The Man I Love

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Traditions

In just a few months, Aiden was rushing back to spend two days at home for Isaac’s and Lyla’s wedding. He could barely scrape the time together in between training and games, but the happy couple had kept him in mind: they’d chosen their weekend to coincide with a series of games Aiden had only an hour away.

He’d told them that they didn’t have to accommodate him, but the two of them couldn’t care less about the dates if they tried. They were still the most laidback people Aiden had ever met.

Honestly, the two of them were perfect for one another. Aiden would have been surprised that they didn’t get married sooner if he didn’t know how uncertain the both of them had been about it.

But since they’d talked almost a year before, they’d figured things out, Isaac proposed, and here they were. They’d only spent a month planning the wedding after they’d acquiesced to their families and agreed not to go to a courthouse. As it was, there would only be family and close friends there.

Aiden was glad that he and Kellen were a part of that selective group as he grabbed his tiny suitcase from the airport and hightailed it to the rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding.

Kellen…

Aiden had to take a deep breath to stop his thoughts from getting away from him. He was finally going to see Kellen again after months away. It had been far too long since they’d been with each other in person, and it would still be another two months before they could be with each other again.

They couldn’t even be with each other during these few days. With the wedding, they’d barely have a moment to themselves, let alone a moment to get reacquainted.

Aiden loved his brother and was incredibly happy for Isaac and Lyla, but god, the thought of sitting through a rehearsal dinner with Kellen by his side and dancing with the man at a wedding without just tearing his clothes off was driving Aiden crazy. And he hadn’t even seen Kellen yet.

The moment he stepped into the restaurant, his carryon behind him, his eyes found the brunette. The man was standing there, his tall, slim form elongated by the dark woods behind him. He looked suave as he leaned against the wall, waiting for Aiden to arrive just like he said he would.

Dressed in dark slacks, a button-up, and a slimming vest, Kellen was breathtaking. Aiden had to stop for a second to gather his thoughts. He was used to seeing Kellen in dancing clothes or in jeans. But in this formal clothing, Kellen could probably bring Aiden to his knees with just one look. If only Kellen knew just how much power he possessed as he shifted, checked his phone, and tapped his foot impatiently.

Aiden smiled warmly. It was clear that Kellen was just as anxious about this as he was. It was best not to keep him waiting.

Stepping quietly, Aiden was only ten feet from his boyfriend when the man finally noticed him. It was cute to see the way Kellen’s eyes lit up, his whole posture relaxing.

Aiden wasted no time grabbing Kellen by that smooth vest and crashing their lips together desperately. Kellen sighed in contentment, breathing him in desperately. Aiden pushed him against the wall, feeling the way Kellen’s arms wrapped around his neck, his fingers tickling the back of his neck and twining into his hair.

He was about to pull away, really, he was, when someone smacked him lightly on the back of his head.

“Ow!” Aiden exclaimed, taking a step back to glare at Isaac, who was giving him a smug look. He hadn’t even heard his brother approach.

“Jeez, I thought you’d start ripping his clothes off if you kept that up,” Isaac said, chuckling under his breath.

Aiden rolled his eyes as Kellen fixed his vest and said casually, “I mean, Aiden does have to change his clothes. I volunteer to help.” The innocent expression on his face fooled no one.

“I’m pretty sure you’d get kicked out of the restaurant for that,” Lyla said as she stepped up with a smile to match Isaac’s. “And we kind of want you both here.”

She reached over to give Aiden a hug hello, which he returned happily. He gave his brother a hug too, forgetting his annoyance. “I’m so happy for you guys,” he said sincerely, taking in the way the two of them just couldn’t stop smiling.

“Well, you can show your happiness by keeping your hands visible during dinner,” Isaac quipped. Aiden couldn’t tell if he was joking or not, but Kellen still laughed.

“Just saying: you’d never be able to tell if we were doing that,” he said mischievously, leaning over to kiss Aiden longingly on the cheek. “I’ll wait for you over there then. It’d be pretty rude of us to give your brother a heart attack the day before his wedding,” Kellen said with a pointed look to Isaac.

