The Man I Love

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Welcome to the Family

Aiden was actually glad that his own bachelor party was more low-key than Kellen’s had been. He liked having a drink and enjoying time with friends as much as the next guy, but he’d done all his partying in college and all his traveling in baseball. He didn’t think he had the stamina to run around to a few different bars, stop Olivia from jumping in a pond, and still get everyone home safe.

A low-key night out with his brothers and dad was good enough for him. Aiden had invited Kellen’s stepdad along too, just like Kellen was kind enough to invite his own mom to his girls’ night, but they’d both said that partying wasn’t their thing. That was fine with Aiden; even though Kellen’s stepdad was a nice guy, Aiden would have felt awkward spending time with the guy when Kellen didn’t even do that.

He relaxed as he leaned back in their booth, concerned at the way Isaac was eyeing the karaoke stage. “I’m not singing with either of you,” Aiden put out there.

Isaac scoffed like he was insulted, but Ian chuckled. “You’re not the best singer in the world anyway, Aiden.”

Aiden rolled his eyes. Even his dad was laughing at that one. “Don’t worry, Aiden. Your mother says I’m tone deaf too.”

“I’m not tone deaf,” Aiden huffed.

“You’re still not good enough to be on stage,” Isaac rubbed in. “Does Kellen ever make fun of you?”

“For not being the next Beyoncé? No, that hasn’t come up,” Aiden deadpanned. “At least I can cook, unlike some people.”

The good-natured bickering brought back a lot of old memories, especially when their dad had to break them up before they got too rowdy. Aiden smiled at his dad. The man had been sad when Aiden said he was retiring, but he took it better than any of them thought. He said that if he’d had to quit his dream job for Aiden’s mother, then he would have done it in a heartbeat. He said that he’d be glad to have Kellen as his son-in-law.

That was the part that made Aiden hug his dad tightly. His dad may have had a hard time understanding that Aiden was gay at first, but since then, he’d been nothing but supportive. The fact that Kellen had taught him some smooth dance moves to impress Aiden’s mom went a long way too.

Ian nodded at the group of them. “Okay, once we’re done here, we’re doing something else.”

“You actually made a plan?” Aiden asked. Not that he didn’t think that Ian as his best man would put something together, but he didn’t know what they could possibly do that didn’t involve getting wasted, strippers, or any other clichés.

“Of course, I did,” Ian assured him. “Dad and Isaac helped too, but don’t worry; I’ve got this all under control.”

Aiden wasn’t sure if he believed him or not, but he still followed his family outside. He raised an eyebrow when he saw what Isaac pulled out of the car with an excited smile. “No,” Aiden said right away.

“Oh, come on,” Isaac said with a huff. “It’s a blindfold so you don’t catch on to where we’re going. It’s not like we’re handcuffing you.”

Aiden gave him a look. Finally, he sighed. “Fine, but I’m keeping my phone if you drop me off at some random place.”

“Your mother would have my head if we did that anyway,” his dad reassured him.

“Yeah, and Kellen would totally kill us,” Ian added, letting Isaac do the honors with the blindfold.

All Aiden knew was that the ride wasn’t very long and that there were some very bright lights when he was led out of the car. They were bright enough that Aiden could see them from beneath the blindfold.

“Okay, are you ready?” Ian asked excitedly.

Aiden hesitantly responded, “Sure?”

He didn’t know what he’d been expecting, but when they finally removed the blindfold and his eyes stopped hurting from the lights, they were standing in a small baseball field.

“We couldn’t go to the actual stadium, but hopefully this is okay,” Ian said apologetically.

Aiden was speechless for a second. “You brought me to a baseball field?”

His dad patted his shoulder. “I taught all of you boys how to play. Remember? I used to pitch and you boys would run the bases one by one.”

“So, we thought that you might like to play some ball with us again,” Isaac finished.

Aiden looked at the three of them. They were clearly nervous, wondering if they’d made the right call. Aiden couldn’t stop the laugh that bubbled up in his throat. “This is great,” he said happily, fond memories of playing with his dad and brothers flooding into his mind. That had been so many years ago, but it felt like it was just yesterday as his dad pitched underhand to them and they each took turns running the bases.

After playing for a few hours in the dark, the hot lights shining down upon them, Ian took them to a casino. Aiden had a lot more fun there than he thought he would, and a few more drinks than he’d planned. At least he made more cash than he lost, and managed to drag his dad away from the blackjack table before the man could convince himself that his next hand would be better.

Even with the food they ate at the buffet, Aiden still managed to step out of their taxi feeling more than a little tipsy. He dropped his keys once before he got them in the front door. He didn’t know what time it was, but the lights were off when he finally got the door shut behind him.

