(A/N: There’s a news update + a sticker giveaway, which you can read about here.)
Since the bakery was closed for the period between Christmas and New Years Day, Nate spent a few nights over. It’d be insane to not take advantage of this rare stretch of privacy while no one else was around.
At Mitch’s insistence, they made the trek downtown to see the lit trees in city square before the year’s end. Normally he didn’t care about the display, but he’d been cooped up in the house and stoned out of his mind for the last few days so he wanted fresh air. That, and he was making the effort to appreciate Monument and all of its charm.
Apparently, they weren’t the only ones with this activity in mind. The small park was crowded with families and other couples, along with a few food truck vendors and a band on the gazebo. Their fingers laced together as they walked under the lights, and Mitch nursed the contentment that blossomed in his core.
But without warning, Nate sucked in a breath and froze in place, then hastily withdrew his hand. Mitch cocked his head and scrunched his nose in confusion as he tried to determine what could have startled him so; before he could ask, he heard a woman call out Nate’s name.
“Hey Mom, hey Dad!” Nate responded, his voice high and nervous. “What’re you guys doing here?”
And suddenly it was as if Mitch didn’t exist. There were brief introductions of course, where Mitch was “a friend” and “someone from the school”, but he mostly went ignored during the few minutes that the family chatted. So he excused himself and wandered over to one of the food trucks, not hungry but needing to be anywhere else. Nothing looked appetizing, so he lit a cigarette in an unoccupied corner and waited around.
On the walk home, Mitch kept his hands in his pockets while Nate slung an arm around his shoulders. The incident went unaddressed before and after Mitch got bent over the majority of the furniture downstairs. There was no explanation before or after Nate eagerly requested that Mitch be the one to top, although perhaps that could be construed as some form of placation or overcompensation. Regardless, Mitch obliged and shortly had him begging for more. Good to know he was still half decent at fucking, despite not having railed anyone since Calvin.
When they crashed on the pull-out sofa, Mitch attempted to bridge this expanding gap by telling Nate that he really liked him. He silently prayed that it’d be the start of something.
“I like you, too,” Nate responded with a yawn.
“I, uh, told my aunt about you. She was over a few days ago-” Nate’s body stiffened as Mitch said that, and his heart leapt into his throat. “I just told her I was seeing someone, there wasn’t any details or anything-“
“It’s OK,” Nate replied with an amiable tone, and yet it was tinged with caution. He pulled Mitch a little closer, keeping him tucked under his arm. And then at last came the acknowledgement, which brought little relief. “I still haven’t talked to my folks yet. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to freeze up like that earlier.”
“That’s fine,” Mitch lied, upset with himself for getting caught up in a label of all things. Past him would be ashamed for being so fragile. His chest tightened as the words exited his mouth. “But if you want or need help with that, I’m here. And y’know, I don’t mind if-“
“I know,” Nate kissed the top of his head, but said nothing more. Mitch bit his bottom lip, wanting to add that he didn’t mind if Nate’s parents didn’t know yet, they could work up to that. But instead he closed his eyes, and tried to get some rest.