(I am going to fail my exam tomorrow because I can’t concentrate hahahaha sobbing right now. Anyways, I finished the next part of HWHAP last night. I still have no internet and am on a library computer now, but I need to actually prepare for my conference that’s in an hour. So. Imma just leave this here for you guys. Good luck to those of you who are in school and are dealing with end of the semester stress!)
itle: Houston, We Have a Problem
Pairing: Bro Strider/Dad Egbert
Rating: Overall: R
Current chapter: A soft(ish) R
Summary: Despite all of his cockiness, Bro Strider is still a virgin at 31 years old. After taking in a baby when he was 18 and fresh out of high school, he never had the time to really pursue a relationship. But after years of inadvertently cockblocking his older brother, Dave pays him back by introducing him to Mr. Egbert, unwittingly setting off a chain of reactions that results in Bro falling for the elder Egbert.
Normally, Bro would have been proud of Dave for his ability to sneak around unnoticed over the next couple of days. His ninja-like stealth was impressive, all things considered, but it only added to the tension and strained silence that filled the apartment.
Bro eventually got fed up with this whole avoidance bullshit and tracked Dave down, cornering him when he was on his way from the kitchen to his bedroom, a glass of apple juice in his hand. Bro could see the way Dave’s shoulders stiffened at the sight of him, but he refused to back down. It was a long, frigid moment of the Strider Staredown as twin sets of red eyes locked behind mirrored shades, expressions as impassive as ever.
After several long, tense seconds, Bro decided that he was sick of staring at Dave. “This is stupid,” he stated, smacking the glass of apple juice out of Dave’s hand and sending it flying. It clattered to the ground, juice spilling out onto the tiled kitchen floor.
Bro grabbed a chair and straddled it, resting his chin on his arms. “Look, let’s get a few things straight here. This has absolutely nothing to do with you and John. Me having a thing with Egbert doesn’t change anything, nothing between you and your friend, nothing between me and you. My relationship with him is not getting in the way of any other relationship. So stop being such a whiny, self-absorbed teen and grow a pair.”
“Doesn’t mean I can’t be pissed off at you for hiding it from me.”
“Oh, for crying out— I didn’t want to tell you because I knew you’d react like this! This is exactly why I hid it from you. Partly because I knew it’d upset you, and partly because I was scared shitless about what you’d think if you found out that I’m a homo. I think those are some pretty valid reasons there for keeping you in the dark.”
“Fine,” Dave said, his voice a little sullen. “I still think it’s weird. And I’m still mad that you never told me you’re gay. Or like, given me a hint or something. So I wasn’t beating myself up since the fourth grade about it.”
Bro softened a little. “Fair point. I’m sorry I didn’t tell you, it’s my fault there. Although I don’t know why you didn’t at least suspect something,” he added, scratching his head. “I hadn’t realized it ‘til now, but I would’ve thought that the pantsless Chuck Norris handcuffed to Mr. T would have been some kind of tipoff. I guess my subconscious was secretly crying out to you for acceptance, or some such shit like that.”
Dave seemed to contemplate this for a few moments. “Guess I never really questioned the whole puppet thing,” he finally said. He hesitated, and Bro gave him time to sort out his jumble of thoughts before tentatively asking, “…Did you mean it when you said that I’m the reason why you haven’t been in a relationship in fourteen years?”
Bro immediately regretted his words, which he’d spat out in the heat of the moment without thinking about their implications. “Dave, I didn’t mean it like that. I was pissed off and said something I didn’t mean. Seriously, it’s nothing.”
“No, but that’s what you said,” he insisted. “It’s my fault. I’m the fuckup here. I fucked up your life. You’d be better off without me around—”
“No.” Bro leaped to his feet, knocking the chair over in his haste. He ripped off his sunglasses so that Dave could see every bit of intense rage in his eyes. “Never, ever, say that to my face again,” he emphasized, his voice dangerous and even. Dave fell back a step, somewhat frightened at the fierceness in his big brother’s voice. “Dave, you are the best thing that ever happened to me. Don’t ever fucking demean that. You want cold, brutal honesty? Yeah, I didn’t have time to get involved in a relationship when I was taking care of you and working two jobs. Doesn’t mean I couldn’t have. I could have been that douchebag who went out, partied it up, and brought home some lay and fucked them senseless while you were sleeping in your cot out in the living room. I could’ve left you with the neighbor and gone out on a date with someone. I could’ve flirted with my coworker when I was working nights at the convenience store and started some scandalous back-alley romance full of stolen glances across the cash register and midnight smoke-break quickies. But I didn’t do any of that shit. Partly because I am a fine upstanding perfect hunk of a man, and partly because of you. I chose you over anyone else, Dave. You were more important to me than any possibility of a romance.”