Isaac didn’t look impressed. “Hey, I think any normal person wouldn’t want to think about their younger brother getting it on with his boyfriend in a restaurant bathroom. Or about whatever you two do under the table,” he added, looking put out. He groaned. “Great, Kellen, see what you did? Now, whenever you’re sitting next to each other, I’ll be thinking of that.”

Kellen just shook his head in amusement. He didn’t even answer, covering his mouth so that he didn’t bark with laughter in public. Aiden found it endearing.

So, he did his brother a favor by removing Kellen’s hand so he could kiss him soundly on the lips. This time, he really did pull back after only a second, feeling dazed and lightheaded. Kellen patted his check affectionately. “Have fun changing without me,” he added lowly before he stepped away into the dining area.

Aiden’s ears were red. He didn’t care though as he stared at Kellen as the man walked away, those dark pants hugging his hips perfectly.

“How did we ever not know you were gay with how you look at him?” Isaac mused with a fond smile.

Aiden smiled to himself. He really had come a long way from the scared kid worried over how his family would react. He kissed Kellen in public now. He deflected or answered any questions about his sexuality that reporters asked. He wasn’t nearly as shy as he used to be when it came to the innuendos his brothers or Kellen came up with.

Suddenly, all he wanted to do was to catch up to Kellen, spin him around, and press him up against the nearest wall. Kellen would say that his new confidence had everything to do with accepting himself. Aiden would say that it was because he loved Kellen so much that he didn’t care what other people thought. Not anymore.

Aiden excused himself to change into his own button-up and slacks, reemerging to look for Kellen. He found the brunette milling about with Nikki, leaning down to speak with her.

“Really? Really, really?” Nikki was saying with bright, excited eyes.

“Really for sure really,” Kellen mimicked, smiling at her. “Uncle Aiden will too,” he added when he noticed Aiden standing there.

Aiden raised his eyebrows at Nikki’s happy gaze. “What am I doing?” Not that he would refuse; with Nikki’s puppy eyes looking up at him and Kellen’s playful gaze, they could have asked him to sing in front of the restaurant and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to say no.

“Dancing with me at the wedding,” Nikki supplied, practically bouncing on her feet.

“Like you have to ask,” Aiden replied, reaching down to give her a hug. “I’ll save a dance just for you.”

She nodded happily, her expression turning stern for a moment. “As long as you dance with Kellen too. He’s sad when you’re gone, you know.”

Kellen looked away, his face actually reddening in embarrassment. Nikki didn’t seem to notice though, bouncing off to find her parents.

Kellen cleared his throat, his face still a little red when he stood up fully. “You know I get lonely,” he said unabashedly. “I guess I’m pretty transparent when it comes to you,” Kellen finished with a wry smile. He leaned forward to give Aiden a quick kiss that was no less passionate than the one’s they’d shared minutes before.

Aiden put his hand on Kellen’s chest, feeling his heart beat underneath his fingertips. “I get lonely too. I know we can’t do much while I’m here, but I am glad to be with you for these few days.”

Kellen smiled sweetly. “I’m glad you’re here too.” He leaned forward to whisper in Aiden’s ear, “Besides, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeves when it comes to a few… fun things to do together.”

His breath tickled Aiden’s neck. It made him shudder when Kellen grasped his hand and led him away to the table. He could barely hold himself back from pulling Kellen onto his lap when they took seats next to one another, sitting more closely than they probably needed to. He could tell that Kellen was having a similarly hard time keeping his hands to himself from the way he kept fidgeting.

It was nice to see his family though, and to see Isaac and Lyla so happy. Aiden spent time talking to his niece, learning more about how she was doing in Kellen’s and B’s classes. Ian and Letta told him about their jobs, and about some couples’ cooking class they were doing mostly because Ian was tired of not being able to cook anything.

“It’s coming out pretty well!” Ian said with the same smile he often saw on Nikki, clearly proud of himself.