Aiden could hear the TV running lowly from the bedroom. He still heard it going when he accidentally tripped over his own feet and knocked some books to the floor.

He stiffened at the loud clap of noise, hoping it wasn’t loud enough to wake Kellen. He clearly wasn’t that lucky as footsteps greeted him and Kellen came into view. “Oh, good, it’s you,” Kellen breathed out in relief, a hand to his chest. His hair and clothing were rumpled, but he looked perfectly awake and coherent. He must have not been sleeping that deeply.

Aiden answered him with a clumsy kiss, pressing their lips together heartily. “Hey, baby,” he greeted with a toothy smile.

Kellen just gave him a fond look. “Aw, you’re drunk,” he laughed quietly.

“I’m just a little tipsy,” Aiden assured him, perhaps not too convincingly. “I woke you up. I thought I could come in without you waking up.”

Kellen cupped his chin. “I was mostly awake anyway. Call me crazy for worrying a bit. Come on, hun, let’s go to sleep.”

Aiden relished in that feeling of being cared for when Kellen sat him down on the bed and took his shoes off for him. Those deft fingers proceeded to undo his belt, undoing his pants a moment later. “Lift those hips, hun,” Kellen commanded gently, patting his thigh.

“Aw, but if my pants are off, I can’t dance with you,” Aiden pouted, sure that he was making sense.

Kellen gave him an amused look that made him think otherwise though. “Oh, really? Why can’t you dance without your pants on?” He pushed Aiden’s pants down and slowly tugged them off, a smile pulling at his lips.

“Kellen, you know that you have to have clothes on,” Aiden said surely. “I’d be so jealous if you didn’t have clothes on when you danced.”

Kellen laughed, sounding loud with only the low noise of the TV in the background. He started unbuttoning Aiden’s shirt. “Well, we can’t have that. How about if you just dance with me then? I promise I’ll keep my clothes on with everyone else.”

Aiden smiled goofily, shivering as Kellen got his shirt off and it slid down his arms. He put on the tee shirt Kellen threw him and accepted his fiancé’s hand to help him stand up. Kellen clasped their hands, putting Aiden’s hand on his hip as he started to sway them.

Aiden hummed. “I like that. I like when you take your clothes off for me too.”

Kellen was snickering. “I like that myself. How about I give you a lap dance tomorrow night, when you’re more sober? It’ll be like our own private bachelor party.”

“Okay,” Aiden mumbled, leaning his head against Kellen’s shoulder. They swayed for a few minutes, Aiden’s eyes shutting. He was sure that he could fall asleep right then. That was when Kellen patted his shoulder. “Let’s go to bed, honey. I’m going to get you a drink of water before you sleep, so you get comfortable and I’ll be right back.”

Aiden did as he was asked, drinking the water and passing out almost immediately. He hadn’t been drunk enough for a serious hangover, but he still didn’t feel too great when he woke up the next day. After reassuring Kellen that he was fine and sending the man to work, Aiden went straight back to sleep, content to sleep his Sunday away.

That night, Kellen only gave Aiden a smoldering look before he was straddling Aiden and asking him if he still wanted the lap dance that he’d promised. Aiden didn’t know how he could ever refuse as he held onto Kellen’s hips and looked up into those deep brown eyes. Honestly, Kellen was way too good at these private dances. It was probably a good thing that he didn’t do them all too often, since there was no way Aiden’s heart would be able to take it.

Kellen teased him lightheartedly later about being drunk, of course, but Aiden being tipsy and goofy was absolutely nothing compared to when Kellen accidentally got drunk a few days later when Ian and Isaac took him out.

Aiden didn’t even have any idea how this happened. All he knew was that he was on his way home from the grocery store about a week before the wedding when he got a phone call from Ian.

“Hey, Aiden,” Ian said cautiously.

“What’s wrong?” Aiden asked without preamble, parking his car and turning off the ignition.

“Well… okay. So… okay. The thing is… we kind of sort of need you to pick up Kellen.”

Aiden narrowed his eyes. “What’s wrong, is he okay?”

“Oh yeah, yeah, relatively.”

“Ian, what the hell is going on? Kellen said he was stopping in to see you guys on his way back from work, but he said you just wanted to tell him something.” Aiden was starting to feel irritated at not being told the full story. If something was wrong with Kellen, he needed to know about it lest his heart beat out of his chest with anxiety.

His stomach twisted uncomfortably as he waited for Ian to answer, finally hearing, “Okay, so—”

“Ian, if you say ‘okay’ or ‘so’ one more time, I swear,” Aiden grumbled.

“Fine, fine! We just wanted to talk to Kellen really fast, so we ordered drinks. Long story short, the waitress gave him long island iced tea instead of regular iced tea and your man is drunk off his ass right now.”