Dave watched him in silence and hesitated before saying, “…Really?” His need for acceptance shone through in his words, and Bro felt a sudden surge of affection for his baby brother.
“Fuck yes,” he said. “And you still are. So don’t ever say that you fucked up my life again, or I will run a katana through you.”
“Gee, thanks, Bro,” Dave said dryly, but there was definitely a hint of a smile on his face.
“I threaten because I care. And I meant it when I said that you’re more important than me than any chance of a romance. But, I met Egbert. And it’s like, I feel complete when I’m with him, as much as that sounds like totally sappy romance novel bullshit. And I want this, Dave. I’m happy with Egbert.” He made sure Dave was making eye contact with him and continued, “I don’t want to have to choose between you two. But you come first, and I don’t want to upset you. What do you want?”
Bro stared at Dave, waiting for an answer. He knew that he was putting his entire relationship with Egbert on the line, but he needed Dave to understand how much he meant to him. He’d fucked up by accusing Dave of being single-handedly responsible for his being alone for nearly fourteen years. And he had to fix things.
Dave looked down at the linoleum and scuffed at it with the toe of his sneaker. “I guess it’s gonna take some time to get used to it, but I guess if he makes you happy, then whatever. I’m cool with it. Just. I don’t want to walk in on the two of you getting hot and heavy again, because that’s really kind of disturbing.”
Bro snorted. “Hah, yeah, no, that’s awkward and not conducive to my relationship with him at all. I promise you won’t have to sit through any sloppy makeout sessions.” He picked up the chair that he knocked over before and slipped on his shades once more. “So, we’re cool now, then?” he asked.
“Yeah. We’re cool.”
“Hell yes. C’mere, kid.” He held his arms open, and he and Dave shared in a sentimental, completely-unironic hug. Striders weren’t ordinarily a huggy bunch, unless they were in public and were purposefully mocking TV commercial families. But this time, Dave squeezed him tightly, and Bro was suddenly reminded of how clingy he had been when he was a baby. Even though Bro privately thought he was still needy in an emotional sense, Dave had become less touchy-feely as he grew up. And while this was a good thing, sometimes Bro did miss those days. When he could fix a skinned knee with a Snoopy band-aid and a gruff hug. When Dave came into the living room in the middle of the night, crying, and he held him to keep the nightmares at bay. When Dave still needed his big brother to comfort him physically. Although Bro had to wonder if he’d done something wrong in raising Dave, if he hadn’t feel safe enough to tell him that he was gay. He felt guilty and tried to figure out where he had went wrong and what he could do to fix his mistakes.
“You know I’m always here for you, right?” he said, resting his chin on Dave’s head.
He could feel Dave smile into his shirt. “Yeah, Bro.”
“I mean it. You can tell me anything at all, and I won’t judge you, if you’re gay, if you’re pregnant…”
Dave punched Bro in the shoulder, and Bro wrenched away from him, laughing. Things were back to normal.
December 3rd was always an emotional day for Bro, and although he tried to hide it behind his mask of chill indifference, he never quite succeeded in remaining perfectly stoic. This year was different than Dave’s past birthdays, however, as this time, he had his best friend living in the same state to celebrate with him. John had reached out to Bro, apparently over his uncomfortable awkwardness after learning of Bro’s relationship with his father, in search of the perfect gift. Bro had directed him towards a few choice eBay auctions, and he was currently in cahoots with Egbert. They had decided to schedule one of their usual dinners on Dave’s birthday, and while the boys were at school during the day, Bro was helping Egbert make a cake.
And by “helping to make a cake,” he meant obnoxiously planting himself on the counter in front of the cabinets while Egbert tried to get ingredients out of them.
“So, what are we doing, Betty Crocker?” he asked. Egbert responded by forcing the cabinet door open and knocking it into his head. “Ow, man! What’s the matter with you?” he complained, rubbing the back of his head.
“That’s what you get for not moving your rear out of my way when I asked you to,” Egbert admonished, reaching into the cabinet. “And no, John said that the only way he would eat Dave’s birthday cake was if it wasn’t Betty Crocker. I swear, I don’t know what that boy has against her. Did you know he calls her the Batterwitch?”
“Blasphemy. Also, you love my delightfully plush rump.”