Letta patted his arm awkwardly. “Well… he’s trying.”

Kellen rolled his eyes and said to Aiden quietly. “You know that time we couldn’t call because I was puking?” He looked to Ian and looked back. “I have no idea why I hang out with your family, because your brother made me eat his food and I ended up sleeping on the bathroom floor that night.”

Aiden patted Kellen on the thigh comfortingly. “I can relate. Did he look at you with puppy eyes? He perfected those with our mom.”

Kellen nodded solemnly. “Letta said she’d had enough stomachaches for life, so I took the bullet for her.”

“Could you guys not talk about me like I’m not here?” Ian interrupted, a clearly not amused look on his face. “Besides, they don’t all taste bad.”

“No,” Letta started kindly, “but, Ian, it’s sort of like gambling when I eat your food and I need to be able to go to work. But I promise that you’re doing better!”

Ian looked mollified at least for the moment as he pouted into his food. Nikki leaned over to whisper to Aiden and Kellen, “I think dad should stick to the easy stuff. If he avoided chicken, I think we’d be mostly fine.” At least Ian knew how to call for pizza when he set the place on fire, and he had Letta to warn him if any meats were undercooked.

It was nice for Aiden to be around his family again, to hear them banter with each other, treating Kellen as warmly as they had since day one. Aiden just wished that he wasn’t wound up like a spring, so tightly that when Kellen so much as brushed their thighs together, Aiden could feel his ears go red at the direction of his own thoughts.

“Sorry, hun,” Kellen apologized, shifting again. He really did sound sorry, clearly wishing that he could do more than brush their thighs together.

“You’re the one that keeps moving,” Aiden said with a laugh. “You’re too fidgety.”

“I wonder why that is,” Kellen said idly. He gave Aiden a sexy smirk, resting his chin in his palm.

When Aiden swallowed, he could see Kellen’s eyes lock onto his throat. He felt too warm in his shirt, thinking of how it would feel to have Kellen lick up his throat, kissing and nipping all the way to his ear, over his jaw—

Kellen touched his thigh deliberately, his eyes looking a shade darker. “Keep thinking thoughts like that, and we’re both going to have a problem.”

“How would you know what I was thinking?” Aiden asked, although he already knew how. His red ears and flushed face were dead giveaways.

“I know you pretty well by now,” Kellen said by way of answer. He really did; he could probably tell what Aiden was thinking just from the tone of his voice by this point.

The thought of his boyfriend knowing him so well sent another wave of heat through him, forcing Aiden to take a long sip of water to cool off. It was difficult to refocus on the dinner instead of the beautiful man beside him with Kellen’s hand still on his thigh, rubbing small circles, or tapping, or just resting there.

Aiden eventually laced their fingers together, earning a large smile from Kellen. They kept their hands together throughout dinner, eager to get back to Kellen’s place for some alone time. That was the plan anyway, before Ian said, “Isaac, are we still going out for the night?”

Isaac nodded. “Yeah, it’s tradition. You’re coming too, right Aiden?” There was a wicked smile on his face, and that was when Aiden remembered.

Back when Ian had gotten married to Letta years ago, just when Aiden had graduated high school, Ian had taken he and Isaac out the night before to have some brotherly fun. Really, it was the three of them playing mini golf like they used to do when they were kids before they hung out at Ian’s place for the night. Ian had wanted to spend some time together before he was married.

That had been a fun night. Aiden had some great memories of it. It had taken his mind off of Kellen too, since the two of them had only been broken up for a little while by that point.

But now, sitting there with Kellen by his side and feeling increasingly frustrated, Aiden felt his heart sink at the thought of not being able to sleep next to his boyfriend that night. Kellen must have read his mind as he patted Aiden’s thigh. “You should have fun with your brothers.” He shifted again, looking just as frustrated as Aiden felt, even if his tone was full of understanding. “It’s not my place to break your tradition,” he said playfully.

