Nicole and Noah pulled up to the driveway of Cody's house. Noah looked up to see a gorgeous stone home that looked like it had at least five bedrooms, which he found strange since Cody was an only child. He looked over to Nicole as he parked the car.
They got out of the car and walked up to Cody's home, wine bottle in hand. They knocked on the door and waited a few moments, then Cody opened the door for them.
"Hey, my favorite twins!" He exclaimed. "You both look great. Trent's in the kitchen already."
"Thanks, Cody." Nicole said. She stepped into the kitchen to find Trent, leaving Cody and Noah to stare at themselves while Noah stood outside of the door.
"Come on in." Noah chuckled nervously as he walked into the door, giving Cody a hug.
"Where should I put this bottle?"
"I'll take it. No worries." He grabbed it from his hands, bringing it to a bar table in the living room. "You didn't have to bring this, you know. You're the guest."
"I know. It was Nicole's idea." As he took his shoes off, Noah looked around at Cody's childhood home, going up to the photos that were on the wall. "Guess it's my turn to look at all your photos."
The first thing he noticed was nearly all of the photos being shown were of Cody's parents, and the few family portraits they did have were from years ago. He looked around at the spotless, shiny white tile on the floor, admiring how clean it was. It was as if the house was brand-new.
"Your house is so nice." Noah mentioned.
"Your childhood home was nice to see, too."
"It's just so big. I wasn't expecting it." Noah told him.
"I've lived here ever since I was born. They protect this house with their life." Cody explained. "One time, when I was five, I spilled some milk on the floor and they grounded me for a week."
"Come on, I'll show you to my room before everyone gets here." Cody took Noah's hand and brought him upstairs by the pearl-white spiral staircase. As they went upstairs, he saw doors to four other bedrooms and they entered the first one on the left.
"Well, this is my room." Cody said. "The least clean room in the house. My parents stopped coming into my bedroom when they once saw me-" Cody's face went red. "Maybe that's a story for another time."
Noah looked up to the photo of Cody behind a sunset background that he made for him the first night they saw each other, and noticed it was planted right above his bed. Noah smiled at the sight of it. He spun around to look at other details in Cody's room, such as his keyboard in the corner of the room and the other half of his room set up as his gaming equipment for streaming on Twitch.
"So, who else is coming tonight?" Noah asked.
"It'll just be us and the drama brothers."
"Do Harold and Justin know about… you know, us?" Noah asked nervously. He still felt a slight twinge of fear opening himself up to his former co-contestants.
"I was thinking we could tell them together. I didn't want to make that decision on my own in case you weren't ready." Noah thought about what his therapist had been telling him the past few weeks - to not be afraid of being vulnerable. Vulnerability was something Noah locked in a box for years, throwing away the key. Cody noticed Noah tensing up at the thought and walked closer to him, looking him in the eyes.
"I still want a New Year's kiss with you, whether with them or privately. So it's completely up to you." Noah smiled at the thought of kissing Cody at the ball drop and took that as his sign to be open about his relationship with Cody with two guys he already knew. He figured this was a baby step, and he didn't have to open up to anyone else until he was ready.
"We can tell them."
"Really? Great." Cody smiled, and as they were about to have a moment, the doorbell rang. "That must be them now! Let's go!" He looked at Noah, taking his hand as they went down the staircase. Trent and Nicole had answered the door and were greeting Harold and Justin already. Cody let go of Noah's hand as he rushed over to say hello to them.
"Nicole! What's up, girl? Didn't know we could bring dates." Justin said, going in for a hug. She looked uncomfortable hugging a womanizer like Justin, but obliged anyhow.
"H-Dawg, Justin, so good to see you!" Cody gave a chest bump to the two boys as they walked in. Harold and Justin looked to the corner of the room to see Noah, surprised to see him.
"What's Noah doing here?" Harold asked.
"It's nice to see you, too." Noah responded.
"Actually, Noah and I have something to tell you." Cody said, moving closer to Noah. Noah could feel himself beginning to sweat.
"Okay, shoot." Justin said.
