I Need You
The chicken was sizzling on the stove. Nick gave it a little stir, humming to himself idly. He adjusted the heat and went back to chopping up vegetables, scooting them off of the cutting board and into the pan alongside the chicken.
He breathed in the smell of teriyaki, hungry despite spending that Saturday at home. He had to resist breaking into the stash of Kit-Kats that Maddie hoarded every October in favor of measuring out the amount of rice he needed and dumping it into a pot of boiling water.
“Might be too much,” he murmured, shrugging unconcernedly. There were three of them; they would eat it all eventually.
He wondered if he should have made a little more actually to bring a meal to Vincent. Knowing his boyfriend, the man would be so tired after an extra day at work that he would fall asleep before he could make something.
Nick shook his head fondly at the mental image, stirring the chicken and veggies again. “Almost done,” he murmured, raising an eyebrow when the doorknob wiggled and Andrew stepped in carrying a few bags of food.
“Wow, that smells good,” Andrew said immediately. “Hold on, I’ll put that stuff away, but I really need to pee first.” He practically ran out of the kitchen and to the bathroom that he and Maddie shared.
Nick looked from the bags to the sound of the bathroom door shutting with the distinct impression that a whirlwind had blown through. He shook his head in exasperation; Andrew had always been like that.
Even after the night that he and Maddie had blown him off, Andrew had entered the kitchen the next day like a whirlwind, smiling and joking and making it incredibly difficult for Nick to stay angry. Being overlooked had hurt, but Nick wasn’t one to hold grudges anyway.
He had let it go—and forced Andrew to do all the grocery shopping for the next three weeks, so they were more or less even now.
“Okay,” Andrew said cheerfully when he returned, bending down to empty bags. “Maddie’s still taking a look at some wedding stuff, but she should be back soon.”
“This is just about done anyway,” Nick said, humming at the flavor of the sauce when he had a taste. He moved aside to let Andrew reach up to throw a new bag of sugar in the cabinet. Checking the heat, he moved back to adjust it.
“I’m telling you, Nickolas—”
“Don’t call me that.”
“—I miss Saturdays that didn’t involve tons of errands.” Andrew leaned over to wrap an arm around Nick’s shoulder jovially. “Must be nice to be lazy all day.”
“How do you know that I didn’t do anything today?” Nick asked with a frown, shoving his arm off.
Andrew scoffed, crumpling up empty bags to put away. “You’re still in those sweats that you only wear on days off.”
Nick rolled his eyes, not bothering to deny it as he stirred the food again and checked on the chicken.
Andrew had seated himself at the dining table and kept talking. “You know, I could give you something much better to do on a Saturday than sit around and make dinner,” he hedged.
“I don’t need you to set me up, Andrew,” Nick maintained without even looking at him. Figuring that now was as good of a time as any, he took a breath, turned to face his friend, and went on, “Actually, I’ve been seeing—”
“Hey, Maddie has this really cute friend we could set you up with,” Andrew said at the same time, looking down at his phone. He probably hadn’t even noticed Nick opening his mouth. “Weddings are a lot of work,” he murmured offhandedly with a shake of his head. “Here, look at these flowers and give me an opinion this time?”
Nick pushed down the slight irritation that had settled in his chest and walked over to take a look at the flowers. After a second, he asked, “Shouldn’t you be deciding?” He went back to check on the food, giving it another stir.
Andrew huffed at his non-answer, pouting and texting Maddie back. “I don’t know why I ask you anyway. It’s not like you know anything about being with the love of your life.”
He said it lightheartedly—like it was a joke that Nick was supposedly single.
Nick felt his own irritation spike, however, at that patronizing tone. He knew that it was a joke—which meant that he knew that it was stupid to actually be bothered—but some part of him was tired of all the moronic jokes that were made at his expense.
Before he could think through his words, he mumbled, “Yeah, and it’s not like you know much about how to be a good friend lately.”
For a second, the only sound was that of the chicken and vegetables still sizzling. They were just about finished. The rice was already done.
Nick might have thought that Andrew hadn’t heard him if he didn’t ask, “What did you say?”
“Nothing,” Nick said louder, willing to just forget about it.
Andrew wasn’t as willing though. “No, come on. What did you just say?”
Nick exhaled, turning off the burner and facing his oldest friend. Loudly enough to be heard, he repeated, “I said that you don’t know much about being a good friend lately.”