Aiden cleared his throat at Isaac’s and Ian’s expectant gazes. “Sure, yeah, I’ll come.” The second they turned away to talk about their plans with each other, Aiden groaned. “Kellen,” he whined.

Kellen patted his hand, a sympathetic look on his face. “I know, Aiden. God, I know,” he said as if it was painful. “But…” He took a deep breath. “Only two more months. And there’s no way you can miss this kind of thing with your brothers. You’ll be disappointed if you missed it.”

Aiden knew he was right, but that didn’t make him feel any less wound up. “Only… two more months,” he repeated with difficulty.

Kellen leaned forward, saying quietly in Aiden’s ear, “It doesn’t have to be. Maybe tomorrow, while everyone is dancing, we can find a quiet place away from prying eyes…”

The feeling of Kellen’s breath on his next made him shiver. “I think someone would notice…” Aiden said weakly.

“We don’t have to,” Kellen said seriously. “Although it might be a little hard to dance with you, pressed up together…”

Aiden huffed, but he was smiling. “You’re doing this on purpose,” he said with a chuckle.

Kellen pulled back to give him an apologetic look. “Sorry. When it comes to you, I can’t help myself.” The way he said it, his voice calm and loving, made Aiden think that he wasn’t just talking about the teasing.

He leaned forward to kiss Aiden chastely on the cheek. Whatever moment they’d been having was interrupted by Letta, who asked sympathetically, “Kellen? Will you be okay tonight?”

Kellen blinked at the warm concern in her voice. “Oh, uh, yeah, of course. I’ll just be… uh, alone.” He made this face like he knew how lonely that had just sounded. Aiden tightened his grip around Kellen’s hand, wishing he could be there with him.

“Olivia and B aren’t around?” Letta asked with polite interest.

Kellen shook his head. “You know they’re together now. We still hang out the three of us, but I don’t want to third-wheel them. Especially since they thought I’d be with Aiden tonight.” He patted Aiden’s hand, obviously anticipating what he was going to say when he added, “Aiden, this is for you and your brothers. I’ll be okay.” He punctuated his statement with a soft touch to Aiden’s chin, a little smile on his face.

Letta had been watching them all the while. “Kellen, how about you stay with me tonight? Lyla will be with her family, and I’ll be with Nikki.” Nikki was clearly listening in, trying not to look too interested as she pushed food around on her plate. She was practically bouncing in her seat though.

Kellen returned her warm smile. “That sounds great, Letta.”

Aiden was glad that Kellen wouldn’t be by himself for the night, but he still wished that he was the one with the brunette.

He knew he was pouting as Kellen patted his chest with a low chuckle. “Oh, hun, it’ll be fine. Letta and I will have lots of fun while you’re with your brothers.”

“Maybe you could teach me how to do those moves Nikki always shows me,” Letta said playfully.

“Hey, if I can teach Aiden how to slow dance with me, I can teach you too,” Kellen replied with a laugh.

“Can you teach me? Dad always loses the rhythm,” Nikki pouted.

“What? It’s easy,” Kellen said, getting up from his seat. He gestured for Nikki to join him, which she did so happily. “Here, let’s show your dad what to do tomorrow,” Kellen told her, grabbing onto her tiny hands and directing her to stand on his feet. “This will be easier for your dad, so he won’t step on your feet,” he explained.

Aiden thought it was cute when Kellen started swaying with her, giving her quick pointers on how to keep the beat so she could direct Ian the next day. Neither of them was the self-conscious type, completely ignoring anyone who might have looked their way.

Kellen was smiling down at Nikki, clearly having a good time as he had her step off for a second so he could twirl her.

“Aiden?” Letta asked, getting his attention. “Have you and Kellen spoken about children?”

He nodded. “Yeah, we have. We were thinking adoption in the future. Maybe some siblings so they can stay together.”

Letta hummed, still looking at her daughter. “I’ll look forward to it. To when you both have your own kids,” she clarified, returning her attention to him. “I’ll look forward to your wedding too,” she said simply, giving her daughter a one-armed hug when the girl returned with a bright smile.