“Be that as that may, you are going to need to remove it from my counter if you want to stay in here. My kitchen, my rules. Now scoot.”
With a roll of his eyes, Bro slid off of the counter and leaned against the wall. “So, what can I do to help?”
“To be perfectly honest, I’m not so sure that I trust you with the delicate art of pastry-making, Broderick.” He was already clattering around with bowls and organizing ingredients by type.
Bro clutched a hand to his heart. “Why, I am wounded, Egbert. Is that any way to treat your apprentice? I am just a lowly young grasshopper under your wise tutelage. Instruct me, my sensei, and tell me what my first task is.”
Egbert bumped him out of the way with one hip to gain access to the mixing bowl. “Fine, if you can prove your worth to me in the kitchen… you can start with the dry ingredients while I begin with the wet ones. They’re all organized over there.” He nodded at the assemblage of dry ingredients he had lined up into a neat row. “You’ll have to open a new bag of flour to begin with, though, my jar is almost empty.”
“I can do that,” Bro said, sidling over to the counter. “I’m good at opening shit. There is never a bottle of juice or jar of pickles that goes unopened in the Strider household.” He took the bag of flour into his hands and tried to tear it open, but his efforts were fruitless. He shook it out again, wiped off his palms on his pants, and gave it another shot, but the plastic only stretched annoyingly. At this point, a normal person would have gotten a pair of scissors, but Bro was too proud to resort to such measures. He put some more force into it and yanked at the bag until it ripped open in a veritable explosion of white flour.
You could have heard a pin drop as a fine layer of powder settled over the counter, the sink, and the pile of clean dishes in the drying rack. Egbert slowly turned from his position to look at Bro, who could only grin sheepishly.
“That’s it, you’re done in here, Broderick,” Egbert said, pointing for him to get out.
Bro had already grabbed a handful of paper towels. “But—”
“No buts. And put that down, you’re not cleaning up this mess with a wad of paper towels!” He swatted at Bro with a kitchen towel. “Go sit down at the table, and you are not getting up from that seat until I tell you. Your kitchen privileges have officially been revoked. I hope you’re happy with this mess that you’ve caused, Broderick.”
Bro didn’t move from his spot. He raised his hand and waited for Egbert to acknowledge him before speaking. “Can I lick the bowl afterwards? That’s really all I wanted, anyway.”
Egbert looked up at the ceiling. “Of course that’s the only reason why you insisted on helping me. Yes, you can lick the bowl, now go sit down and get out of my way.”
Bro smirked and swaggered over to the kitchen table. “I’ve been such a bad boy, you’re sending me to time out…”
Egbert didn’t answer him and simply returned to his cake preparations, cracking the eggs with the practiced hand of an expert before switching to sift the flour.
Failing to get a reaction, Bro tried again. “Oh man, Egbert, you know, I got flour all over these black jeans… be a gentleman and come get me out of these dirty clothes?”
“I am not speaking to you right now,” Egbert said, with a note of finality in his voice. Bro mercifully fell silent after that and Egbert continued with his work. All the while, however, he could feel Bro’s eyes on him, tracking his every movement. After finishing mixing the batter to completion, he finally turned to find Bro sitting forward in his seat, resting his chin on his hand and looking directly at him with an unmeasured intensity.
“Broderick, what are you doing?” he asked.
Bro continued to stare at him intently. “I am making ‘come hither’ eyes.”
“Firstly, I can barely see your eyes behind those preposterous sunglasses of yours. And secondly, you could just say, ‘Come over here, I want a kiss.’” He poured the cake batter into three pans as he spoke.
“Come over here, I want a kiss,” Bro parroted.
Egbert shook his head and chuckled, but he obliged, bringing the mixing bowl along with him as well. He bestowed a kiss on Bro and held out the spatula for him. “I believe you wanted this?”
Bro took the utensil from him, looked at it, then hovered it in midair for a few seconds before deliberately dropping it onto the floor.
“Oops,” Bro deadpanned. “Looks like I dropped the spatula. I guess you’ll just have to use your fingers to feed me some of that delectable mess in there.”
“Oh?” Egbert said, his eyes twinkling mischievously as he scraped up a dollop of cake batter.
“Yup. It’s the only way, but hey, sometimes you have to make sacrifices when it comes to this kind of thing. All’s fair in— mmph!” He was caught off-guard when Egbert took advantage of his open mouth, but he grabbed the other man’s wrist and held it in an attempt to regain a modicum of control. Bro sucked on his finger, swirling his tongue around the digit to sample all of the cake batter before rearing back and climbing to his feet to capture Egbert’s lips in a kiss.