"Remember when I was talking to you all about the girl trouble I was having? Well…" Cody choked over his own words. "It wasn't a girl. It was Noah. And Noah and I are… well, we're dating now, and we'd really like your support." Noah gave a slight smile and a nervous laugh, waving at the boys as Cody put his arm around Noah.
Justin and Harold looked at the boys, their shocked expressions spooking Noah into thinking they'd ever be accepting of their relationship. Not only had Cody revealed he was into boys, but he revealed something personal about Noah, who had never been open with anyone in Total Drama, ever. After what felt like an eternity of Harold and Justin staring at them, taking in this new information, Harold broke the silence.
"That's awesome! As long as you're both happy, right?" He said.
"Congrats, my dudes." Justin said.
"You're not upset?" Noah asked. He was relieved that no one was making a big deal about it.
"No way. I think it's awesome." Harold said.
"Now where's the food you promised?" Justin asked. Noah was amazed at how quickly Justin and Harold were able to move on from this news.
"Oh... I tried making something, but I burned it. Turns out all I'm good at is grilled cheese. But, I do have all the drinks we need, and I figured we could order something."
"On New Year's Eve? We'll be lucky if it comes before midnight." Harold said.
"Why don't you and Noah go out to the store and pick up some burgers or something? It's only 7, we've got time to whip something up if you're quick." Trent suggested.
"You cool with that, Noah?" Cody said, looking at him.
"Yeah. Though I think I blocked off your car, so let's take mine." Noah dug through his pockets for his keys, and as they were in his hands the two walked outside, promising the others they'd be back soon.
"There's a store across the street." Cody said as they walked into the car, buckling up. Noah looked over to Cody, smiling as he took his hand.
"Thank you. Thank you for pushing me to do that. It wasn't as bad as I thought." He said, looking at him.
"You think you're ready to go public? It's okay if you aren't." Noah began to put the key into the ignition.
"No. I nearly shat myself waiting for Harold and Justin to react to the news. But, when I am, I'll let you know." He looked behind him as he reversed the car out of the driveway, and began to drive out of the neighborhood Cody grew up in. After a few minutes, they had arrived at their destination, unbuckling their seatbelts as they scurried to the store. For it being New Years Eve, it was surprisingly empty. Cody looked at Noah as he turned to the right of the store, going towards the frozen aisle.
"Do you see grass-fed beef anywhere?" Noah said as they looked up and down the aisle.
"Grass-fed beef? What's that?" Cody asked.
"It's a cow that was only fed grass before they slaughtered it." Noah remembered when Candace explained the difference to him, and after that, he always made sure his burgers were made of grass-fed beef.
"Why should it matter what they get fed? They're gonna die anyway." Noah began to laugh, putting his hand on Cody's shoulder.
"It's not about appeasing the cows." Noah scoffed. "It's about taste and look. Grass-fed beef is more marbled in appearance. Grass-fed beef is also sweeter and has a richer taste."
"What's marbled?" Noah laughed.
"Nevermind. We gotta get going." He looked at one more freezer door and looked up to the top right to find grass-fed beef. He reached to the top to grab two boxes, and they headed to the checkout line. There was one other person ahead of them, so the two looked around at the end-of-line goodies. Cody grabbed a bag of bulk candy in a sale bin, smiling in awe as he carefully placed it on the belt next to their burgers.
"My parents never let me have this stuff. They're gone all week, I'm taking the leftovers and stashing this." Noah smiled, remembering his candy obsession over the years. The cashier in front of them took their items and quickly bagged it as Cody paid for it, clearly wanting to be anywhere but a grocery store on New Year's Eve. Cody waved goodbye to the cashier and the two of them walked to the car and buckled their seatbelts as Noah started the ignition.
"Made it in record time. Now let's go show everyone our grass-fed beef!" Cody exclaimed. Noah smiled over to him as Cody leaned in to kiss Noah's cheek.
Noah woke up the morning after the New Years party, his head resting on Cody's bare chest. He looked over at the time on the alarm clock - 12:36pm. He couldn't believe he let himself sleep in so late, but then again, Noah, Cody, Nicole, and the rest of the Drama Brothers were up all night celebrating the new year. He was reminded of that when the bright light of day triggered a hangover headache. He tiptoed out of bed, not wanting to wake up Cody, and walked down the spiral staircase, which felt like a whirlwind while hungover. Trent and Nicole were already in the living room, wide-awake and watching a TV show, despite how late everyone had gone to bed. Harold and Justin had taken a cab home, but Trent and Nicole stayed overnight alongside Noah.