Kellen took his place next to Aiden again, his posture more relaxed. It made Aiden happy to see knowing that if he couldn’t be with Kellen that night, at least the man wouldn’t be completely alone.

That didn’t stop him from dragging Kellen outside and kissing him passionately in the few minutes they had before he went with Ian and Isaac. Aiden held onto Kellen tightly, smiling into the kiss as Kellen chuckled happily at his enthusiasm.

“You should get going before Isaac smacks you again,” Kellen mumbled, although he made no effort to stop kissing up Aiden’s jaw in the shadow of the restaurant.

Aiden groaned, his hands on Kellen’s hips. “He could punch me at this point and I don’t think I’d care.” All he could focus on was the way Kellen’s lips felt on his skin.

“Yeah, but I would. Your beautiful face happens to be important to me,” Kellen joked, moving back to Aiden’s lips for a long kiss.

Aiden melted into that kiss, wishing that they had just a little more time before he heard Isaac call, “Hey lovebirds!”

Kellen hummed and deepened the kiss for a moment before pulling back. He sighed, mumbling, “One day, I’m going to interrupt him and Lyla just because I can.”

Aiden laughed at his pouty boyfriend. The man was far too endearing. “I’ll try my best to get him back for you,” he promised.

“I can always count on you,” Kellen said with a teasing smile, kissing his cheek and trotting off to join up with Letta and Nikki.

Aiden wasn’t ashamed to say that he stared after the man up until Ian and Isaac joined him. Ian had an apologetic look on his face. “We kind of ruined whatever plans you had with Kellen tonight, huh?”

“Sorry about that,” Isaac said sincerely, scratching the back of his head. “We know you guys don’t have the chance to see each other much.”

Despite how badly Aiden wanted to be with Kellen, it was true that he really couldn’t stay mad at his brothers. Kellen was right: he wouldn’t want to miss this time with the two of them anyway.

Aiden sighed, his shoulders slumping and an easy smile gracing his face. “You can’t imagine how much I want to be with Kellen right now, but hey, this is tradition, right?” He cracked a smile. “By the way, Isaac, Kellen is going to get you for interrupting us so much.”

Isaac looked to where Kellen was leaving with Letta, laughing at whatever story Nikki was telling. That barking laughter of his was so loud that it could be heard across the parking lot. It made Aiden smile, especially when he looked back to see the vaguely frightened look on Isaac’s face.

Ian patted his shoulder like he was saying goodbye to a dying man. “Oh, you’re so dead. All this time, it’s been Kellen not even trying, but if he’s actually out to get you? You’re dead.”

“Why are we the ones getting teased by your boyfriend?” Isaac asked, nonplussed.

Aiden raised his eyebrows. “You have no idea what Kellen’s capable of when it comes to teasing,” he intoned, mostly because he knew that Isaac would get that regretful look on his face. He was sure that Kellen would be proud.

Ian laughed and patted the blonde’s shoulder. “You brought that on yourself, Isaac.”

In the interest of giving Isaac a break—it was his wedding night, after all—they left to have a little fun. Aiden was glad that he was there in the end, mini golfing with his brothers like they used to, or messing around at Aiden’s apartment watching movies and playing old videogames. It wasn’t how he originally planned on spending his night, but he still ended up smiling and laughing, remembering all the good times he’d had with these two.

No matter how old the three of them got, who their partners were, or what they were doing, they would always be brothers.

The thought made Aiden happy when he fell asleep on the couch, the sound of his brothers’ low tenors in the background. He knew his name came up a few times, but he was too tired to listen in. Their voices remained a low rumble as Aiden drifted off. He was reminded of all the times when he was younger, when his two older brothers did homework or played games and he sat beside them. He used to fall asleep in the evenings next to them until Ian or Isaac woke him up to go to bed.

It felt just like it used to then when Aiden heard one of them shift and drape a blanket over him. He curled up into it, surrendering to his dreams.

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