Egbert’s hands settled comfortably on his hips, and he had no complaints when Bro backed him into a corner of the kitchen with every intent of ravishing him. He gave a hum of approval, and, encouraged, Bro took it a step further. He decided to be daring and slid his hands down to rest on Egbert’s rear.
Egbert chuckled, lips soft against his skin. “Cheeky. If you’re going to cop a feel, you might as well do it right.”
Even Bro, who had mastered the art of the surprise attack, jumped a little when Egbert cupped his ass. He was quickly coming to the realization that he was slow on the uptake when it came to the physical aspect of this relationship. He wasn’t used to being out of his league, but he was inexperienced in this particular field. He talked big, sure, but when things came this far he had no idea how to handle it or what to do.
Bro’s heart rate skyrocketed as Egbert pulled him flush against his body, rolling his hips up to press against him. The contact made him shiver, and he was acutely aware of the fact that there were only two layers of pants separating him from Egbert’s groin. And he wasn’t the only one excited by the thought — he could feel Egbert’s arousal pressing against his own, and the realization that he was the one causing Egbert to feel that way sent a thrill through his body.
Keen to get some more pleasure, Bro eagerly reciprocated, grinding up against Egbert in return. He felt like a horny teenager all over again, hard and needy from making-out, but he couldn’t help the fact that he was so unbelievably turned on by this. He had never had the opportunity to really indulge himself when he was in high school, so he was making up for lost time, and evidently Egbert was okay with him experimenting. At least, he wasn’t protesting the way that Bro was all over him like a lovesick puppy.
Egbert tried to settle him down by slipping his hands in the back pockets of Bro’s jeans, anchoring him in place so that he could lead. He set the pace, rubbing up against him in a much more languid fashion, simply enjoying the pressure, and it was effectively driving Bro out of his mind.
Bro rocked his hips up, gasping into Egbert’s mouth. He had to forcefully restrain himself from just rutting up against Egbert and hitting his peak too soon, but Egbert wasn’t making it easy for him to stay in control of himself. He took a shallow, ragged breath, in an attempt to steady himself as Egbert shifted his focus from his lips to his neck, kissing a trail down to his collarbone, where his tongue dipped into the crevice.
Bro was teetering on the edge of oblivion, unable to keep a breathy moan from escaping his lips. And when Egbert’s fingers trailed down his stomach to cup him in his hand, he couldn’t hold back any longer, and he lost it entirely. Waves of pleasure washed over him, far more intense than any he had ever brought about with his right hand, but they were tempered by a heavy dose of shame and the uncomfortable sensation of wet, sticky pants.
He broke away from Egbert, swearing as he looked down at himself and the mess he had created in his pants. Bro was unable to face the other man and was ashamed to admit that he took the coward’s way out, tucking his tail between his legs and hiding away in the bathroom.
Egbert’s lips quirked in amusement, and he headed to his bedroom. Five minutes later, he was knocking on the bathroom door and holding out a spare pair of jeans. They weren’t exactly the same kind of trousers that Bro wore – these were the ill-fitting jeans that he’d had since John was a baby, but they held too much sentimental value for him to consider throwing them away. They were the pants that he wore when painting the garage or washing the car on the weekend, but he still thought they were more suitable for Bro than the many pairs or respectable slacks or the Sunday sweats he possessed.
“Premature ejaculation is nothing to be embarrassed about, Broderick. It happens to us all at least once,” he said, his voice mild and nonjudgmental.
“Shut the fuck up,” Bro grumbled, opening the door just wide enough to grab the proffered change of pants.
“It’s really not as bad as you’re making it out to be.”
“Easy for you to say,” Bro snapped, and Egbert could hear rustling from behind the bathroom door and the sound of running water. “You’re not the one who creamed his pants before the main entrée.”
“Sure, you got a little overexcited,” Egbert acknowledged, folding leaning against the wall. “It happens. It’s completely natural. And for what it’s worth…” He had to struggle to keep from allowing a smile to creep into his voice. “I’m rather flattered.”
A displeased grunt was heard, and Bro finally emerged from the bathroom, but he steadfastly refused to look at Egbert. “I am leaving now. Goodbye.” He popped his collar and hunched his shoulders up, but Egbert could still see the redness of the back of his neck, flushed with embarrassment.
Unfortunately, the gods were working against him today, because as soon as he reached the front door, it swung open and John and Dave entered, chattering away to each other.