Andrew was gazing at him with this expression of disbelief. He let out a humorless chuckle, as if he thought that Nick might be pulling his leg. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Nick scoffed and rolled his eyes. “Seriously, Andrew? You know that I love Maddie, but ever since you got engaged—and way before that—you’ve been blowing me off.” After months of bottling that up, it felt good just to say it out loud.
“What? So, we missed a few things—it’s not like it’s a big deal,” Andrew argued, crossing his arms. “What do you care anyway? It’s not like you have anything to do.”
The irritation had turned into full-fledged annoyance by now, mixed with a solid spark of anger. Nick shook his head at him. “My time is just as valuable as yours, Andrew. And it is a big deal when you keep taking advantage of the fact that we’re friends.”
Nick knew that he had a penchant for rolling his eyes, but his anger flashed when he saw Andrew do it to him.
“Look, Nick, Maddie and I are busy. We have stuff to do, which means that yes, we’re not around sometimes. You’re seriously mad about that?” he asked in this superior kind of tone.
“Yes, I am,” Nick yelled, finally abandoning any pretense of calm. “Because my supposed best friend doesn’t even give enough shits about me to actually let me know when you’re busy.”
Andrew bristled. “I do let you know—”
“After I’m already waiting for you guys!” Nick said desperately, trying to make him understand. “You and Maddie take advantage of me—you assume that I have tons of free time and that I don’t have things I like to do! You think that you can just walk all over me and have a good laugh about me being a lonely charity case!”
He shook his head, unable to stop himself from talking, “I hate it how you only seem to need me when you’re hungry or when Maddie’s busy!”
“Stop being dramatic!” Andrew yelled back defensively, rearing up like a cat that was about to pounce. “You sit here and do taxes all day! You don’t have a girlfriend, you don’t have other friends, and your greatest joy in life is a morning cup of coffee! What the hell do you care if I want to actually spend time with my fiancé?”
Nick was shocked into silence at how much that genuinely hurt.
Andrew didn’t give him a chance to respond. He just kept yelling, “You’re only angry because you’re jealous and alone, but don’t blame me for the fact that you can’t get your life together enough to be happy!”
They were left in silence for a second. The only sound was that of their breathing.
Nick said nothing. He didn’t know what he could say that wouldn’t sound as hurt and pissed as he felt. So, he turned off the stove and literally threw the pan of food onto a cool burner with a loud clang. “I’m leaving,” he said brusquely, shoving past Andrew none too gently.
With a sweatshirt on and his keys in hand, Nick walked back to the door.
“You’re leaving?” Andrew asked, still defensive. “Where the hell are you going?”
Nick didn’t answer. He simply slammed the door loudly behind him, sure that their neighbors were going to be pissed at the noise—sorry to their sixty-year-old neighbor, Jenny.
He was fuming. Fuming and hurt and bothered by some of the comments that hit a little too close to home. Maybe he should cut back on the coffee and find a hobby that made him less of a boring person.
“Vincent doesn’t think I’m boring,” Nick mumbled to himself with a pout, scuffing his shoe along the sidewalk.
He zipped up his sweatshirt at the chill in the air, his feet carrying him to the New York Public Library before he even realized that he was there.
Nick winced. Vincent wouldn’t be home yet, but he didn’t exactly want to bother his boyfriend at work. Especially considering that he was currently wearing an old pair of sweatpants and definitely felt way too underdressed to step into such a nice place.
He didn’t want to be alone either though, not just then.
Security gave him an odd look when they checked him, but Nick walked in and along the marble hallways, very seriously ignoring anyone who gave him a look for sporting the just-rolled-out-of-bed style.
He remembered the way to Vincent’s office by now, and stepped in hesitantly to his desk in the back.
Despite working all week and needing to go in for Saturday too, Vincent was as beautiful as ever. His dark hair sparkled with the light of the lamp on his desk, and his glasses reflected the white of his computer screen. When he stood, Nick could see his shining green eyes, which were tired and somewhat annoyed, as he perused over the papers on his desk.
He looked up before Nick announced himself. “Nickolas,” he said in surprise, his expression melting into fond confusion. “What’s wrong?”
“I…” Nick started, opening his mouth and closing it. “I, uh… can I stay with you tonight?”
He wanted to tell Vincent what happened, but he didn’t want to bother him with his problems when the man was obviously still working. He didn’t exactly know how to explain the swirl of anger, hurt, and sadness in his chest either.
Vincent seemed to understand. He stepped around his desk to give Nick a quick kiss. “You never have to ask that, Nickolas. You’re always welcome.” He swiped his hand over Nick’s cheek. “I just have a few more things to finish up, but are you okay staying at my desk? I’ll be maybe twenty minutes.”
