus. “Kellen, I’m serious though when I said that you make me happy. But you… you really want to be with me?” His heart was beating quickly again. Aiden was glad at least that his stomach didn’t twist up.
Kellen breathed out as if releasing some great weight. “Aiden, I’ve never been able to completely get over you. I told myself that it was stupid to watch your games, that you would probably forget about me, but I couldn’t stop. I always felt so proud of you when I saw you up there. Even though we weren’t together, I wanted to see how you were doing.” Kellen shrugged. “Somewhere along the way, I convinced myself that I’d gotten over you. But… then here you were again with your brown eyes and your loving personality and I just… I couldn’t stop myself from loving you.”
His voice was quiet and contemplative. Aiden listened with his utmost attention when Kellen looked back to him with a contrite smile on his face. “You remember when we were at Nikki’s school thing? When Olivia dragged me away?” At Aiden’s nod, Kellen said, “Olivia and B know me better than anyone else. They already knew I’d fallen for you again, if I’d ever stopped loving you that is. They were worried about me, that I would get my heart broken again.”
Aiden gave his hand another squeeze. “Kellen…”
“No more apologizing, Aiden,” Kellen chastised gingerly. “Yeah, you… you did hurt me. But I forgave you a long time ago. Now, if you’ll have me, I do want to be with you.”
Aiden opened his mouth and closed it, stepping over a snow drift awkwardly. He waited for Kellen to step up beside him again before he began, “You do? I mean… I’m gone a lot for baseball.”
“I have my dancing. And we have cell phones. We’ll be okay,” Kellen countered.
“And lots of my life is on social media and the news now.”
“Doesn’t bother me.” Kellen’s mouth twisted into this concerned frown. Aiden wanted to kiss it, but forced himself to keep paying attention. “But Aiden, I know you came out to your family. Which I’m incredibly proud of you for, by the way, but are you really okay coming out to your team and your coach and all the fans that watch you?”
Aiden took a breath and let it out, turning to give Kellen a shy smile. “I actually am. I was really scared to come out to my family. I know it’s stupid to be scared when I’m almost twenty-five, but I was so scared that I made myself sick.”
“Oh, honey,” Kellen said affectionately, no longer flinching at the pet name.
Aiden wanted to kiss him right there at the familiar mention of that pet name, but he kept talking instead, “But I did it. I told them. My dad’s a little weird still, but he’s trying.” Kellen hummed in acknowledgement, letting Aiden go on, “I came out to the people closest to me, the ones I really care about. So… what everyone else thinks doesn’t matter to me. I’m tired of not being ‘Aiden,’ not fully anyway. I… I’m a gay man, and that’s okay. And I happen to love you. None of that affects how I throw a ball or swing a bat.”
He was feeling shy again, expecting Kellen to chime in to reassure him. When he didn’t, Aiden looked over to see Kellen with his eyebrows raised. The brunette chuckled at Aiden’s uncertain expression. “You’re a strong man, Aiden,” he said genuinely with a light smile, heat in his eyes. “Oh, and I love you too, honey.”
Aiden blinked in confusion, only flushing when he realized what he’d said. “Oh, I… no, I didn’t mean to… no, but I meant it, but…” Aiden groaned at Kellen’s amused smile and shook his head to get his words together. “We just kissed again after seven years. It’s silly to say ‘I love you’ right away.”
“Aiden, it’s true that we were different people back when we dated. We’ll probably need some time to adjust to one another again. That doesn’t change how you feel about me or how I feel about you though. Maybe it’s not love yet and we’re jumping the gun.” Kellen shrugged unconcernedly. “I don’t know. But I do know that you’ve been driving me nuts since you came back, and that if you want to do this, then we’ll have time to figure it out. Without sneaking in one another’s windows this time,” he finished with a smile.
“I want to do this,” Aiden said surely. If there was one thing that he was confident about, it was that. “I want to be your boyfriend again. I want to hold you when you have your headaches and help you through those bad days. I want to—”
He didn’t get to finish. Kellen kissed him so hard that Aiden thought that his feet might slip out from under him. Regaining his footing, Aiden grabbed onto Kellen, reeling in the intense emotion Kellen was trying to communicate with the heated kiss.
“What was that for?” he asked dazedly when Kellen pulled back.
There was a smoldering look in Kellen’s eyes. It made Aiden want to kiss a line up his neck, but they needed to get back to his apartment for that to happen. His eyes flicked to Kellen’s Adam’s apple when the brunette swallowed.
“I…” Kellen said with this sad smile on his face. “I’ve had those headaches for years now. Most people wouldn’t want to deal with someone who can’t take care of themselves at least twice a month. Olivia and B don’t mind, but I’ve always felt bad about them having to take care of me. And you… made it so easy.”