Aiden exhaled into his phone in relief, running his hand over his face. Kellen was alright. Drunk apparently, but alright. “You need me to get him?”

“Yeah, if you could. We could drive him back, but he keeps saying he doesn’t want to ride with us. Says he’ll throw up if we drive.”

“Yeah, that’s about right,” Aiden murmured. Kellen had finally gotten used to other people driving besides Aiden, and was increasingly comfortable being in the car with others, but being drunk and in the car? Forget it. “I’ll come by. I just need to put some groceries in the fridge. What did you even want with him anyway?”

Ian sighed on the other line. “We honestly just wanted to kind of, I don’t know, welcome him to the family officially. Kellen’s a good guy, and we all mess around a lot, but we just wanted him to know how much we appreciate how happy he makes you.”

Aiden smiled despite himself. He listened as Ian went on, “But damn, he’s a lightweight. No wonder he never drinks. It really was an accident though, Aiden. Honestly, the tea was so sweet that even Isaac couldn’t taste the alcohol in it.”

Aiden sighed, stepping out of the car to get the few bags that really needed to be thrown in the fridge. “I get it; it’s not your fault. You were trying to do something nice.”

“Still, we’re sorry, Aiden,” Ian apologized sincerely.

“It’s fine. I’ll be there in ten. The bar down by fourth?”

“That’s the one. We’ll keep an eye on him until then,” Ian reassured him, hanging up.

Aiden practically ran the refrigerated stuff in the house, throwing them in the fridge and freezer haphazardly before peeling out of the door. He knew he could trust his brothers completely, but he couldn’t deny that his stomach was twisting nervously. There was a reason why Kellen didn’t drink, and Aiden was already frowning worriedly at how poorly his fiancé would feel the next day.

When he stepped into the bar, he picked out his brothers sitting in a booth right away. Kellen was resting his head on his arms, practically vibrating with the effort it took to keep still.

Aiden was next to him a flash. “Hey, Kellen,” he said softly, standing next to the table.

“Aiden, hun, you’re here!” Kellen exclaimed happily, sitting up and smiling brightly. He would have knocked over Isaac’s drink with the wide arc of his arms if Isaac hadn’t moved it at the last second.

“Not again,” Isaac mumbled. “Good god, we told him to sit so he’d stop tripping over himself trying to get up. You ruined it, Aiden.”

Aiden rolled his eyes. He patted Kellen’s back as the man wrapped his arms around Aiden’s stomach, letting his head rest there. “You have too much, Kell?”

Kellen nodded. “I think your brothers got me drunk.”

“Did they now?” Aiden deadpanned, glaring at the two of them.

Both of them started. Isaac spoke first. “We did not! Ian told you what we were trying to do. It’s not our fault if the long island iced tea here is ass sweet and that the waitress misunderstood.”

Aiden huffed, running his hands through Kellen’s hair. When a waitress walked by, he asked for a glass of water, which she brought back to him quickly. He placed it on the table in front of Kellen and took a seat next to the man. “Baby, I need you to drink this for me,” Aiden commanded gently, remembering the way Kellen did the same for him only a few days ago.

Kellen looked at him with a pout, his eyes lidded. “But, Aidennnn, if I drink that, I’ll have to go to the bathroom. And I keep falling.”

“Then I’ll help you,” Aiden replied with a chuckle. Kellen probably wouldn’t remember any of this the next day. It was still cute to see him acting so silly though. “Come on, Kellen.” He pushed the glass a little closer, raising his eyebrows at the suspicious expression on Kellen’s face.

“If you help me then,” Kellen finally said, nodding to himself. It only took him about thirty seconds to gulp down the water and look back to Aiden. “Do I get a kiss now from my sexy man?”

Aiden gave him a small smile and pecked him on the cheek. “Aw, that’s it?” Kellen pouted. “I was thinking that you could—”

He probably would have gone on to say whatever dirty thing he’d had planned if Aiden hadn’t covered his mouth. “When you’re sober again, Kellen,” he admonished gently, noting the relieved expressions on his brothers’ faces. “Did you say you had to go to the bathroom?”

“Oh, right,” Kellen nodded, letting Aiden help him out of the booth.

Kellen really was clumsy when he was drunk, leaning heavily on Aiden when he stood. Aiden wrapped an arm around his back to hold him up. “I’ll get him back home safe,” he told his brothers. “At least he doesn’t have any of his group classes on Sundays,” he mumbled, already knowing that he would have to call Olivia to let her know that Kellen wouldn’t be in.

“Sorry again, Aiden,” Isaac added with a frown and a wince.