“I won’t be in your way?” Nick asked.
Vincent smiled up at him, pushing him by his shoulders to sit at his desk chair. “Of course not. Win solitaire for me so that I can see the cards dance,” he said with a smirk, grabbing a few of his papers. “Oh, and feel free to look in my desk. Just don’t send any emails.”
“I can do that,” Nick nodded, leaning back in the desk chair with the springy back.
Vincent leaned down to kiss him again. “Twenty minutes. I promise.”
Nick watched him walk out of his office, already relaxing. He really did play a few games of solitaire, saving the last card on a winning board just for Vincent. That left him still waiting though. He swiveled in his chair and took a look around, reading the book titles on the shelves behind Vincent’s desk and inching forward to see a photo that he had in the corner.
“Oh my god,” Nick smirked, picking it up. It was a work photo, probably of Vincent with the colleagues that he actually liked, and wow did his boyfriend look good in a suit.
“Okay, work is done,” Vincent said, walking back into his office and leaning down to organize the papers still littering the desk.
“For the record, honey, you look really good here,” Nick couldn’t help but to say, holding up the picture.
Vincent leaned over to see it. He smirked and shook his head. “I’ll have to wear a tie for you some time,” he said lowly, leaning down for a quick kiss and trailing his hand over his chest. “I like this sweatshirt. It’s soft,” he commented when he pulled back to finish fixing his papers.
Nick chuckled humorlessly—it was mostly just an involuntary sound. “I kind of grabbed it in a rush. I… Vincent, do you think I’m boring?” It wasn’t what he had planned on saying, but it had sort of slipped out.
Vincent tilted his head at him and pushed his glasses up his nose. “Boring? No, I don’t think so.”
“But I don’t do much,” Nick argued, “I work a lot and sleep a lot.”
“And you enjoy cooking and finding new recipes,” Vincent said calmly, abandoning his papers to lean against the desk next to Nick. “You also like watching documentaries and walking through museums, and I know that you have a few books at my place that you’ve started reading. Nickolas,” he said softly, “you’re wonderful. I love spending my time learning more about you.”
Nick looked up at him to find those green eyes trained solely on him—those green eyes filled with understanding and concern. His throat was suddenly a little tight. “I told Andrew that I was pissed about him blowing me off,” he explained, “We had an argument.”
“Oh, Nickolas,” Vincent said sympathetically, reaching forward to card a hand through his hair.
“You were working, so I didn’t want to bother you, but…” Nick started, averting his eyes.
Vincent leaned down to kiss him on the forehead. “But you’re not a bother,” he said as if it was an absolute fact. “Ready to go?”
Nick nodded despite the fact that he would have preferred to just pull Vincent into his lap instead. “Oh, wait. I did this.” He turned to click the solitaire cards, earning a hearty chuckle for his efforts.
“You’re adorable,” Vincent said, still chuckling kindly. The way the light hit him then, making his eyes sparkle and his hair shimmer—it made Nick’s heart jump.
Nick still felt underdressed on the way out, but Vincent didn’t appear to mind. He held his hand unabashedly all the way to his apartment, and even when he had to shift his bag to get his keys out.
Only when they were seated on Vincent’s couch, the soft light of the lamp washing over them, did Vincent ask, “Do you want to talk about it, Nickolas?”
All that hurt and sadness and anger came crashing back. Nick almost didn’t want to say anything; he would honestly prefer to ignore all of these feelings in favor of kissing his boyfriend and snuggling up in his arms.
But Vincent was gazing at him kindly, waiting for his answer. Nick took a breath and placed Vincent’s hand between his own. “I just wanted him to understand that him blowing me off hurts. But… he said I was lonely and jealous… and that I was pathetic. Well, I don’t think he said pathetic, but the sentiment was there.
“And we’ve been friends for eleven years!” he added emphatically. “Eleven years and he said that to me… I mean, I probably should have said something sooner, but I just…” And all that anger faded away to be replaced with something empty and hollow in his chest. Nick wiped his eyes, feeling properly pathetic.
Vincent didn’t flinch. He reached up to wipe his tears with gentle fingers, pulling him close to hold him in a tight hug. “It’s okay, Nickolas,” he said warmly, rubbing his hand up and down his back.
Nick leaned into him, putting his arms around Vincent and burrowing into his lean chest. His sweater-vest smelled like the flowery detergent he used.