“You do that with me all the time,” Aiden said simply. He kissed Kellen on the cheek. “I’ll be there when you’re in pain. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
Kellen swallowed again as if he was having trouble getting the words together. “That means a lot to me, Aiden,” he said softly. His expression cleared into something calmer, an easy happiness spreading across his features. “I want to be your boyfriend again too. If that wasn’t already clear.”
Aiden ducked his head and smiled shyly. His ears would have been red if they weren’t already red from the cold. “Come on,” he said, tugging on Kellen’s hand. “We’re here.”
It was a good thing that they’d made it back to Aiden’s apartment by that point. Aiden felt like he was overheating with Kellen close by as he slipped off his heavy coat and grabbed Kellen’s for him. He couldn’t resist kissing Kellen against his door the second after they had their coats off. He was about to stop, worried that he was coming on too strong, but Kellen grabbed his hips and pressed the two of them together.
Aiden groaned at the sensation. He could feel Kellen smile against his lips as the taller man wrapped his arms around Aiden’s neck, keeping him in place. Aiden leaned his weight against Kellen, running his hands up Kellen’s slender yet muscular chest. Kellen moaned, lifting his chin and giving Aiden access to his smooth throat. Aiden could feel Kellen shudder in his arms as he kissed his pulse point, leaning up to nip at his jaw.
“Fuck,” Kellen cursed. The simple word made Aiden feel even hotter; the only time he’d ever heard Kellen curse was when he lost himself in the moment.
As hard as it was, Aiden leaned back to take a breath. He could feel Kellen breathing heavily underneath him, his chest rising and falling as he fought to regain his breath. Aiden wasn’t in a better state himself, his breaths ghosting across Kellen’s throat as he got himself back under control.
“Were we still going to talk first?” Aiden asked breathlessly.
Kellen chuckled. “I like this option too.” He kissed up Aiden’s throat, making it nearly impossible to focus on anything else. “How about we talk over dinner? Takeout?”
That left them with a half an hour window before the delivery guy from the Chinese place next to Kick Up Your Heels arrived. Aiden didn’t know whether that was a good or a bad thing as he found himself lying underneath Kellen on his couch, his heart beating quickly, his body too hot, and feeling entirely too excited.
Kellen didn’t mind one bit though. He lightly ran his hand up Aiden’s chest underneath his shirt, kissing up his throat at the same time. There were slight moments of hesitation between them when they checked to be sure that what they were doing was okay, but as they eased back into the physical aspects of their relationship, everything felt familiar. It was easy for Aiden to relax with Kellen. It was easy to feel comfortable around him, like he used to.
It wasn’t exactly the same though. They were both more experienced, older, and with lives that they had built. They had grown and changed, but they were still Aiden and Kellen, and Aiden was looking forward to learning about every aspect of Kellen again. Starting with the way Kellen shivered as Aiden ran his hands up Kellen’s spine, watching Kellen sigh in pleasure.
Kellen leaned down to kiss him again, the brunette’s face already red. Aiden smiled against his lips, opening his mouth and continuing to trace his hands along Kellen’s back and sides. Kellen did the same, lifting Aiden’s shirt up further. Aiden felt his breath catch when Kellen’s hand skimmed over his stomach. For a second, Aiden remembered how Kellen used to sit with him, comforting him whenever he had a stomachache. After all that, he couldn’t believe that Kellen would think for a second that Aiden wouldn’t want to take care of him and his migraines in the same way.
Aiden was overcome by the urge to show Kellen exactly how much the other man meant to him. He pulled Kellen down on top of him, rucking up his shirt so they were chest to chest.
Kellen breathed out shakily at the feeling. “Oh,” he moaned breathily when Aiden leaned up to kiss Kellen’s neck and jaw, his hands on the other man’s thighs. He pulled Kellen even closer to him, groaning at the rough feeling of their jeans.
“Aiden,” Kellen groaned out desperately, leaning in to kiss him again when the doorbell rang.
This time Aiden was the one who groaned, not in pleasure but in frustration. Kellen was breathing heavily, but smiled airily as he leaned forward to kiss Aiden more chastely on the cheek.
Aiden could only smile like a dope, even though he was disappointed when Kellen hopped off his lap to get the door. Somehow the man managed to look at least marginally composed as he held a short conversation with the delivery guy, who he apparently knew from work. Aiden need a few more moments to collect himself, pulling his shirt back down and running a hand through his already messy hair.
Kellen returned with a box of food, a calm happiness surrounding him. “Do you want to eat on your couch or at the kitchen table?”
“Kitchen’s fine,” Aiden said easily. He normally ate on the couch, but then again, he was normally alone. He would probably end up with Kellen on top of him if they took the couch.
Their conversation was light and easy, just like it was when they texted or met at the studio. Even something as simple as eating dinner with Kellen made Aiden’s heart jump, especially with the way Kellen smiled and laughed, his shoulders relaxed.
“Oh my god, stop Aiden, you’re going to make me choke!” Kellen guffawed, a hand over his mouth as he tried not to spit out his food while laughing. Aiden remembered seeing him do the same gesture so many times when they were younger, trying to keep quiet at school or when they were hiding out in his bedroom.