“Just apologize to Kellen when he’s sobered enough to remember it,” Aiden said easily enough, leading his man outside and to the car. Somehow, Kellen didn’t throw up in the car, but he wasn’t so lucky when they got back to their apartment.

Aiden rubbed his back and helped him clean up and change, getting him into bed. Kellen fell asleep quickly enough, but Aiden wasn’t surprised to hear him throw up a few times during the night, or to wake up with Kellen clutching his head with more pain than any hangover.

“Oh, baby,” Aiden said, sitting up to push Kellen’s sweaty hair out of his face. “How long has it been hurting?”

“I don’t know,” Kellen eked out, breathing with difficulty.

By now, Aiden knew that Kellen wouldn’t wake him up if he didn’t need to. He always told Aiden that there was nothing that could be done about his migraines anyway, and that Aiden would be better off sleeping.

Aiden’s heart went out to him though, frowning at the pinched expression on the brunette’s face. “Did you take your medicine?”

“I’ve been throwing up a lot. I didn’t want to…” Kellen stopped talking for a moment, groaning painfully and gritting his teeth through it. He took a deep breath. “…didn’t want to throw it up.”

He curled in on himself, mussing up the covers. Aiden pulled the covers off him. Kellen had already sweat through his shirt from the heat. “Okay, baby, I’m going to get you some water. I know you don’t feel good, but I want you to drink some and swallow your meds. You’ve been throwing up a lot and I don’t want you to get dehydrated.”

Aiden ran his hand through Kellen’s hair, kissing him on the temple. He could feel the old scar hidden on Kellen’s head from the accident.

Kellen whined, but nodded for him. His voice cracked when he mumbled, “I’ll be here.”

Aiden almost smiled at the poor attempt at a joke, slinking out of bed for the water and medicine. Kellen swallowed them both slowly, sitting and breathing for a while to make sure he wouldn’t need to run back to the bathroom. Aiden rubbed up and down his spine gently, helping him lay back down.

“This is why I don’t drink,” Kellen said through gritted teeth.

“I know, Kellen,” Aiden said softly, glancing to be sure the blackout curtains were closed properly. He pulled Kellen into his lap, holding his fiancé lovingly.

Kellen got the medicine down, and hopefully it was absorbed enough before he had to get Aiden to help him back to the bathroom to puke. They were in there for over an hour before Kellen felt alright enough to stumble back to their bed.

As Aiden held Kellen close again, he frowned when Kellen sniffed. “Kellen?”

The brunette sniffed again. “I…” With difficulty, Kellen forced himself to sit up. He was only able to stay up for a second on shaky arms before he was leaning on Aiden again weakly. “I… I hate this,” Kellen mumbled.

Aiden frowned, his heart dropping. Kellen’s voice was strangled, the way it only sounded when he was crying.

“I know… this is my life,” Kellen said with a groan. “But it’s not fair.” He clutched his head and breathed through a wave of pain. “You shouldn’t… have to take care of me. I shouldn’t have to… feel this way.”

Aiden hugged Kellen to his chest. “No, you shouldn’t. But you know what I’m going to say, right?”

“Tell me… again?” Kellen requested. His voice was tight.

Aiden reached up to wipe his eyes ever so softly. “I love you very much, Kellen, and I don’t care how many migraines you have, or how sick you feel. In health and in sickness, right? We’re taking those vows next week.”

Kellen gripped him desperately, as if trying to allay the pain. Aiden kissed him on the temple and helped him onto his side. “You’re still my Kellen, even with a migraine. I’m not going anywhere.”

After a pause, Kellen quipped, “You’ll have to go to work tomorrow.”

Aiden kept running his fingers through the man’s hair. “You can’t get rid of me that easily,” Aiden said in response. “Relax as best as you can, Kellen. I’m here.”

The only time he left Kellen that day was when his brothers showed up. They wanted to check on Kellen since neither of them were answering their phones. Aiden knew they definitely felt bad based on the looks on their faces; they’d seen enough of Kellen’s migraines by now to understand how much pain he was in.

The migraine didn’t stop until the following evening, leaving Kellen drained and exhausted. He barely had enough energy to keep himself awake, nodding off while Aiden helped clean him up, changed the sheets, and got the both of them into bed.

“Love you, Aiden,” Kellen mumbled, already mostly asleep before his head even hit the pillow.

“I love you too, Kellen,” Aiden said to his sleeping fiancé, pulling the covers up over him and sitting next to him in bed. He wasn’t tired yet, but he felt like he could finally relax with Kellen sleeping more soundly next to him.

Before he knew it, Aiden was asleep with his phone splayed on his chest, the sound of Kellen’s calmer breaths in his ears.

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