Bro immediately spun around on his heel and walked away, resentful of his interrupted getaway. Egbert, who had been following him on his escape mission, smiled in amusement and shrugged his shoulders slightly. They had gotten a little sidetracked and let the time get away from them.
“Hello, boys,” Egbert said, greeting them as they swung their backpacks off of their shoulders and dumped them on the floor. “You had a good day in school, I hope? And may I wish you a happy birthday, Dave?”
“Thanks, Mr. Egbert.” The tips of Dave’s ears turned pink, pleased at being recognized. Then he noticed Bro, and he couldn’t help but smirk. “Hey Bro, since when do you wear ‘dad’ jeans?”
His composure firmly back in place and his face carefully wiped blank, Bro turned around to face everyone. “They’re Egbert’s. I had an accident. Spilled apple juice all over my lap. It was tragic, little kids wept the world over at the loss of such precious elixir.”
“Is he serious?” John whispered to Dave, who just shook his head slightly.
“Don’t question his brand of irony, man. It’s completely unfathomable.”
“Well, dinner isn’t quite ready yet,” Egbert said. “You boys can run along and play while I finish preparing it.” Bro made a move to follow Egbert, but he cut him off. “That means you too, Broderick.”
Bro gave him an offended look. “Seriously, dude? This is like being demoted to the kids’ table at the Christmas party. I am outraged.”
“After your accident in the kitchen—“ Bro shot him a warning glare “—you are not allowed to set foot in there again, never mind actually touch anything involving food preparation. First the apple juice, then exploding a bag of flour all over my clean dishes…”
“Oh, I see how it is. Fine, be that way. I don’t love you anymore.”
“Ah, but you do.”
“…Okay fine, I do love you. God knows why.”
Dave and John, who had been following this exchange in amusement, exchanged disconcerted looks of mild horror.
“Oh, grow up,” Bro told them before rounding on Egbert, who turned his back on him and started walking down the hallway. Bro followed him, loudly declaring, “Egbert, I would like to file a petition. I do not deserve to be filed away in the children’s category because I, unlike them, do not get disturbed by G-rated confessions of pure and innocent guy love between two guys.”
“Nevertheless, you’re still an overgrown child, and you’ll have more fun playing video games with them than standing around and watching me cook,” Egbert informed him, then placed a kiss on his nose and swung the kitchen door shut.
Bro touched his nose, a small smile tugging on his lips. Mollified, he headed for the living room, where John and Dave had already dispersed to pick out a video game.
And Egbert was right, he did have a blast playing video games and horsing around with the two boys. He was surprised by how quickly time had flown when Egbert announced that supper was ready and the aroma of baby-back ribs, Dave’s personal favorite, filled the house.
They settled into their usual places at the table, falling into the familiar routine of their dinner dates. Dave and Bro were both practically salivating at the mouth when Egbert brought out the braised ribs.
“This,” Bro pronounced as he dug into his meal, “is like an orgasm in my mouth.” As soon as the words left his mouth, he regretted his choice of phrasing. “And don’t take that literally, because it’s not funny.”
Egbert struggled to contain a smile as John and Dave giggled into their food. He quickly tried to change the topic before Bro could react further. “John, did you ever get that math test that you were telling me about back?”
John swallowed his mouthful of food and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “Yeah, Dad! I got a 95 on it.” He puffed his chest out in pride.
Egbert smiled warmly at him. “Very nice. I am so proud of you, son.”
“Dude,” Dave said, giving John an incredulous look. “How’d you get such a good grade?”
John shrugged his shoulders and grinned. “I don’t know!”
“Cheater,” Dave accused, taking another bite of rib.
“How could I have cheated if I got a good grade and I was sitting next to you?”
“You—wait, what? No, shut up!”
Bro laughed out loud and shared a grin with Egbert, locking eyes with him from across the table.
Dinner went smoothly enough, and John was practically bouncing on the balls of his feet in excitement by the time Egbert was clearing the dishes from the table.
“Oh man, we have to open presents now! Dave, let me get your present!” He was up and running before anyone had time to say anything in response.
“Well, I might as well bring the cake out now,” Egbert said, wiping his hands on a towel and exiting just as John came skidding back into the room with a long, thin package in his hands. Dave had to raise an eyebrow.
“What the hell is supposed to be in there?”
“Open it and find out!” John insisted, thrusting the unwieldy blue package into his hands.
“Give me a minute, I’m busy pissing my pants in excitement here, dude.”
Egbert emerged from the kitchen with the elaborate three-layer cake in his hands, the candles already lit.