“No choking,” Aiden commanded with a laugh in his voice, “I don’t want you choking on our second first date.”
Kellen took a moment to calm down and swallow, coughing to get his voice back. When he spoke again, it was tender. “Second first date, huh?” Aiden thought he might have misspoken when Kellen went on with a little smirk that made Aiden feel warm, “Making out and Chinese food is always a good date plan.”
Aiden couldn’t help his huff. “Yeah, right after you found me at my brother’s place and those idiots eavesdropped,” Aiden said sarcastically. “I think I’m losing my romantic touch.” He put a hand to his chest dramatically.
Kellen laughed at his joking, masterfully manipulating his chopsticks to take another bite. “It’s fine, Aiden. I’ve met your brothers and their partners anyway. I mean, not as your boyfriend, but yeah, we’ve met.” He hummed around the mouthful of noodles.
Aiden crinkled his eyebrows questioningly. “Wait, when? When they got Nikki some time?”
Kellen tilted his head, a cute confused look appearing on his face. “No. I mean, I’ve seen them around, but we didn’t talk much.” Kellen frowned curiously. “Oh, I thought they told you. They swung by the studio the other day to ask about my classical dance classes when they picked up Nikki. That’s why they said they all came to get her, anyway.” He shrugged. “Your brothers looked a little… bothered? Or maybe curious.”
Aiden couldn’t believe it. He put a hand over his eyes, groaning at the stupidity of his siblings. “Let me guess: that was right after the holiday?”
“Uh, yeah actually,” Kellen said in a questioning tone.
Aiden smiled wryly, lacing their fingers together. “That was right after I came out. Those two probably got Lyla and Letta to go with them because they wanted to meet you.” The thought made his ears get red. It was like when their mother used to show up at their school events and glom onto them.
“Awww,” Kellen responded though, leaning forward with a teasing smile. “Your brothers love you,” he added simply. “You think they’ll shovel talk me?”
Aiden couldn’t tell if the brunette was joking or not. He rolled his eyes. “They’d better not. It’s none of their business,” he mumbled. “Honestly, my mom’s the one you should be worried about. Actually, she’ll probably end up telling me not to hurt you. My mom actually kind of caught us in high school.”
His ears went red just from remembering it, but he pushed through the residual embarrassment to tell Kellen what his mom had told him. Kellen’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. When Aiden finished, he only shook his head. “We were outmatched from the beginning,” he mused. “I should probably apologize to your mom though. So, she really called me your sweetheart?”
Aiden doubted that Kellen would ever stop his gentle teasing and smirks. Aiden hoped that he never did as Kellen leaned forward to reward him with a kiss for getting through his embarrassing story.
Only in his dreams did Aiden imagine something like this happening. But this time, he wasn’t dreaming as Kellen jumped up on the table and Aiden slotted himself between his legs. Aiden pulled Kellen down with gentle hands on his neck, kissing him deeply.
“I told you the kitchen was good,” Aiden mumbled against Kellen’s lips. He felt like he was on fire as Kellen’s skilled hands landed on his hips, the touch of his fingers light and teasing.
“How’s the bedroom?” Kellen asked breathily in a tone somewhere between serious and joking.
Aiden looked up at him. “Do you really want to find out?” He was breathing heavily, forcing himself to think through the haze that had descended upon him.
Kellen swallowed. “Only if you want to.”
“It’s not too fast?” Aiden asked unsurely. They’d only just gotten back together again. They’d talked for hours. They already knew one another much better than most couples did even after multiple dates, but Aiden worried that he would go too fast and somehow ruin everything again. Now that he had Kellen back in his arms, Aiden didn’t want to let him go.
Kellen’s eyes were lidded, his pupils blown wide. He ran a hand through Aiden’s black hair, an extremely gentle gesture considering how heavily they’d been making out moments before. “You can’t ruin this with me, Aiden,” Kellen said softly, as if he could read Aiden’s mind. “Let’s go at a pace we’re both comfortable with. Whatever you want to do tonight,” he mumbled as he knocked their foreheads together gently, “I’m ready for.”
Aiden couldn’t resist anymore. He didn’t know why he’d been resisting in the first place. This was Kellen; if Aiden couldn’t trust Kellen with everything, then he couldn’t trust anyone.
He pulled Kellen back to him and kissed him deeply, running his hands up the brunette’s smooth chest. Kellen’s shirt was on the floor a second later. Aiden’s followed.
Kellen leaned forward to jump off the table, pressing his body against Aiden’s. Aiden’s heart skipped in his chest. His pants felt too tight for only a moment until Kellen was undoing his belt. Aiden returned the favor as he led Kellen to the bedroom, barely paying attention to where they were walking in between kisses.
The rest of their clothing came off on the way to the bedroom, laughter and moans in between every step.
They didn’t sleep that night. Aiden didn’t care; this was better than any dream.