Vincent adjusted them so that he could lie back on the couch and Nick could stretch out; he still had to curl up a little though as he fit himself between Vincent’s legs.
“I happen to think you’re pretty amazing,” Vincent said, carding his hands through Nick’s hair. “Very smart, good-looking, clever, sweet, and your eyes light up when you get excited about something.”
“You’re biased,” Nick murmured into his chest, although he did flush at all the compliments.
Vincent chuckled underneath him. “Maybe. But you’re easily one of the best people I know, and I have four sisters who are pretty great.”
Nick let out a breath, a smile slowly quirking his lips up. “Sounds like I’m part of a pretty exclusive group then.”
“Now, you’re catching on,” Vincent praised, continuing to run his hand through his hair. “I know it hurts, Nick. You’ve known Andrew for a long time, and it hurts when you fight with someone who’s so close to you.”
“I’m kind of mad too,” Nick murmured, aware that he didn’t sound mad at all. “I don’t know why he couldn’t understand.”
“Maybe he wasn’t trying to,” Vincent suggested. “It’s hard to accept it when we’ve hurt someone. He might just need some time to think through what you said.”
Nick wasn’t so sure, but he was sure that the anger in his chest had abated, and Vincent’s kind words and soft touches were like a balm to all the hurt that he felt. It was still there, although it didn’t feel quite so potent with all the warmth surrounding him.
He let his eyes fall shut for a minute at the soft shift of Vincent’s fingers through his hair, scratching lightly over his scalp.
“I had just finished cooking dinner too when I stormed out,” he mumbled petulantly.
“What were you making?” Vincent asked with a hum that made his chest vibrate slightly.
Nick shifted. “Teriyaki chicken and rice.” He smirked. From the rumble he heard, he guessed that Vincent probably hadn’t eaten in a while.
With a stretch, Nick sat up and leaned forward for a peck on the lips. “I’ll cook for you. Something quick though because I’m pretty hungry too.”
One package of frozen ravioli, pasta sauce, and frozen garlic bread later, and they were squished together at Vincent’s tiny table having a nice dinner. Vincent jokingly lit a candle and turned off some of the lights, but Nick still thought it was cute.
He waited for Vincent to finish eating before he leaned in for a kiss, which began slowly and gently. Vincent smiled into it, placing a hand on the back of his neck to pull him close. Nick exhaled at the sensation, finally relaxing as all the remaining tension in his body seeped out to be replaced with warmth and tingles.
“In my office,” Vincent said in between kisses, “You don’t know how much I wanted to just straddle you when you were in my chair.”
Nick sighed at the sensation of heat in his gut. “It’s probably a good thing that you didn’t.” He let out a moan when Vincent moved to his neck. “I would have definitely messed up your desk.”
“How sturdy is your desk at your place?” Vincent asked with a teasing lilt in his voice.
Nick pulled him back to connect their lips again, his fingers flying over Vincent’s chest to push up that sweater-vest and shirt and splay his fingers over his side.
Vincent yelped. “Your hands are cold!”
“Sorry,” Nick chuckled.
Apparently, Vincent wasn’t too bothered about it because he grabbed Nick by the hands and pulled him up and out of his chair and in for another heady kiss.
Nick could feel the cold wall behind him as Vincent plastered himself to his front, pressing them together from chest to hip. The heat in his gut heightened, blazing through him like an inferno. He grabbed Vincent by his shirt to kiss him passionately, maneuvering the two of them into his bedroom after a moment of relishing in the feeling of Vincent so close.
Vincent pushed him down atop the bed to crawl onto him, straddling him for real this time. Nick moaned at the sensation, grabbing him by the hips and sighing as Vincent’s hands unzipped his sweatshirt and pushed his shirt up.
Nick was so excited that he pulled his shirt off himself, and made quick work of Vincent’s too—maybe a little too quick based on the way that he almost tore his buttons.
“Sorry,” Nick repeated breathlessly.
“I’m not,” Vincent, connecting their lips again and grinding down on top of him.
Nick groaned into their kiss, glad that he was only swearing sweatpants, but considering that he wanted to be able to wear them home the next day, he was eager to slip them off. Vincent’s hands were warm against him. His skin was fiery as they pressed chest to chest.
All he felt now was the heat building inside him and the skillful movement of Vincent’s fingers, mixed with the delicious pressure of his lips and the slight nudge of his glasses against his nose.
Nick moaned and sighed. Everything else besides Vincent was completely gone from his mind as he smiled and leaned up for another kiss.