“I contributed the candles,” Bro helpfully pointed out, having chosen to add an element of irony to the cake with a plethora of Barbie candles.
“Present first, then cake!”
“Alright, calm your tits, man, I’m on it.” Dave unceremoniously ripped off the wrapping paper and opened the box. “Whoa.” He pulled out a katana and tested the weight in his hand before unsheathing it. “…Whoa.” It glinted in the light, gleaming sharp, and Bro let out a low whistle. This wasn’t one of the unbelievably shitty swords he had suggested to John. This was actually quality.
John was grinning from ear to ear as Dave glanced up at him. “Yeah, it’s a sword that’s not a cheap piece of shit! Dad helped me buy it and everything.” He punched Dave in the shoulder good-naturedly. “Maybe now you can actually beat your bro!”
Bro looked over at Egbert, who met his gaze with a smug expression on his face. “Egbert, you are a two-timing bastard,” he accused.
“If I were you, Broderick, I’d watch your words. You might not want to speak ill of me,” Egbert said lightly.
“Oh yeah? Why’s that?”
“You’ll see in a few moments.”
Dave put down the sword and stood up to address John, shoving his hands in his pockets. “So you’re kind of a goober and a complete dork, but you know what… you’re pretty cool.” He grinned. “Thanks.” Bro knew that beneath his casual words, Dave was genuinely touched, even if he didn’t know how to express it. John must have seen it too, because he beamed at Dave and gave him a bro hug bump, in true Sweet Bro and Hella Jeff style.
“I actually have a little something too,” Egbert said. “It’s not just for you, though, Dave. It’s for all three of you.” Bro, Dave, and John turned to face Egbert in various states of confusion. He pulled an envelope out of his pants pocket and slipped out four tickets. “I happened to win the office raffle the other day. Four tickets to a ski trip at a resort in Vermont. It would be a great pleasure if the two of you would like to accompany John and myself.”
“Yes,” Dave said immediately.
“Hell yes,” Bro added.
“Hell. Fucking. Yes.”
John threw his hands in the air. “This is going to be the best trip ever!” he declared.
Egbert’s eyes crinkled in delight. “Well, I am certainly looking forward to winter break now. It shall be quite the adventure.”
“Guess I’ll have to retract my previous statement against you, then. You’re not as much of a two-timing jerk now.” Bro elbowed him in the side, then turned to Dave and cleared his throat awkwardly. “Well, shit,” he said. “I can’t exactly top ski tickets to Vermont. Thanks Egbert, way to show me up when it comes to showering gifts on my kid.”
“Wait,” Dave said, holding up a hand. “Does that mean that the pile of smuppets you literally showered on me this morning was my gift?”
“No, that wasn’t your gift, that was my way of giving you an awesome start to an awesome birthday. Also, I really did not appreciate you cutting up Dick Smuppet into pieces. He was going to be the star in my next video.”
“Dude, how the hell did you expect me to react? There I am, sound asleep, and the next thing I know, there’s plush derriere and oblong schlongs all over me.”
“I do not understand why you are complaining about this. Ungrateful little bastard. Anyways, no, your present’s back at home. It was too heavy for me to lug it all the way out here.”
“Awesome.” Dave grinned at him and turned back to the table. “So, uh… if we’re done with presents, can we eat cake? This thing is like begging to be inside me right now in all of its sugary goodness.”
“Wait, first we need to sing happy birthday…”
“Bro, don’t, this is fucking embarrassing—”
“You are going to let us sing happy birthday to you, and you’re going to damn well like it, or you’re not getting any cake.”
Dave groaned and slunk down in his seat, but despite his grousing, he couldn’t hide the faint smile on his face.
It was late when they returned home from the Egberts’ house, and Dave had almost forgotten about Bro’s present for him, until he swung open the door to the apartment.
“Holy shit,” he breathed. “Is that—”
“New turntables, yeah. Figured it was time you deserved an upgrade.”
Dave walked around the setup, checking it out in undisguised amazement. He had already had some pretty sweet turntables, but they were hand-me-downs from Bro. This was his first time with brand new gear, and they were good enough to rival Bro’s own turntables, which had always made him feel a little jealous inside whenever he walked past them.
“I have got to test these out.” Dave ran to his room and came back with records in hand, giddy to give it a spin.
Bro stood back and looked on. “Happy fourteenth, kid,” he said to himself, softly enough that Dave couldn’t hear him over the music. He leaned against the wall, content to watch on the sidelines and remember that unlikely day, fourteen years ago, when he stumbled upon the infant who would change his life forever.