"Hey, good morning." Nicole teased. Noah ignored her as he went straight to the kitchen to make coffee to help the hangover. He watched tentatively as the coffee dripped into the pot, thinking back of the events of last night.
Noah, Nicole, and the Drama Brothers were in the living room watching New Year's Rockin' Eve on the big TV. Noah had easily gone through at least four glasses of wine just to get through his nerves of knowing he would be kissing Cody in front of everyone tonight, even though it seems everyone had been supportive of them. The rest of the Drama Brothers had been saying all night how cool Noah is and wished he had shown that during their Total Drama days.
"Five more minutes until 2016. Let's all go around the room and say what our favorite moments of 2015 were." Trent said as they sat on the living room couch.
"Definitely touring with the Drama Brothers. That was epic, even if we had to share the same room all tour." Harold said, passing the torch to Justin on the right.
"That chick I went to third base with on our Montreal stop… man, I wonder what she's up to." The others looked disgusted at his degrading comment towards women, and to not dwell on it so much, Cody went next.
"It's been really cool making gaming and music my career. I never thought I'd make it this far, especially after Total Drama ended and I wasn't picked for All Stars. And honestly, it might sound cheesy, but... " Cody took Noah's hand, looking at him lovingly. "Reconnecting with Noah. I know we've only been together for less than a month, but given how long we've known each other, I feel like I've been with you for a long time. I hope it's a feeling that doesn't end anytime soon." Noah blushed, looking down not to show it in front of the guys.
"Awww." Harold exclaimed.
"This year sucked. But… the highlight would have to be becoming Cody's boyfriend."
"Really? But you toured around the world!" Justin mentioned. Noah took a sip of his wine, almost in a chugging motion as he tried not to reveal he never had romantic feelings for Emma, despite everyone seeing the two practically plan a marriage on international television.
"Sure, but it was all for TV, you know? Plus I was having a mental breakdown before that happened. I wasn't in a good place when Cody and I reconnected." He looked over to Nicole.
"Oh! I would say my highlight of this year would be meeting Trent. As corny as it sounds." Trent looked down at her, smiling as she leaned his head on her. "God, I'm becoming one of those girls."
"Hey, meeting you was one of the best things that could have happened to me this year, babe. But I would say something great that happened other than meeting Nicole was just getting the band back together! I never thought it was something we'd do, and now we're going in for album number 3 and if it goes well, we may be getting a summer US tour! Now that's something to be proud of." Trent raised his glass. "A toast to us."
"Does this make Noah and Nicole our groupies?" Justin joked. Harold elbowed Justin as he raised his glass, Justin, Noah and Cody following. They took a drink as they watched the ball go lower and lower. Harold looked at the countdown.
"Two more minutes!" Noah and Cody smiled at each other, and Cody whispered something in Noah's ear.
"If you want to make our kiss more private, we can. I know you're nervous." Noah thought about Cody's offer, but knew this was something he was comfortable with as the night went on.
"No. I want to do this. Right here, with everyone." Cody looked at him, smiling. When Cody flashed that gap-tooth grin of his at Noah, he felt like the world stopped.
"Ten… nine… eight…. Seven… six…" Everyone began to stand up as the chanting went on, trading their glasses for noisemakers and 2016 glasses. "Five… four… three… two… one! Happy new year!"
Noah looked shyly over to Cody, and it was as if time stopped as Cody's lips crashed onto Noah's for everyone to see. He felt a sense of safety, going into the new year fresh with Cody by his side. As they let go, he looked over to Nicole and Trent, whose lips were passionately against each other's, and Noah noted how weird it felt to see his twin sister kissing another man, much less someone he had known on a somewhat-professional level for the past three years. Justin and Harold stood in the middle, awkwardly fist-bumping and thinking about how lonely they were while everyone was getting a New Years kiss. They made the rounds as-
"Noah!" Nicole yelled from the kitchen. He looked up from his memory to see the coffee overflowing onto the floor. "You didn't hear it beeping?" Noah unplugged the machine, running to the drawers to find some cleaning spray and a rag. He went on his knees as he sprayed the bottom cabinets and floor with cleaning spray, then put a rag over the spilled coffee. Once everything was somewhat dry and no longer stained, he carefully took the coffee pot and spilled the overflow of it in the sink. He brought it back to the counter and looked around the cabinets for a coffee mug and settled on one that read, 'Coffee is my secret to surviving Monday through Friday'. He poured the coffee into his cup, smiling as he took a sip of what felt like water from the Fountain of Youth, and walked over to sit with Nicole and Trent, taking a look at what they were watching.
"Oh god, is this Once Upon a Time? Did she get you into this?" Noah had known the show too well, as Nicole had been obsessed with it since it began. As they began a conversation over Nicole's defense of the show, Cody came climbing down the stairs with a sense of urgency.
"Hey, we're not going anywhere, no need to run." Trent said as Cody sat next to Noah, holding his phone. He was still shirtless and only wearing his flannel pajama bottoms. "What's up?" He opened his phone, showing Noah an article he had been forwarded. The two looked down in despair and Nicole and Trent sensed something to be wrong, muting the TV.
"What's wrong?" Nicole said, scooching closer to the boys. Cody read the caption aloud, Noah absolutely afraid of what he had read.
"Cody and Noah from the Total Drama series out on a late-night run to Ralphs on New Year's Eve." He read. "This comes weeks after Emma and Noah were seen avoiding each other at the Horseshoe's Ridonculous Race finale wrap party."
"Okay… The paparazzi saw you out, do you really think they'll put two and two together?" Nicole asked, not sure what the issue on Noah's nervous face was all about.
"We weren't ready to go public. I wasn't ready to go public. Fans are going to eat us alive."
"Why do you think they'll assume the worst?" Trent asked. Cody scrolled down further to find a photo of them in the aisles, Noah laughing at Cody as he held onto Cody's shoulder. He held the phone to Nicole and Trent.
"Look, this isn't the most terrible thing that could have happened." Nicole said, obliviously. "It might be good for you. You have a lot of fans who ship you, and now you won't feel so scared all the time and can go out on dates with Cody that didn't involve babysitting."
"Yeah, and what about the fans who still think Emma and I are destined to be together forever?" Noah roared.
"We can get through this. We can push it away from this. I'll post some photos of us all together at the party. We'll make it seem like you were just two people making a grocery run together, which is exactly what it was. You know, minus the 'dating' part." Trent said.
"No… I'm tired of hiding who I am. I want the world to know how much I care for Cody, but I'm just scared. People still think I'm straight, not to mention the fact that nobody knows who I am. They'll probably make something up about how I'm confused because Emma and I aren't together. For the first time, I want to tell the world who I am. I just… god, this isn't the way I wanted it to come about. But I guess that's the hilarity of my life, everything comes to me unexpectedly."
"I have some connections with Celebrity Manhunt from Drama Brothers." Cody said. "I can set up a press conference. I'll be there with you the whole time."
Noah thought long and hard about his offer. He would much rather confirm the suspicions he knew was most likely happening right now through a tweet in the comfort of his bed, but he didn't want to make Cody feel like he wasn't important enough for a public statement.
"I don't think I'll ever be ready, but… let's do it." Cody stepped out of the room as he began to dial Celebrity Manhunt, and as soon as Cody was gone, he stretched out on the couch, clenching his hands up and down.
"You okay?" Trent asked, concerned to see Noah in this state. Nicole, however, was unphased.
"You know, six months ago I would have been freaking out seeing you so freaked out. But Noah, you've made great progress. You can do this."
"You think I can?"
"Yes. Everything will be okay." Noah melted into the couch, listening to his sister speak to him. He thought back to the New Years party, remembering how happy he was, and how it had crashed down on him in an instant. He was really going to do this.
A/N: Yay! I'm so glad I could send out two chapters in one weekend! I hope you enjoyed it, thanks for reading! :)